Despite years of playing Super Mario Bros., I am not preconditioned to stomp on any turtle that may cross my path. I don’t crawl down pipes in search of golden coins. And as of last month, I finally got over my habit of jumping headfirst into brick ceilings in search of delicious mushrooms.
Regardless of this superficial irrefutable evidence that video games don’t affect behavior, there are some who still remain skeptical – both about video games and my sanity.
Now, while keeping violent video games out of the hands of children sounds good, it is important to consider why the law was deemed unconstitutional and struck down before. The courts believed it violated the First Amendment, which protects other media such as TV, movies, and books from the same proposed regulations.
I decided to take a look on Youtube for any videos that addressed the topic. While I didn’t find as many as I was expecting, I did locate two videos that fit for the purpose of the assignment.
“OTGT—- Video Game Bill Going to the Supreme Court” by VenemousFatman
VenemousFatman’s video blog seems to conform to Hess’ claim that “citizens will speak their minds through webcams to each other, though no one is really listening, all the while feeling satisfied in being able to speak” (p. 429). His video shows only 251 views as of the time of this posting. Nevertheless, he takes advantage of Youtube’s capabilities and expresses his viewpoint of being against the regulation of video games, citing their similarity to movies. He points out how this same law has been struck down every time another state has tried to enact similar measures, and states a belief that this will occur again in the Supreme Court.
All the comments to VenemousFatman’s video seemed to agree with the points he made. One comment mentioned how Australia’s governmentally regulated system for video game sales essentially makes it impossible for games with adult content to be sold there. Another poster commented that parents should be the ones regulating the games their children play, not the government.
“IGN Daily Fix, 4-26: Videogame Censorship” by IGNentertainment
IGN is a website that covers news on a variety of media such as video games, music, and film. This was their video podcast’s coverage of the announcement that the Supreme Court would review Gov. Schwarzenegger’s appeal. While the video only dedicates the first 56 seconds to this particular topic, I thought it illustrated Hess’ argument on the use of parody in Youtube counterarguments. The video delivers the news of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s claims that video game violence can negatively affect children while ironically showcasing many violent scenes from his career in action movies.
There were a variety of comments to the IGN video. Some agreed with IGN’s portrayal of Gov. Schwarzenegger and called his campaign against games “hypocritical.” Others again called for the regulation of games to be the responsibility of parents. One commenter felt that the current system in place was sufficient, remarking that he had been asked for ID when purchasing an M-rated (Mature) game. Another commenter ominously stated, “maybe i cant buy fucking video games because im 14 but that wont stop me from playing it (sic).” However, for every comment that related to deliberation on the topic, it seemed there were several others dedicated to “flaming” other users or making lewd and offensive remarks on the appearance of the woman in the video.
Overall, my experience researching for this assignment led me to agree with most of what Hess stated. While Youtube can be used as a sounding board for political issues, that is not its primary purpose, nor do I believe it to be the primary reason people frequent the site. While some legitimate deliberation does occur, I feel it is usually the exception rather than the norm. Furthermore, it seems that what serious deliberation is there gets lost or diverted in the sea of “flaming” or immature comments, contributing to the idea that those looking for serious conversation would be wise not to turn to Youtube.