It’s amusing to see the continuing battle cries of politicians against violent video games as if they are saving the nation’s children. A nice biased article in favor of the gaming industry with updates on the issue can be found on MSNBC.com by Winda Benedetti called “Fight over violent video games far from over.” That’s why I called my post title “The Battle Against Violent Video Games Continues.” See it’s sort of a pun on violence and, oh, never mind.
The important part of the article is that this past Monday, June 27th, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional “a California law that would have criminalized the sale of violent video games to children.” Now parents reading this will say what’s wrong with that, but it has to do with freedom of speech and the freedom of the gaming industry to do its own ratings and regulation. Similar to the MPAA for movies, video games have their own age appropriate categories and store owners for the most part will not sell mature games to younger kids. It’s usually not a moral issue per se, but a good business decision as most game stores do not want angry parents coming after them.
To show you why it is necessary to leave the government out of the violent video games regulation and ratings arena consider California Congressman Joe Baca’s insistence on what it would amount to. He would mandate a cigarette style label on the games “citing the health risks of excessive exposure to violent media.” In other words, he is insisting that game makers place “bad science” on a label to possibly deter purchases and punish those games that he deems unsuitable. There is no solid evidence of “health risk” beyond the obvious problem of kids sitting around too much and not getting enough exercise. As I have noted on Freethunk before, violence–real violence–is decreasing even as fantasy violence becomes more vivid with CGI graphics. No moral guardian of the state wants to admit that possibly the increase in violent entertainment either has a correlation with a decrease in real violence or that it is a reflection of a decrease in real violence. They always like to say violent video games cause aggression…as if that doesn’t happen in sports and other activities where kids get excited and roughhouse.
The health risks are just bullshit. Again, much like anti-porn arguments trying to link sexually explicit material to rape, the average kid who plays violent video games is not out killing other members of society. It is all pretend, as simple as cowboys and indians play fighting. This is nothing more than the “new scare” much like violent comic books, satanic metal music and horror movies.
The irony is that it is not Republicans who are at the forefront of this “fight” against perceived threats to children. You would think so considering the emphasis on family values and the decrying of unwholesome entertainment. Those who want to regulate entertainment seem to be primarily Democrats. In the past it was Al Gore’s wife Tipper and the PMRC against evil metal and rap music. Now it is Congressman Joe Baca and Senator Leland Yee, two more Democrats from California. That should give pause since these two should be spending their time dealing with California’s economy instead of trying to censor video games. Politicians love to be the moral authority, especially where it is not needed.
The author of the MSNBC article provides a good overview of the current situation. Gamers are fighting back and telling politicians to mind their own business. The economy is in the shit, get to work on that instead.
SIDENOTE: Why do I harp on this issue of censoring/state regulating violent video games? Because it means politicians are shirking their duties and making a show of moral superiority. Don’t get suckered. It takes more brains and effort and sometimes even moral guts to solve issues of poverty, loss of jobs and education than going after an easy target like fantasy violence. When politicians can solve the real problems first then maybe they’ve earned the right to question the fantasies we indulge in such as chopping off the head of a demon warlord.