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Tuesday, July 26, 2005 

Anger: Clinton’s Folly

I am out of the games business, but I still have friends there and I will always have very strong feelings about the censorship issue. Every time some left-wing candidate needs to “moderate” their views and “make inroads” to the religious right, the video game industry is right there to serve as a whipping boy.

One of my favorites, Senator Clinton (MB-NY) is the latest crusader in a long line of “advocates” for our nation’s youth. It seems that Sen. Clinton has found an issue that her handlers feel will make her more acceptable to the unwashed yokels in the red states, video game sex and violence. Her recent comments are as uninformed as they are shrill and groundless.

Clinton, D-N.Y., is asking the Federal Trade Commission to probe how users of the game can access "graphic pornographic and violent content" for the game from the Internet.
In a letter dated Thursday to FTC chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras, she also urged the agency to examine whether the game's rating of "M" for mature should be changed to an "Adults Only" rating.
In that speech to media experts and child advocates, she singled out "Grand Theft Auto" as particularly harmful, saying it "has so many demeaning messages about women and so encourages violent imagination and activities and it scares parents…. They're playing a game that encourages them to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them. You know, that's kind of hard to digest."

What I don’t get about this is how it is OK with her that the unmodified title which has “so many demeaning messages about women and so encourages violent imagination and activities” is rated “M” and is only worthy of an “AO” rating after the title has a mod patch that can be downloaded from the Internet. I guess hiring a prostitute and beating her to recover the money you just paid is OK, as long as you don’t see her naughty bits.

Of course, the Junior Senator from New York only has the welfare of the nation’s youth in mind when she grandstands for more government involvement in video game censorship.

The real problem is that most people will believe her, because we all know that the introduction of video games with realistic graphics causes the current massive increase in youth violence. There is an epidemic of youth violence, isn’t there? Well, as it turns out that there is not, in fact it seems that youth violence has dramatically decreased since the introduction of the PlayStation (PS1). Who says? Why, gentle reader, The Bureau of Justice Statistics says so. In other words, “da gov-ment”. Why then would Senator Clinton and her ilk consistently rail on the video game industry as the scourge of the nation’s youth and killers of our innocent children due to incitement to violent behavior when easily obtained statistics show that there is no epidemic of youth violence in the video game era? You get three guesses and the first two don’t count.

To be fair, until earlier today I was in the vast majority of those who believed that youth violence was getting worse and out of control. That shows the power the MSM still has, it can even fool those of us that are paying attention. I call this predisposition to doubt today's youth the “Dam kids” syndrome. I was ready to believe that kids today are violent, drug addled, sex starved, drooling morons. I was proved wrong about “violent”. What happened today? A friend forwarded me a link to this article (where I lifted some links). The author makes many fine points and I will not duplicate them here, go read the whole thing ((tm) Glenn Reynolds). Some interesting comments here from the Indiegamer forum.

Using Senator Clinton’s logic, we could argue that video games actually reduce youth violence. Of course, this is pure fallacy, in fact it is a classic fallacy known as Cum hoc ergo propter hoc (with this, therefore because of this).

Given all this, why does the games industry continue to just stand there and take body blow after body blow from shrill and uninformed politicians? Why are video games seen as fair game for censorship? Why is the art of video game design different from the art of filmmaking or television writing or even the raving lunatic on the Internet or the street?

Well, I have some theories (of course!).

First, it is really easy to be intimidated by the pro-censorship forces. They are well organized and motivated, in some cases by religious zeal. Who wants some nice church folks picketing your offices? It would be different if it were the usual suspects found in protest marches (i.e. dirty dirty hippies), but nice clean folks in suits and dresses? Who needs that?

While the video game industry is bigger than the film industry, there is no lobbying group of consequence that advocates for the industry. Also follow the campaign donations. The big stars in video games don’t pour huge dollars into the campaigns of friendly candidates, mainly because the big stars are virtual and thus don’t get paid.

Another reason is that many industry denizens are self-loathing slobs or partial sympathizers with the censorship crowd. I know lots of people that say how awful [insert evil game du jour] is and publicly say that they would refuse to work on a title of that ilk. I am a member of both of these categories, except that I realize that once “da gov-ment” gets involved all bets are off. When they came for GTA, I did nothing because I didn’t like GTA...

It is time for the video game industry to stand up and be counted. The facts need to get out and the hypocrisy of the pro-censorship crowd needs to be exposed. I don’t really know what to do, but there are thousands of very creative people in the industry, we should be able to come up with something once we get focused. In the meantime I will cover the fight on this moron-blog ((tm) Ace).

Final thought for Senator Clinton, Censorship is not a family value, [censored].

Update:"Hillary Clinton and the Posse of Outrage". Thanks Jeff!

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