*sigh* Didn't I JUST write an article about this being the topic that doesn't die?
Two teens from Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa, California wrote opposing debate articles discussing AB 1179, the violent video game ban law for California, and were published in the Press Democrat with Daniel Willens taking the Pro stance and Jonny Moon taking the Con.
Willens starts by bringing out the favorite whipping boy, Grand Theft Auto, as an example of the extreme and damaging violence present in mature video games. Could anti-violence proponents at least try to find some variety? Splatterhouse was just recently released and Mad World was more gruesome than anything Mortal Kombat ever came up with, though I guess I should just be glad he didn't bring up Doom or Night Trap.
Side note: full playthroughs of Night Trap are available on YouTube. Go watch them; they're comedy gold! Once you've done that, hit the jump for more.
Willens then references the study conducted by Iowa State University Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson that was published in the March 2010 issue of the Psychological Bulletin, an American Psychological Association journal, to support his stance and quotes him as saying,
...exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in both short-term and long-term contexts.
However, Professor Anderson states in that exact same study that,
These are not huge effects -- not on the order of joining a gang vs. not joining a gang, but these effects are also not trivial in size. It is one risk factor for future aggression and other sort of negative outcomes. And it's a risk factor that's easy for an individual parent to deal with...
Just like your child's diet and the foods you have available for them to eat in the house, you should be able to control the content of the video games they have available to play in your home, and you should be able to explain to them why certain kinds of games are not allowed in the house -- conveying your own values. You should convey the message that one should always be looking for more constructive solutions to disagreements and conflict.
In other words, the effect of games on behavior is minor and it's one that parents have the ability to control. The author's source to support his argument simultaneously undermines it. This is why thorough research is important, kids.
The rest of his argument has the usual flaws: holes and blind spots in logic, appeals to emotion, dearth of factual data, lack of legal precedent...stuff we've all seen before. I hate to feel like I'm picking on a kid, but when you publicly and deliberately make your opinions known you invite criticism from the public to pick those opinions apart.
Moon's argument is more substantial, and not just because it's the one I agree with.
What? You weren't expecting me to be impartial, were you? I'll be as fair as I can possibly be, but when it comes to protecting games as a medium from unfair restrictions and regulations I am most certainly biased. Anyways...
Moon presents more fleshed out opinions and backs them up with harder facts and court rulings to act as precedents. For example, he cites the Supreme Court case of United States v. Stevens which was about the First Amendment protections of depictions of cruelty to animals. Stevens won and the videos (their depiction, not their production) were determined to be protected by the First Amendment.
But these are my rants and ramblings. You can read Willens' piece here and Moon's piece here. An article on the ISU study is here, and Wikipedia entry for the court case US v. Stevens is located here. You have the resources, now research and form an informed opinion.