Five faith and family based organizations released the list of the top ten worst video games to warn unsuspecting parents and grandparents before they purchase the blood-soaked and anti-social presents for their children.
In a joint statement released on Nov. 23, the five groups highlighted ten video games in the worst in terms of violence: (1) Doom 3; (2) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas; (3) Gunslinger Girls 2; (4) Half Life 2; (5) Halo 2; (6) Hitman: Blood Money (releases in 2005); (7) Manhunt; (8) Mortal Combat: Deception; (9) Postal 2; and (10) Shadow Heart.
According to sister Pat Wolf, executive director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), parents and grandparents are faced with confusing advertising and a vague and poorly promoted rating system for videogames.
Therefore, to warn the unsuspecting buyers, Wolf encouraged parents to: Take the time to learn about the worst games and steer clear of them. While I doubt that many parents or grandparents would deliberately put a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in the hands of a pre-teen, it is all too easy to see how that could happen today. Many adults who have not played video games may not realize that these 'games' will typically force an impressionable child to kill in order to 'win.' Adults buying video games for children need to understand that the game makers and retailers are not on their side when it comes to these violent video games. This fast-buck-at-any-cost mentality is something that is a real danger to kids."
Pamela Eakes, president and founder, Mothers Against Violence in America, agreed, saying, "No parent or grandparent should succumb to the pressure from a young child who requests one of these violent video games, which put the player in the positions of a mass murderer, a gun-wielding street thug, an abuser of women, an indiscriminate sniper, a cop killer and so on. There is no seven- or eight-year-old child in America who will be well served in any way by gaining access to these cesspools of bloodlust, degradation of women and racial stereotyping. I wonder what it will say to a child if they receive such a game from a parent or grandparent, no matter how unwitting the gift giver might be."
NYC Council Member Eric Gioia, chair of the Committee on Oversight and Investigations in the New York City Council, explained that retailers can now easily sell violent content to children.
"Some retailers are allowing children and teenagers to purchase the most violent, the most graphic, and the most sexually explicit video games ever created, notwithstanding ratings and warnings on the packaging. An investigation I conducted last year showed a minor could walk into almost any store selling video games in New York City and purchase them without difficulty. But killing cops, beating women, and committing hate crimes, are not something I want my children practicing, in living, vivid, color. The video game industry asked for a chance to let self-regulation work, and we've given it to them. In a few weeks, we will see the results when I release my follow-up investigation, said Gioia.
Gioia also encouraged retailers to act responsibly by keeping adult content away from children.
In the meantime, I renew my request to all retailers to act responsibly; keep adult content away from our kids, said Gioia. And to parents, I remind them that a well-informed parent is our best weapon against the distribution of inappropriate, potentially harmful video games to children."
Dr. Martha Burk, president, Center for Advancement of Public Policy and chair, National Council of Women's Organizations, also encouraged retailers to act responsibly by refusing to sell overtly violent games.
"Video game retailers must commit to keeping video games with graphic violence or strong sexual themes out of the hands of children. The best way to do this is to not sell the games, said Burk. Corporate responsibility must mean more than meeting minimal rating standards, which presently serve the industry far more than they serve the consumer. Retailers must develop their own standards in regards to the marketing of these types of games, and disclose how they are implementing and complying with these standards. Too many newspaper ads today mix in the videogames for toddlers with videogames no child should see. And on Amazon.com, when you pull up Half Life 2, you find that a purchase will be rewarded with a stuffed Shrek 2 doll. That makes the violent video game seem like something designed for kids."
Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, executive minister and officer, Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ, and president, North American Region of the World Council of Churches, said there is more than enough evidence to act against the ten listed games.
"Our concern about these violent video games is not guesswork. For example, there is ample evidence today that playing violent video games leads to increased aggressive thought, feelings and actions. We also have considerable anecdotal evidence of the fact that parents don't understand the industry rating system. And retailers must stop turning a blind eye when it comes to sales to children. This is a huge problem: A New York City Council study found that such purchases by children of inappropriate games happened in 34 out of 35 stores, said Jackson. These games are bad for kids. The rating system does not work. Retailers are making a mockery of the supposed limits on sales. All of this paints a very unattractive picture of a violent video game 'system' in America that just does not work at all."
Accordingly, the joint statement not only warned parents of the content of the ten video games, but also warned retailers and corporations to stop making and selling the products.
"Video games have emerged as a popular form of entertainment, with 70 percent of children living in a home with at least one video game player, and 33 percent with one in their bedrooms. $7 billion were spent in the United States in 2003 on video and computer games. We are speaking today to corporations in the video game industry, and to adults who will be purchasing video games as holiday gifts for children. We believe that corporations in the video game industry, who may pride themselves as good corporate citizens, must assume greater responsibility in ensuring that violent interactive entertainment is not accessible to children and youth ...
We call on the marketers and sellers of video games to: publish standards for marketing video games that encourage or reward players for performing acts of violence and brutality, and that depict images demeaning to women and minorities; place M-rated games in a location separate from other games in stores; post signage describing the video games ratings systems; and evaluate and report on their enforcement and compliance programs of policies to prevent minors from purchasing violent video games ...
We urge those who purchase video games for children, or allow children to purchase such games, to do so with great care ... We encourage parents to exercise their power as consumers and hold retailers accountable for the way that violent video games are marketed and sold. Parents need to visit retailers and find out how they display the games and how stores enforce the current ratings system. They should urge retailers to stop selling violent games or at the very least separate them from child-friendly ones. They can advocate by writing to companies and letting them know their concerns about the marketing of violent entertainment media. They can find out what their internet service providers are doing to prevent children from purchasing or playing violent video games online, the statement read.
For more information, contact Ailis Aaron, (703) 276-3265, or aaaron@ hastingsgroup.com.