Jack Thompson: Video Games Inspire Violence

by on January 9, 2008 · 9 comments

TLF readers may be interested in reading a piece I just wrote with John Berlau, a colleague of mine at CEI, about Hillary Clinton’s stance on video game regulation. Senator Clinton has taken a very aggressive stance against video game violence, suggesting the FTC should oversee how games are rated, opening the door to further interference with the ESRB system.

We’ve quickly received feedback from one of the heavy-hitters in the anti-gaming world. None other than Jack Thompson emailed John today. Thompson, a famous anti-gaming lawyer and activist, has supported a wide variety of legislative solutions to the supposed plague of video game violence. His email to John contained no text in the body, but the subject line read as follows:

You’re wrong. Video games inspire violence. It’s a public safety hazard and a legitimate governmental concern

He attached a PDF of a Stephen Moore column for the Wall Street Journal to back up this assertion. In the piece, Moore complains that his children have turned into zombies, claiming that video games are the “new crack cocaine.” Though I love Moore and his columns for the WSJ and agree with him more often than not, this is one of those instances of not.

Video games are addictive, I’ll say that from personal experience, but I’ve been able to wean myself off a nearly debilitating addiction to Company of Heroes–I’m now down to a reasonable 4 hours a week. But games aren’t the new crack, they’re just a new diversion that neither kids nor adults should invest too much time into. Kids don’t have the self control to keep themselves away from them, so once parents let the kids vegetate for 8 hours a day, it is a tough job for parents to refuse kids their endorphin-producing joy-machines, but government won’t do a better job.

Instead of pushing for government action, which would be a 1st Amendment violation in addition to being ineffective, Jack Thompson ought to be trying to educate parents about sensible limitations for little ones and pointing them in the direction of Adam Thierer’s Parental Controls and Online Child Protection: A Survey of Tools & Methods.

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