Video Games: The High Tech Threat to Our Younger Generation Anyone who has ever walked through a shopping mall on a weekend know show popular video game arcades have become with our young people. It is becoming a force in the lives of millions of kids all across America. Parents and teachers become more concerned and worried when they see their kids devoted. They are highly concentrated because greatly influence the mental and learning processes of the younger generation.
Many parents believe that their children learn values more from the mass media rather than their from homes. Generally speaking, the video and computer game industry has been a growing concern to the religious groups, responsible politicians and bewildered parents for the disturbing contents and the substandard themes in some of its games. The video game technology must be recognised for its role and influence on the younger generation because, for better or worse, it clearly affects their academic and social life. Indeed, statistics are really alarming on the video game industry. It isa multi-million dollar business growing at 40 per cent a year from 1987 to 1993 (Palmer i 102).
Tetzeli in his article 'Videogames: Serious Fun' $6.5 billion -- a -- year business to the Hollywood film industry (110). He continues to point out that two Japan based conglomerate have put about 64 million video game machines in US households in total. In addition to that they also produced and licence d for all their software's for their machines (110). Palmer estimates to produce and market a full featured video game it would costs up to $10 million (102). Because of the cost producers attempt to make a return on their investments and earn as much profits as they can. To achieve their goals, they feature more blood, gore and human dismemberment in their games to appeal to the younger generation because violence sells.
According to Palmerythe game Mortal Kombat has sold a record 5 million copies for about$65 apiece. (102) The advanced technology in upcoming video game machines even allows the players to interact with screen images in ways never before possible. Analysts in this field say that it is only a prelude to the emerging world-wide network popularly known as the electronic information highway. Two of the Japan's formidable corporate giants, Sega of America Inc., and Nintendo of America Inc., are a real force behind the growing phenomenon. ' The world wide home -- video games market which they dominate is worth around $20 billion, of which about two-thirds represents the games themselves and one third the machines the yare played on...
Their empires are based on a distribution system built around cartridges and dedicated machines (Massacre 71). Their battle for the market share and the massive multi-billion dollar world wide market and their expensive advertisement battles have attracted the public attention (Hulme 20). For instance, ten million marketing budget and the publicity fuel a national debate on Videogame violence which obviously helped Mortal Kombat finish the year as the top selling Videogame of the year is the another success story. The game should bring $150 million in one year revenue by the end of 1994 (20).
Who else is to blame other than the technology itself for the public outcry against the violence and sex in video games? Some computer experts say that with a modem, most video games could be accessible, just like making airline reservations and holding library books. It is that easy. Evans, a concerned mother of two boys, complains, 'You see, those mothers know when their kids go to the mall or some place like that, they won't be able to buy cigarettes, or alcohol or pornographic magazines.
' Evans continues, 'But kids can walk into any movie rental store and pick up one of these violent video games, nobody will say no. The parents feel like they lost control with these games' (Browning 691). Alain Jehlen says, 'Our children are spending countless hours with these machines, their eyes glued to the screen, their fingers madly pressing buttons to meet contrived on-screen challenges" (74). Nowadays, technology has become even more advanced and is able to produce CD quality stereo sound and three dimensional images without any jerky movements. It is almost like a short action film than the sticky figures of the computer programs of the mid eighties (Source). For now, the overall sales of 16-bit hardware systems have slowed dramatically as video game players wait for the next generation of 32-bit and 64-bit systems due next year from Nintendo, Sega and Sony Corporations (Fitzwrald ).
For now, the main issue is violence. Richard Brandt, in his essay titled,' VIDEOGAMES: Is All That Gore Really Child's Play?' paints some graphic pictures of the hard core violence. While Nintendo, the trend and price setter of the industry acknowledges that two thirds of its consumers are under 15, they released a game called Street Fighter II, which features a character gnawing on opponent's head with all the usual violent formula. In its another massive hit 'The Mortal Kombat', each time a fighter lands a good punch or kick the victim emits bright red animated blood flying.
Players can win a fatality bonus. The winner might knock off and rip out a still pulsating heart by hand or tear off opponents head and hold up victoriously the spinal cord dangling from its neck (Brandt 38). Brandt also observed, a 19-year old playing Mortal Kombat, in San Francisco arcade, enjoys the fact that 'it doesn't look fake. It's a lot more real with all the blood and stuff" .
