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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 12:31 GMT
Shoot-em-ups in firing line
Screenshot from Half-Life
Half-Life pits you against AI troops
The debate over violence in computer games continues with pressure groups focusing on first-person shooter games and their effect on children.

Pressure groups against shoot-em-up type games believe a constant stream of violence is unhealthy for young players, feeding them negative images of race and gender.


"There's no room in a video game for anything other killing your opponent

Peter Kendall, psychologist
As technology gives more realistic graphics and gameplay, there are fears children will struggle to tell recognise the boundary between the game and reality.

But one gamer told BBC Breakfast: "I would not be influenced by any games to go out and do shootings and killings.

Caution

"There must be something wrong with the those people who do that, it can't be just the games."

One of the main targets of anti-gaming groups are the first-person shooters which allow players to fire at targets as if it is themselves pulling the trigger.

Edward Watson of the Playing Fields, a London-based computer game bar, agrees there should be caution used for young players.

He told Breakfast: "I think the main danger with young children with games, in the same way as violent videos, you have to be able to tell the difference between fantasy and real life.

"In that category of player is probably too much for them to tell the difference."

Pac-Man
The early computer games were a lot more gentle
But Rob Waugh of Stuff Magazine believes parents can be over-cautious about games, pointing out that games are given ratings, in the same way as cinema and video releases are.

Sexism

He said: "Parents cannot see what is inside a video game so there is a fear that there might be something disturbing inside it.

"In most cases there is not."

But educational psychologist Peter Kendall thinks parents are right to be concerned about the type of games their children are playing.

"Fears are a justifiable reaction to a model of behaviour which sees violence as a way of solving problems.

"There's no room in a video game for anything other killing your opponent," he told Breakfast.

But Mr Waugh agrees computer games manufactures are not "progressive" when it comes to sexism.

He is hopeful that once more girls become interested in gaming then the industry will change. He says 98% of players are boys.


In DepthIN DEPTH
Video games
Console wars, broadband and interactivity
See also:

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Half-Life: Your views
20 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Computer game helps dyslexics
30 Jul 01 | dot life
Happy 40th, computer games
24 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
A blast from the past
11 Jul 01 | New Media
Reading between the lines
29 Oct 01 | dot life
Gamers gather global audience
01 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Games set sights on the future
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