Debate over violent video games picks up steam

HOUSTON - The debate over violent video games and their effect on children is once again raging.

Kindergarten Killers is a video game depicting the murder of young children at school. Another game called Super Columbine Massacre RPG re-enacts the Columbine school shooting. KPRC Local 2 talked with Houston area parents, mental health experts and a man who developed one of the games about what effects they have on the children who play them.

Jackie Francis is a mother and grandmother on a mission. After hearing the National Rifle Association news conference following the Sandy Hook shootings, Francis started researching the game referenced that day.

Francis said, "You're teaching them to kill, you're teaching them to steal, Francis said. "He mentioned a video game, Killing Kindergarten Kids, that was never brought out in the media. Around Christmas Eve, I Googled that game and I was totally appalled at what I saw."

Francis has done her homework and said one of the games today that most disturbed her was Super Columbine Massacre RPG.

That video game's creator, Danny Ledonne, defended his game and said there's no link between playing violent games and mass shootings.

Ledonne said, "Events like Newtown, however tragic, are statistically insignificant relative of the number of people in this culture today who play video games."

Video games are big business. Research firm DFC Intelligence forecasted the global market for video games is expected to grow from $67 billion in 2012 to $82 billion in 2017.

Psychotherapist Micki Grimland has harsh words for the industry as a whole.

Grimland said, "These games should not be legal. Look at what's happening in terms of our mass shootings. There's more and more depersonalization of the human life and kids younger and younger are killing people."

However, selling these games is legal. It's a freedom of speech issue. In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled a California ban on the sale of violent video games to minors was unconstitutional.

Grimland said parents should be aware of what their kids are playing and never allow them to play more than an hour of video games a day.

Ledonne thinks parents should be involved in their kids' gaming.

He said, "If anything, I think parents should play through the game with their children, if they're interested in doing so, and having discussion about school violence."

Grimland said a direct connection can't be made that these video games are causing these killings because there are many kids who play these violent games and don't kill anybody. However, she said of the ones who have been involved in killings, there has been a connection to electronics and video interactions.

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