02/03/13 — Game summit discusses video game violence

View Archive

Game summit discusses video game violence

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on February 3, 2013 1:50 AM

One of the forums during the Carolina Games Summit on Saturday featured a talk with video game veterans Patrick Scott Patterson and Joel West about video game violence, especially its recent discussion in the news media linking it to the Sandy Hook shootings. Video game actress Rachel Lara also took part in the forum.

The three asked why the news media has attacked the video game industry without asking it and those who play about the effects of violent games.

"Somehow, (the talking heads) think they are experts about video games," Patterson said. "They've never experienced what it is to be a gamer. We grew up playing video games, and no one is asking us," Patterson said.

"If Pac-Man was the game of the day, they would blame it for childhood obesity," he said.

"The three people sitting here are the archetypes of those being attacked. To say violence is directly linked to video games is absolutely absurd," Ms. Lara said.

West also brought up the 30 years of lambasting of the video game industry by news pundits. West had been in the center of the discussion in 1981 when an old Atari game called "Berzerk" was released. West was one of the premier video game competitors for "Berzerk."

Compared to today's three-dimensional sometimes visceral video games, "Berzerk" features a single character shooting pixels at robots.

The three also mentioned that parents should be the ones checking into what their children are exposed to. Parents can take advantage of a rating system on each video game packaging, much like the movie rating system currently in place, that reviews video games into certain categories. For example, a rated M, or mature, game is meant to be played by those over 17. Most retail stores won't allow those under 17 purchase rated M games.

In the early 2000s, the "Grand Theft Auto" series had been under attack. Patterson was working retail at the time when the games sixth iteration, "Grand Theft Auto Vice City" came out, which was rated M.

"We were working the game area the day that game came out. Sixty-two kids came up to buy that game, and they were told they couldn't buy it. Sixty-one parents came back mad that we didn't sell it to their kid."

"I told them, 'Ma'am, this games isn't made for kids. It was made for adults," Patterson said.

Patterson also reminded the audience that the average age of a game is 30-years-old, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

West isn't a fan of the newer shooting games like "Call of Duty," but he does think that parents need to pay more attention.

"It's a parent's responsibility to make sure that kids play the right games. It's a distraction and they're throwing the video game industry under the bus," he said.

"We don't disagree that there is an excess of violence in video games, but people don't have to choose them," Lara said.

At the end of the forum, much of the discussion based around the effects of the news media on a culture and how the media is discussing video games.

"We have to take the stage at a gaming event just to get equal news time," Patterson said.

"The media has power and with power comes responsibility. Media influences culture more than culture realizes."