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Videogames Developers and Social Responsibility

Once considered a defunct phenomenon of 1970s, video games has emerged a mainstream cultural phenomenon with the advent and development of computer technology. By the end 1970s, it became a favourite childhood leisure activity, and adults responded with apprehensions about the potential ill effects of the games on children. Despite some obvious harmful effects of aggression and nudity in videogames, the videogames developer never understood their social responsibility and only worked to advance their own vested and financial interests.

Early investigations to analyze the effects of videogames on children’s behaviour were full of loopholes. However, all these research studies manifested a potential bad effect of violence in games on the aggressive behavior of child. This suggests that videogame vendors has social responsibilities as their products affect the habitual formations of the members of societies and make them to indulge in delinquent behaviours that are not beneficial for individuals and society. Various studies indicate that older children spent more time (1.

2 hours to 7. 5 per week) in playing various forms of videogames and this activity is more pervasive in boys than girls. (Kirsh 2002) The intensity of time spent in playing games suggests that videogames are important ingredients of socio-cultural life and has captivated a vast majority of young generation. So videogames manufacturers can utilize this opportunity in inculcating a true social spirit into the hearts and minds of the children and help them to socialize in the best possible way.

But these videogames developers keep the popular trends of making hostile and aggressive games for their own material and financial interest and put the greater social responsibility aside. Griffith (1999) located nine different types of games (cited in Kirsh 2002) but he also indicated that children (both boys and girls) prefer violent games. (Funk and Buchman,1995). A research study conducted by Calvert and Tan analyzed and compared the outcomes of playing versus observing violent video games on adolescents’ aggression stimulation levels, antagonistic feelings, and violent thoughts.

The findings of this research indicated that a rise in the aggressive feelings and thoughts of the students who played a violent virtual reality game as compared with teenagers who had played a non-violent game. (Calvert & Tan, 1994) Another study (Irwin & Gross, 1995) based on the effects of playing an “aggressive” versus “non-aggressive” video game on second-grade boys found that boys who engaged themselves in playing aggressive game, exhibited more aggression in their attitude and activities than those who had played the non-aggressive game.

Moreover, these differences were not related to the boys’ impulsive or reflective traits. These results suggest that playing violent video games may make children more likely to attribute hostile intentions to others. Scholars are of the view that videogames aggression and constant exposure to these violent videogames is much more dangerous as player of videogame can model, reinforce and rehearse the depicted behaviors (Chambers and Ascione, 1987). Another socially intimidating thing about videogame violence is that it may cause empathy for the victims of various aggressions.

(Funk & Funk, 1996) Here again developers of video games manifest their social irresponsibility and portray victims as the worthy targets that must be attacked (Dominick, 1984) and violence of the heroes or protagonists of these videogames (for example Mortal Kombat ) are justified on these grounds. These depictions result in putting the player into more empathetic domain and make him/her devoid of sympathetic feelings. Buchman and Funk (1996) illustrates that another grave recklessness on the part of videogames developers is that they animate the world in such a way that presents a world full of dangers and terrorist activities.

This warped view of the world further leads to the tendencies of fear at the individual and social level. Another version of irresponsible behaviour by videogame developers is the introduction of nudity in the videogames. Some videogames illustrates explicit display of nudity, for example “Playboy: The Mansion”. In this game, the player can perform an erotic photographer and electronic “playmates” strip for player to be photographed. For this purpose, videogames developers are utilizing real Playboy photographs. The makers of such videogames consider that pornography has no limits and it is not prohibited for children.

Furthermore, “The decadent sex-game makers are frantically lobbying the industry’s toothless ratings regulator, the Electronic Software Ratings Board, to go easy on handing out the “adults only” rating, which means you can’t buy them at Wal-Mart and other more parent-friendly mass retailers. ” (Bozell) Another example of this explicit nudity is the game “Singles: Flirt Up Your Life”. This game not only shows nudity in various forms but it went a step ahead and illustrated explicit and bizarre sex phenomenon like mating and homosexuality. “Homosexual character couplings can be chosen.

After the ESRB gave this game an “adults only” title, Eidos (game-maker) decided to go around the retailers and sell the sex game starting this summer through Internet downloads for $30, as much as $20 less than new video games at retailers. ” (Bozell) All the above-mentioned facts and example manifest clearly that game-makers not only develop socially unacceptable and harmful content that instigate children and adults to indulge in anti-social and delinquent behaviors but even if these game vendors are proscribed to enter into houses, they find and uses illegal means to disperse their videogames.This industry has no self-regulatory code of ethics and lack social responsibility.


Bozell III, L. Brent. Video game Nudity Trend, Wasighnton Times. http://washingtontimes. com/commentary/20040604-095523-9341r. htm Buchman, D. D. & Funk, J. B. (1996). Video and computer games in the 90’s: Children’s time commitment and game preferences. Children Today, 24, 12- 16. Calvert, Sandra L. , & Tan, Siu-Lan. (1994)Impact of virtual reality on young adults’ physiological arousal and aggressive thoughts: Interaction versus observation.

Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 15. 1. 125-139. PS 527 971. Chambers, J. H. & Ascione, A. H. (1987). The effects of prosocial and aggressive videogames on children’s donating and helping. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 148, 499-505. Dominick, J. R. (1984) Videogames, television violence and aggression in teenagers, Journal of Communication, 34, 136-145. Funk, J. B. (1993) Reevaluating the impact of video games. Clinical Pediatrics. Feb. , 86-90.

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