Senators Continue to Threaten First Amendment

Unfortunately, it’s that time of the month when we talk about violence and video games again. In 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled that there was no proof violent video games increased violence in minors, and yet here we are not two years later with a national study on the very same relationship. Funded by the National Center of Disease Control. Encouraged by the President. This issue has climbed to the very ceiling in an attempt to censor video games, and the result will no doubt be the same as all the other studies done on the subject—that there is no relationship between violence and video games. However, putting the study aside for the moment, there have been some very startling remarks from the Senate during this ordeal that have some important implications for gamers.

Senator Leland Yee, who attempted to ban violent video game sales to minors in 2005, described in the issue as a ‘public health matter’ and went on to say in a recent interview that ‘gamers have got to just quiet down….Gamers have no credibility in this argument.’ Yes, you read that right: gamers have no credibility in a national conversation about games. This is the equivalent of saying that the military, police, and gun permit holders have no say in gun violence talks, or that the Senate has no place in discussing the law. While it’s true that gamers and developers have an obvious bias, any potential laws on the matter would affect them most, and therefore they deserve a place in the political conversations about it.

The study itself is somewhat frightening—what do they expect to come out of it, if it didn’t end up like all the other studies about violence in media and games? Do they really intend to impose a nation-wide ban on selling violent video games to minors? This attempt was already ruled unconstitutional by a state in 2011, so I can’t imagine that gaining traction if it was attempted for the entire nation. The best this study could do is to permanently rule out video games as a cause of violence, or even a trigger. But, again, this seems like a lot of wasted money for that effort.

In the first place, if a minor is able to purchase a game, it’s likely because the parents allowed it. They either gave them the money or are purchasing it themselves. What’s more, there’s no way a parent would allow a game to be played as constantly as is required for a psychological effect on the kid (assuming there is one) if the parent disapproves. The law would accomplish nothing but restrictions on video games—a restriction on freedom of speech.

It’s true that, at least in America, we live in a violent culture. The ease of access to guns and the general lack of psychological and health support for a large chunk of its population are factors in what makes it so violent. Video games, at worst, are triggers of this violence, but we should be spending $10 million dollars on a research plan to locate the source of that violence and treat it, rather than throwing it away at another useless study on video game violence.