Poll: Should Public Libraries Allow Patrons To Play Violent Games On Its PCs?

Last week, the Paterson Free Public Library in New Jersey decided to ban the play of what it calls "direct-shooter" games on computers at its facilities.

Whatchu think about that?

The National Coalition Against Censorship and a few other organizations don't like it but we want to know what you think.  Should libraries allow the play of violent games on its PCs?  Maybe you think library patrons have no business playing video games in the first place.  Perhaps your answer is more complicated than a simple "yes" or "no."  In which case, send us an email at SuperPACPodcast@gmail.com or hit up the comments section with all of the minutia and extenuating circumstances that inform your opinion on this topic.

We'll publish the poll results next week but if you just can't wait 'til then, give the next episode of Super Podcast Action Committee a listen.  EZK and I will discuss our opinions and yours along with the numerical results of the poll.  Won't that be fun?  Yes it will!  My mom says it's the best podcast she's ever heard!

"vote label" © Tribalium / Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen

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  1. 0
    Longjocks says:

    I wasn't attacking your question or poll. I was attacking the notion that the violence matters. Kind of a little statement about the whole situation that was worded poorly on my part and for which I apologise. One of those things that worked better in my head at the time.

  2. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Actually, no, that was absolutely not an irrelevant part of the question.  The New Jersey Library specifically banned violent games from use, not games in general.  Even so, I included a response option for those who don't think games belong in a library in the first place.


    Andrew Eisen

  3. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Very interesting read. I notice that the core of your argument is that since libraries are free to filter porn, they should also be free to filer violent games. That doesn't quite work.

    The reason why libraries can filter porn is that the Miller ruling and other ruling that place some pornography under the unprotected status of "obscene". This allows libraries that discretion. 

    However, the US supreme court in Brown vs EMA ruled that applying the Miller test to violent games is not sufficient grounds for censoring access to violent games. That is why violent games should not be filtered. 


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

  4. 0
    SafeLibraries says:

    I see two people voted me "down".  I said, "As you are the trustees for your community library and not for the NCAC/ALA's own agenda, you get to decide whether violent video games should be prohibited in your library."  Is that a problem?

  5. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Back in the 80s, the first video games I had access to were in libraries.

    While they are more accessible in general today, it would be a real shame if that type of media were excluded.  Who knows how many budding developers or engineers might get their first taste of the medium from their local library.

    Libraries have always been about making things accessible to people who would not normally have it… thus when libraries start deciding what content they allow and what they will not, what they are really doing is deciding what parts of our culture people will have access to and which they will not.

  6. 0
    Sam-LibrarIan Witt says:

    Trust me, as someone with years of library experience, if we only allowed patrons to use computers for what someone as high and mighty as yourself deems appropriate (research), then we'd have endless complaints and the computers would go largely unused. Statistically, the number of times a library computer is used to access educational/research materials compared the number of times they are used to access games/email/social networking/surfing is pathetically small. Public libraries, in an effort to continue their existence in this Internet-driven world, are simply giving patrons what they want: Access to computers and the Internet. Period. It doesn't matter what they use the computers for (pornography [in most states] and illegal/malicious uses aside). 

    Your statement also suggests that those without computers at home are just not allowed to use computers unless they are earning an education of some kind. God forbid they use a computer for fun. 

  7. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    If I go into the library and request 30-60 minutes of computer time and the librarian agrees, why should it matter if I spend some or all that time playing games? If I go over that time and there are people in line, then yes by all means kick me off. I have just as much right to spend my allotted time playing games and posting on Facebook as anyone else.

    That said, I have nothing against common courtesy in which a librarian might request that someone who is just playing a game give up their seat for someone else, but it should be a request and not a demand.

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

  8. 0
    IanC says:

    Shouldn't be allowed at all. Library computers should be for research, accessing book catalogs and general internet use ONLY. No gaming of any kind, whether it is full fledged games or crappy flash games or facebook style crap.

  9. 0
    Cecil475 says:

    Really? It's fifteen minutes to half an hour here, and usually there is a line. I found myself waiting a few for a computer so I can print something out. Usually there is no time to play a game on their computers. I guess all libraries are different.

     – W

  10. 0
    Sam-LibrarIan Witt says:

    I disagree. At most public libraries, such as mine, the computers are public access. Each patron gets an hour of computer time per session. This time can be extended if the library is not busy enough to merit asking the patron to get off when their time is up. Why stop someone from using a computer if there are a bunch of free ones open, right? Saying they can't play games because it isn't furthering their education is putting restrictions on their first amendment rights and restricting access to information. You're assuming all people coming to public libraries are there for serious research purposes or homework. The reality is they're all not.

    Also, what if a patron simply doesn't have a computer at home? Are we to deny them the simple pleasure of an hour of gaming time on machines they helped get into the library with their tax dollars because we feel that they should be doing something "productive?" We'd be saying that, yeah, you can check DVDs for entertainment, but you're not allowed to play games for fun because we said so. 

  11. 0
    MaskedPixelante says:

    It's a courtesy thing. If you're using the library computers to play games, you're taking a computer away from someone who wants to use it for research purposes. Like I said, if you want to bring your own machine to play, go ahead, but don't hog library resources to do so.

  12. 0
    CyberSkull says:

    The same access policy for books, movies and music should apply.

    If libraries allow patrons to play games on their computers, then patrons should be able to play any game the library has access to.

  13. 0
    MaskedPixelante says:

    I think it's a fairy simple answer. If you have your own machine, play away, but you shouldn't be allowed to play ANY games on the library's computers.

  14. 0
    Sam-LibrarIan Witt says:

    As a librarian, I respectfully disagree with your notion that what patrons can or cannot do in libraries should be entirely up to those who use it. While I agree that the patrons of a library are the "stakeholders," so to speak, of the library and that they do get say regarding funding and such, allowing them to determine what an individual can consume entertainment-wise is treading on bad territory. For example, the library system one county over from mine is considered to be located in an extremely politically conservative area. That library system has had numerous intellectual freedom challenges (a process where a patron disagrees with something the library has and wishes for it to be removed from the collection) on books, movies, music, etc. Generally speaking, these objections concerned materials dealing with homosexual themes. If the general public was permitted to vote these items out of the library, what does that tell the homosexual minority? What about their right to access materials of interest to them? And what of the first amendment? The public would be sending the message that homosexuality is not okay and that the library – the place that should be the bastion of free speech and free access to educational and cultural material – does not support you either.

    Regarding violent games on library owned computers, I feel that they should be permitted, within reason. For example, most libraries are divided into sections based on age. Children's, young adult and adult, generally. The children's department in my library does not allow these kinds of games to be played in that area, mostly due to their Safe Child policies and things of that sort. However, in the adult computer area where children generally do not go, violent games are fair game (pun intended?). As long as a patron is not loud or obnoxious, which would be violating behavioral conduct rules of the library, they can play the games or do anything else (barring viewing pornography) on the computers.

    Apologies for the long-winded post, but I feel that, as a librarian myself, I have a lot to say on this subject.

  15. 0
    GrimCW says:

    Should be a third option of being up to those that patronize the establishment and are actual card carrying book borrowing members.

    I don't go for censorship of any kind (even if i disagree with it, i'm more than willing to fight to the death for your right to do/say it). But in cases like these it should be entirely up to those that matter, NOT those that have nothing to do with it.

    I.E. it should be for LOCAL public vote. But then again, so many thing should be, but are instead decided by the uninformed representative that thinks only of their own pocket book and future votes from those that don't even have a voice in the matter at hand.


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