Stepping up violent video game warnings

Marc Sanchez Mar 21, 2012

Yesterday Reps Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) introduced a bill aimed at clarifying violent video game labels. The bill asks the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to label games with violent content with the following: “WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.”

CBS news reports:

A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology concluded violent video games desensitized players to violent imagery. Further testing showed that subjects who played games like “Killzone” or “Grand Theft Auto” showed more aggressive behavior against opponents.

However, it’s just these sorts of violent games that have recently been studied and shown to improve cognitive skills in some people. There’s something about the action and the way the games make players think on their feet that stimulates our brains.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the studies earlier this month:

People who played action-based video and computer games made decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy, according to a study. Indeed, the most adept gamers can make choices and act on them up to six times a second—four times faster than most people.

The article continues with this quote from Joshua Lewis, a computational analyst at the University of California in San Diego: “There has been a lot of attention wasted in figuring out whether these things turn us into killing machines.”
So, is a label on video games really going to make the twenty-something gamer think twice about buying the next Call of Blood Theft Auto? Probably not, but enacting such language on a bill sure sounds good in a re-election year.

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