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Catholic women join video game campaign

The Catholic Women's League in Canada has added its voice to many other voices internationally calling for the legal restriction of sales of violent video games to minors this week.

The Canadian Catholic Women's call comes following an international furore over the game Man Hunt, which is rated MA 15+, and which features violent and graphic murder scenes. The game has been blamed for the murder in February of a 14-year-old British boy.

English woman Giselle Pakeerah told reporters that she blamed the game for her son Stephan's death after he was murdered by being repeatedly stabbed with a claw hammer in February.

She said her son's 17-year-old killer, who was allegedly obsessed with the game, had mimicked the Man Hunt video quest by carrying out a brutal killing. The game has been banned in New Zealand, and West Australian Opposition Leader Colin Barnett also called for the game to be banned in West Australia this week.

The decision by the Catholic Women's League in Canada comes as Ontario and Manitoba consider new laws and members of film classification boards across the country plan to discuss ways of cracking down on video game violence.

"This is what we can do at home, make sure our kids are not watching things that would be encouraging them to be that way (violent)," said Maria Odumodu, president of the Catholic Women's League, London diocese.

However others say that it cannot be demonstrated that violent video games lead to violent behaviour. Glenn Sparks, assistant department head of communication at Purdue University, performed a study a few years ago to measure the physiological arousal and emotional state of college students from playing games of differing aggressiveness.

"What we found was the violent video game generated higher levels of physiological arousal," Sparks said.

"Theoretically, it certainly is plausible to expect that playing a violent video game could cause aggressive behavior, but while there is evidence from existing research for this, there is still a relatively small number of studies from which to draw a firm conclusion."

Sparks said a number of other factors contribute to aggressive behavior, including family background, peer group, role modeling and genetic pre-dispositions.

However the Australian Catholic Women's League supports their Canadian sisters. "Overwhelmingly it is women who are the victims of sexual assault. Any failure to restrict films or videos that depict graphic sexual assault is an affront to the dignity of women and contributes to their vulnerability," wrote the CWLAl's Marie Triffit in a recent submission to the Film and Computer Games Classification Board.

"What becomes "normal" in the media then has a flow on effect to society. It is possible that exposure to sexual violence over time will lessen the "impact" and normalize such behaviour," she said.

See also:

  • Free Press
  • TVNZ
  • ABC
  • PurdueExponent
  • Catholic Women's League Australia
  • Review of 'Manhunt'

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