As a child who grew up in a small town with very few people my age, books and video games were my two primary sources of entertainment. At the time, I shied away from some of the more graphic games, but I think that might have had more to do with my fondness for puzzle games than anything else. Video games that are gratuitously violent or gory tend to annoy me because I don’t think it’s necessary most of the time. If the game itself is focused on action, then I can understand the desire to make it more realistic and to more accurately portray the damage in the game. It’s games like Mortal Kombat and its “fatalities” for example that I think are needlessly and excessively violent. To some up my thoughts on violent video games, I don’t have a problem with violence as long as it serves to further or enhance the story that is already being told. If the focus is not on any discernible story but is instead on the violence itself, then I take issue.
I think calls to have violent video games banned are a knee-jerk reaction that, while well intentioned, would not likely be all that effective. To start, I can see why the impulse is there. I do think that if kids start playing these games too young that there can be some desensitization to violence. However, I don’t think these games necessarily increase levels of aggression in children. It’s very possible that children who are already prone to violence are the ones who will become more aggressive with exposure to these games. From a logistic perspective, there would likely be too much pushback from the adults who enjoy these games to ban them entirely. The best that we can get is a rating system such as the one we already have that could be perhaps improvement by more stringent evaluation.