Law of the Game Picks Apart MSU Law Research Paper

Joystiq’s latest Law of the Game column breaks down the theories of a research paper released last week by a Michigan State University College of Law Professor.

The paper’s author, Renee Newman Knake, argued that videogame legislation advocates could take cues from the environmental movement and employ “ecogenerism” in their bid to improve the chances of such legislation being passed in the future.

Mark Methenitis, the author of the Joystiq piece, begins by noting that Knake’s premise “starts from the basic flawed premise that we have ‘proven’ a ‘causal’ link between media violence, specifically video game violence, and real world violence.”

Methenitis then picks apart Knake’s focus on “ecogenerism,” or controlling “pollutants” (videogames in this case) in a child’s environment. He offers multiple responses to Knake, including the following analogy:

A multi-vitamin for children, in appropriate doses, has many positive and no negative side effects, except in rare cases. However, an overdoes of vitamins can be fatal. Parents who bring home vitamins don’t put them out in a dish on the floor and let the kids go nuts with them; they keep them in a childproof container and give them one a day.

Methenitis concludes that the views of this research paper are “at best, a rose by any other name,” offering:

The courts have frequently said that the activity of the bedroom is beyond the scope of government control, and I, for one, think the activity of the living room should be as well.

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  1. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    there is no content that is inappropriate for children in any mainstream videogame because no mainstream videogame has ever been shown to harm kids in any way.

    Here is your comprehension problem. You are equating the lack of proven harm with content being appropriate.

    Harmful and inappropriate are not synonymns. They do not mean the same thing.

    Harm: –noun

    1. physical injury or mental damage; hurt: to do him bodily harm.

    2.moral injury; evil; wrong.

    inappropriate: –adjective not appropriate; not proper or suitable: an inappropriate dress for the occasion.

    Learn English comprehension and then come back to the discussion.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
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    My Patreon

  2. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "…there is no content that is inappropriate for children in any mainstream videogame because no mainstream videogame has ever been shown to harm kids in any way."

    Big difference between "inappropriate" and "harmful."


    Andrew Eisen

  3. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    The article states:

    "As clueless as many allege parents are, you would have to be living in a cave on Mars with your fingers in your ears and your eyes shut to not know there is game content that is inappropriate for children between the advertisements and the often overblown news stories on those topics."

    Erm… there is no content that is inappropriate for children in any mainstream videogame because no mainstream videogame has ever been shown to harm kids in any way.  I think this is just the sort of insidious nonsense that plays into the hands of the anti-game lobby.  It’s about time we all recognized the truth – if games – even violent games – are indeed harmless, they are by definition child-appropriate.

  4. 0
    Monte says:

     Well ya, that was essentially my point…

    Media DOES have an effect on people and as such their is such thing as material that is inappropriate for children; it’s wrong to say otherwise… however just because it’s inappropriate is NOT grounds for regulation as what is "inappropriate" varies from child to child and thus can not be subject to any kind of broad regulation… hell what is considered inappropriate material is almost opinion due to how much media varies in its effects on children; and opinions should not be regulated by the gov’t

  5. 0
    PxDnNinja says:

    Yet the other two who saw the movie with you were unaffected, thus raises the question: Why shouldn’t they be allowed to see it?

    I don’t take a stance on the issue of media affecting people. I believe it has no direct affect, but can enhance already inherint aspects of our personality. The issue is "Should the government be the ones to determine what is morally right and acceptable for our children?"

    Growing up, my parents allowed me to play violent games, watch slasher flicks, listen to heavy metal and go to parties. They also forced me to go to school, know the importance of not getting advanced education, and taught me responcibility for what I do.

    According to these "studies" I should be a drug addict who plays wow all day and have nothing of a life. Instead I have two degrees, several friends who I hang out with on a regular basis, and still play my share of games. The games are not what affect children, parents do.

    If a parent doesn’t want their kid playing in their house, then so be it. I support their decision, not for what they choose, but BECAUSE they choose to make one. However instead of saying no to a certain level of media, perhaps education would be the better choice. Making it a forbidden fruit makes it all the more appealing to children.

  6. 0
    Monte says:

     Personal experience… when i was little kid i watched a horror flick with my friend and his brother… my friend and his brother were fine, but after that i became terrified of the dark for the next few years (give or take, god knows my long term memory is a big blur). So ya, quite a bit of trauma from seeing something too frightening for myself at that age (not to mention i still don’t like horror flicks)… really, not just media but sometimes one experience is all it takes to cause some mental trauma

    A THAT’s the big crux of the argument. We ARE effected by what we experience, that’s practically the definition of experience… the only real question is how much it effects us and the way it does… and this ofcourse varies from person to person… which is why broad regulation is still wrong because children are not effected 100% the same; what may happen to 1 child, may not happen to another child… parents are the only ones who know their children well enough to figure out what’s good or bad for them. And they SHOULD damn well pay attention because depending on their child some media might have a negative effect on them

  7. 0
    vellocet says:

    What about the Saw series? (which is rated R not NC-17)

    I think buried in your post is the crux of the argument.  "who was mentally capable of knowing that rape, bullying and murder are wrong".  Society has put the arbitrary age of 18 as the time when people are mentally capable of "knowing that rape, bullying and murder are wrong".  I, on the other hand know that there are people over the age of 18 that shouldn’t be exposed to that stuff and people under that age that are perfectly capable of handling it.

    However, children of a young age should be exposed to what their parents gauge appropriate for them.  And often this opinion is based on ratings.  A 15 year old maybe too "young" to see the Saw movies, but would probably be able to handle it if he/she were mature, but I think you would agree that a 5 year old with an obsession with the Saw movies is probably pretty troubled.

    Sorry, I’m at work… hopefully that was coherent.

  8. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    I apply it to any media where no proven link exists between so-called ‘objectionable’ content and bad behaviour.  The movie ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ for example, was originally given an NC-17 rating, yet the movie had nothing in it that was ‘objectionable’ for anyone, child or adult, who was mentally capable of knowing that rape, bullying and murder are wrong.  That movie showed a real problem in society that all kids should be aware of and armed against.  If anything, such movies should be required viewing for kids – and would be if our society could get beyond the ridiculous idea that kids need to be sheltered from anything that illustrates societal problems.

    We all may have limits on what sort of media we expose our kids to – but such limits are not usually based on any scientific studies or rational arguments – they are subjective and based on guesswork.  Such irrational and unscientific preferences are not a good basis for defining what is objectively ‘appropriate’.

  9. 0
    Vake Xeacons says:

    Weve been through this! The "research paper" was just another failed attempt to justify cybernatographic legislation. Just like any other "scientific proof" of social aspects, its a vicious circle. You start out with the premis of what you ultimately want to prove, and your evidence leads you right there.

    "This is what it would be like if Catch 22 had an evil older brother." -Max, Sam & Max Save the World

  10. 0
    Cerabret100 says:

    considering it’s base on a link that has yet to be proven, yes it can be dismissed.

    And i don’t think we’ve quite reached the levels of government control most conservatives would like us to think we have.

  11. 0
    Zerodash says:

    Ah, but even the bedroom isn’t safe from political and religious attempts at regulation.  Just ask any conservative.

    In this day of unprecedented government involvement in people’s lives (nationalized industry, control of information, control of media, patriot act, etc), the Living Room and the Bedroom are hardly the safe havens we think they are. 

    Studies like this cannot be simply dismissed. 

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