The history of violent video games versus the government and public opinion is a long and arduous one. From days as early as Mortal Kombat in the early 1990s, legislators have been attempting to censor the access impressionable young people may have to violent video games.
And despite the 2011 Supreme Court ruling of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, in which the court ruled that video games were protected free speech under the First Amendment, it seems that violent video games corrupting our youth has come back into the national debate.
Like most initiatives for law change in this country, this debate was sparked back up again after recent string of highly publicized current events, most notably the elementary school shooting in Newtown. And of course, besides the fact that all of the shooters in these crimes were able to obtain legal killing machines, they also had in common the fact that they have shared a “passion for violent video games.”
In fact, as a part of his new gun control initiative, President Obama plans to fund a $10 million study to explore violence in the media, including video games. And lawmakers in Missouri and Utah have introduced bills that will make it illegal for retailers to sell certain adult rated games to those underage.
Political activist Ralph Nader is one who thinks that Obama’s plans aren’t going far enough. He recently told Politico:
“We are in the peak of violence in entertainment. Television program violence? Unbelievable. Video game violence? Unprecedented. I’m not saying [Obama] wants to censor this, I think he should sensitize people that they should protect their children family by family from these kinds of electronic child molesters.”
But no matter how strictly games are rated by a group of educated reviewers, the question that always seems to resurface is are violent video games bad for our children and if they are what is the solution?
In a day and age where a whooping 97 percent of children 12-17 play video games and the percentage of adults who play video games is rapidly growing as those children who play become adults who play, is it safe to say that perpetrators of violent crimes are more likely to be video game players because so many more people are likely to be video game players?
The Newtown shooter had been playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II days before his crime. But considering the game has already made more than $1 billion in sales, chances are that there were plenty of other people playing that same game on that same day and probably didn’t commit mass murder.
But in the case of any national incident where lives are lost, everyone seems to be searching for a scapegoat. Though if anything were to be used as a scapegoat, it would seem more logical to focus more on regulating actual weapons instead of computer generated ones.