Oct 312007
Authors: Phil Elder

Atrocities. Tools of corruption. Disgusting displays of wanton violence.

The majority of American youth has heard the vehement accusations against the video game industry, especially in the wake of the relatively recent surge of violence in the market.

A new addition to the concerned mothers’ blacklist, “Manhunt 2,” was set to release on Halloween. The game’s premise involves an insane asylum escapee using simple household items to torture and kill people. Vicious, right?

Though I agree that games such as these take the proverbial shock factor a bit far, arguments for complete removal of said interactive media from the market seem preposterous. However, in lieu of complete ignorance of grounds for video game suppression and prohibition, I would like to analyze the two strongest and most common assertions in hopes of convincing, or at least entertaining, the reader.

“Video games such as these are gruesome and repulsive, displaying various acts of violence from murder to mutilation, and are disgusting to watch.”

The great thing about western democracy is the freedom enjoyed by its citizens. The freedom to speak, the freedom to vote, the freedom to dissent, and the freedom to not play a video game if you don’t want to.

This question is one of personal preference. Some of the mature generation, for which these games are intended, enjoy themselves in the virtual world of grotesque violence; for them video games are a release from the stress and monotony of daily life.

For others the industry represents all that has gone to hell in this nation: absence of morals, Godlessness and surges of violence.

These people, naturally, choose not to play. That is their right. Just as it is my right to loathe and avoid sappy romance movies like the plague.

The second argument advocating a ban on certain games applies more to ethos than logical reasoning. “Video games are creating and perpetuating violence in the youth of American communities.”

Negative socioeconomic conditions perpetuate violence. Political frustration perpetuates violence. Feelings of hopelessness and entrapment, racism, sexism and homophobia perpetuate violence. Video games do not.

If a child destroys a military vehicle on Halo with a rocket launcher, he will most likely not be subconsciously driven to find explosive weaponry and attempt the same action in the parking lot, just as I am not driven to pursue a career in professional football after a good game of Madden.

In many cases video games are used to prevent violence.

In lower-income families, competitive games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Madden and Halo provide incentive for children to remain in the house and in competition with one another, rather than out on the streets learning life’s lessons from the trench coat drug dealers and drunk, gun-toting gangsters.

Video games do not shape personal decisions, they provide a release. The reason violent games sell isn’t because the buyers wish to become violent, it is because they don’t want to pursue such actions in reality and can do so via console, with no moral, emotional or legal repercussions.

It boils down to a matter of choice. If adults wish to play, let them play. If they do not, they can easily remove themselves from any temptation thereof. Just as parents have the right and power to prohibit their children from exposing themselves to the violence found in these games.

But to ban them completely because of perceived violence and personal opinion is simply un-American.

Phil Elder is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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