Thompson, K. M., & Hanniger, K. (2001). Violence in E-rated video games. Journal of American Medical Association, 286 (5), 591-598.

Abstract:  Quantified and characterized the depiction of violence, drugs, and sex in video games rated E (for “Everyone”), a rating suggesting suitability for all audiences. The authors created a database of all existing E-rated video games available in the US by April 1, 2001 to identify the distribution of games by genre and to characterize the distribution of content descriptors associated with these games. They played and assessed the content of a convenience sample of 55 E-rated video games. Games were rated according to genre; duration of violence; number of fatalities; types of weapons used; whether injuring characters or destroying objects is rewarded or is required to advance in the game; depiction of alcohol, tobacco and other substances; and sexual content. Of the 672 current E-rated video games, 77% were in sports, racing, or action genres and 57% did not receive any content descriptors. 35 of the 55 games played involved intentional violence. Significant differences in the amount of violence among game genres were noted. Injuring characters was rewarded or required for advancement in 33 games. Physicians and parents should understand that such games may be a source of exposure to violence and other unexpected content for children, and may reward them for violent actions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)