Once again, there is a lot of talk about how video games cause violence. Every time some crazy person pulls out a gun and kills a bunch of people, it’s blamed on video games. Of course, we all know that there is absolutely no connection between video games and violence, right?
If you are the typical gamer, you might want to stop reading at this point, because you aren’t going to like what I have to say. So go ahead and move on to the next article and you’ll be fine. On the other hand, if you are strong of heart and rational, then keep reading.
The debate about video games and violence is very similar to the debate about gun control. I support reasonable gun control measures. Just because the second amendment gives us the right to bear arms doesn’t mean that people have the right to own any weapon. Restrictions on the type of weapon, amount of ammo, and regulations such as background checks seem reasonable to me.
Although I don’t have an actual source for this, the last statistics I saw were that about 85% of Americans agree with these types of regulations. On the other hand, if you were to gauge public opinion simply by watching the evening news, you would believe that everyone wants the right to own an arsenal of combat weapons.
As I listen to the gun proponents, one thing in particular strikes me: most of them are against any regulation on guns. They claim that regulations will do nothing to curb gun violence, so there is no point in even trying.
As I listened to the rhetoric of the pro-gun enthusiasts, I had an epiphany: “This sounds a lot like gamers!”
When you talk to gamers about games and violence (or read a plethora of posts on the Internet), most of them are dismayed by the thought that video games contribute to violence in any way. It is, they say, ridiculous to think that violent video games have anything to do with violence in society. We are aghast at the thought! In fact, the idea that video games have anything to do with violence is so ridiculous that we shouldn’t even take part in the discussion. Besides, regulations will do nothing to curb violence, so there is no point in even trying.
We are so convinced that violent video games are harmless that we sound just like the extreme gun enthusiasts. But it just starts to sound like, “Don’t take away our toys!”
I know, I know….Before you all stone me to death, I know that reputable research has found no link between video games and violence. I know that video games have even been shown to be beneficial. And I know that we need to fight, as an industry, to maintain our first amendment rights of artistic expression.
But we have to be rational. We have to at least appear to be listening. We have to be willing to accept that there are some reasonable industry regulations. For example, we all agree that 4 year-old should not be playing Modern Warfare. In fact, most of us agree with a rating system that identifies content so that parents can make informed purchasing decisions (and yes, I know that we already do this).
Let’s be reasonable!
The point I am trying to make is this: instead of making knee-jerk reactions, we need to admit that violent video games do require some regulation, and that we as an industry should actively support reasonable regulations of video games with violent and/or mature content. We need to highlight the steps that we are taking and show the world that we are actually mature adults.
If we refuse to even listen to public opinion about video games and violence, then the public will refuse to listen to us. At the very least, we need to admit that violent media of all kinds, including books, movies, music, and games, should have age appropriate limitations. We should be willing to participate in a dialogue regarding these issues and quit reacting as if we were all adolescent boys. Besides, if we don’t advocate for our own industry, who will?
More from this issue:
- A Brief History of your IGDA Anti-Censorship and Social Issues Committee, Daniel Greenberg
- A History of Control in Japanese Game Industry: Kenji Ono
- IndieSpective: Games and Guns, Robert Madsen
- Game Design Aspect of the Month: Ambiguous Morality, Kohlberg, and The Witcher: Mark Chen
- Student Beat: The Media Scapegoat, Luke Dicken
- IGDA Release: Statement on Senator Grassley: IGDA Anti-Censorship and Social Issues Committee
- IGDA Release: Response to Mike Bowersock: IGDA Anti-Censorship and Social Issues Committee
- Planes, Games and Facebook Appeals: How Love and Appreciation Sent an IGDA Director to the Other Side of the Planet: Drew Taylor