|“Put down that game controller and step away from that console.” In essence, those could be the words—or at least the English translation—that some gamers in Venezuela could hear very soon.
The issue facing law officials in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, is street violence. In the many crime-ridden slums around the city, youngsters are transitioning from virtual weapons to real ones, way to easily. To curb this trend, Venezuela’s National Assembly is moving forward to prohibit violent video games and toys. A final vote is expected soon.
But not everyone is happy about this proposal. Granted, the teens playing these games at Internet cafes are not happy. While parents seems to favor the ban, many say it is a small band-aid on the gushing wound of violence plaguing the country. Last year, the Ministry released figures that put the weekly homicide rate at 152, or 7900 yearly. Put into perspective, that is five times the murder rate of Texas, which has roughly the same population as Venezuela.
Will the ban result in lower murder rates? Time will tell. But it could have a negative effect, as well. Without the entertainment and distraction of video games, the teens who once occupied their time in a virtual reality may turn their attention to the streets.
The big question here is this: Because teens play violent video games, does that make them more prone to real violence? Some groups believe it does. Others, particularly those in the gaming industry, obviously do not. It’s akin to the porn issue: Does watching porn make a person go out and commit a sexual crime?
Violence in video games is an ongoing topic, as it is in film and television. I am sure more research and studies are likely to follow.