Last week in southeastern Wisconsin police officers spotted a young man breaking into vehicles in a local apartment complex, and it was subsequently discovered that he and several other youths had stolen approximately 100 vehicles before they were caught. The apparent inspiration for this string of car thefts was a popular video game, in which characters steal cars from parking garages, along with other less-than legal pursuits. The question of whether or not video games inspire young people to replicate criminal and violent acts has been the subject of great policy discussion and investigation. While it has been suggested that the killings at Columbine High School were in part motivated by certain musical artists and violent video games, the debate over the short term or long term effects of these games continues unabated, with numerous advocacy groups and the Federal Trade Commission entering into the fray.
The first link leads to the news story that reports the full details of this recent wave of auto thefts in southeastern Wisconsin. The second site is a report on video games, First Amendment rights, and public policy by Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family. The third link is to the Video Game Research Site, maintained by Professor John Sherry at Purdue University, which contains several helpful papers on the nature of video game research and the potential effects of long-term exposure to these games. The fourth site is that of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, a self-regulatory body that deals with all facets of the entertainment software industry, and is also responsible for determining which rating any particular game will receive. The fifth link is to a series of special reports written by journalists at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on violence and video games. The final link is to a prepared statement given by Lee Peeler, the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, on the marketing of violent entertainment products to children by the video-game, motion picture, and music industries.