The Economist (subscription required) has an excellent piece outlining the silliness associated with banning video games. The proponents of banning use the same old tired arguments that have been used throughout history, including: games poison your mind and corrupt your morals, games make you excited or aggressive, and my personal favorite: games lead to criminal behavior. Here’s why each of those arguments is false:
This is simply the same societal disconnect that seems to happen every so often. Here’s a list of what was considered “ban worthy” in the past:
1) Novels in the 18th century had society worried about the negative impact they might have on “young people.”
2) Waltzing was condemned as a “fatal contagion” that encouraged promiscuity in 1816.
3) Films were denounced as “an evil pure and simple, destructive of social interchange” in 1910.
4) In the 1950s, “rock ‘n’ roll” music was accused of turning young people into “devil worshippers” while comic books were responsible for children becoming drug addicts and criminals, of course.
Sure, you can get excited playing video games, but you can get just as excited (if not more so) playing sports. And while some violent criminals have played video games in the past, how the two are connected is where the logic falls apart. Since half of Americans (and a good chunk of the rest of the world) are gamers, of course some will turn out to be criminals: in the same way that some criminals have driven cars, shopped at Wal-Mart, and eaten take out Chinese food. But we’re not planning on banning any of those activities.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that video games are played mostly by children. Turns out that two-thirds of gamers are over 18 with the average gamer age being 30. But if you are concerned about your children, use the rating systems in place for games that are similar to rating systems for movies. Are we interested in banning movies? Then why games?
Well, European justice ministers recently met to figure out what to do about the sale of violent games to children. And both Germany and the Netherlands appear to be interested in banning some games altogether. Great. Why not ban movies, alcohol, and anything else not suitable for children while we’re at it?