Violent video games are under attack by legislators, who think the games teach kids to be aggressive. But, so far, free speech rights have trumped nannyism.
In video games these days, you can strangle someone with a garrote (“Manhunt”), pop off an enemy’s head in a shower of gore with a sniper shot (“Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy”), and direct a teenage girl to shotgun a demon dog (“Silent Hill 3”).
Not to mention beat up prostitutes, run down pedestrians, bathe in the blood of your enemies and curse like a lobster boat captain who’s stubbed his toe.
The video game industry seems to delight in pushing the envelope — and the bounds of good taste — with ever-gorier content. That has put it under renewed attack from legislators and activists who claim some titles must be kept out of kids’ hands, though courts have repeatedly granted games First Amendment protections.
The opponents cite new research that they say suggests strong links between violent games and aggressive behavior. They are disturbed by games’ cultural ubiquity and the always-improving technology that makes virtual gore more realistic than ever.
I don’t like violent video games. I’m not that crazy about non-violent video games, which seem addictive and pointless. (OK, so do a lot of other activities that kids enjoy.) But I dislike a government ban even more. And I just don’t believe that otherwise nice kids become violent by playing these games.