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Should Minors be Allowed to Play Violent Video Games?

June 2020. Blue Playstation 4 controller. (Photo by Sean Stone on Unsplash)

In 2010, the Supreme Court debated whether it should be illegal for minors to purchase and play violent video games. Now that video games are more popular than ever, it again raises the question: should minors be able to buy and play violent video games? Since the prohibition of these games to minors can have unintended economic and social outcomes, it should be legal for minors to access violent video games. 

People under the age of 18 should be able to buy and play violent video games for the sake of the companies that make the game. Depriving kids under 18 from violent video games would have a huge negative impact on the economy. In its simplest definition, the phrase “violent video game” is when the objective of a video game is to hurt or kill something.

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), about one hundred fifty million Americans play video games regularly, and 28 percent of which are under 18. This means that more than 42 million minors play video games in the United States. Additionally, last year in 2019, according to an article posted by VG42, estimated revenue of 150 billion dollars in video game sales was reported. But this figure represents every type of video game genre sold.

So to digress, violent video games comprise three main categories: action, shooter, and fighting (four if you count adventure, five if you also count RPG). Out of all types, the three main violent video games make up more than half of all games sold, disregarding the violent video games that belong to other categories (for example, a boxing game that would belong under the sports section). So what do these numbers mean, and how do they relate to the economy?

Essentially, these numbers tell a story where a world with prohibited access to video games would lead to an extensive loss of money between major corporations such as Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Microsoft, etc. But the money loss is not due to the sales of just violent video games because the sales of video game consoles and components like screens, headsets, and microphones would decrease as well.

To add insult to injury, advertisements specifically intended for younger audiences would be useless, and marketing teams would have to rethink their intended audience, which wastes money. Granted, this situation is hypothetical, but these events unfolding are a possibility. If this were to happen, then it could potentially lead to a market crash. 

Furthermore, all video games, including violent ones, should be available for minors to buy because video games have an impact on the social life of the gamer. Many people think that violent video games lead to isolation, and ultimately loneliness; however, this is false.

According to an article posted on Fossbytes, 9 out of the ten top-selling video games of 2020 are violent. And of these nine violent video games, all of them are multiplayer. So the majority of the most played games in America allows you to play with other people.

Some of the top-selling video games require a partner or two to play with before you can even access the game. These games are a platform for people to meet new people around the world and make connections. It just so happens that most of these games are violent because a major component of shooting and fighting games encourages collaboration.

In an article by the Entertainment Software Association, the author states, “more than half of the most frequent game players say that video games help them connect with friends and about half of them say that video games enable them to spend time with family.” 

Furthermore, in the same article, President and CEO of ESA Michael D. Gallagher stated, “Video games provide a social setting where family and friends come together to connect, learn and have fun. The sheer number of people who regularly enjoy entertainment software and share those experiences with others underscores how video games have become ingrained in our culture.” Violent video games contribute to social aspects of life; taking away these games takes away a part of somebody’s social life and their opportunity to communicate with others. 

The vast majority of people believe that puzzle video games can develop the brain, whereas violent video games only lead to increased levels of aggression and irritation. However, this claim is refuted with a study by the Université de Genève in Switzerland, where two groups of people from ages 6 to forty were examined. In this study, both groups took a test that examined the test taker’s cognitive functions.

After the scores were reported, one group played traditionally violent shooter games, while the other group played control games such as Puzzle, Sims, and Tetris. Both groups played for at least 8 hours over a week and up to 50 hours over 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks, both groups were tested again and the results were unexpected. The group that participated in violent video games improved their cognitive skills by an insurmountable gap than the control group.

Abilities such as depth perception, reaction time, reflexes, and spatial attention were enhanced. Thus, it was concluded that violent video games do develop the brain faster than puzzle games do. Therefore violent video games lead to cognitive development, but do they lead to increased violent tendencies? There is no doubt that violent video games could change a person but only mildly.

Minors’ brains are not fully developed but there is a major difference in experiencing violent situations and committing or developing violent acts/tendencies. There has not been a reported incident where an act of violence happened that was rooted in violent video games. 

There has always been a stigma about violent video games and their negative consequences. But recent research suggests that these games are not as bad as they seem, and are just portrayed in a bad light by the media and overprotective parents.

A law that prohibits minors from playing and being sold violent video games could cause the loss of tremendous amounts of money. Also, these video games are an outlet for many kids to communicate with others, and the deprivation of such games would cut off this form of bonding.

Ultimately, there should not be a ban on violent video games for minors, since the choice should be up to the legal guardians of the minors, not the government. 

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