What a taste! What is the purpose of video game producers other than making money by exploiting animal desire and pure violence in the mind of our younger generation? (38). In fact it appears to be a growing demand for more violent sports games as well.
BingGorden, a senior vice president of Electronic Arts Inc... , revealed when he recently tested a new hockey game with 25-year-old. They demanded, 'Where is the blood?' (38). Tetzeli points out that up until now the video games are only a boys game. So far girls have not been a factor. Most of the titles targeted only male audiences and are based on boys themes such as street fighting, car racing, and football. But now Sega of America's CEO, Kolinsky has diverted his attention on women segment and set apart a team which comprises of well known female marketers and game makers to produce games according to the.
In that way they strategically targeted to enter into our living room like that of the television (116). 'It is a cultural disaster,' lamented a successful producer of NOVA, Mr. Jehlen, a popular science documentary and an accomplished writer, 'but it does not have to be a negative force. While most of the games of today's markets how shooting and kicking and not of much thought, the video game format has tremendous potential' (74). He believes that a video game can be a mental exercise machine (Jehlen 74). Since the video game industry is a relatively fast emerging industry, scientists have performed relatively little research on this area.
However, while some condemn it outright, others endorse it conditionally. Unfortunately, definite answers are not yet available despite few complete articles on this subject, as it is a fairly new field of research. Researchers claim that video games can help develop necessary problem solving abilities, pattern recognition, resource management, logistics, mapping memory, quick thinking, and. Helping to learn when to fight and when to run actually helps in real life situations (207). Brody honestly believes that video games could give children a sense of mastery.
For them success become like an addiction, and each time the games nourish them with constant doses of small successes which they deserve to become 'confident citizens' (53). A senior fellow of Manhattan Institute, Peter Huber overwhelmed many people by testifying that his 6 year old daughter learn basic musical notations by shooting ducks in the electronic key board which is linked with a MIDI and to software that runs on another computer. Huber testified's, 'television -even Sesame Street- holds no interest for her at all. What I see in her experience is the face of learning transformed, almost beyond recognition".
This proud father further admonishes, Don't let your children (or may be grandchildren) miss the train (182). Referring to the findings of some doctors, Sheff points out that playing games has the power to soothe any kind of pain for two reasons. First, the more they interact with an undivided attention towards a game, it is clinically proven that all kinds of pain and every thing else considerably vanish. Second, the player's highly excited state of mind generates a steady flow of a 'feel -- good -- chemical called endorphin into their blood stream. Endorphin is known for its natural suppressant for pain and develops a sense of euphoria. Playing games like Nintendo can create a sort of high, like that of jogging (204).
In an interview with the Information System and Computer Science department chairperson and his staff with a working knowledge of interactive multimedia and computer generated games, they acknowledge that the modern information superhighway is clearly a link to the world and it is here to stay and cannot be ignored. Dr. Ellis Brett, recalls that a decade ago, we lived ina world of isolation with TV and mainframe computers, but now we live in the digital age', an age that bring virtually every thing into a cartridge or a CD. He occludes, 'A teacher, a desk, and book are not adequate any more'. This point bring us back to the original thesis, that the must be recognised for its role and influence on the younger generation because, for better or worse, it clearly affects their academic and social life. The problem here, however, is not the educational or entertainment games but with the violent and substandard ones. Many parents see their children learning the values from mass media and video parlour's rather than from schools or churches or homes.
According to Browning there are two facts that are disturbing and have emerged from the congressional debate over violence in the media. The first one is that most parents feel that they are engaged in a battle with computer technology and other reason is that some parents apparently feel they are losing the battle (691). In the April 1994 issue of Marketing Age, Kate Fitzgerald reports that the growing angry to the public outcry during 1993 forced the Nintendo to reduce the most violent scenes from Mortal Kombat's home version. But Sega, and the other America's very own competitor Atari refused to reduce the violent content. As a result, the No 1 Nintendo reduced to No 2 and lost its market share and millions of dollars beyond recovery. Un compromised to the public fury the Sega took the No 1 position in the industry.
