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1.02 - Ethics in Gaming. The Rating System. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was a result of hearing held by two US Senators in 1993. These hearings were a result of many consumers’ concerns over violence in computer games.

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the rating system
The Rating System
  • The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was a result of hearing held by two US Senators in 1993.
  • These hearings were a result of many consumers’ concerns over violence in computer games.
  • This rating system helped provide parents as well as consumers with information about each game released.
  • This information could help parents select appropriate games for their children.
  • The Board rates all entertainment software and placed the results on the package.
the ratings are as follows
The ratings are as follows:
  • AO- Adults Only
  • EC- Early Childhood. Most of these games are educational.
  • E- Everyone
  • M- Mature 17+
  • T – Teens. Almost all of the MMOG’s are rated T.
violence in games
Violence in games.
  • What affect do computer games have on increasing tendencies to violence in children?
  • Many people in society believe that the high level of violence present in many computer games does contribute to the observed increase in violent behavior exhibited by juveniles.
  • This is a highly debatable belief.
  • What proof is there to credit these beliefs and what does society do if the figures prove the increase in violence does exist?
  • We know that children from a very early in their lives have been subjected to violence for centuries, if not for the entire history of civilization.
  • Most fairy tales depict some form of violence, and many children's stories have overt themes of violence.
  • Is there anything different in the experiences of children today that could explain the increase in juvenile violence?
early games with questionable content
Early games with questionable content.
  • Night Trap and Mortal Kombat were two games containing violence that evoked a reaction from the public.
  • Night Trap released in 1992 by Sega, dealt with saving the lives of five coeds from vampires.
  • Mortal Kombatreleased in the same year, had realistic fighting scenes including blood spouts and splatters.
  • Reaction to these two games from Senator Joseph Lieberman started hearing on the violence in the game industry.
  • The result was a warning to the game industry to regulate yourself or the government would step in.
  • These hearings led to the creation of the ESRB.
more questionable content
More Questionable Content
  • Many other games have been created with negative reactions from the public.
  • Doom was linked to the Columbine High School shooting in Denver Colorado.
  • The court ruled in favor of the game company.
  • Many other lawsuits followed including reactions to Grand Theft Auto: ViceCity from Haitian Americans.
  • All cases were dropped.
  • Finally the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis stated, “Weather we believe the advent of violent video games adds anything of value to society is irrelevant; guided by the first amendment, we are obliged to recognize that “they are as much entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature”” [USDCOAO3]
esa game statistics for 2006
ESA game statistics for 2006.
  • What is the average age of an American game player? These and other statistics can be found online at the Entertainment Software Association’s website.
  • Listed below are a few numbers from 2005-6.
    • 69% of American heads of households play
    • The average game player age is 33
    • 25% of game players are over 50.
    • 38% of game players are women (62% male)
    • The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 40.
    • Action games are the best sellers with 30% of the market followed by sports with 17%.
    • The top selling video game in 2005 was Madden NFL 06. World of Warcraft won for the computer game market
    • 79% of American children play video or computer games.
    • Players spend 23.4 hours per week playing games
    • Americans spend over 7 billion dollars on games alone not including consoles and computers.
foreign game markets and diplomacy
Foreign game markets and diplomacy.
  • As games reached the global market, culturally game material may take on a different meaning in different countries.
  • In Germany, a country sensitive to its past, has established a banned list. Games like Return to Castle Wolfenstein, tried to avoid the list by placing a generic flag in place of a Nazi flag and playing classic music instead of a Nazi song.
  • Games placed on this list find it extremely difficult to market and sell their products.
china bans games
China bans games.
  • China also has a long list of banned games.
  • The 2002 game Hearts of Iron was banned because it supposedly disported history and cultural integrity.
  • China successfully banned the game and all sales including confiscating all copies.
japan has a surprise
Japan has a surprise.
  • Japan also has banned many games including one for sexual content. But one game Medal of Honor: Rising sun caused interesting reactions.
  • The game depicted the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • The basic goal of the game was to stop the Japanese forces from attacking.
  • The game did a good job of showing the Japanese solders as real human beings in a conflict.
  • No one could imagine that the game would be such a success in Japan.
  • The game sold over 200,000 copies.
game stereotypes
Game stereotypes:
  • Do video games perpetuate racial stereotypes about different cultures?
  • Asian characters, in the last 20 years of game development, are generally portrayed in the same ways (hokey kung fu artists).
  • This issue of gender, racial, and ethnic stereotyping in games is quite complicated.
  • Games such as Lara Croft, who have women as their primary characters, commonly show hyper sexualized characters.
more stereotypes
More Stereotypes
  • Some efforts have been made to develop more socially conscious games, but the market does not support the themes.
  • As yet. Games such as Grand Theft Auto draw on racial, ethnic and gender stereotypes.
  • But are extremely popular with the stereotyped “minority” populations that it portrays.
  • Clearly, teaching materials related to such issues in video games must reflect the complexity of the subject, and class projects focused on these issues must give students an opportunity to explore them in all their depth and complexity.