It's the absurd issue that will not die: parents can't be trusted to parent and so we must draft and enforce laws to ban the sale of Grand Theft Gears of Ninja Portals: Episode 3.6, et al to 12-year-olds. I could outline all the usual arguments - video games are protected by free speech; the research proving "harm" is as dubious as a parachute made of tissues and bits of string; the kidlings are receiving the games from parents or other non-minors; said kidlings could still march into a video store and walk out with a sci-fi film series that derives horror from the fear of rape without a second glance or penalty to the retailer - but I would be preaching to the choir, a choir that already knows this sermon inside and out. What I wish to share with you instead is an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle condemning California's AB-1179, the bill that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors, written by someone much more eloquent, credible and influential than I: Activision Blizzard's VP and CPO, George Rose.
Mr. Rose doesn't pull any punches in his editorial, lambasting the bill's credibility by ripping holes in its supporting arguments. An excerpt:
This movement's supporters also continually misstate that hundreds of studies support the harmful effects on minors from playing video games with violent content. But there are no hundreds of studies to cite because they don't exist. In fact, every court that has looked at this issue has found that whatever research is used to support the idea that games with violent content are harmful lacks credibility. If fact, an unprecedented 82 social scientists, medical scientists and media scholars felt so strongly about Yee's law that they filed their own brief with the Supreme Court. Their conclusion: it was based on "profoundly flawed research."
The San Francisco Chronicle is a publication with a Sunday paid print circulation of at least 410,000 (PDF, 975KB) and with as many as 1.5 million unique visitors to the online version, SFGate.com. By publishing his editorial there, Mr. Rose is reaching a very large, very diverse audience who might normally be unaware of this issue. So thank you, George Rose, for voicing your opposition against this absurd bill in such a high-profile manner.
Gaymers, you may or may not have the clout of the vice president of a multi-million dollar publishing empire, but you can still be involved in issues like this. You can contact industry folks like Mr. Rose who publicly voice their opposition to video game censorship and thank them for speaking up. You can contact the senators, legislators, governors, councilfolk and other law-makers for your area to voice your opinions and concerns. And finally, you can join the Video Game Voters Network, "a place for American gamers to organize and defend against threats to video games by registering to vote and letting Congress know how important this issue is to the community."