Video Game Politics

by on May 1, 2007

Over at National Review Online today, Peter Suderman has a good discussion of the current state of video game politics. As usual, a lot of politicians are playing games; political games, that is. Suderman notes that:

…attacking the video-game industry has long been a favored sport amongst politicians eager to shore up their credibility with the concerned parent crowd. At the state level, at least ten laws banning the sale of certain video games to minors have been brought to life. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a guy who made his name hacking and slashing his enemies to a bloody pulp on the big screen, apparently didn’t want high schoolers doing digital imitations: He tried to ban the sale of violent games to minors back in 2005. Oregon is currently considering a similar law, and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer recently stated that he intends to pursue one as well. But these laws go down like a final level boss once they hit the courts. To date, not one of the dubious proposals has stood up to a court challenge.

Some lawmakers can’t even be bothered to worry about anything so insignificant as considering whether a law is constitutional. Regarding one video-game ban, Minnesota state legislator Sandy Poppas shrugged off any such responsibility, saying, “Legislators don’t worry too much about what’s constitutional. We just try to do what’s right, and we let the courts figure that out.” The recurrent bashing of the game industry tends to resemble a major league team taking on a troop of t-ballers: Politicians get to knock a couple of balls out of the park in front of parents, but the whole thing is just a show.

Indeed it is. I made a similar argument in a piece for NRO last year as well as my big PFF study, “Fact and Fiction in the Debate over Video Game Regulation.”

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