The wages of video game sin

It’s a real hot button topic right now, and will continue to be for some time: Violence in video games.

At first, you figured after the popularity of Grand Theft Auto, what else could shock us in terms of violence and vulgarity? Except now games are more realistic than ever, and the argument that some can’t distinguish violent games from reality has reared its head again.

All throughout modern history, popular culture has come under fire for many of society’s ills. Comic books were blamed for juvenile delinquency in the 50’s. Heavy metal and music videos came under fire in the mid-eighties for corrupting our youth. Then gangster rap got hammered in the 90’s. 

Now according to Forbes, Connecticut State Representative Debralee Hovey is proposing a 10% sales tax on video games that have the MATURE rating. The proceeds from the tax would go to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction, because don’t forget we’re supposed to be spending $10 million dollars on studying the harmful effects of video games, and it’s going to be hard to raise that money with the economy still in bad shape.

Hovey said this would be “like a sin” tax, and as Variety reported on this issue, before Hovey gets this through, “First Amendment hurdles remain,” as well there should be. You can predict the rest of the argument from here. Hovey will probably say that this isn’t censorship, but things like this are usually the first step to censorship. 

As the argument went against Parents Music Resource Center in the eighties, where a bunch of Washington housewives were worried about the harmful effects of Madonna, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue on our kids, it’s the parent’s responsibility to monitor what your children watch, listen to, and play in your home, not the government’s. Even if a tax is waged on violent games, people will still continue to play them, just like people still smoke while they continue to complain about the increasing costs and taxes. 

Not to mention making it harder to get your hands on violent games isn’t going to stop real life violence. If you believe a video game can cause real life violence, if someone wants to get a video game bad enough to rev themselves up before committing violence, they’ll get on one, just as someone who wants to kill badly enough will get their hands on a gun, whatever it takes. 

On the other end of the spectrum, what about Chris Rock’s comedic argument about “bullet control,” where the price of a bullet goes up to $5,000, which would make a lot of people think twice before they fire one off, if only because it could start costing them a ton of money in a hurry. Unlike video games, guns are not toys, and even the most strident gun nuts would probably agree with that.