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Teachers: Citizenship:

Last Updated: Wednesday January 11 2006 15:25 GMT

Computer violence debate

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Media and society


A games console
Playing violent computer games can make you care less about violence in real life, according to a study.

Students debate the issues surrounding violence being portrayed in computer games.

Learning aims

• Debate the issue of violence in computer games.

• The law governing selling 18 rated computer games.


Children playing computer games
Read out this story to the class.

Ask students:

• Do you think that seeing violence in video games makes kids treat real-life violence less seriously?

• Why are some games age restricted?

• What is the punishment for selling a 18 rated game to a child? The seller can be fined 5,000 and sent to jail for up to 18 months.

• Why do you think some children try to buy 18 rated games?

• Why do you think some people are willing to sell them to children, even though they know it's breaking the law?

• Do you think 18 rated games provoke aggressive behaviour?

Main activity

A games console

Computer violence debate

Explain how to hold a formal debate by reading out this guide.

Tell students that the motion is: This house believes that computer games provoke aggressive behaviour.

Divide the class into proposers and opposers. Ask them to research and write down arguments which either support or oppose the motion.

They can research the arguments using these proposers' and opposers' points, press pack (for opposers), story (for proposers) and comments.

Students are then selected to be:

• chair

• proposer

• opposer

• seconder for the motion

• seconder against the motion
The rest of the class become "the floor."

Hold the debate.

Students vote twice:
1. They vote to support or oppose the motion, depending on which they thought were the most convincing and well constructed arguments. This may not necessarily be what they believe personally. The proposer, opposer and seconders must vote in role.
2. They vote according to their own beliefs.

Extension activity

After the debate, each student writes a personal statement of their opinions.

They pick five arguments that match their viewpoint and include them in a report that starts "I think/don't think that computer games provoke aggressive behaviour because..."


The chair announces the outcome of the two votes.

Students explain some of the differences and similarities between their two votes. Did they vote for an argument which they didn't personally agree with?

Teachers' Background

Click here for a picture gallery of computer game violence

It takes on average 50-70 hours to master a game, computer gaming has become a central part of leisure time. Game playing demands strategy, imagination, quick response times and a high level of dexterity.

"Much as the Apollo 13 crew learned to land a moon unit by training on a simulator, children are learning to kill via games" - David Grossman, 'Violence and the Political Life of Video Games'.

The industry is now regulated and games are given a rating e.g. 3+, 11-15 and 18+.

• The British Board of Film Classification give game, film and DVD age ratings. E.g. 12A = No-one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless they are with an adult. For more information, click on the right hand link to the Children's BBFC.

• 90% of all gaming titles released on to the market are exempt from legal classification under the Video Recordings Act. Many of these are rated by the Pan European Games Information system (PEGI).

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