Ever since the infamous Columbine High School that occurred April of 1999, people have been taking a long, hard look at violent video games that might influence young people. And with the holidays already almost here, parents are taking a close look at what they should or shouldn’t buy their kids, as more and more pre-teens and teenagers are becoming increasingly occupied with violent fighter or shooter games.
On April 20th, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold showed up to school, armed with shotguns and handguns, and started an event that will forever live on in the American psyche. The pair killed 13 people before turning their guns on themselves. When planning the massacre, Harris reportedly wrote in his journal that the event would “be like the LA riots, the Oklahoma bombing, WWII, Vietnam, Duke and Doom all mixed together.” These words sparked the raging debate over video games that continue to this day.
Ever since ‘99, countless studies have been published on the topic of violent video games and real-world aggression, with some claiming that people who play video games have shown a propensity for violence in the real world, while defendants of the gaming industry have claimed that there’s no correlation.
So let’s turn the spotlight to now, dear reader. Perhaps you’re a parent, wondering what to do when your child begs you for the latest installment in that adrenaline-pumping series of games. What should you do? How much violence do you deem acceptable? The answer is not an easy one, and it depends on a variety of factors.
First, how old is the child in question, and what degree of violence do you feel comfortable with letting your kid see? For example, if your 10 year-old is asking for the newest Mortal Kombat, a series long renowned for its gore and sadism, it’s probably best that you get them Halo instead, which features a T for Teen rating, the first in the series to do so. On the other hand, if your mature and responsible young adult is asking for Doom 2016 or Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, but lacks the funds to get it themself, that’s a more reasonable request.
Next, parents should look at their own personal beliefs. If you believe that the trend between violent video games and real world violence has some merit, then maybe you should buy your child a Mario game instead. However, if you don’t mind the fact that your child will be firing virtual bullets at virtual people, then it would be acceptable for you to get him that latest Battlefield game.
Another factor is the game itself. GTA V, a game rated M for Mature, is completely unacceptable for underage people, with it’s graphic depictions of torture, drug use, and prostitution. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the same. Battlefield V is also rated M, but only for violence and foul language. Final Fantasy XV, rated T for Teen, features partial nudity, a singular word of foul language, and violence. Then we reach Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and up) for cartoon violence and mildly suggestive themes; hardly anything to worry about your child or teenager playing.
Finally, you must look at the children themselves. Many game studios put warnings in the start-up screens of their games, warning of the dangers of an epileptic child playing video games. This is due to many games having sequences of flashing or bright lights, and these warnings are there for a reason. Additionally, if your child is easily startled or frightened, Luigi’s Haunted Mansion might be a better choice than Outlast.
Each of these factors can help decide what to buy your child in that last-minute holiday rush, but this is by no means a definitive guide. Everyone has their own criteria for buying presents, and different people have different approaches to getting gifts to give. This article was written based on what the author perceived as the most important factors of buying violent video games. Stay safe, and happy holidays.