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Lichtblau writes: "With the Newtown, Conn., massacre spurring concern over violent video games, makers of popular games like Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat are rallying Congressional support to try to fend off their biggest regulatory threat in two decades."

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meeting Friday with video game industry executives, a response to last month's massacre. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meeting Friday with video game industry executives, a response to last month's massacre. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)


Violent Video Game Makers Rally to Fend Off Regulation

By Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times

12 January 13

 

ith the Newtown, Conn., massacre spurring concern over violent video games, makers of popular games like Call of Duty and Mortal Kombat are rallying Congressional support to try to fend off their biggest regulatory threat in two decades.

The $60 billion industry is facing intense political pressure from an unlikely alliance of critics who say that violent imagery in video games has contributed to a culture of violence. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. met with industry executives on Friday to discuss the concerns, highlighting the issue's prominence.

No clear link has emerged between the Connecticut rampage and the gunman Adam Lanza's interest in video games. Even so, the industry's detractors want to see a federal study on the impact of violent gaming, as well as cigarette-style warning labels and other measures to curb the games' graphic imagery.

"Connecticut has changed things," Representative Frank R. Wolf, a Virginia Republican and a frequent critic of what he terms the shocking violence of games, said in an interview. "I don't know what we're going to do, but we're going to do something."

Gun laws have been the Obama administration's central focus in considering responses to the shootings. But a violent media culture is being scrutinized, too, alongside mental health laws and policies.

"The stool has three legs, and this is one of them," Mr. Wolf said of violent video games.

Studies on the impact of gaming violence offer conflicting evidence. But science aside, public rhetoric has clearly shifted since the shootings, with politicians and even the National Rifle Association - normally a fan of shooting games - quick to blame video games and Hollywood movies for inuring children to violence.

"I don't let games like Call of Duty in my house," Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said this week on MSNBC. "You cannot tell me that a kid sitting in a basement for hours playing Call of Duty and killing people over and over and over again does not desensitize that child to the real-life effects of violence."

Residents in Southington, Conn., 30 miles northeast of Newtown, went so far as to organize a rally to destroy violent games. (The event was canceled this week.) Mr. Biden, meeting with some of the industry's biggest manufacturers and retailers, withheld judgment on whether graphic games fuel violence. But he added quickly, "You all know the judgment other people have made."

Industry executives are steeling for a political battle, and they have strong support from Congress as well as from the courts.

Industry representatives have already spoken with more than a dozen lawmakers' offices since the shootings, urging them to resist threatened regulations. They say video games are a harmless, legally protected diversion already well regulated by the industry itself through ratings that restricting some games to "mature" audiences.

With game makers on the defensive, they have begun pulling together scientific research, legal opinions and marketing studies to make their case to federal officials.

"This has been litigated all the way to the Supreme Court," Michael Gallagher, chief executive of the industry's main lobbying arm, said in an interview, referring to a 2011 ruling that rejected a California ban on selling violent games to minors on First Amendment grounds.

Twenty years ago, with graphic video games still a nascent technology, manufacturers faced similar threats of a crackdown over violent games. Even Captain Kangaroo - Bob Keeshan - lobbied for stricter oversight. The industry, heading off government action, responded at that time by creating the ratings labels, similar to movie ratings, that are ubiquitous on store shelves today.

This time, with a more formidable presence in Washington, the industry is not so willing to discuss voluntary concessions.

Game makers have spent more than $20 million since 2008 on federal lobbying, and millions more on campaign donations.

Mr. Gallagher's group, the Entertainment Software Association, has five outside lobbying firms to push its interests in Washington. And the industry has enjoyed not only a hands-off approach from Congress, which has rejected past efforts to toughen regulations, but also tax breaks that have spurred sharp growth.

Game makers even have their own bipartisan Congressional caucus, with 39 lawmakers joining to keep the industry competitive.

One of those lawmakers, Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, suggested that the focus on violent video games is misplaced. He called the games "a healthy form of education and entertainment for our family" and said ratings made it easy to keep inappropriate games from his children.

"We find it harder, though, to shield our children from the relentless, in-your-face glorification of violence promoted on our TV screens and in the movies," he added. "It's everywhere, and you can't seem to find the remote fast enough."

Executives cite 2009 research by the Federal Trade Commission crediting game makers for going further than any other media group to shield children from inappropriate material. Major retailers like GameStop consistently refused to sell "mature" rated games to minors, the commission found, and game makers usually did not market them to children.

