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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Regulating Video Games

As the video game industry has grown by leaps and bounds the past decade, more and more vulgar and offensive games have been released, all to the dismay of many politicians. Many congressman and state officials have regarded that playing these violent and adult themed games might lead to unethical action later in life. They say kids will be so affected and influenced by these games to the point where they might even emulate what they are able to do in virtual reality in real life. There is hardly a correlation that playing video games will make you a violent person, and between 1994 and 2000 juvenile and young adult violent crime arrests have decreased by 44 and 24 percent respectively.

But Yesterday Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman announced they would introduce legislation to prohibit retailers from selling video games rated "mature" or "adults-only" to teenagers. Their argument that this bill will empower parents by protecting their kids is inapt. Parents should regulate what their kids are playing because they know what material is best suited for their children. The Entertainment Software Association noted that all the new video game consoles include parental controls that can limit children's access to graphic content, similar to the V-chip embedded in new television sets. In addition, Congress isn’t supposed to have this kind of police power. If violent video games were a real threat to pubic health, then it’s in each of the States hands to protect its people. And so Governor Gary Locke of Washington recently signed a law that would ban the sale of games to minors that depicted against law enforcement officials. Measures like these are not untried. Indianapolis and St. Louis passed laws banning the sale of violent games to minors and both laws were ruled unconstitutional because they violated the first amendment, and Gary Locke’s law is likely to be struck down also.

I believe Congress as well as state officials doesn’t have the right regulate video game sales. There is no market failure involved with selling violent games to minors, so there is no reason for Congress to legislate. Furthermore States shouldn’t be using their police power to regulate these offensive games because it’s quite clear that these video games are not a threat to the safety of the pubic health, and regulating these video games is a violation of free speech under the 1st Amendment. Parents are in the best position to regulate what their kids are playing. They are in a far more superior position to know if a video game is unsuitable for their children, not the government.

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