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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

AK47s for Anybody?

The concept that a sensation of excitement induced by violent video games could be psychologically linked to evoking a need to engage in acts of violence, or to become desensitised to violent scenes within the real world seems tenuous at best; yet this would appear to be the reasoning behind California Assemblyman Leyand Yee's targeting of 'ultra violent' games for special legislation, as Mr. Yee implies in this rather lengthy and interesting debate recorded at the 2006 Games Developer Conference.

I believe there is a notion present in the minds of our land's law makers that games are training tools for potential criminals. Anyone who has played a game will know this is hogswash, 100% codswallop. I know for a fact because I've avidly played Battlefield 2 and yet I still don't know how to hold a gun, I've gunned down police patrols from a motor boat in Grand Theft Auto and yet the prospect of drowning terrifies me and I've set fire to, starved, cordoned off, plagued, overworked and under-toiletted my Sims in The Sims and I've yet to do any of these things to anyone in real life. But not only have games not taught me the techniques governing various acts of evil, I would never consider doing these things because I have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. Now I realise the counter-point to my argument is that 'ultra violent' games are more likely to effect the easily coerced - the young and the dumb - but surely this is why these people require guidance from sensible role models, not legislation. Those that lack the common sense to obey violent crime laws will certainly not pause for thought when confronted with gaming legislation, and those which demand a product deemed unsuitable for themselves will find another route by which to access it.

"What I've learned from every military game I've ever played is that I don't want to be a soldier."
- James Paul Gee (Professor of Reading, University of Wisconsin)

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