The industry's biggest political asset may be the 2011 ruling by the Supreme Court that found restrictions on the sale of video games to be unconstitutional.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, wrote that evidence linking games to violence was unpersuasive and that games had the same legal protection as violent literary classics like Grimm's Fairy Tales or "Snow White."

The scientific record is mixed.

Some researchers have found that games bring out real-life aggression, making players less empathetic. But other studies say the linkage is exaggerated and that game-playing does not predict bullying or delinquency.

The authorities have linked some past attacks, directly or indirectly, to the gunman's fascination with violent games.

In the 2011 rampage in Norway that killed 77 people, for example, the gunman played Call of Duty six hours a day to practice shooting. In the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, which killed 12 people, the two teenage gunmen were said to have been obsessed with a game called Doom, featuring bloodshed and explosions.

There have been reports that Mr. Lanza, 20, the Newtown gunman who killed himself after his rampage, liked World of Warcraft and other violent games, as do many young men. James E. Holmes, 25, who is accused in last summer's massacre at a theater in Aurora, Col., was a fan of the same game.

But the authorities in Connecticut and Colorado have not established a direct link between those attacks and the gunmen's interest in those games.

 

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+12 # RMDC 2013-01-12 11:43
There's a new "scientific" study that claims that violent video games play no role in the rising gun massacres in the US. I don't believe it. I think all violence in US entertainment is just training for kids to be violent and for everyone else to accept the massive violence of the american empire.

Probably it is impossible to ban violence in games and entertainment, just as it has never been possible to ban porn. All you can do it make them hard to acquire. But I'd be for that. Violence is inherently wrong and should not be made to seem fun or entertaining.
 
 
+4 # Activista 2013-01-12 21:17
[quote name="RMDC"]The re's a new "scientific" study that claims that violent video games play no role in the rising gun massacres in the US....
Paid/commissioned by billion dollar game industry ...
The facts and independent studies show the opposite ... should go under the hate crimes ... they teach to hate in order to kill ...
 
 
+2 # RMDC 2013-01-13 09:31
Yes, people with experience in this like Dave Grossman, a psychologist who used to work for the military training recruits to accept violence and killing are strongly against violent video games. Check his book "On Killing." The military uses video games to help condition soldiers to shoot first -- a kind of eye-hand conditioned response -- and think later.

Here's the study -- http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/01/10/dont-blame-video-games-for-real-world-violence/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

It concludes, "Few studies actually examine violent behavior as outcomes, and those that do are least likely to find evidence for negative effects. In my own research, I find no evidence that video games or television contribute to youth violence, dating violence, bullying, or adult arrests. Further, the societal-violen ce data don’t support the effects hypothesis."

The US is simply in a bad case of denial. There are other factors, of course, that contribute. But this is an important one that contributes to the general culture that believes in violence as a way to deal with almost all problems.
 
 
+7 # tbcrawford 2013-01-12 12:30
Money trumps reason and creators of violence and pornography have bought us out. The slack jawed, vacant stares of several kids in the news whose parents allowed such violent videos in the house just added to my conviction that we are a nation drugged by violence...I'd frankly prefer pot! My grandchildren love our encounters on the Scrabble, Parchese or Backgammon boards; PBS offers a wide range of entertainment; books can take one anywhere. There is so much else. Children must be taught...to curb natural aggressive instincts or to embrace them as socially acceptable. Just depends on what kind of world you want. I'd prefer a creative one of peace based on education, equal opportunity and justice that reflects the joy of community and tolerance for all. Sadly I fear I'm in the minority.
 
 
+4 # reiverpacific 2013-01-12 14:15
Why stop with video games -of which I've little to no knowledge but occasional commercials which, like their movie and TV counterparts, show explosions, annihilations of people, targets and anything.
It's all-pervasive and anti-social and part of the pattern of dumbing down deliberately pushed at youngsters from all sides.
-All from the comfort of a sofa or chair whilst stuffing fast food and sugary slurp into themselves.
The fruits of "civilization", what?
 
