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The universal rating system for video games was created and maintained by a non-profit organization called the Entertainment Software Rating board, or ESRB for short. The ESRB rating system ranges from games rated “E”, meaning intended for everyone; to games rated “M” which are intended to be played by only mature players. Games typically achieve the status of being rated mature by including excessive violence, crudelanguage, and sexual themes. An easy way to think about it is that mature rated games are very comparable to “R” rated movies. Games that are rated mature contain very similar levels, and at times even more, mature content then rated “R” movies. By law in order to purchase or rent a mature rated game, you are required to be at least seventeen years old. This law that is enforced by all major video game retailers is supposed to be verypositive rule for society because it supposedly makes it harder for children under the age of seventeen to obtain mature rated games. It makes sense that if children are unable to obtain these mature rated games, then they will not be exposed to all the mature content that has such a dramatic impact on their developing minds. The truth about this though is that this rule is not effective at all because kids are easily able to find ways around it. One of the easiest ways for kids to access these mature games is by downloading them from the internet where there is no enforcement to stop them even if they are under the age of seventeen. In an interview with Ayad Alturky, an owner of an internet café, reported that he had made attempts in the past to ban children from playing such games; but it proved to be impossible because of how easily children were
7able to download the games from the internet (Al-Warafy). The results of a study done by the Washington State Department of Health showed that seven out of ten kids report playing mature rated games, and forty 45 percent of kids report being able to purchase a mature rated game without a parent present (Bensley). It is clear that that the law that restricts children from purchasing mature rated has not been very effective when you consider that nearly 50 percent of kids reported being able to purchase these games without a parent.One other area of focus for psychologists when studying the effects of video games on children has been on the way it influence their academic performance. A study was done in Thailand in 2007 that looked at the relationship between playing video games and adolescent’s performance in school. The results of the study showed that there was a strong relation between excessive playing of video games and having agrade point average of below 3.00; the study also showed that low video game users were less likely to have a grade point average lower than 3.00 (Jaruratanasirikul). Therecould be multiple reasons for this relationship between these two variables, but one of the main reasons is definitely that video games distract children from their school work.