The media, specifically video games are constantly under scrutiny for the violent nature of their content. The link between violent video game content and acts of violence in the real world poses a serious question to members of society. Does the interaction of violence in a virtual world parallel in the real world?
Australia’s MA15+ games rating was the highest available until recently when domestic legislation was enacted that allowed a R18+ classification to be used. (ABC News, 2012) The censorship restricts the game to a particular age level; G, PG, M, MA15+ or R18+. After the change Grand Theft Auto 5, a R18+ restricted game was released in Australia. The game contains strong impact themes, violence, language, nudity and sexual reference as well as high impact drug use. Although, the average eighteen year old male or female would have had exposure to one if not all the previous themes either through the news, social media or word of mouth.
As an audience we need to consider the way in which the media affects us. Movies can reduce us to tears, television shows can provide comic relief and video games can create an alternate reality. After psychological researcher, Dr Mario Vance conducted a project at the Rapture Institute he came to the conclusion that “the media’s main concern appears to be that enthusiastic gamers can’t differentiate between games and the real world, so violent games will result in violent behaviour. But anyone who has the cognitive faculties to purchase, set up and operate modern games consoles won’t have trouble differentiating between a cartoonish fantasy world and reality.” (Burnett, 2013)
Video games have received a negative stigma culturally compared to other mediums. Violent video games are generally not accepted as a healthy pastime for teenagers or young adults. However a contact sport like rugby union or rugby league is often considered a national pastime. Both contain violent elements but its ultimately the way in which the media presents it to the public.
“After over sixty years of a considerable amount of research effort, direct effects of media upon behaviour have not been clearly identified, then we should conclude that they are simply not there to be found.” – (Gauntlett, 1998)
Australian Broadcasting Commission, R18+ video game rating passes Senate, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-19/r18-video-game-rating-passes-senate/4078460, 19th June 2012
Dean Burnett, The Guardian, Claims that ‘video games lead to violence’ lead to violence, http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2013/sep/20/video-games-cause-violence-claims-cause-violence, 20th September 2013
David Gauntlett, Ten things wrong with the media effects model, http://www.theory.org.uk/david/effects.htm, 1998