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Teen Violence and Video Games

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Teen Violence and Video Games

As a teen, I would spend hours sitting in front of the television playing Space Invaders on the original Atari Game System and that was over thirty years ago. The games and graphics from the mid-eighties don't compare to the high definition graphics and realistic game play of today's game systems. However, because of their realistic graphics and game play, video games are being accused of distorting teen's minds into not being able to distinguish reality from fantasy. This distortion of the mind is said to cause aggressive and violent behaviors in teens. In some cases, it was alleged to be the cause for the teen to kill.

The first video game to gain world wide popularity was Pong. Players moved their paddles in a table tennis simulation. Atari released their home video game system in the late 70's. Following Atari was Nintendo and Sega. Video games were seen as entertainment for children and families. As technology improved, so did the realism of the graphics and game play. This also initiated controversial debates of life-like video game violence, perhaps best exemplified by the violent and graphic Mortal Kombat fighting game from Midway. Mortal Kombat characters partook in some incredibly violent maneuvers, including decapitation and hearts being ripped out of chests. As one of the most violent video games of the time, Mortal Kombat also contained copious amounts of blood. Parents were concerned with their kid's behavior after playing such a violent and graphic video game. Many people believe that Mortal Kombat was the tipping point that led to the establishment of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in 1994. This was an official and standardized rating system for video games.

A few years later a game called Doom was released. Doom was another video game that was linked in causing violent and aggressive behaviors in teens. Doom was a game licensed by the U.S. military to train Marines, Army and law enforcement agencies to effectively kill. It was a first person shooter game. Teens would log hours playing this bloody and gory game. On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold aggressively took control of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. After murdering 13 and wounding 23, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold turned their guns on themselves. Nothing is for certain as to why Eric and Dylan did what they did but they both were highly addicted to playing the Doom. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which tracks Internet hate groups, found in its archives a copy of Harris' web site with a version of Doom. He had customized it so that there were two shooters, each with extra weapons and unlimited ammunition. When the game was played, their opponents would be unarmed and could not fight back. For a class project, Harris and Klebold made a videotape that was similar to their customized version of Doom. In the video, Harris and Klebold were dressed in trench coats, carried guns, and killed school athletes. One year later, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold acted out their videotaped performance on Columbine.

After Columbine, many case studies by psychologist were done on the effects of playing such violent and graphic video games. Several books written by Lt. Col. Davis Grossman, a formal West Point psychology professor touches on the subject of violence in games. Lt. Col. Davis Grossman has been interviewed on the content of his books from Set off titles... On Killing and Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill. In his books,

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