Thursday 28 July 2005

Los Angeles Times: Hillary vs. the Xbox: Game over

The controversy over San Andreas (here and here are my opinions on the matter) has led to Congress of the USA, viaHillary Clinton, to probe Rockstar.

This comes shortly after her wish for a $90 Million Study into the effects of Vidoe games on Children. Whilst it's commendable, it's not going to be fair - who pays $90 Million to be told "your theory is wrong"?

That's the whole worry about any report paid by for someone with an agenda.

But, Steve Johnson, author of "Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter" has written an awesome open letter to Clinton in the LA Times.

It begins:
I'm writing to commend you for calling for a $90-million study on the effects of video games on children, and in particular the courageous stand you have taken in recent weeks against the notorious "Grand Theft Auto" series.

I'd like to draw your attention to another game whose nonstop violence and hostility has captured the attention of millions of kids — a game that instills aggressive thoughts in the minds of its players, some of whom have gone on to commit real-world acts of violence and sexual assault after playing.

I'm talking, of course, about high school football.
Los Angeles Times: Hillary vs. the Xbox: Game over

This is precisely the people who like and play video games are trying to make.

What will this study compare games to - reading a book and if so what book: Harry Potter or Henry VIII? Television - if so watching what: Seasame Street or the Real World or Fox News or the BBC? And, will there be test cases with decent parents who teach their kids how to behave well, and cases where kids have access to real firearms and are allowed to run amuck?

I'm writing to Ms Clinton myself, asking these exact questions. Hopefully her agenda doesn't get in the way of her intelligence.

But of course people like Jack Thompson are never going to be pursuaded, but that's why the words 'luddite' and 'moron' were invented.

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