Table of Contents
Video games are among the popular innovations that have appeared in the public life after the advancement of technology. Thus, many people in the public sphere are frequently involved in video games than before. Video games are used for learning and entertainment and almost at every place where people meet for socializing or interacting. Following the increase of video games’ presence in shops,online, and in piblic places, there is a need for appropriate regulation. It can be achieved through developing far-reaching public policy regulations to ensure that games do not affect the psyche of the public in a negative way. The regulations should also help to ensure that there is control of what is consumed by the public. The impact of video games can be devastating, especially on young people whose mind can be easily controlled or manipulated following exposure to certain video games (Chang, 2012). Cases of young children turning into violent teenagers after playing violent video games have been reported. There are also those who have pointed the finger at video games after they are caught in cases of sexual violence, theft, or general juvenile deliquency. The aim of the current paper is to explore appropriate additional public policy regulations for regulating the access and use of video games by the public.
Beyond User Rated Video Games
While video games are rated to stop certain people from accessing videos, the enforcement of the policy has not been effective enough. In the process, people, such as children, who are not legally allowed to access such videos, have been acquiring them with ease and at alarming rate. Even though the age restriction and censorship policies are in place, there is a need to enact an antitrust exemption that enables players in the video game industry to hold joint discussions and form agreements about developing self censorship guidelines (Dunkelberger, 2011). The aim should be to ensure that all players as well as developers and distributors in video game production and marketing comply with the existing laws and also observe the existing rating systems. The video game industry is lucrative as the market has been growing. More schools and learning institutions are encouraging the use of video games in the learning process. Parents also find video games to be useful tools for doing homeworkor even homeschooling their children. Because of the expanding markets, publishers, producers, and distributors of video games are much more likely to give little attention to the characteristics of their target consumers (Way, 2011). The analyzis of the market can serve to understand the market forces and develop public policy regulations that meet the needs of consumers of video games.
Video games are a form of a communication model and stakeholders in the communication industry can choose to work together to control how the medium is used. There needs to be a public regulation policy that requires players in the communication industry, including motion picture, television, music, and video game industry, to come up with a unified rating system for their products to avoid cases of inconcistent law enforcement (Freedman, 2002). By having a unified approach to enforcing public policy regulations, there will be control of the prevalence of media violence and specifically violence in video games, which are extremely popular with children (Dahl & Delavigne, 2009). Even for adults who might not be restricted by age requirements, there is a need to limit access to video games that promote gang ideologies or criminal activities such as rape and sexual violence against women.
Public engagement is absolutely necessary to put an endto this, video game producers can consider having women play leading roles in video games rather than portraing them as subodinates and always as villains (Gentile, 2011). Most video games are now accessed online where public policy regulations are not applied. Through these online channels, most people are accessing their video games without the restrictions that come with the traditional way of purchasing videos in local retailers. Additional public policy regulation measures could demand that parents whose children play video games online must have a filtering technology in place to block access to materials considered as unsuitable for children (Liu, 2010). Internet service providers should be encouraged to put in place filters to eliminate hate or sexually charged video games from their systems. It is important to make it a criminal offense to try to post video games that incite violence or juvenile behavior among the consumers.
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Producers and distributors of video games must also be involved in campaigns that target young people and the section of the population that is most susceptible to violence. The involvement of producers and distributors will not only send a message that accessing and using video games that glorify violence is bad but also that there is a need for a united approach to the fight against the negative impact of video games on the society (Ramos & Gomez-Barroso, 2009). The federal government or relevant authories can also define the limits according to which it is prohibited to make and distribute video games that glorify and endorse violence against any section of the society in publich or private spheres. The present policy regulations are based on the theoretical findings. Additional public policy regulations must be based on findings from a public institution that determines the extent video games impact the behavior of players (Blumberg, 2014). The resulting public policy regulations will be based on these findings, which is going to solve the problem of negative impact of video games on the society.
The fact that so many people are now spending a lot of their time playing video games rather than engaging into a meaningful activity is a reason to legislate the entire video game industry. Most of the targeted consumers are children and young people who are spending their time in homes during holidays or after school. As a result, players are more likely to indulge in morally corrosive video gaming that robs them of their freedom and right to choose what they want (Dickey, 2005). Engagedstakeholders can come up with programs that target parents of children and young people to inform them about the importance of using video games responsibly. The enacted policies and regulations should include schools and other learning institutions where the use of video games is becoming very popular.
