The Entertainment Consumers Association says a National Academy of Sciences study of the influence of media violence is "a first step by Congress to legislate entertainment content and videogames."
Introduced in the wake of the horrific mass murder at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Bill S.134, the "Violent Content Research Act of 2013," will direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct another study into the harmful effects of exposure to videogame violence on children. It might seem like a fairly innocuous bit of legislation - after all, numerous previous studies have failed to establish any such link, and more knowledge is never a bad thing - but the ECA has now officially come out against the legislation and is calling on its members and supporters to do the same.
The ECA pointed out that Senator Jay Rockefeller, one of the driving forces behind the bill, has made clear his belief, irrespective of any evidence, that videogames do in fact have a detrimental effect on children, and also noted that the evidence actually indicates the opposite: Violent crime in the U.S. and around the world has been declining since the 1980s while videogame sales have skyrocketed, and countries whose per capita spending on videogames actually exceeds that of the U.S. nonetheless enjoy significantly lower levels of violence, and particularly gun violence.
It then listed several other reasons why the proposed study will "achieve little," before concluding that the whole thing is a smokescreen. "This is a first step by Congress to legislate entertainment content and videogames," the ECA said. "They have stated that they disagree with the Supreme Court's decision that videogames are protected speech. For that alone, this issue is too politicized and cannot proceed as is."
Opposing research into a potential cause of harm to children is a risky move to say the least, and especially in support of a medium that remains so controversial to so many. But it also signals the industry's growing maturity; a willingness to stand up to the powers that be instead of acquiescing to their every demand in hopes of acceptance is a big step to take, but sooner or later one that also becomes unavoidably necessary if any measure of independence is to be maintained.