Vilonet Video Games
The debate about violent video games such as Mortal Kombat, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom has received a lot of attention since 1999 when two students of Columbine High School, Colorado, shot and killed 13 fellow pupils and finally themselves. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold enjoyed the bloody video game Doom and, according to many, were inspired by it. The debate over the destructive influence of video games even arrived at the US senate in 2000, when several researchers showed concern about the effect of violent video games on young people.
While we can learn much from existing research on other media types, research focusing on violent video games is very limited. Two studies by the psychologists Craig Anderson and Karen Dill, dealing with the effects of violent video games both in the laboratory and in real life are considered extremely important in the field.
Rating systems, adopted globally by the video game industry in 1994, established the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a comprehensive labelling system that rates over 1,000 games per year and has now rated more than 8,000 games in total. Less than 1 per cent of all games released in the UK have been rated as suitable only for people 18 years or over.
Laws banning or restricting the sale of violent video games and enforcing rating upon them have been introduced by several US states (Washington, Indiana and St. Louis among them). An estimated 145 million Americans are video game users and $6.9 billion has been invested in sales in 2002. In Europe, Germany has also moved towards a ban on violent video games after 16 people were killed in an Erfurt School in 2002. Should these be banned?