The need to include the community in the process of policy legislation on video games cannot be overstated. The violent nature of video games and the growing gaming industry calls for community involvement in the regulation process. Following the dynamic development of the technology, video games are also evolving and some of the public policy regulations in place might not be sufficient for arresting or preventing the negative impact on the community (Dunkelberger, 2011). For instance, video games are no longer confined to desktops or laptops as they are also played on devices such as tablets and smartphones, making it even more harder to regulate. Furthermore, the negative impact of violence in video games is not restricted to minors as even adultshave been found to be affected by the violence depicted in video games. For this reason, user rating fails to stop a serious effect on the populace by allowing adultsto access video games that obviously affect their behavior. The result is a serious challenge for an effective implementation of age restricting policies especially for adultswho play violent video games (Chang, 2012). A good starting point in formulating such policies would be to work closely with communities, first to understand the nature of video games and the posible impact that they could have on those playing them. Only after educating communities laws can be put in place,regarding the access to video games depicting violence even by adults. It could be done in such a way that they do notfeel that their freedom to information is being curtailed.
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Working closely with producers and relailers of video games can also serve to alleviate the problem of accessing violent material. Apart from age restriction requirements, there should also be a policy demanding producers to include informative and easy-to-read warning messages at the start of video games to notify users about its content (Way, 2011). Most people who play video games do not have an idea what the content is, and therefore a warning at the start will help them in making a decision regarding the material. The messages could warn gamers of potential effects and charges associated with accessing violent or age-restricted material. The messages could as well serve as a tool for educating and informing potential players about the risks concerning long-term exposure to violent material of video games (Freedman, 2002). The public policy should stipulate that in developing warning messages, producers should use easy-to-understand words and symbols and provide translation where possible. To ensure that user accept such regulations, gamers must participate in developing messages and testing pilot programs to determine appropriateness and effectiveness of the warning about violent material.
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Types of Appropriate Regulations
Regulating a dynamic industry like video gaming can be challenging because of new changes that are always coming up. However, with a proper analysis of the problems and challenges of accessing video games to both young and adult users, appropriate regulations should really touch the areas that corrode moral and behavior of gamers (Dahl & Delavigne, 2009). This can concern a whole range of issues from production to actual use of video games by a consumer. In terms of production, regulations should deal with the real concept behind a given video game. For instance, regulations can bar producers from making a video game that glories violence, deviant behavior, or criminal activities. They can also be prevented from producing video games that perpetuate certain stereotypes against a particular group of persons such as women, African Americans, minority groups like gays and lesbians, or general stereotypes that are likely to cause negative feelings on the part of the user (Gentile, 2011). An example of such video games is those that depict a particular group of people as thieves, and therefore the player’s task is to pursue and kill them.
Restrictive regulations can also be based on the verified causal relationship between the effect of gaming on the behavior of the user and their level of exposure to the violence or an alleged impact of the video game (Liu, 2010). For example, most young people are exposed to juvenile delinquency while they grow up. One of the causes of this might be the company they keep and peer influence. However, if is established that the behavior is consistent with playing video games that promote truancy, then public policy regulations should be based on such verifiable findings as opposed to assumptions and arbitrary claims that have no backing (Ramos & Gomez-Barroso, 2009). Having scientifically proven connection between video games and a certain undesirable behavior among users, it becomes difficult for producers of video games to fight back in court because of their business interests.
Similarly, restrictions should not infringe on First Amendment Rights or people’s freedom of information, which is a fundamental right of law abiding citizens. The conflicting interests between introducing policies and violating people’s rights should be addressed at once to make the introduced policies appropriate. Laws and policies also become appropriate when there is public participation in the making process. Incremental improvement can be achieved when the public is informed of possible effects of using video games and gets a warning about the consequences (Chang, 2012). The public must be included in the process of developing these policies so that they support their implementation rather than regarding them as something that is meant to deny them their rights.
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Rating of video games for users is not an effective deterrent against access to restricted material. Given the dynamism in technology that has made access to violent video games easy for almost everyone, there is a need to work closely together with communities, parents, producers, distributors, and retailers of video games to prevent the negative impact on the population. The voluntary cooperation of industry players to develop, implement, and enforce public policies that help to remove harmful video games from the public sphere is the first line of defense. However, there is also a need to forge an inclusive strategy to avoid infringing on the constitutional rights of adultswho are equally affected by violence in video games. The need for cooperation with stakeholders cannot be overstated in the quest to developing appropriate policies with regard to video games.