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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Video Game Violence

Posted by: Hammer / 1:06 PM

Tard Patch writes: He's got a point:
SEATTLE - Should the people who make and sell "violent video" games be held accountable if someone commits a crime because of playing them?

That's something our state lawmakers are considering, to open game makers up to more liability.

House Bill 2178 proposes to hold the makers and sellers of violent video games liable if someone under 17 years old commits a crime, due in any part, to playing the game.

Supporters of the bill, like Bill Hanson with the Washington Police and Sheriff's Association, say "kids" are getting the games, and they're becoming desensitized.

"If you sit up and watch this and play these games over and over again... it seems that this is alright to walk up and hit a police officer over the head with a bat," Hanson said.

Bush just signed the Class Action Fairness Act. According to Joan Claybrook, of Citizen Action: "[CAFA] has given banks, credit card companies, insurers, HMOs, drug manufacturers, and other big corporations a green light to defraud and deceive consumers without fear of being held accountable." But in Washington state, they want to single out video game makers for enhanced liability. Our representatives are limiting liability for killer drugs but expanding liability for video games. It's insanity.

No matter what the era, popular culture is always blamed. It's usually music -- Elvis teaching kids to manipulate their pelvises or Judas Priest teaching teens to worship the devil, but books, movies and television have been blamed as well. J.D. Salinger and Jason Voorhees are equally culpable in the eyes of some. For what, I'm never sure.

Adults should be allowed to watch or play what they want -- with very limited exceptions. Child pornography being the most obvious and agreed-upon exception. Parents should be involved in their children's lives. That means two things. One, that parents know what games their children play and limit them to age-appropriate material. Two, that children learn appropriate behavior from the most important people in their lives. You can ban all forms of entertainment but redacted versions of the Bible (no sex or violence, which leaves the creation story from Genesis and the Sermon on the Mount, with a few scattered pages in between) and jump ropes and you'll still find children with bad parents strangling pets with the jump rope and hitting siblings with the Bible.

Note: the U.S. Army uses a Video Game as a recruiting tool for teens. I'm not sure what it means, but I think it's interesting in this context.


The funny thing is that this is not that new. I remember an arcade game back in the late 70s (I wish I could remember the actual name) that had people upset because you drove around a car and tried to hit these little guys (people? creatures? hard to tell with the graphics in those days). When you did a little grave stone popped up in their place on the screen. People were horrified by the "lessons" it was teaching. Then again we shortly there after started electing Republicans president so it may have had some negative effect after all. This was right around the Space Invaders era but definitely pre-Astroids.

By Anonymous Jambo, at 5:42 PM  

I think you're talking about Death Race (the game, not the movie). It's briefly mentioned here: "Death Race, a vehicular hit-and-run game against pedestrian gremlins, was already getting parents and advocacy groups up in arms in 1976." Hat tip to Tard Patch for suggesting the title.

By Blogger Hammer, at 9:47 PM  

Sounds a lot like back in the 80s when heavy metal bands were going to be prosecuted for kids killing themselves after listenting to their albums.

On a side note, my 10 year old stayed up until 5 am this morning playing GTA3. I don't know to be proud or cry.

By Anonymous Ba Ha Ha, at 7:44 AM  

Your 10 year old needs to learn survival skills -- Baby Brother Ba Ha Ha will be able to beat him up in a couple years.

By Blogger Hammer, at 7:48 AM  

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