Violent video game play is linked to increased aggression in players but insufficient evidence exists about whether the link extends to criminal violence or delinquency, according to a new American Psychological Association task force report.
Mark Appelbaum, the task force chair, commented in the review:
The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy and sensitivity to aggression
Scientists have investigated the use of violent video games for more than two decades but to date, there is very limited research addressing whether violent video games cause people to commit acts of criminal violence. However, the link between
violence in video games and increased aggression in players is one of the most studied and best established in the field.
No single risk factor consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently, the report states. Rather, it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to lead to aggressive or violent behavior. The research reviewed here demonstrates
that violent video game use is one such risk factor.
In light of the task force's conclusions, APA has called on the industry to design video games that include increased parental control over the amount of violence the games contain. APA's Council of Representatives adopted a resolution
encouraging the Entertainment Software Rating Board to refine its video game rating system to reflect the levels and characteristics of violence in games, in addition to the current global ratings. In addition, the resolution urges
developers to design games that are appropriate to users' age and psychological development, and voices APA's support for more research to address gaps in the knowledge about the effects of violent video game use.
The task force conducted a comprehensive review of the research literature published between 2005 and 2013 focused on violent video game use. This included four meta-analyses that reviewed more than 150 research reports published before 2009.
Task force members then conducted both a systematic evidence review and a quantitative review of the literature published between 2009 and 2013. (A systematic evidence review synthesizes all empirical evidence that meets pre-specified criteria to
answer specific research questions) This resulted in 170 articles, 31 of which met all of the most stringent screening criteria.
In addition to the report described above, the APA released a declaration:
A Resolution on Violent Video Games - that strongly encourages the Entertainment Software Rating Board to refine the ESRB rating system specifically to reflect the levels and characteristics of violence in games in addition to the current global
While the ESRB said that it has had an open dialogue with the APA - and will continue to do so, it also said that it doesn't need to make changes to the ratings system. It cited an 8-year-old FTC report on the reliability of the ratings system
(compared to other entertainment industry ratings systems) and a Hart Research poll that found parents were familiar with the ESRB.
To help consumers make informed choices on Google Play, we're introducing a new rating system for apps and games. These ratings provide an easy way to communicate familiar and locally relevant content ratings to your users and help improve app
engagement by targeting the right audience for your content.
Starting in May, consumers worldwide will see the current Google Play rating scale replaced with their local rating on the Play Store. Territories that are not covered by a specific International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) rating authority will
be assigned an age-based, generic rating.
To prevent your apps' from being listed as Unrated, sign in to your Google Play Developer Console and fill out the questionnaire for each of your apps as soon as possible. Unrated apps may be blocked in certain territories or for
Beginning May 5, 2015, all new apps and updates to existing apps will need to have a completed content rating questionnaire before they can be published. As a Google Play Developer, your compliance and participation with the new app ratings
system is required under the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement. Apps that aren't rated using the new rating system may be removed from the Play Store.
Note: All apps and games on Google Play are required to follow the Google Play Developer Content Policy.
To receive a rating for each of your apps and games, you fill out a rating questionnaire on the Google Play Developer Console about the nature of your apps' content and receive a content rating from multiple rating authorities. The ratings
assigned to your app displayed on Google Play are determined by your questionnaire responses.
You're responsible for completing the content rating questionnaire for:
New apps submitted on the Developer Console Existing apps that are active on Google Play All app updates where there has been a change to app content or features that would affect the responses to the questionnaire
To benefit users, developers should use the assigned rating when advertising their app in each respective region, subject to display guidelines.
App ratings are not meant to reflect the intended audience. The ratings are intended to help consumers, especially parents, identify potentially objectionable content that exists within an app.
All rating icons are protected trademarks of the respective rating authority and their misuse may result in legal action.
Important: Make sure to provide accurate responses to the content rating questionnaire. Misrepresentation of your app's content may result in removal or suspension.
Rating authorities & descriptions
The bodies involved are:
The Australian Classification Board
Classifcacao Indicativa, which covers Brazil
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which looks after North America
Pan European Game Information (Pegi), which is used by the UK and 29 other European countries
Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle, which is specific to Germany
Australian Classification Board
Generic ratings are assigned to territories without a participating authority. There is also a variant set of ages used for App ratings in South Korea.
ESRB and rest of the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) will bring global game ratings to Google Play, consoles and more.
The ESRB and the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) are pushing out a global rating system, along with other rating authorities in other parts of the world, including PEGI in Europe, ClassInd in Brazil, USK in Germany, and the
Classification Board in Australia.
Importantly, the IARC (founded in late 2013) has gotten the ratings authorities to agree on a unified process that simultaneously generates ratings for multiple territories while preserving each of their distinct cultural standards. That
means parents and consumers don't have to learn any new rating systems, and developers can get their games rated appropriately across global markets at the same time.
The ESRB is pushing its ratings onto mobile and digital storefronts, beginning with Firefox Marketplace and Google Play. PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and Nintendo's eShop have agreed to participate at a later date. While the ESRB does
already have ratings on digital games available on consoles, a spokesperson clarified that what's actually new is the IARC process. Patricia Vance, president of ESRB and chairperson of IARC, commented:
With a single click, developers can publish their games and apps on digital storefronts reaching a worldwide audience. These realities have created regulatory and cultural challenges that call for an innovative solution like IARC to help
developers and storefronts provide consumers with culturally relevant, legally compliant and reliable guidance about the age appropriateness of the content in games and apps they may be considering for download.
The app store, Google Play has introduced an international rating scheme.
Developers fill in a questionnaire as to whether their app contains nudity or strong language etc and then an automated system assigns an age rating dependant on the locale. Local censorship variations will apply, eg an app might be okay for
children in one Europe, but not in the US.
In North America, ratings are based off of the ESRB ratings that are usually seen on games (though they apply to non-game apps as well). In Europe, PEGI is used, and so on. Regions without an established ratings authority will receive a generic
The automated rating system will be backed up by an app review team composed of actual human beings who will also check out disputed or controversial ratings. The team will make decisions about ratings within hours of submission.
Google is also rolling more detailed information on app publishing statuses, giving developers more insight into why their apps may not be published right away.
The ESRB has rated Creative Destruction's ultra-violent mass shooting spree game Hatred as Adults Only, with content descriptors for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, and Strong Language.
And while an AO rating isn't considered a ban, it will likely keep it from ever seeing retail shelf space in places like Target, Best Buy, GameStop, or Walmart, because North American retailers won't carry AO games.
Valve's Steam digital distribution platform doesn't carry AO-rated games either, but the game has been greenlit by the community. Whether Valve will let the game be published on its platform after this rating remains to be seen.
The Daily Mail has discovered the controversy seeking game and writes:
Hatred game becomes second in history to get adults only rating as critics slam makers for sickest ever storyline.
It has been dubbed the sickest ever video game because players only have one aim - to massacre as many people as possible in a genocide crusade .
'Hatred' is the story of a lone wolf gunman who hates the world and acts out his fantasy of brutally murdering the public and police because no life is worth saving .
The hooded killer uses machine guns, knives and explosives to kill in the streets, in schools and public buildings because of his bitter hatred of human worms .