For the week of October 5 through October 11, one common theme came up frequently – videogame violence. We’ll also take a look at the one exception to our discussion on violence and gaming with a pleasant little puzzle game that debuted last year, just to mix things up.

It turns out in our historical review that videogame violence concerns, legislation and October go hand in hand. On Friday, October 7, 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1179, designed to end the sale and rental to minors of videogames depicting serious injury to human beings in a manner that is “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel”. The bill also called for retailers who violated the act to be liable in an amount up to $1,000 for each violation. U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte struck down this law a little less than two years later, noting, “At this point, there has been no showing that violent videogames … in the absence of other violent media, cause injury to children.” Whyte went on to state, “In addition, the evidence does not establish that videogames, because of their interactive nature or otherwise, are any more harmful than violent television, movies, Internet sites or other speech-related exposures.” Senator Leland Yee, a sponsor of the legislation was reportedly shocked. Many other people were reported as clearly not.

Last year the British government launched a review of the effect of violent video games on children, with the result (Safer Children in a Digital World) outlining ways to support children’s safety online and also reduce access to adult videogames. Given the number of ways videogame legislation has been defeated and how many conflicting studies have been commissioned, many have found that trying to protect children from those “evil videogames” is in no way a piece of cake.

But does that mean the cake is a lie? Although the main stars of 2007’s Orange Box were theoretically first person shooters Half-Life 2: Episode Two and Team Fortress 2, it quickly became obvious that everyone, their mom, and best friend was instead latching on to the quirky new puzzle game Portal, making this short little offering the true star of the compilation. The game’s Weighted Companion Cube, turrets, and cake developed large fan followings, as the passive aggressive comments of GLaDOS the computer provided ample humor-filled moments for Aperture Science’s new volunteer test subjects. Portal went on to win numerous awards for 2007 as well as “Game of the Year,” “Best Game Design” and “Innovation” honors at the 2008 Game Developers Choice Awards.

One of the most frequently-cited games in association with video game violence is of course, the Doom series. Thirteen years ago this week, first person shooter Doom II was released. While not innovative in scope or dramatically different than Doom, it is interesting to note the series did bring the term “deathmatch” into the gaming lexicon. It was probably followed shortly thereafter by the phrase “cry more, noob”, although history is slightly fuzzier on this.

Although Nova Barlow envied Hermione Granger’s time-turner after reading Prisoner of Azkaban, she’s not sure she’d actually use it to change history.

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