March 18, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 88  

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Video game violence

By Mark Weir
Gazette Staff

For the first time in history, the Ontario Film Review Board has placed a Restricted rating on a video game due to high levels of graphic violence. The recent release of the horror/action game Manhunt has again sparked the debate about violence in video games and its effect on children.

“This game certainly caught our attention,” said OFRB chair Bill Moody, noting it was the first game ever called in for a review.

“[The violence in] Manhunt has definitely come a long ways from the first video game,” he said, “Video games are much more explicit than they once were — they are as graphic as movies nowadays.”

Conducting studies on video game violence is important, Moody explained, but he did not see a need for his agency to be proactive on the issue. “Our job [at OFRB] is to classify the product, not determine the value of the product to society,” he said. “The ball is in [the software companies] park.”

“There have been a pile of studies on the linkage of violence and behaviour,” said computer science professor Michael Katchabaw, adding that the connection between them is inconclusive.

Katchabaw illustrated the difficulty of dealing with violence in video games when free speech issues come into play. “A video game is a kind of free speech, the same way you could say a book is,” he said. While he said that banning games is not an effective means of control, he explained that ratings may help in keeping the games out of younger people’s hands.

“I agree that ratings have an appropriate place,” said third-year philosophy student Anthony Plescia. “In my own experience, my mind is still in combat mode after playing a video game.”

“I don’t think there is too much violence in video games,” said second-year media, information and technoculture student Travis Kruger. “Whatever rating they put on the game, kids will still want to get a hold of it.”

—with files from
Samantha Robinson



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