A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. Video games are played on electronic systems called platforms such as personal computers and video game consoles. These platforms range from large mainframe computers to small handheld devices.
One of the most common criticisms of video games is that they allegedly increase violent tendencies among youth, even though studies have shown no conclusive link between video game usage and violent activity. However, certain researches have proved that some patterns of video game plays are more likely to be associated with behavioral problems resulting in major violent crimes such as school shootings. Some of the major consistent effects of video game play are increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased pro-social (helping) behavior.
Excessive or compulsive use of video games may interfere with daily life. The adult demographic is the fastest-growing segment of the American video-game market. Nearly all American youth, aged 8 to 18, are exposed to video games. The American Psychological Association has commented that violent video games can increase children’s aggression, but that parents moderate the negative effects. Online gaming is an emotionally draining and time-consuming activity. Gaming addicts neglect sleep, diet, exercise, hobbies, and socializing to create more time for the computer and suffer a number of health problems from back strain, eye strain, carpel tunnel syndrome, and repetitive stress injury.
Over the last few years, the Federal and State governments have been trying to constrain increasingly graphic and violent content found in current interactive games across interactive video game industry. Various states in the Untied States have come up with restrictive legislation from time to time, but have been heavily opposed by the entertainment industry. In many cases these bills have been struck down.
Bills have been submitted to government agencies, including the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act introduced to the US House of Representatives in both the 109th Congress and 110th Congress. The proposed legislation would require an ID check for M- and AO-rated game purchases. This bill was not passed into law, and other proposed bills were stopped by reasoning that they were in violation to the First Amendment. ID checking for games with adult content is not mandatory. However, a 2008 secret shopper survey done by the Federal Trade Commission shows that ID verification for M- and AO-rated games have been increased by video game retailers.
Voluntary rating systems adopted by the video game industry, such as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system are aimed at informing parents about the types of games their children are playing. The board is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). This board assigns computer and video game content ratings, enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.
The following ratings provided by the board are designed to provide concise and impartial information about the content in computer and video games allowing consumers, especially parents, to make an informed purchase decision.
Titles rated EC (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
Titles listed as RP (Rating Pending) have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game’s release.)