21 Mar 2012

US bill to put cigarette-style warnings on video games

Obviously this has come about because it works so well with smokers and now since these warnings about cancer and tar and harming unborn babies are on the pack nobody at all smokes because they're worried about the percentage of benzene, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide that is going into their bodies.
What? ...you mean that's not true? ...you're telling me that nobody actually reads those warnings and takes them to heart? Instead they simply smoke the sticks of smokey cancer death without a worry because they have been doing it for ages and a label on a packet will no way influence anything...hmmm..weird that.

Democratic Congressman Joe Boca has already tried this multiple times (essentially he seems like the American version of Kieth Vaz in British politics), he put forward similar bills in 2009 and 2011, but this time he's proposing any game with a rating of T and up (i'm guessing that's the equivalent of a 15 rating here) receive a label on the packet stating: "WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior." for the full breakdown of the bill see the article on Kotaku.

Now I can't speak for everyone, some people are inherently mental, but I like to think i'm a well grounded intelligent individual with a fairly standard set of morals that would mean I can realistically play a violent game and not think "you know what, this shooting people in the face thing seems like a lot of fun" or "hmmm randomly attacking strangers on the street and stealing their money is a fantastic way to make a living". I'm not saying that this is what he's necessarily referring to when he cites "aggressive behavior" but you get my point, I think I can probably come off as aggressive when i'm particularly frustrated with a level and I have been known to throw a controller or two, but that's frustration at the game itself, not the game indoctrinating me to be a more aggressive person, i'm quite calm otherwise. Also it's not just violent games that do this, i'd guarantee that any study that proves a link to a change in brain pattern and games will also provide the same result with a less violent game, for example a racing game, or a platformer. In fact I think I’ve been annoyed with and therefore more aggressive when playing Mario more times than I have when playing something like Gears of War.

Basically i'd be amazed if this gets anywhere, not only is it unconstitutional but sticking a label on a game isn’t going to stop kids playing violent games, ultimately it’s up to a parent to make that decision, and im sure this label also won’t in anyway stop them buying it for a nagging child. If anything I would argue it needs a label saying “This game is only available to well rounded individuals who will not be influenced by the content, but instead enjoy the game for what it is meant to be, please present a valid IQ test score at the till”

If something like this is passed for games then there's no reason not to follow suit on films, books or music because at the end of the day there is nothing represented in a game that isn’t also represented in every other form of media or entertainment and is no more influential than anything else, it’s all down to how an individual interprets something.

*updated with header image from PocketLint's article on the same thing because it amuses me.


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