Open letter to Mr. Warde V. Nichols:
A recent Ars Technica article (http://arstechnica.com) caught my attention as both an Arizonan and an individual with significant technological experience. As the sponsor of HR 2660 and with an update noting that you intended to continue to pursue the bill next year I’d like to offer some feedback from a Millennial. While I find a desire to reduce violent crime admirable, especially crime which is sexually driven and the images associated with it I cannot help but feel you have had the facts misrepresented to you. I invite you to correct me if I’m incorrect in any of my statements or assumptions.
There have been two significant pieces of miss-information which have been embedded in our culture’s psyche in regards to video games. The first is the age demographic that uses them, the second is their association with violence. While I encourage you to do your own research, I’ve provided some basic information I have on hand from my own research.
On the demographic mi’s-perception – a few excerpts from: http://www.theesa.com
“Women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (30%) than boys age 17 or younger (23%)”
“Thirty percent of most frequent game players are under eighteen years old.”
“Twenty-six percent of most frequent game players are between 18 and 35 years old.”
“Forty-four percent of most frequent game players are over 35 years old.”
Similar statistics have come out of Palo Alto’s gaming research studies and for a wealth of academic research done into the gaming community as a whole please consider reviewing the Daedalus project: http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/
The demographic breakdown, and other data that disproves the media’s stereotyped version of the gaming community was also reflected in my own thesis research done as part of my undergraduate studies at ASU through the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and Barrett Honors College. A PDF of the full paper is available for your review here: Berger-Thesis-MMOGs.pdf
On violence – Did watching T.V. or reading a book make you more violent? Did your history text make you want to commit serial crimes after reading about Jack the Ripper? Though we don’t generally acknowledge it, our culture’s stance on video game violence is sadly hypocritical. That argument aside, even my personal experiences as a semi-retired gamer aside, the actual data does not support a connection between violent video games and actual violent crimes. Because of the significant bias/lack of understanding which has existed for the last 15 years over the issue it’s hard to find legitimate research that shows even a fundamental understanding of the video game-video gamer relationship.
Some research done in the community however, paints a pretty clear picture. Articles like this one: http://www.gamerevolution.com which show the parallels between the release of violent video games and video game platforms and violent crime. Another recent posting that explores it from an informed perspective can be found here: http://www.gamecritics.com each of these only cover a brief snapshot of the actual information out there. The overall picture however, is one that shows that video games are not the culprit.
Fundamentally the true source is social abuse, poor psychological, poor parenting or a combination of all 3.
As a staunch conservative, I would think that you better than most would understand the difference between having a gun for sporting purposes/to hunt and individuals who use that weapon for violence against their fellow man. If video game producers are responsible for the actions of the individuals who choose to play their games, gun makers are equally responsible for the actions of the individuals who use their product. I think, when we get right down to it, we both know that argument is ridiculous.
While I respect what you’re trying to accomplish as far as sexual acts and abuse, I also worry that this bill again follows the same path. By the standards I’ve seen set down through this bill and it’s policies the acts, concepts, and stories recounted in 2/3s of the books on Oprah’s book list would constitute violations and could be argued as dangerous and obscene content. They almost always seem to depict or be based upon acts of rape, incest, abuse, or excessive violence. If we move down this road there is no definitive stopping point – under the guise of doing good what’s to stop us from classifying even the absurd such as the historical Rape of Europa as within the classifications for obscene.
Please, continue to focus on correcting the problem but take the time to truly focus your energies where they can do real good and will move us forward both culturally, historically and morally.
So I say to you again Mr. Nichols: No sir, you are incorrect in your assumption that violent video games result in violence. Unless, that is, you also believe that reading the Bible also results in violent behavior. A text which depicts vivid stories of rape, stoning, and horrible violence.