Hayao Nakayama, president and CAE of Sega Enterprises says: Unfortunately, Nintendo is going down". Nintendo's genuine efforts backfired. Instead of deterring blood lust, it drove more than 1 million action hungry teenagers to its rival Sega. Which afford the pure hard core violence of the original arcade game. This year (1994) Nintendo realised its hard earned lessons and its past 'mistakes' and compromise with the moral responsibilities and expected to pick up significantly but to become it sold position to No 1 remains questionable. (Fitzgerald 3) One latest development, as part of a new industry policy urged by congress and by the arm twisting tactics, both the companies have voluntarily " added on package messages warning some content may not be suitable for players under 17.
In reality, despite evidence that such warning some times increase sales of violent video games. (Fitzgerald 3] It is a good sign and relief that is the past few months, the ever growing violence of the video game has swept over even congress. Herbert H. Kohl, D-Wis., the chairman of the senate Judiciary Subcommittee of Juvenile Justice, and Joseph I. Lieberman n, D-Conn., the chairman of the Senate Government Affairs Subcommittee on Regulation and Government Information, looked beyond television, to violence in video game (Browning 691). During a recent (1993) congressional hearing Senator Herbert Kohl announced that if the video game industry does not monitor its contents, congress will.
Kohl and other senators are co-sponsoring a bill that facilitates and gives one year ultimatum to the video game industry to create a set of standards that likely include industry wide ratings. The latest development during March 4 1994 is that because of the pressure rendered by the publics and other interest groups and the congress the game makers voluntarily come forward to announce the creation of the Industry Council and embraced self regulations. The New York Times dated 15th June 1994 reports that the Industry's principal trade group announced two important news recently. The good news is that the computer games industry will develop a rating system to voluntarily label the amount sex and violence in about 2000 new games that reach the market each year. According to the source of the industries trade group, the bad news is unfortunately the 5,000 computer games already in stores, Mr Watch reports, would not rated. Bob Garfield, an expert on video games software in his regular column in the Advertising age angrily exposes that the hideous manipulation of children's psyches is a disgrace and further charges the industry for aiming to 'Be heard by exploiting kids' distress (21).
During the on-line interview with the Garfield through the Ad Age Bulletin Board Service (bbs) on Prodigy at EFP B 35 A, he responded by reiterating the same idea with more statistical data. To some extend he sounds reasonable and his comments are logical but his criticism on the U. S base Atari and other similar producers are concerned he is more of a business oriented and patriotic. He seems to be concerned more about the financial point of view than the cultural and moral aspects. The question remains who judge the culprit? Should it be the culprit themselves or a responsible government agency?
It is a sheer mockery to the censor board and the justice system as a whole. There should be an equality under the law. Cinema and video game or any other media in this matter should be considered equally under the law. Videogame industry is not only controlled by the two largest Japanese corporations such as Nintendo and Sega but it also severely affect the very fabric of the younger generation and the society as a whole economically. The government should take the moral responsibility to curb the illicit effects on its future citizens by establishing a uniform code of rating system all over its 50 states like that of the censorship on cinema and other popular media. For example, in all the Hawaiian islands the stores that are selling fake guns, combat 'video games' and other war toys may be forced to post warnings to the extend the general public to be informed about the playthings that can increase 'anger and violence' in children.
The state of Hawaii have been passed a bill which would require the stores to place signs on shelves in stating:' Warning. Think before you buy. This is a war toy. Playing with it increase sanger and violence in children. Is this what you really want for your child? (WAR TOYS).
Which may not be very effective altogether to control with violent contend. But still the warning gives a chance and may bethe parents pause a moment before they decide to buy any thing for their offspring. Voluntary rating system or any other form of self regulatory arrangement will only help to widen the loop holes of the existing system. By including this multi billion dollar industry under the existing film rating system or something similar to that would greatly reduce the risk of violence and ultimately would prevent the youths on turning for violent solution for all their problems. And also would help to form a violent free life style and prevent the younger generation and spend their quality time with their studies and parents. All other arrangements will, at least help us to further delay the process of controlling the emerging violent theme and content of the many thousands of video games yet to be produced or released..