There have been quite a few questions in the media and legally about what the justice system can do to regulate the gaming community without infringing on individual’s rights.  I think we all know how I feel about that, but if you don’t, I believe that every person has a right to play whatever they want, but when it comes to children, we need to protect them.  Sometimes that means knowing more than they do, sometimes that means regulating by law what they can and cannot do, and sometimes, just sometimes it means stepping up to the plate and doing what is right, but not what is always popular.

I came across a CNN article about the gaming industry in Japan and how they are allowed to create anything without being censored.  The reporter was explaining how this greatly affects us here in America.  If you have access to the internet, you can download any video game that is created anywhere in the world, not just the ones that are deemed acceptable by our own government. There was a video game that was created in Japan called RapeLay.  It is a video game that was created to simulate a rapist who can follow, groom, and then rape their victims which could be females, children, etc.  It was actually sold on Amazon for a short period of time, until the uproar caused by the public forced them to remove it from the website.  I am appalled that Amazon was ever going to sell the game, but the fact that it was created in the first place is unsettling as well.  The reporter actually interviewed a couple in England that was able to download the game onto their computer via skype and play it as if they had bought the game off the shelf at their local Walmart.

I believe that as parents, and community leaders, as caregivers, educators, and citizens of the United States, we need to ask the gaming community to not allow any games to be downloaded via the internet that are not sanctioned by their companies. Similar to television V-chips, I think there should be a lock available for computers that can allow parents to filter the material that can be downloaded on computers, or foreign material that isn’t regulated by our own government.

That may or may not ever take place, so instead of waiting around, what can you do?  My husband and I were asking this question the other night, this is what we’ve come up with:

We were talking about what we will do when our children become the age where they will be encoutering innappropriate media with or without our supervision.  My husband’s first reaction will be that he will make sure that he knows more than they do in regards to the games that are out there, and the movies that are available.  I think that is great, more power to him and to all of the parents out there that can do that.

I also said that I would put any video game consule that we have out in the common area so that whatever game they play will be in full view of the entire family.  That was one thing that prevented me from watching inappropriate television when I was growing up, because the only television we had was in the family room for all to see! We also talked about going over the ratings system and finding out why they are rated the way they are and what other “gamers” are posting about this particular game before we purchase it.  My husband says that he will periodically watch them playing the game, and this includes at the beginning, through out the middle and at the end.

But what happens when we aren’t home? What happens when he or she is at a friend’s house that doesn’t believe exactly what we believe?  What happens when he or she stumble upon something inappropriate?

It’s on these questions that we would love to see some government action.  Maybe it’s an awareness campaign, similar to the anti drug public service announcements of the 1980’s and 1990’s, maybe it is stricter distribution on suspect material, maybe it’s increased regulation on what can be produced.  Even with all of these things, with the ease of information distribution on the internet, it’s going to take the vigilance of parents to protect our children.

For those parents who think that there is no such thing as rape in the video games being sold on the shelves of our department stores, please think again.  I read an article by a gamer who said that she has played the game and explains what the controversy is all about. 

Here is the explanation that I gathered from the article.  Grand Theft Auto allows you to pick up a prostitute and then proceed to have sex with her in your car, but you have to pay her.  This, in itself might be degrading and terrible enough, but not technically raping a female.  BUT, here is what happens next.  The player has the ability to allow the prostitute to leave the car, and then follow her, beat her up and take back the money.  I would also agree that in that circumstance that would be rape.  You can read the gamers description of the game as well as her opinion of the rape sequence here. 

Whether it was considered rape or not, the fact that you can pick up a prostitute and then take her to a seedy side of town and have sex with her, just seems unnecessary, and makes me wonder what happened to us a culture that we would allow our children to partake in such activities….WILLINGLY!!!  As parents, let’s get back to parenting and do what is necessary for our own children, and for society as a whole. I hope that anyone who reads this will ban this particular game from your children’s usage!

I have been researching statistics on violent video games, and these are the facts that I have come across.  I think that parents need to be aware of the factual content in the video games that their children are playing. 

  • For every 10 minutes of playing video games or computer games, boys between the ages of eight and 18 will see between two and 124 acts of violence.

