Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pander Dragoon

Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman made an important statement about violence. Allow me to summarize their position, as of December 6th of this year.

Direct American involvement in the deplorable violence decimating what was once the nation of Iraq is necessary in order to secure a lasting peace. Violence in video games must be closely and carefully monitored at great public expense, as it poisons our youth.

Do I have that correctly?

In a press conference scheduled for 3:00 P.M., Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) will appear with ESA president Doug Lowenstein and ESRB president Patricia Vance to announce the launch of a nationwide television campaign to promote awareness of video game ratings.

Here's Arianna Huffington's response to the story:

The violence in Iraq is becoming more savage by the minute -- among the dead yesterday were 45 bullet-riddled corpses found in Baghdad, many of whom had been tortured before being executed -- and Hillary is worried about video game violence? Are you kidding me?

Could she be any more politically tone deaf?

Now that Arianna brings it up, I would be curious to see the polling that has led Lieberman and Clinton to conclude that propping up pointless video game ratings systems is a politically advantageous course of action.

My generation was the first to grow up with home video game systems, and now that people my age have families of their own, I'm not sure you can count on overwhelming support from parents for restrictive video game legislation. And you risk offending voters in their 20's and 30's, largely males, who play a lot of video games. This can include a lot of independant, libertarian types - engineers, scientists, the sort of free-thinking problem-solvers that don't vote out of fidelity to a party but ideologically. These are exactly the sort of people who wouldn't vote for a candidate if they found out he or she had taken a strong ideological stand against one of their favorite hobbies.

(Of course, it is only an ideological stand. This legislation, indeed the whole notion of video game rankings, is completely meaningless. This is theater, designed to make Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton look concerned about the morality of violent video games, and to give cover to an industry that wants to keep producing said games. That doesn't mean it won't have the potential to piss off video game fans who just wish politicians would shut up about the way they spend their free time.)

So there's the downside of standing for a Nanny State as it concerns gaming. Is it outweighed by a strong benefit? Is Joe Lieberman genuinely winning over voters with this sanctimonious stance, arguing that we should spend money to advertise the fact that a panel of video game industry experts has scrawled a letter on the box that lets you know how vicious the animated bloodshed gets?

Why spend any time on this issue? There are so many important things to do. It's like Intelligent Design. It's eventually defeated because it's so dumb, but all that time wasted on killing off that argument could have gone to figuring out one of the five hundred thousand Bush Administration fuckups that are going to get us all burned alive.

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