VIDEOGAMES AND VIOLENCE
There has never been a causal link established between real-life violence and videogame violence in any verifiable scientific study. Despite this, politicians continue to attempt to link videogames and violence, drafting bills that attempt to regulate minors' access to games, require mandatory labeling, and censor gaming. (For a listing of current legislative efforts against gamers and gaming, check here. To find out more about how you can help out, try here.)
Let's look behind the rhetoric and look at some interesting facts:
Who Plays Games?
- Gaming is a behavior practiced widely across the US, with gamers representing nearly 50% of the US population while spending $10 billion annually on interactive entertainment.
- The average gamer is 35 years old.
- The average age of a video game purchaser is 38.
- Only 31% of gamers are under age 18 and a full 25% are, in fact, over age 50.
What are the most popular games?
- Most video games, and the most popular video games, have no violence in them at all.
- Of the top twenty selling computer games in 2006, four were rated E or E10+, fifteen were rated T and only one was rated M for Mature.
- Of the top twenty selling console games in 2006, ten were rated E or E10+, six were rated T, and four were rated M.
- Online, Puzzle/Board/Game Show/Trivia games account for the vast majority of games played.
How Are Games Purchased?
- Adults are involved in over 80% of video game purchases, with parents of gamer children reporting that they are present at the sale or rental of games 91% of the time.
Industry Self Regulation
- The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was established by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in 1994 to educate parents about game content. The voluntary ESRB system provides consumers with information about the age appropriateness and specific content of entertainment software. For more information on the ESRB, please visit the ESRB web site.
- In comparing the music, movie and gaming self-regulatory efforts, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called the ESRB, "the most comprehensive of the three industry systems."
- The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) was established in 2006 as a result of the merger between the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) and Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), two retail trade associations dedicated to self-regulation of the ESRB ratings system.
- The FTC's latest secret shopper results conclusively show that the major retailers of video games are in fact inhibiting the sale of M-rated games to minors more than 80% of the time, which puts their self-regulation ahead of movie theatre owners and music merchants. For more information, please go here.
Entertainment is Free Speech
- The US Supreme Court has held that most entertainment is protected expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
- This winter, the Court will hear the matter directly via Schwarzenegger v EMA. The ECA is submitting an amicus brief (friend of the court document) in support of the industry's position and we're attaching a consumer petition. Any U.S. gamer can sign on to our U.S. Supreme Court petition, asking them to treat games with the same respect afforded music and movies, here.
Videogames and Violent Behavior
- As videogames have become more popular in the U.S., violent crime has decreased dramatically, particularly among youth.
- In 2001, the U.S. Surgeon General found that: "...it was extremely difficult to distinguish between the relatively small long-term effects of exposure to media violence and those of other influences."
- In the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report on school violence, Lessons Learned: An FBI Perspective School Violence Seminar, they include a school shooter profile listing thirty factors that may be indicators of potentially devastating violent acts, but the FBI excluded playing video games from that list.
- In a four part series on rampage killings, the New York Times examined the influence of media on offenders' actions and found: "While the killings have caused many people to point to the violent aspects of the culture, a closer look shows little evidence that video games, movies or television encouraged many of the attacks."
(Sources: The NPD Group/Point-of-Sale Information, Entertainment Software Association, Entertainment Software Ratings Board, Entertainment Merchants Association, Federal Trade Commission, US Surgeon General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New York Times)