Deliberation on Gaming Regulation via Youtube

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.

In October, the Supreme Court will be hearing an appeal from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on a previously banned law that forbade the sale of violent video games to minors.

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.

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5 Responses to Deliberation on Gaming Regulation via Youtube

  1. Your blog got me thinking that Hess never considered YouTube’s usefulness as a tool to provide videos in other forums. Like your post does, plenty of websites and blogs incorporate embedded videos. YouTube is a great mechanism to store streaming files. Then you can present them in a more appropriate context.

    Would the reaction to the pot commercials been so negative had the government created a website targeting a middle-school aged audience with appropriate content and then embedded the videos that it had on YouTube?

  2. I like it that you embedded the videos in your blog post! I think I would have also included a direct link to the comments on each video — like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/comment_servlet?all_comments=1&v=EK7U4olO-_E

    http://www.youtube.com/comment_servlet?all_comments=1&v=8lTdLoA0JNo

    That would make it super easy for your readers to check out the comments.

    I’m not convinced your two videos are really “issue videos.” The first one _is_ a regular YouTuber making his remarks on the court case, and that’s closer (to an issue video) than the video news report (your second video), where lots of the comments seem to be about Halo and NOT about the court case. So try not to compare apples to oranges, okay? 😀

    And yes, the irony of Gov. “I’ll be back” Schwarzenegger opposing depictions of violence is sweet.

    • aflaten says:

      The oversight of a lack of a link to comments seems pretty glaring in retrospect. Oops.

      I did feel the videos talked about the issue of video game regulation in a way that was consistent with what you would find on Youtube and what was mentioned in the article. The first video, as a Vlog, really spoke to the point Hess makes about people speaking through their cameras to each other (although no one is really listening). As for the second, I felt the parody angle in which they presented Gov. Schwarzenegger’s argument also fit in context with what Hess talked about in terms of parody.

      I will admit that the comments on the latter video were a bit all over the place due to only the first minute being dedicated to the case, but I did see a fair amount that did talk about the topic at hand (when they weren’t talking about Halo).

      In any event, I’m sorry if I dropped the ball on this one! I’ll make sure to run things by you next time so I don’t goof-up again.

  3. I also am a glaring example of someone who is not completely mentally unhinged as a result of a lifetime of playing video games. One thing that you mentioned that caught my attention, and seems to be true of YouTube comments in general, is that most or even close to all of them will be in favor of what the video is saying when it comes to the presentation of a “cause.” This is probably due to the fact that only the marginalized population is going to watch the video that addresses their call to action, thus their dominance of the discourse. I see this as a huge impediment to true deliberation on YouTube, however, as no ground can be gained nor any true deliberation achieved if only one side is at the table.

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