Studies Show Graphically Violent Video Games Lead to Aggressive Behavior in Children

SAN FRANCISCO – Assistant Speaker pro Tempore Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) joined law enforcement officers, women’s groups, child advocates, and other elected leaders at Union Square on Monday to announce his proposed legislation focused on restricting the sale of violent video games to children.

“This legislation will expand the definition of ‘harmful matter to children’ to include video games that visually depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel,” said Assemblymember Yee. “Ninety-two percent of children between two and seventeen years of age play video or computer games and about forty percent of those games are rated Mature, which are games designed for adults.”

Earlier this year, Oakland police arrested a group of young men calling themselves the “Nut cases,” who committed several car-jackings, robberies, and murders. According to police, they were inspired to commit these crimes by the video game Grand Theft Auto 3, in which they developed the tactical skills necessary to carry out this violence. One perpetrator even said, “We played the game by day and lived the game by night.”

“I believe the game manufacturers have the right to produce them for adults, but clearly these graphically violent games are harmful to children,” said Assemblymember Yee. “When the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Psychological Association, all come together and jointly state that this type of entertainment leads to aggressive behavior, then as a community we must protect our children.”

Mature-rated games are the fastest growing segment of the 10 billion-dollar video game industry. Most of these games involve a form of play called “first person shooters,” where the player advances in the game by killing. The top selling games of 2002 reward players for killing police officers, maiming elderly persons, running over pedestrians and committing despicable acts of murder and torture upon women and racial minorities.

Assemblymember Yee will also be introducing a second bill that will require video game retailers to display video games with mature content in a manner consistent with the industry’s own advisories. This bill will require retailers to display Mature-rated games out of eye-level view of small children and separate from all other games. Stores will also be required to display signs explaining the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) ratings system. In an effort to reduce access of these games to children, stores will also be prohibited from providing free preview-play of Mature-rated games to minors.