In a vote of 7 to 2, the court upheld a lower court’s decision that the state’s law, which imposed a $1,000 fine on those who sell (or rent) video games deemed “violent” to minors, violated free-speech rights. Despite the varying reasons for doing so, the justices rightfully concluded, at least implicitly, that video games are neither harmful, nor do they cultivate in those of us who play them a mindset of aggressive behavior. And while there are studies which would seem to indicate otherwise, there are an equal number of counter studies which indicate the opposite.
"Fatalities" from the original Mortal Kombat video game, considered by many to be the game which spurred concern about violent video games.
Dueling “experts” aside, California’s (and other states’) attempt to “protect” children from deleterious influences was woefully misguided from the very beginning. To even entertain the notion that violent video games (or any other form of entertainment for that matter) can potentially affect individuals in a negative way ignores history itself. Generation Xers like myself grew up with the most brutal and violent of “influences” on television, in books, and on the big screen, and psychologically speaking, we’re not any mentally worse for wear. I can remember watching the Coyote mauling himself many times an episode as he tried to put the Road Runner on a dinner plate. And I can’t count the number of times a spinach-drugged Popeye beat down Bluto daily. Television Westerns, whatever Stallone and/or Schwarzenegger flick playing at the theater, or the prior week’s episode of the A-Team (Ok, that last one was a bad example) simply did not influence us to wreck havoc on people or property. And while it’s true the video games lacked the blood and gore of today’s crop of games like Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil (my personal favorites by the way), we played our share of games which put an opponent on his (or her) keister, but they failed to cause us to walk into a crowded public venue wanting to do the same thing.
Back in the day, the difference was a culture which reinforced the demarcation between reality and fantasy. We had parents who taught us discipline, both physical and emotional…a practice sorely lacking on today’s parents. Thanks to over-doting parents, kids today are emotionally weak. They have a sense of entitlement rather than a sense of duty. They become angry over the smallest inconvenience instead of being told that life little disappointments are as inevitable as the sunrise…and then are told they have “anger management issues.” Too many parents are too inept at actually rearing independent thinkers. Today’s children are very suggestive to even the most questionable of practices and influences—just look at the beltlines of today’s urban males if you don’t believe me. So if young video game players are “influenced,” its due to parents not working to be the primary influence in their children’s lives instead of their peers. Maybe if today’s parents didn’t opt to buy their children Sony Playstations and X-Box 360s with the intent to use these marginally interactive instruments as proxy baby sitters, there wouldn’t even be an issue of a violent video game’s “influence” on the psyches of children.
Society was more responsible also once upon a time. Television programming, was punctuated by object lessons as well as educational interludes such as ABC’s “Schoolhouse Rock” and CBS’s “In The News.” There was not the over-saturation of self-indulgent “reality” television programs, “entertainers” selling sex in music and videos, and misguided adults not allowing public institutions such as schools to do what’s necessary to teach rather than what someone’s ideological stance or belief is.
If anything, it is everything but violent video games which is harming children. If states like California want to be an instrument in preventing harm to children, how about crafting laws which compel more constant, consistent, and positive parenting?