By Scott Tibbs, June 29, 2011
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the video game industry, striking down California's ban on the sale of violent video games to minors. ABC World News claimed on their June 27 broadcast that the law prohibited the sale of video games that allow kids to "shoot John F. Kennedy in the head" and "re-enact Columbine."
That is a lie. It is a blatant, brazen, bold-faced lie.
These are downloadable games made for the PC. These are not published for game consoles. Not one single game on any current-generation game console allows you to assassinate JFK or re-enact Columbine. Not on the Wii, not on the PS3, and not on the XBox 360. No game on any of the previous generations of consoles allowed players to do these things. None of the current or previous generation handheld consoles have any games allowing this.
Not. One. Single. Game.
This is a critical distinction and that is why it is so incredibly dishonest for the so-called "news media" to be lumping those games in with the video game industry as a whole, especially with console games sold in retail stores. If I possessed the necessary programming skills, I could make a computer game right now where you could do all kinds of terrible things, and upload it to the Internet for people to play by downloading the game or playing in their browser via flash.
Here is some history. The Atari 2600 was the first major game console, and because of mistakes Atari made it wound up being an open system - anyone could make games for it without Atari's approval. Atari fought this in court but lost. This led to a glut of terrible games that contributed to the crash of the video game market in the early 1980's. Because of this, every console since has been a closed system.
What this means is that you cannot make a game for any console unless you have permission from Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo. This is why you will never see a modern remake of "Custer's Revenge" unless the developer hacks the console, which is illegal under federal law. You cannot even modify your own console under federal law.
I'm not saying there are not a lot of very violent games. There certainly are violent games, including Mortal Kombat, Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto and God of War. There are some sexually explicit games as well. But ABC News should at least have enough respect for their audience to discuss reality, not fantasy.
The so-called "news media" obliterates its own credibility when it shamelessly lies about the case. Unfortunately, this is not new. The so-called "news media" has a long and shameful history of playing fast and loose with the facts in order to put out sensationalistic and alarmist headlines.
I do not deny that there are many games that are inappropriate for children. I would not allow a 10-year-old to play any of the Resident Evil games, for example. But it is ultimately the responsibility of the parents to control what their children see, read and play. It should not be the government's responsibility to take the role of parent. We have already seen an alarming loss of liberty as government has moved more and more toward being our nanny.
Previously: News media flagrantly lies about video games - again.