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Teen-rated video games loaded with violence

A new study finds that Teen-rated video games contain significant amounts of violence and death. Led by researchers at the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston and the Kids Risk Project at the Harvard School of Public Health, the study appears March 12 in Medscape General Medicine (www.medgenmed.com), the first and only online, peer-reviewed primary source general medical journal that is published by Medscape.

Using a random sample of 81 video games rated T (for Teen) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), study authors Kevin Haninger, a doctoral student at Harvard University, Seamus Ryan, a research associate, and Dr. Kimberly Thompson, co-founder and director of research for the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston, characterized game content related to violence, blood, and weapons. They found violence in 98 percent of games, representing 36 percent of game play time, and blood depicted in 42 percent of games. Deaths from violence occurred in 77 percent of games, at an average rate of 122 deaths per hour of game play, with half of deaths involving human characters.

"This study demonstrates quantitatively that T-rated video games contain significant amounts of violence, injury, and death," said the study's lead author Haninger, who also is affiliated with the Center and the Kids Risk Project.

Haninger, Ryan, and Thompson found that 90 percent of games in the random sample rewarded or required the player to injure characters, 69 percent rewarded or required the player to kill, and 46 percent rewarded or required the player to destroy objects. Although video games did not always depict blood, 89 percent of games depicted injuries to human characters, including the player, and 54 percent of games depicted injuries to nonhuman characters. Overall, the authors observed 11,499 character deaths in approximately 95 hours of game play from random sampl
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Contact: Mary-Ellen Shay
mary.shay@childrens.harvard.edu
617-355-2520
Children's Hospital Boston
23-Mar-2004


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