Monday, February 20, 2006

J/ Choose the "controversy" you will be working with all semester. Write a one page, in-depth, detailed description of your controversy AND describe the characteristics of the community that you are examining your controversy as part of. This should be a community to which you belong.

As a member of the gamer community, I would like to do my project on the controversy surrounding the proposed connection between violence in video games and real-life violence. Depictions of violence in video games has been on a steady incline, with such games as Grand Theft Auto, Vice City topping the charts. Reactions to violent outbreaks among young people, such as the Columbine shootings, have lead many to blame constant exposure to violence in video games.

Public figures, such as Jack Thompson, a lawyer famed for his cases against video game manufacturers, beginning in 1999 with a class action suit against virtual every manufacturer responsible for the games of a 14-year-old video gamer in Kentucky, have championed their causes against the video game industry, holding them responsible for the outbreaks of violence among american youth. Overseas, similar cases are being reviewed by respective governments as more and more claim to find links between video game violence and real life violence.

In an effort to establish a sense of self-regulation, much as Comic Book publishers did with the establishment of the Comics Code in 1954, the ESRB was formed, the Entertainment Software Rating Board. This organization, founded in 1994, has established a rating system, and will rate video games submitted for their perusal with a system similar to the Movie rating system. While ESRB ratings are not mandatory by any means, most of the major video game development companies utilize their system, and while retailers are not required to utlize ESRB ratings in selling games, they are encouraged to do so by the manufacturers themselves.

The world of video gamers is split, not equally, mind you, but split nonetheless, with the majority of gamers defending their favorite hobby and (for some of them) way of life. There are those, however, that concede to the fact that violent video games are not for everyone. notable figures in the gamer world, such as Michael Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of the webcomic Penny Arcade, (a site that attracts hundreds of millions of hits per day) have made their cases for an against video game violence, and other internet pundits have taken their respective stands. Many members of the video game community are in agreement that many of the video games on the market are too violent. Some call for stronger enforcement of ESRB ratings, while other go further, calling for bans on violent games.

This is a good topic. You may want to start by watching "Bowling for Columbine". I would also check out a book by ken mcAllister called Game Work : Language, Power, and Computer Game Culture. He's an old prof. of mine and his research is on gaming.
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