 
0 # JTHinSD 2013-01-12 21:05
To purchase these so-called "violent assault video games/movies/sh ows", there should be government checks on:

Identification;

Training procured by buyer to properly use such media;

Government Background Checks equivalent to those used on Hollywood film directors (Mr. Polanski...did you pass?);

Regular gov't Inspections of how owners store (must be in the safe, with no access to children) these media;

Publication and distribution of names and addresses of owners of violent assault media (oh, and include porn on that list...note that RMDC above wants to make porn "hard to acquire"...isn' t easy access to porn why Al Gore "invented" the Internet?);

Anything else? Oh, wait a minute, that would all be contrary to the FIRST Amendment! Ha...the Constitution is a "living document" and needs to reflect the times, man! Clearly all the Amendments are outdated and need to be repealed. Yep, that's the ticket.
 
 
+3 # Activista 2013-01-12 21:14
Violent computer games are addictive - like heroin - search and learn:
Game Theory: Are Video Games Addictive? - ABC News
abcnews.go.com › USDec 6, 2012 – Top online video games learn from Las Vegas how to keep players hooked.
Computer Game Addiction - Symptoms, Treatment, & FAQs ...
www.techaddiction.ca/computer_game_addiction.htmlDec 15, 2012 – What is computer game addiction, what are the symptoms, when is it diagnosed, how common is it, & how is it treated?
News for computer games an addiction

A quiet killer: Why video games are so addictive
The Next Web ‎- 11 hours ago
The existence of gaming addiction is often played down, but it's real and is a potential killer. Here's why games can be so addictive.
Father Hires Virtual Hit Men To Assassinate Son in Online Video Games
Slate Magazine (blog)‎ - by Will Oremus‎ - 5 days ago
Video Game Addiction - Internet Gaming Addiction
www.video-game-addiction.org/ShareVideo Gaming Addiction as a mental illness, or a form of addiction as such that it could be officially labeled so.
 
 
+4 # futhark 2013-01-12 22:15
Ironically, much of the playing of these games like "Killing Floor" takes place right in school computer labs. Call your local school to find out if this is the case. You paid the taxes to set up these facilities and elected the boards of trustees responsible for them.

It would be a lot easier to ban such games from networked school computers than it would be to pry the fingers off every gun owner's precious weapon and it would send a signal to the younger generation that sanguinary violence is not an acceptable form of entertainment. If programs showing people in their natural, unclothed state and people exercising their biological reproductive functions are to be banned, why not those that show people being ruthlessly hunted down and blasted into shreds of bloody flesh?
 
 
+1 # psadave 2013-01-12 23:44
I think if the violent video games led to violent behavior, there would be a MUCH, MUCH bigger problem. The video game business sells millions of games and the variety and intensity led to misguided people, there would be lots more. If all the violent gang members were studied, I doubt if many of them come from families that could afford games and the accessories that are needed to become addicted gamers. Just my opinion as an old guy who used to play Missile Command for hours while in college, but never had the urge to bomb cities. My son and daughter both spent many hours on video games and computers and instead of being violent, they both have advanced degrees from 2 of the best colleges in the world.
 
 
0 # Rick Levy 2013-01-13 00:39
I oppose censorship of any kind. I don't play video games but I'll be damned if I'll let anyone else decide what's suitable for my tastes.

There's a slippery slope here. I find a lot of forms of entertainment offensive, but I wouldn't think of trying to ban them them.

If the problems is one of minors having access to age-inappropria te entertainment, it's their parents job to control them.
 
 
+2 # RMDC 2013-01-13 09:35
Censorship is always ineffective. The more you ban something, the more some people want it. Case in point -- After Sandy Hook when there were hints that guns might be banned, sales exploded.

As a culture, the US has to develop alternatives to violence. The best start is to stop government violence such as war, full militarization of the police and riot control squads. End SWAT teams. Stop role modeling violence.

Most of the mass murderers photograph themselves posing with guns and the poses come from mainstream culture -- movie heroes, military personnel, esp. the special forces, and cops.
 
 
0 # Rick Levy 2013-01-13 20:16
I second that emotion. But it's strange that for saying pretty much the same thing, I was thumbed down into the red. (Disclosure: one of the thumbs up for RMDC was mine).
 
 
0 # Activista 2013-01-13 19:26
"I oppose censorship of any kind"
sickness/abnormalities like war video games, child pornography ... is this gender/age-inap propriate entertainment?
 
 
0 # Rick Levy 2013-01-14 20:07
The question of censorship is like that of abortion: Who decides?
 

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