Escalating Video Game Violence Under Attack

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In video games these days, you can strangle someone with a garrote, pop off an enemy's head in a shower of gore with a sniper shot, and direct a teenage girl to shotgun a demon dog, not to mention beat up prostitutes, run down pedestrians, bathe in the blood of your enemies, and curse like a lobster boat captain who's stubbed his toe, says the Associated Press. The video game industry pushes the envelope with ever-gorier content. That has put it under renewed attack from legislators and activists, who say some titles must be kept out of kids' hands. Courts have repeatedly granted games First Amendment protections.

Opponents cite new research that they say suggests strong links between violent games and aggressive behavior. “Pediatricians and psychologists have been warning us that violent video games are harmful to children,” said Mary Lou Dickerson, a Washington State legislator who wrote a law now being challenged in federal court that bans the sale of some violent games to kids. Lawmakers in at least seven states proposed bills during the latest legislative sessions to restrict the sale of games, part of a wave that began after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. No enacted measure has survived legal challenge. The industry says legislating ultra-violent games out of the hands of children would deal a blow to free speech. Game companies point to the industry-imposed ratings system that gives detailed descriptions of violence in a game and labels some titles as “mature” or “adults only.”


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