Violence in Games: More Abdication of Personal Responsibility

I envision a world ten years from now where no one talks to anyone else because they are afraid to hurt someones feelings.  That all entertainment is happy pink bunnies that dance around, but never touch or talk to each other – because, well, that might be offensive or encourage someone to do something they shouldn’t.  You’ve read about this world before in books like George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World

Well, we’ve seen a lot of moves towards control of distribution of video games here in America.  Personally, I don’t see why they are any different from movies.  So if R rated DVDs require that the buyer be guarded, I would be ok with M rated (see ESRB ratings) games getting the same treatment.  Why should they be different?  (Other than that the MPAA probably has more lobbiest and movies have been around longer.)   Promoting ESRB ratings and parental responsibility are good things.  What we haven’t seen, yet, is a move to actively censor games.

Germany looks to be moving in that direction.  This article, German gamers face jail for acts of virtual violence, discusses proposed legislation that would impose fines and up to a year in prison for “promotion or enacting in-game violence”.  They quote the law as saying:

“cruel violence on humans or human-looking characters”

What is a human-looking character?  Are undead creatues human looking?  Hmmm, seems like a problem there.   But, let’s continue.  My favorite part is this quote:

“It is absolutely beyond any doubt that such killer games desensitise unstable characters and can have a stimulating effect.”

Which attributed to Gunther Beckstein who is apparently the Bavarian interior minister.   Of course, scientifically speaking, this is open to a lot of debate as there is no concrete proof of this.  But, that is not what I like the most.  I like “densistise unstable characters“…. Let’s think this through – if they are unstable, a lot of things could set them off.  Because they are already unstable.   That’s just dumb.  I mean, what if the unstable character watched Hostel?  (Which from what I understand is a pretty disturbing movie.  I’m too chicken to see it.  Although I do enjoy a good game of Unreal.)  I bet that would set him off too.  I won’t even mention all the violence in books from Harry Potter to, ahem, the Bible, that are open to all ages.

Anyway, this was all set off when an 18-year old kid, that not surpisingly played violent video games, shot and wounded 37 people in his old school and killed himself.  Just like America.  A high profile event and some jackass politician jumps on it and starts spewing out non-sensical crap to grab headlines and fuel the fire.  One high profile event caused by a psychopath and boom, it’s the fault of games.  What about the millions of other people that play violent games that don’t do this?  Ah ha, no mention of them because that isn’t a good media story. 

Well, soon enough all these politician who are too old to understand computers (and think the internet is made of tubes) will be out of there and maybe we’ll get some people who are connected to modern reality in office who won’t make such stupid grandstanding comments.

Sometimes politicians scare me.  Uhm, I mean most of the time.


So, what do you think ?