We always hear the old line that “video games have to be toned down, they always make boys so violent.” Although numerous scientific studies have shown that this is hardly the case, the clan of insatiable, denialist harpies still trot out that tired canard every time they need a seemingly rational reason to attack our hobby and push their agenda. However, if we look at a certain U.S. Court ruling, Interactive Digital Software Ass’n v. St. Louis County, we actually find a case of the law completely rejecting the claim that video games cause people to act violently.
As you may know, the U.S. Court system operates on precedents set by prior cases, which means that any case attempting to hinge an argument on this false idea will have a tough time ahead of them so long as this case can be brought up. It is more or less recognized by law that gaming is harmless to the psyche, and it would seem that denialism and emotional appeals are yet unable to sway American judges.
“Unsupported… Inconclusive Or Irrelevant”
The specific case in question was in regards to an effort set to make the purchase or use of any sufficiently violent game by minors as a criminal offense, effectively banning them regardless of parental consent. The defendants argued that on the grounds of the First Amendment, their freedom of artistic expression was violated by such a statute. Judge Morris Arnold rightly reasoned that video games are as protected a medium as books, movies, and other media, something we’ve been telling curmudgeons for years (I’m looking at you, Jack Thompson).
Further, the judge repudiates the faulty studies brought up to claim games cause a tendency toward violent behavior, citing them as “unsupported… inconclusive or irrelevant.” It was shown that the studies involved at best only indicated that gaming might lead to a temporary increase in aggression, something that could be just as easily found while playing contact sports or a particularly frustrating board game. Does Monopoly make you rob banks? No.
Where Does The Myth Come From?
Any gamer could have told you this; we’re not the damaged and psychopathic monsters that cultural totalitarians want to make us out to be. But just as they slander all men as rapists, they’ll cite the insane actions of a few nutjobs who got linked, Kevin Bacon-esque, to someone who knew someone who played a mean ol’ video game. In this way, gamers have been tarred as aggressive beasts in need of taming.
It just isn’t true, and here we have more evidence to prove it. Little wonder that these thought police want to make us out to be freaks, since they’ve been so busy putting themselves in the position to ‘reform’ us and our culture. I’m sure you know the only thing we can do is keep up the defense, and fight the good fight lest our way of life become a thing of the past.
Playing For Keeps
So-called cultural critics have shown themselves willing to employ any underhanded stratagem to make us seem like we belong in an institution, or that we don’t deserve to choose what our own hobby can be about. It’s just another ploy to reshape American culture in their image, with themselves at the helm, and has happened to plenty of subcultures already. But fortunately, gamers aren’t buying it.
Unfortunately though, we can’t expect to find an easy end for the “violence” myth; if scientific fact can’t sway those tribalist hypocrites, the rule of law is just another thing they’re likely to tune out. But for anyone not already with their head firmly situated up their own ass, this ruling represents a good piece of evidence that can be presented to show them the fact of the matter. So get out there today and do your part to keep gaming strong, fight back against the storyline they’re using to make us into villains, and turn the tide of public opinion against those who would manipulate and deceive for their own ends.
Credit to Homer Ruglia Beoulve for research used.