TV Article

Tough Questions for a Game Boy

Violence in video games -- Capcom employee Scott Smith fields concerned parents' questions about the brutality in today's games

What do the people who bring violence to video games have to say for themselves? We asked 28-year-old Scott Smith, product-development coordinator for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Capcom — the company that created Street Fighter — to field parents' questions. (Smith doesn't have children of his own.)

Q: Can't you make an enjoyable video game without its being violent? Are you telling me kids know the difference between video-game violence and reality? — Michelle Clinton, Englewood, Colo.; sons, 10 and 7
A: Ninety percent of the games are built around a conflict. You may be attacking a giant mushroom or fighting your way through thugs. There's always a goal, and there's got to be an obstruction to that goal. But the characters are cartoons. Violence in society is growing, but is that the fault of technology? If the parent is concerned about what the child is playing, I think the parent needs to take an active role when purchasing a cartridge. Read the back of the box. I can't be expected to dictate what is good or bad for your child.

Q: Are you proud of producing Street Fighter? — Scott Hume, River Forest, Ill.; daughter, 12; son, 7
A: I'm extremely proud. It's not just punch-'em, kick-'em fare. You must think when you're playing this game. It requires an immense amount of strategy. It's imaginative fare.

Q: What do you think a child is thinking about when he's cutting off another player's head? What has a kid gained after spending seven hours with a video game, compared with reading or playing basketball? — Judy Johnson, Mattawan, Mich.; son, 11; daughter, 8
A: I know this for a fact: Kids playing any game, whether it's Street Fighter or Mario Brothers, are trying to do one basic thing — get to the end of the game. That's when they feel they've really accomplished something. When they're playing against another person, they're playing for bragging rights. Video games are entertainment. Some may teach, others may not. The games involve challenges and logic, but if parents prefer that their children do another activity, it's time parents take a little more interest in whatever their children like doing.

Originally posted Mar 11, 1994 Published in issue #213 Mar 11, 1994 Order article reprints
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