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Cutting edge or bleeding edge : should video games be regulated?

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Title: Cutting edge or bleeding edge : should video games be regulated?
Author: Benoit, James
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Interdisciplinary Studies
Copyright Date: 2011
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2011-03-04
Abstract: Video games are currently regulated in North America through an independent organization, the Entertainment Software Rating Board. The United States Supreme Court is currently considering whether to uphold a section of California’s Civil Code that bans the sale of violent video games to minors. California’s legislature created this regulation on the grounds that it protected minors from the harm and moral wrongs that playing violent video games allegedly cause. However, the Entertainment Merchants’ Association has strongly contested this law by contesting that violent video games cannot be proven to be harmful. From a harm perspective, regulations can be imposed to reduce harm to oneself (e.g. prescription of helmets), or harm to others (e.g. proscription of guns). Regulations can also be imposed to prevent actions that are considered moral wrongs, regardless of the harm they do (e.g. Section 163 of Canadian Criminal Code outlines "Offences tending to corrupt morals"). Therefore, this thesis asks the question, "Is there sufficient evidence that playing video games (a) causes harm or (b) constitutes a form of moral wrong to the gamer and/or the public at large that would justify a Supreme Court decision to uphold California’s Civil Code banning violent game sales to minors?" This thesis is divided into three chapters. Chapter 2 reviews the evidence for and against video games causing harm by examining experimental video game effects literature. Chapter 3 is an analysis of individual games that assesses whether playing them is a form of moral wrong to the player. The results of the first two chapters will provide the evidentiary basis for whether California’s law regulating games should be upheld. These two chapters showed inconclusive results in deciding whether video games are harmful and morally wrong to play. Chapter 4 explores improvements that could be made to the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s system if the current legislative measures are not upheld. Chapter 5 is general conclusions, discussion, and future directions for this stream of video game research.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/32064
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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