  • In video games rated as Teen or Mature, players will see over 180 violent acts every 40 minutes, or 5,400 violent acts per month.
  • 78 percent of acts of violence in the first ten minutes of video games depict lethal acts of violence. 78 percent of the action is shown up close, and half of the violent segments have humor in them.

  • Mature-rated video game perpetrators are human perpetrators who commit continued acts of violence with weapons; only 10 percent of them are considered to have “good” character traits.

  • In 98 percent of games, the acts the player commits are unpunished; in more than half of video games, perpetrators of violence are rewarded.

I just wonder if parents sat and actually watched their child play these games, how long would they allow their child to play, and how long would they allow them to blow people up, slice and dice characters, and/or bully and kill innocent victims. 

Posted on September 12th, 2011 in Video Game Violence | Leave a comment

We’ve talked a lot about video games since launching our site.  It’s by no means to diminish the impacts of other forms of media violence, whether TV, Movie or on the internet, but video game violence has unique impact because of the interactivity that it requires.

But for all the statistics, stories, and research we can show, nothing seems to have the dramatic impact on parents and medical professionals as actually seeing the violent video games.  We don’t show it to be gratuitous, only to be frank.  If you think your children can play games that do the following, and it doesn’t bother you, there’s little our public awareness effort can do.  However, if you have the same visceral reaction that we do, please share our concern with others, and join our cause.

WARNING: Highly Graphic Scenes of Violence Within This Video

It sometimes feels as though we, as parents, are helpless against the giant known as the video game industry. They are a multi-billion dollar industry with worldwide popularity, momentum, and very little oversight.

In places like Korea, there are 300 professional gamers who play in 11 teams. Corporations will pay as much as $20 million dollars per year just to sponsor them. While we’re not reflexively anti-video game, with the facts about the addictive effects that these games have, and that many of the most popular games depict graphic violence, it seems as though parents have few options but to fight against the industry as a whole.

As gaming becomes more prevalent, and potentially becomes even more popular in the US, as it is in places like Korea, here are some facts to consider as parents:

Depending on your perspective this may not seem like too high of a number, but when compared to the use of crack cocaine it shows the quantity of impact.  According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) research, .7 of the population of the United States has been reported of using crack cocaine.  That means that if you compare that out of the entire population of the United States, 12.5% of them are clinically addicted to video games, and only .7 of them are addicted to crack cocaine.  By no means am I comparing the impacts of crack addiction to that of video games.  However with the known impacts any addiction has on relationships, it certainly should give us pause.  If there’s been a nearly 3 decade “War on Drugs” by the Federal government, how come with video game addiction there’s been only a few shots fired?

Clearly, as we’ve discussed, we can’t count of the government to intervene.  Whether it’s the Supreme Court viewing video games as free speech, or the executive and legislative branches viewing the adverse impacts too far down the list of public health issues, parents can’t count on anyone else to look out for your children on media related issues.

So our challenge is this, Step Up!  Become a MVP, and build a family that is attuned the realities of video game addiction today.

I know that I keep talking about children and how media usage effects them. But I not only know this to be true from being a preschool teacher and a parent of two, but I believe in my heart that we need to help one another navigate through this media driven world.

I sometimes wonder why children have such a desire to have a cell phone, to text their friends, or play video games, watch violent movies, or even inappropriate television. But then I evaluate my own media usage and that of my friends and family. Children want to be adults at such a young age. Before there were cell phones and computers, the children wanted to drive as eary as possible, have a family and career of their own, and do things that made them feel grown up and adult. So, it would only figure that they would want to do everything that we, as adults, would do, including our media habits.

I am trying to model the media usage behavior that I would want them to display when they are older. I don’t text and drive, and try not to talk on the phone at all while driving. I do not text during meals, or any time that I am interacting with my children. I set aside time to use the computer, watch television, text and email while they are busy doing something else. I don’t want them to feel as though my media usage is more important than the time I get to spend with them. We do not have the television running while they are playing, they have set aside times to watch it, and so do I. I do not have the television running while I am doing other things as well. I shut down all media devices while they are not in use, so that there are specific times to use these, and that does not mean all day long. We cannot expect our children to live by a different standard than the one that we are setting for them.

