07
Nov
10

Exposure to Violent Video Games

Snoopy would pull the trigger.

Speaking from my own experience of playing violent video games when I was a minor, I believe that video games are only capable of causing the player to exhibit tendencies that they are already predisposed to.  In other words, if little Billy plays 10 hours of Mortal Kombat and then pounds a kid’s face in with a rock, then Billy plays violent video games because he has a violent disposition that Mortal Kombat appeals to.  Or at least I find that far more plausible than video games acting as some sort of virtual Skinner box for children.  Penn & Teller have already tested that theory out on Bullshit! Here was the result.  The only thing that a video game can condition a kid to do is think violence looks cool, not that actually doing something violent would be cool.  On Bullshit!, Harrison clearly wasn’t prepared to handle the reality of a rifle in any way.  If any kid thinks that they are with only experience firing them in a video game is an idiot.  But last time I checked that’s what most kids excelled at, and are allowed to be.

In California though, Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, have taken it upon themselves to protect children from being idiots.  There’s no evidence to suggest that video games condition children to be able to do anything aside from have slightly better hand eye coordination.  I don’t see any difference in the impact between video games and any other medium of entertainment.  These aren’t cigarettes, they aren’t alcohol, and they aren’t weapons themselves.  They can’t harm the kid him or herself, nor can they harm anyone else.  A law that punishes a store for selling a violent game to a minor can only hope to stop that child from having a violent thought.  And if that’s the goal then what should be done about free, digitally distributed violent games?  And while we’re at it, violent movies, books, comic books, etc.  Never the less, the Supreme Court case has been very entertaining.

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