➊ Video Games Promote Violence

Sunday, December 19, 2021 1:05:15 AM

Video Games Promote Violence

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Should We Ban Violent Video Games?

International developers want in on it — but its rules on what is acceptable are growing increasingly harsh. Is it worth the compromise? I n the years after it was founded in , the Swedish video game company Paradox Interactive quietly built a reputation for developing some of the best, and most hardcore, strategy games on the market. Most of its biggest hits, such as the middle ages-themed Crusader Kings, or Sengoku, in which you play as a 16th-century Japanese noble, were loosely based on history. But in , Paradox decided to try something a little different. Its new game, Stellaris, was a work of sprawling science fiction, set years in the future. In this virtual universe, players could explore richly detailed galaxies, command their own fusion-powered starship fleets and fight with extraterrestrials to expand their space empires.

Gamers could choose to play as the human race, or one of many alien species. Another type of alien is a sentient crystal that eats rocks. The game was an instant hit, selling more than , copies in its first 24 hours. Later that year, Paradox decided to take Stellaris to China. Paradox had been burned in China before. In , the ministry of culture had banned another one of its releases, Hearts of Iron, confiscating CD-Roms and shutting down websites that sold the game. Hearts of Iron was set during the second world war and touched on numerous sensitive issues — not least by portraying Tibet as a sovereign country. China argues that Tibet has been an inextricable part of its territory for centuries.

The company was not concerned about a repeat of Unlike Hearts of Iron, Stellaris was a game set in the distant future, involving intergalactic travel and aliens. Still, to help navigate the Chinese market, the developer partnered with the Chinese megacorp Tencent, the biggest game publisher in the world. Paradox was so confident of success that in December , it took the unusual step of announcing that it would launch in China even before a licence had been granted. It did not pan out that way. Yet, for decades, China has had a stop-start relationship with the entire industry. Video game consoles started to arrive in China in the late 80s — some legally imported from Japan, others smuggled in to avoid high customs taxes — and arcades popped up around the country throughout the 90s.

Like many governments around the world, the Chinese authorities were wary of this emerging interactive entertainment, and worried about its impact on young people. In , the Communist party banned gaming consoles and arcade machines outright. But the ban did not include personal computers, and pirated copies of video games became widely available on the black market. Today, Allison Yang Jing is an established game developer in Hong Kong, but at the turn of the millennium she was a year-old living in western China.

At the time, home internet was slow, so children started going to internet cafes to play PC games. Yang Jing remembers playing strategy games such as Age of Empires and Starcraft. There was a constant battle with parents and schools, who wanted to clamp down on gaming. Over the next decade, millions more would flood into internet cafes, as PC gaming flourished, creating an increasingly attractive market for international developers. Any foreign gaming companies looking to operate in China are legally obliged to have a local partner. For Chinese firms such as Tencent and NetEase, this was a goldmine. These tech giants, the Chinese equivalents of Facebook or Google, have regularly part-acquired foreign video game firms and then helped them access the lucrative Chinese gaming market.

One of the first and biggest deals came in when Tencent made an agreement with the American developer Riot Games. Four years later, it sold the remaining equity and become a wholly owned subsidiary of Tencent. They had been working on League of Legends, a fantasy-inspired online battle game. Today, League of Legends is one of the most popular games in the world, with tens of millions of people playing every day.

But back in , it was still on the rise, and breaking into China was key. At the meeting, some designers discussed plans to create an altered version for the Chinese market. The slides explained some of the hurdles they would need to overcome. First, Chinese regulators are notoriously squeamish about gambling, strong violence and nudity — not only in games, but in TV and film, too. This is partly because the country does not have an age-rating system. The Chinese body responsible for censorship, the National Press and Publication Administration, has some very clear rules — no copyright infringement, for instance, and no sharing state secrets — but most of its guidelines are less precise.

In , the designer at Riot learned of an unwritten rule that no video game can show characters emerging from the ground, as if rising from the dead. There were other rules of thumb, too. If a game features skeletons, developers reworking it for China will simply add on flesh. Nor can games feature realistic-looking blood. Some of the advice struck the designer as sensible. One slide focused on the importance of not mixing styles of dress from across Asia, which can be confusing, offensive or simply ridiculous to a Chinese audience — the equivalent of a British character in a French beret. Other recommendations were almost comical.

Another time, they talked about mermaids. It is hard to distinguish what Chinese gamers truly want, and what the industry, or the Chinese Communist party, has decided for them. She said the industry has stumbled in its attempts to cater to children and women, who make up a large proportion of Chinese gamers. A decade later, the situation looks very different. Beijing regards Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, as a breakaway province of China. Something similar is happening in the world of video games. They were, certainly. Blizzard and Riot have interests in China. But more recently, paranoia about upsetting Beijing has spread deeper into the industry.

In December , a major European game publisher, GOG, pulled the release of a game that was mocking of President Xi, even though it has no Chinese investors and had not planned to sell the game in China. The horror title had featured subtle artwork comparing Xi to Winnie-the-Pooh, a common insult against the leader whose appearance has been likened to the cuddly bear. If re-editing a movie for release in China can be tricky, changing a video game often involves a whole different level of difficulty. Whereas a film is essentially a linear series of shots, many video games are mazes of interwoven systems. Imagine that a European developer wants to release a game in China, but there is a level in which a player assassinates a Chinese general.

In a game, killing that general may lead to the player stealing his pistol, which will then affect how difficult the game becomes dozens of hours later on. The gun could be referenced in vast reams of branching dialogue. Feature film scripts average about pages, whereas some games have hundreds of different potential endings that unfold according to how you play. I once reviewed a video game that had a 4,page script. All this can make it incredibly hard to amend games to satisfy the censors — if one part of the game is removed, the rest can collapse.

So, what should parents do? Well, recent studies suggest that playing video games is not as harmful as often portrayed. However, parental guidance and vigilance are inevitable. In this post, we tell you about the potential negative and positive outcomes of playing video games. Depending on the content and the amount of time spent playing, video games can have positive as well as negative effects on your child.

For instance, a study by Hastings showed that educational video games were associated with good academic performance, while violent video games were associated with troublesome behavior 1. However, these results depend on two factors — the game play and frequency of playing. As a parent, you may want to control these factors. If you are against video games and seldom allow your children to play, then you might want to know about some benefits of playing useful games.

Playing video games has its merits provided not done in excess. The impact of gaming could be adverse too. There are several negative effects of video games, which are majorly associated with its extended and unregulated use. Here is a list of such negative effects. The above effects are often results of heavy sedentary gaming and poor ergonomics while playing. Thus, some researchers look at active video gaming that involves body movement as a solution to these concerns Playing video games can be fun, interesting, and intriguing.

Thus, children get addicted to them. There could be several other significant signs that could indicate addiction. Thus, it is wise to take some swift measures. Below are some measures that you could consider trying. Playing video games should never be outright rejected as it could push your child to play video games that are inappropriate for their age in secrecy.

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