Today isn’t really the best day for video games, specifically video game violence. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, video games have once again come into the spotlight as being the harbinger of doom, despite having no direct connections to Sandy Hook or any other violent crime. Video Game violence has been on the minds of legislatures like Leland Yee and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, who penned a law in 2010 that would make the sale of violent video games to minors a crime. Luckily, the law was deemed unconstitutional in 2011 by the Supreme Court in Brown vs. EMA.
There have been numerous studies (way more than I care to post) about video game violence, with the most prevalent outcome being — no conclusive evidence for or against video game violence increasing violence in children. But, that didn’t stop Missouri Representative Diane Franklin from submitting a bill that would put a tax on violent video games, and then use the money generated to treat exposure to violent video games. The assumption is that video game violence is a known evil, that needs to dealt with. Chances are that the bill won’t pass as similar bills in the past have all been overturned (See Brown Vs. EMA for cases). I won’t rehash old arguments, but the phrase “chilling effect” comes to mind with taxes on certain classes of games.
Then, in almost the same breath, Obama asks the CDC to research the effects of violent media (including video games) on children, to determine the cause of this epidemic of violent children. I can’t help but wonder what the drive is here, other than to maybe appease the masses and some of the more conservative politicians. Anything study that does come out of the CDC on video game violence is years away at this point, and video games are often a “shoot from the hip” (pun intended) target – rarely a sticky one. In all fairness, President Obama does seem to take a balanced approach and not an alarmist, sensationalist approach to video game violence.
Reference: House Bill No. 157 2013