Reposted from a status post on Facebook on November 1st, 2013. Be sure to fill out the poll(s) below, if they’re still available – I may use it in my speech for class next week!
Taking a break from working on the speech I give next week, with a lot on my mind. I’m glad I reverted back to my original topic, as I’m finding how a lot of what I’ve been seeing for the last few elections politically have been going on for a couple of decades on this issue. If you ever want to figure how damaging misinformation is on both sides of a debate, one needs look no further than the debate on banning video game violence.
Those in favor of the ban, such as your Jack Thompson’s and NRA’s, fall into a few categories. Those like Jack Thompson often take a Christian view on the matter, where at best (or worst, depending on your point of view) all games would be safe for games, and at worst (or best) would prefer games be religion-safe. (Sorry for the generalization; it was the best example I could think of at the moment.) Others take the view that video games, like cartoons, are only for kids, while some simply want to be able to do the lazy thing and just want to be able to set their kids in front of a device with stuff they feel is safe. Others still, like the N.R.A. and many politicians and other forms of media, use the argument as a scapegoat or detractor, pulling it out whenever negative attention is on them or whenever they need a cheap and easy argument to target or claim “they’re going to fix.”
Those against the ban, such as myself, also differ in opinion. Some of us believe there is no link between video game violence and kids, while others (like myself) can point to the link but also to the fact that parents and adults should be aware and in control of what their kids can watch or play. While you have some lazy people who simply don’t care what their kids play, the majority sit under the arguments of either First Amendment rights and the lack of actual link between kids and violent media.
The truth is that there are more than enough links, thanks to studies from psychologists to confirm this being repeated with similar results. However, all of the arguing over a ban ignores the bigger, more important issues at hand, such as social conditions and parental handling, bullying, mental deficiencies, etc. What surprises me is that, according to a lot of the surveys, my own included, parental involvement and responsibility is equal or more important than the government or video game maker.
The one thing gamers today will point out is that many of the stories and gameplay today rival that of movie and television series in terms of story. That’s significant considering the video game industry is younger than the other forms of media, including TV and film, both of which draw from acting as radio and recordable media draw from music. It’s also significant in that, like the other mediums before them, they’re having to go through a debate over how safe they are and who they’re for. How many you were aware that the average age of a gamer is much closer to our 30’s than to our teens? (According to one graphic, it’s 35 as of 2009.)
While it’s easy to compare and dismiss games like “Resident Evil” and “Doom” to horror and sci-fi film equivalents (including some from their own franchises) in terms of entertainment and social value, others can point to games like the “BioShock,” “Final Fantasy” and “Zelda” series as those that sometimes cross a line and make an emotional impact along the same lines, or better, than “Titanic,” “Saving Private Ryan” or “Avatar.” We can all think of favorites across various mediums that, were they blocked from portraying the arguments they were making or showing and creating what they were allowed to, they’d make less of an impact or point than they do in their final form.
I think most people would agree, were they to look at games in this way, that we need to treat games the same way we treat movies,music and books, that a ban on adult video games would be a mistake. I think most would also agree that some games are designed specifically for mature or adult audiences, and that a Horror or first-person-shooter doesn’t belong in a young kid’s hands anymore than a “Freddy” or “Jason” film. We need to drop this issue or bring it on par with the rest of media, and focus instead on the real issues driving kids to shootings and violence. We need to step up as parents, relatives, role models, peers, and as leaders.