As a result of this report, the APA is
urging the Entertainment Software
Rating Board (ESRB) to refine its video
game rating system. Can you explain
what you’d like to see happen?
Violence is not well defined in the video
game ratings, even though violence is a
factor considered in deciding the rating.
So games with very similar forms and
levels of violence may have different ESRB
ratings. Also, ratings are derived from an
assessment of a number of factors, including
violence, crude humor, profanity, alcohol,
tobacco and drug use, sexual content and
gambling, but there is no assessment of
these factors separately. A parent or game
user can’t easily determine the type, amount
or level of violence in a game. I would very
much like to see the ESRB develop a clear
labelling system so that parents and users
could easily know what is in the game.
The APA is also suggesting that
game developers make changes to
content. In an ideal world, what should
manufacturers take into account?
I would hope that developers would
consider what is known about children’s
cognitive, social and emotional development
at different ages when designing content.
Children are better able to process and
make sense of content as they progress
through different stages of development,
and it is possible to design exciting action-based games that take these developmental
differences into consideration, and then to
rate and market those games appropriately.
In the wake of mass shootings in America,
the media often draw links between the
shooter and violent video games. Do you
shake your head or is it understandable?
It is understandable, but I still shake
my head. It is horribly difficult for us to
try to understand the extremely violent
behavior of mass shootings and we crave
explanations. Blaming violent media
seems to provide a logically simple
explanation and a seemingly easy solution.
Will we ever know if there’s a connection
between criminal acts and gaming?
If you mean a straightforward, simple
not. That kind of experiment would be
ethically impossible to conduct. Also,
human behavior is very complex and
it is unlikely that any one single factor
(playing violent games) determines human
behavior in a uniform and consistent way.
Do you have advice for gamers
or their parents?
For parents, like for any other part of our
children’s lives, be aware of what they
are doing and be alert to their moods,
thoughts and affectation. Talk with them
about the games they are playing. Get them
to explain the games to you. Be aware of
what they think the games are about.
For parents and gamers alike, try to
monitor the amount of time you (or
your children) spend playing these
games. They can eat up a lot of time.
Developers are very good at producing
extremely engaging entertainment;
self-monitoring can be difficult.
of U.S. children play
some kind of video game
of video games on the market
contain some form of violence
average daily time spent gaming
by kids eight or younger*