I got hooked on Pac-Man about 30 years ago when I was in college at the University of Kentucky. I devoted numerous hours to playing the video game in local arcades. Lots of fun!
I never thought of Pac-Man as being dangerous. However, in the decades since Pac-Man became popular, numerous other video games that provide much more realistic violence and seem to advocate nastier types of violent actions to win the games have apparently been developed and become popular, according to numerous media reports.
Following the recent Connecticut school shooting tragedy, Senator Jay Rockefeller has introduced a bill seeking a new study on how violent video games affect youth, according to a December 19, 2012 press release on the Senator's website. Numerous media sources reported that the person responsible for the recent Connecticut school shootings was an avid video game player -- as were those responsible for some other mass school shootings in previous years.
Numerous previous studies do indicate a correlation between playing violent video games and committing violence, including a "meta-analytic review of the literature" published in the September 2001 issue of Psychological Science. But officials seem to be waiting for more evidence before taking definitive action. Correlation doesn't mean causation. And obviously many do play violent video games without becoming dangerously violent in their real lives.
Set Reasonable Limits
Regardless of what the studies found/find, I think it is common sense to limit the amount of time one devotes to playing video games -- and to avoid those that are extremely violent.
Back in the 1980s, I rationalized that since I seldom watched television, I was justified in taking time regularly to play Pac-Man and a few other popular arcade games. But looking back now, I think that time could have been much better spent in other fun activities that would have been more beneficial. And I think that is even truer for those playing the very violent video games existing now.
Also, due to needing to go to an arcade to play, I didn't devote as huge an amount of time to playing video games as many youths do today. Now it is easy to devote several hours daily to playing video games since they are available on: game consoles in homes, home computers, iPads, iPods, and smart phones.
Enjoying a fun, not-too-realistically-violent video game occasionally seems great. But I think less time needs to be devoted to playing video games -- especially very violent ones.
After all, even in my regular Pac-Man playing days, when friends were around, I felt that playing old fashioned board and card games offered more opportunity for discussion and fellowship than a fast-paced video game did.