Violent Video Game Controversy

So, being a fan of video games, I was excited to see that the Supreme Court issued a ruling today upholding the decision of a federal appeals court to prevent California from banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

Yup, you heard me right. That ruling made me happy 🙂

Over the years, there have been tons of arguments on both sides regarding violent video games and kids, with the most common being “kids who play violent video games become more violent”.

I say that is absolute horse shit.

You see, I love video games. I’ve been playing video games, violent and not, since I was 9 years old. My parents bought them for me, and played them with me. Heck, I still play video games (though far less than I once did). For me they are engaging, entertaining, and cathartic. There are plenty of things in the world that make me irritated and angry, and playing a nice violent video game is a phenomenal emotional release.

20 years of playing later, here I am, not violent, not out shooting people, not beating people down or running people over in my car. I imagine that 99.9999% of all other video game players are in the same boat.

There have been dozens of studies, many of which have shown absolutely no link between violent games and violent kids. And in the studies that did find a link, experts have questioned the conditions and parameters of those studies for various reasons. While they may have found correlation, they’ve yet to find or prove causation. Huge difference between a correlation, and causation.

Here’s the thing: if a kid is violent, I’d bet even money that that child has suffered (or is suffering) some form of abuse, either at home, school or elsewhere. Whether that is an abusive parent or a bully at school, I’d wager you would find some form of abuse present in every instance of child violence. While a violent video game may theoretically elevate that violence, I think it’s much more likely that it would provide a safe outlet for that violence.

It’s the job of parents to regulate what ideas their kids are and are not allowed to be exposed to. That is not now, nor ever should it be, the right of a government to define. That is a very dangerous line. People need to stop trying to force people to their way of thinking. People like Jack Thompson, the noted (and in my opinion quite crazy) opponent of video game violence, do just that. (you can read up on both sides of the argument at the Video Game Controversy article on Wikipedia)

The reality is that no law regarding something so relatively minor as violence in video games is ever going to be able to effectively prevent kids from playing whatever games they bloody well want to play. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Nothing short of stellar parenting will do the trick. A law that doesn’t serve as a deterrent is crap. A law that infringes on Constitutional rights is even worse.

I agree that there are things that children shouldn’t be subjected to, but every kid and situation is unique, and it is unlikely that anyone but that kid’s parents know enough about the kid and the circumstances to effectively define what they should and should not be involved with.

Blaming video games for violent kids is such a cop out. It’s something that makes crappy/lazy parents feel better. Why is it that people have this deep seated need to blame other people or other things when bad things happen? No matter what it is, or whose fault, people just love to blame someone or something else. If you’re a crappy parent, face the facts, suck it up, and do better!

Apparently Einstein had it right when he said “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the former.”

So, to the Supreme Court, thank you for being intelligent and thinking things through (a rare thing in this day and age).

And to people who don’t want their kids playing violent video games…stop relying on the government and others to do your parenting for you. Set rules, set consequences, and take the time/make the effort to develop the type of relationship with your child necessary to effectively parent them.

2 replies on “Violent Video Game Controversy”

  1. You don’t want the government to tell you what games you and your children can play. I agree. But do you want the government to tell you who you can marry? I don’t.

  2. I think the real key here is something you mentioned–many parents in the United States have abdicated their responsibility to be responsible for their children. You can’t legislate the family relationships that are crucial to a child’s development and education. That’s a major part of the reason why American kids are fatter, dumber, and lazier than they have been in generations–their parents aren’t grown up enough to deal with the discomfort of making parenting mistakes by trying to improve. Instead, they do everything they can to deflect blame and hand off responsibility, including trying to regulate the sale of video games that were always meant for adults in the first place!

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