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A history of video game controversies

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A history of video game controversies

Since its inception in the 1970s, video games have been rife with controversy.  In the early days, it was thought that arcades would be a hotbed for crime, sex and delinquency. In the 1980s and early 1990s, video games were one of the biggest targets of the mass hysteria of the Satanic Panic. Video Games have often been blamed for atrocities such as mass shootings and rising juvenile crime rates. There has even been legislation proposed to censor or label the content that can be put into video games and how they can be sold.

Here we will discuss the main controversies that have revolved around video games over the years and how that has affected the industry as a whole.


The violence present in certain video games, such as Call of Duty and modded Grand Theft Auto accounts, was a big controversial talking point in the 2000s among parents and legislators. It was believed by many parents and legislators that violent video games encourage real-life violence in young children who spend too much time playing them.

This sentiment that violent video games encourage real-life violence has increased in the years after the Columbine shooting. Eric Harass and Dyan Klebold were known to indulge in first-person shooter games in the years leading up to the shooting, resulting in the games being widely blamed for the shooting and many of the other mass shootings that followed. There has even been legislation proposed to limit or censor violent video games, particularly first-person shooters, in an attempt to subdue this perceived effect.

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In more recent years, there have been many psychological studies that show there is little to no correlation between most children playing violent video games and partaking in real-life violent behaviour. However, if a child is already prone to violent behaviour, violent video games can have a negative effect on them.

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Online Harassment

Online Harassment in video games, particularly in multiplayer games has been a prominent problem in the video game community and the internet in general since their inception. Unfortunately, it has taken many years for the criminal justice system and law enforcement to catch up with the Internet age.

In 2013, a phenomenon known as GamerGate swept through the online gaming community. The conflict between the social justice and feminist side of the gaming community and the right-wing side of the gaming community was as brutal as it ever was, causing both real-life and online harassment targeted at those that were vilified by either side. Anonymous trolls would spam their targets with comments and messages threatening to murder and sexually assault them. Their home addresses were posted, encouraging real-life harassment often resulting in the target having to move or flee their homes

At the time, there were very few laws protecting people against online harassment. If the threats and harassment did not escalate into real-life violence, there was very little law enforcement could do about it. Progress has been extremely slow, but in the ten years since Game Gate, there have been more legal protections put in place for online harassment. Longstanding stalking and harassment laws have been modified to extend to online activity. Although it is far from perfect, there have been more and more laws put in place to keep people safe from online harassment, extending to online gaming spaces and multiplayer games.

Effects on Children’s Attention Span

There’s no denying that the average person’s attention span has greatly decreased in the years following the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for children and teenagers. Many teachers and educational professionals have stated they noticed that in the 2020s students are less able to focus on schoolwork, resulting in falling scores in reading in math compared to students of previous generations. Elementary-aged children find it much more difficult to sit still for an extended period of time required for classroom instruction. Children of all ages, but partially children who were beginning their first years of school during the pandemic are way behind their social milestones.

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It is clear that many  of these delays  in children’s social and academic development are due to the long-term effects of the pandemic but many people also blame excessive screen time and video games for these detrimental changes in children

There have been many studies that show long-term exposure to video games can shorten the attention span of children in certain stages of brain development. During the lockdown when we were not permitted to leave our houses, it was common for stressed parents to sit their young children in front of an iPad or video game console to work from home in peace.

Studies do show that the fast-paced nature of many video games does shorten young children’s attention spans and makes it harder for them to focus over time, an issue that was most likely made worse by the pandemic.

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Taazakhabar News Bureau
Taazakhabar News Bureau
Taazakhabar News Bureau is a team of seasoned journalists led by Neeraj Mahajan. Trusted by millions readers worldwide.


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