Unnecessary roughness Featured

7:06am EDT October 30, 2001
There are a lot of ways to make money in the world today. More ways, I'd argue, than ever before.

Despite the dot-com shakeout, some entrepreneurs are still finding ways to use the Internet to generate profits. Others, as you may have read in our cover story a few months ago, are turning ideas into cash -- without having to shoulder the cost of implementing those mental breakthroughs on their own. Pretty amazing stuff.

Yet even with all these options for financial gain, I still find myself surprised and disgusted with what some people will resort to in their quest for riches.

Some of you may blame what I'm about to say on my recent leave of absence to spend more time with my children. You'd be wrong. Graphic, violent video games aimed at teen-agers have been a hot button for me for years. I just now have the time to start venting about them.

Yes, it's a violent world we live in. That's disturbing enough. The fact that some businesses have chosen to capitalize on that sickening trend -- and even feed it -- is appalling.

Take, for example, what appears on the surface to be a fun, child-appropriate, interactive toy: PlayStation. It's a video game system aimed primarily at children and young adults. One of my nephews, Nicholas, owns a PlayStation. Several years ago, when I was spending Thanksgiving with his family, I overheard Nick giving directions about one of his PlayStation games to another of my nephews, Bryan.

''You get more points if you shoot me,'' he said.

What?! I turned to watch their game. Both boys had control of a video animal character driving a motorized cart through a maze. They lost points for crashing into walls. They gained points for picking up certain objects as they sped by. They gained points for passing each other.

They got even more points for murder. I was aghast.

You can't tell me teen-agers wouldn't play these games if there weren't bloodshed involved. I won't accept that. The life of a teen is all about competition. My nephews didn't care if the object of the game was to cross the finish line first, pick up the most treasure or record the highest body count -- they just wanted to win. I tend to think that's typical of youth.

Graphic violence should not be a commodity to market alongside scooters, walkie-talkies and Barbie dolls. There's nothing entertaining about blowing off another guy's head.

You wouldn't let your child watch something like that happen on the evening news. Why would you encourage him or her to do it as a source of amusement? That's what toys are supposed to be, right?

Think about that when you go holiday shopping this year. Are you really giving your child a gift? Or is it a license to kill? Nancy Byron (columbus@sbnnet.com) is editor of SBN Magazine in Columbus.