I was reading more about the death surrounding the gamer, Chris Staniforth, who died of a blod clot.  Above all else, this is very sad.  With that said, it’s frustrating because it’s totally preventable.  Medical professionals are now coming out and saying that those individuals who play these games need to take regular breaks to move around and exercise their bodies.

We know this issue extends far beyond just an extreme case like this.  Excessive gaming, especially violent games, has shown major physiological changes on the brain, as well as a host of other public health issues.

Our hope is that a terrible case like this, sheds more light on an important, yet largely unknown issues associated with video game play.  Clearly, the video game industry doesn’t aim for outcomes like this.  But as parents, teachers, physicians, and other citizens engaged in society, we should hold every industry to similar scrutiny.

While it’s easy to throw stones at things that have a more direct correlation to adverse outcomes, like alcohol or tabacco, stories like this raise sometimes more challenging questions.  Should there be regulations or warnings?  Would that even have impact on those gamers that seem to show signs of addiction?  Does the government have any role in regulation of these games, or, as the Supreme Court ruled, is this artistic expression.

What’s clear is that the days of Pong and Mario Brothers are long behind us.  We would be interested to hear your thoughts on how you process through these issues when Constitutional rights run into public health and safety issues.

Posted on June 20th, 2011 in Parents Stories, Video Game Violence | Leave a comment

Games like Super Mario Brothers, while still popular, are just a fraction of the overall gaming that take place.

I think it’s funny that whenever you talk to someone about video games they immediately refer to Mario Brothers, and the sports games.  These are definitely very popular games, however as the video game industry has evolved, there are far more types available.

When talking about games we should talk about all of the games, and exactly what is contained in each and every game. (For ideas of new games see our videogame reviews page)  I have talked to parents that have no idea that many of the games their kids own contain scenes of pornography, killing, bludgeoning, degrading women and minorities, bullying, and raping.

Let’s also remember these are not specially ordered games off the internet, these are contained in your ordinary games off the shelf.  People act as though every child owns a $200-$300 gaming console to play their one Mario game, and their favorite sports game.  In some homes this may be the case, but in many more parents would never spend that kind of money to play only 2 or 3 games.  So the variety extends beyond those benign types of games, and into the graphically violent games, including explicit images most parents would guard children from if they were movies or television.

As parents we’re familiar with the games that we grew up with, and don’t always understand that today’s games contain material that is not only inappropriate for their children, but extreme and, in my view, completely unnecessary for the entertainment value of the game.  Why does a racing game allow the driver to pull over and pick up a prostitute and then rape her.  Where do we draw the line as the consumer?  As parents, where do we draw the line with our kids?  I’d be interested to hear from parents that face these issues.


Posted on June 20th, 2011 in Video Game Violence | Leave a comment

One of the differences of video games of the past versus video games of today is the realistic graphics that they use.  It is amazing what a big screen television and a modern day gaming system can produce.  When you are beating someone with a baseball bat, or raping an innocent woman, it is not a stick figure, it is very realistic.  Since we have such great technology we can see some wonderful things, but we can also see what kind of destructive qualities it can bring as well.

The gaming industry has provided us with positive entertainment in many forms, one of them being sports games. Kids as well as adults can feel as though they are playing on the big screen, which can leave a child feeling successful and positive, despite their true athletic ability.

However, the gaming industry can’t just leave it at that, they have to include a secret code that would allow the player to watch a strip show by the cheerleaders.  With the realistic graphics of today, it’s an all too realistic temptation for adolescents, and further increases the objectification of women within video games.


Posted on May 18th, 2011 in Media Addiction, Video Game Violence | Leave a comment

While there may still be debate among gaming and internet enthusiasts on the impacts of a new study from Australia says that nearly 1 and 10 gamers are addicted.

This has caused addiction recovery programs to pop up around the country, like the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program outlined in a Time Magazine article in 2009. ReStart’s mission is “specifically oriented towards launching tech dependent youth and adults back into the real world.” Like other addiction programs, reStart’s offers a breadth of services including a 12 step recovery program, and services to support the parents through the process.

It’s hard to believe that something like games, that often times start as something harmless and fun can become an all consuming part of someone’s life and identity. The existence of programs like this, should along serve as a wake up for parents who are see their kids consuming focus on video games, computers and other media as “just a phase.”

If you think your child is at risk of addiction, please let us know, we are here to help.