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Negative press encourages uptake of violent games

A new report by the British Board of Film Classification has found that negative media coverage of violent videogames encourages users to seek out titles that make the headlines.

A new report by the British Board of Film Classification has found that negative media coverage of violent videogames encourages users to seek out titles that make the headlines.

The report also dismisses the idea that videogames have an absorbing or 'addictive' effect on the player, finding that interaction keeps the player aware they are playing a game.

"We were particularly interested to see that this research suggests that, far from having a potentially negative impact on the reaction of the player, the very fact that they have to interact with the game seems to keep them more firmly rooted in reality," commented David Cooke, director of the BBFC.

"People who do not play games raise concerns about their engrossing nature, assuming that players are also emotionally engrossed. This research suggest the opposite — a range of factors seem to make them less emotionally involving than film or television," he said.

The research was conducted throughout the UK and involved interviews with games players, journalists, parents and industry figures.

A number of key gaming titles were looked at in depth, including Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, The Sims and Championship Manager.

It was Rockstar's Manhunt where respondents admitted the media furore surrounding the title — linked to the murder of teenager Stefan Pakeerah in 2004 — tempted them to seek out the game.

"I looked at Manhunt because there was all the stuff in the news. There was a murder and they blamed that game. So straight away I thought I would have a look at it," said one interviewee.

However, the report looks at multiple perceptions of each game, with another respondent stating: "The reason that Manhunt is so difficult for everyone to deal with is that it doesn't let you dodge this fact, that you like pretending to be a murderer."

"It's an extremely good game and very moral game. It's a great shame that the games industry wasn't prepared to stand up for it."

The report also highlights a number of other videogame issues, and can be downloaded directly from bbfc.co.uk

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