Thursday, May 31, 2007
Adam Thierer of the Progress & Freedom Foundation contends that legislation regulating video game content relies on myth and misconception. He explores this idea in a new paper, ""Fact and Fiction in the Debate Over Video Game Regulation," Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper Number 13.7. Here is the abstract.
Recent federal, state and local proposals to regulate electronic game content are driven by myths that should not serve as the basis for government intervention. Six myths commonly used in support of government regulation of game content are addressed as follows:
Contrary to current misconceptions about voluntary ratings enforcement, the industry's self-imposed ratings system is the most sophisticated, descriptive, and effective ratings system ever devised by any major media sector in America.
Additionally the vast majority of video games sold each year do not contain intense violence or sexual themes, despite what can be perceived otherwise.
The expectation that proposals to restrict the sale of violent video games will be deemed constitutional in the courts is misguided as well, given that state and local laws attempting to regulate video games were struck down as unconstitutional in the past, citing First Amendment concerns, vague legislative language, and lack of scientific evidence of a link between aggressive behavior and video games.
And despite the myth that federal regulation will build on the industry's ratings system, in reality congressional intervention could cause game developers to abandon the industry's voluntary ratings system because of fear of legal liability.
Also opposite what industry critics may have us believe, there is no direct correlation between exposure to violent video games and decline in social and cultural indicators. Moreover, almost every social/cultural indicator of importance, such as juvenile violent crime, has been improving in recent years and decades even as media exposure and video game use among youth has increased.
Finally in contrast to the notion that video games have no social or educational value, video games might have some beneficial effects, especially that of a cathartic nature, that critics often overlook.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.