The Anti-Gamers are Back
If you’re of a certain age, you can recall a time in the mid-to-late 1990s when moralists such as Joe Lieberman wanted us to severely restrict, or even outright ban, certain violent video games. They tut-tutted about, going on the various talking-head shows of their day, preaching the evangelism of censorship. They scared many gamers, including me, into thinking they would be able to accomplish their goal. Thankfully, they didn’t. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was created in response to their fascistic outcry, and that same organization that continues to be responsible for the rating of video games to this very day. The video game industry had successfully fought off the attempts of the censorship crowd by setting up a self-policing system. And, frankly, I don’t have a problem with the rating of games and never did. Whenever a retail chain would tell me I couldn’t buy an “M” rated game, I would simply bring my Mom in the store and she would buy it for me. This is the way it still works today for many millions of young gamers.
This setup still works well today, 15-20 years later. If you can’t convince your parent to let you have a game, you can’t play it. Or, at least, you have to go to a friend’s house to play it. I realize that this leaves some kids with asshole parents out in the cold, but it’s a necessary evil. But in the wake of the Newtown Massacre, many of the same old foes are back, and it’s now up to us as gamers to beat their ass once again. The Video Game Voters Network (VGVN) is a good place to sign up with to give you more information, but there are several other worthy groups as well. The point is, just stay active and stay informed.
Yes, it’s a shame that one of the U.S. Senators from California (of all places), Dianne Feinstein, is saying Congress will consider censoring video games. It’s outright comedy that Joe Lieberman, lacking any evidence whatsoever, took to the Senate floor in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting to lambaste interactive entertainment once again. It’s offensive that a schlub like Joe Scarborough (who used to support the Bush Administration with unbelievable fervor but has now refashioned himself a moderate) possesses the nerve to claim a link between video games and violence, when that’s the furthest thing possible from the truth. However, we as gamers have lots of reasons to be confident that these moralists, idiots, and people who just flat-out have a bias against video games will be defeated. There are several reasons for this.
First off, there are a LOT more gamers now than there were in the 1990s. Second off, many of the people who grew up with video games are now eligible voters, and that’s why initiatives such as the VGVN is important. Because nothing shakes a politician up more than to know an measure they’re supporting is going to cost them votes and possibly reelection. The final nail in these buffoon’s coffin is that the time has passed for them. They had a chance back in the day to get their censorship through Congress. Video game companies weren’t as rich and powerful, gamers were a small minority of the population and associated with kids, and society as a whole was much more concerned with being moralistic. Boy, have things changed. Marijuana legalization is now favored by a majority of Americans, along with gay marriage. For the most part, we no longer give a fuck what the moral scolds tell us we should do. All these factors combine to make it terribly difficult for me to see video gaming legislation pass the Congress.
That doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels. That’s one reason why I wrote this article. When you’re up by two touchdowns in the 3rd quarter, you don’t play it safe. You open up the offense and try to put the other team down for good. We shouldn’t let these bastards up off the mat. We should instead get even more organized and continue hitting them with body blows. The powerful celebrity voices such as Steven Colbert that we have on our side should be amplified through social media and the like. If you have any friends or family that game, encourage them to get active with a gamer rights org of their choosing. Donate to the Entertainment Software Association, the official lobbying arm of the industry. In short, do whatever you can do.
Because this one is much too important to sit out.