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California Senator Defends Anti-Videogame Law

| 22 Dec 2010 11:02
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Reasons for banning the sale of violent games to minors are rational and compelling, says California's Leland Yee.

Leland Yee, Californian senator and author of the videogame regulation law currently being debated in the US Supreme Court, has defended his creation in an editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune, saying it puts the power of choosing appropriate games back into the hands of parents.

Yee - who is himself a child psychologist - said that there was significant evidence to suggest that violent videogames encouraged aggression and violence in children, both in immediately after playing them, and in the longer term. He said that over a hundred "researchers, scientists and scholars" from around the world had endorsed a statement which said that violent games led to desensitization to violence, as well as promoted anti-social behavior.

He said that there was a "direct, rational and compelling reason" to marginally restrict a minor's access to violent videogames. He made it clear, however, that parents would still have the final say on what media their children consumed, and would still be allowed to let their children play violent games, if they deemed them appropriate.

Yee noted that some of the comments from the Supreme Court Justices during the oral arguments in the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA case early last month were encouraging, such as Justice Stephen Breyer's remark that it made no sense to prevent minors from purchasing pictures of naked women, but to allow them to buy games which contain violent torture. It's worth mentioning though, that ECA lawyer Jennifer Mercurio interpreted the Supreme Court proceedings very differently, saying that California put forward a weak case, and the EMA's lawyer, Paul M. Smith, handled comments like Breyer's with confidence and aplomb.

What Yee's proposals don't take into account, however, is that retailers already do pretty good job of keeping violent videogames out of the hands of minors, with around 80% turned away at the counter - a much higher percentage than for other types of mature media.

What's more, the evidence that Yee mentions isn't rock solid. Certainly, some studies show a link between games and violence, but others show that games have very little effect on behavior, as with a recent study conducted in Texas, or suggest that it's impossible to make definitive conclusions about their effects, as was the case with a recent review in Australia.

If Yee really does want to better equip parents to make choices about media for their children, as he says he does, a better idea would seem to be a more robust and informative labeling system for games - which was actually part of the original law, but has since been removed - than banning their sale to minors. Hopefully he'll realize this - assuming his law is unsuccessful in the Supreme Court - and try working with the industry in the future, rather than against it.

Source: via Industry Gamers

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