Massachusetts State Senator Proposes Study on Violent Video Games

A Massachusetts state senator is pushing legislation that would study video games and their possible link to violent crime. Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) has proposed legislation (S 168) to create a special commission to investigate the influence of violent video games and to find if there is a connection with real world violence.

"As a legislator, I don’t know the answer to this question," Brownsberger said during a hearing on the bill Wednesday before the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

Critics of the bill are lining up fast, and have accused Brownsberger of using "inflammatory language" in his bill such as "killing games" and "rampage killing" to prejudice any meaningful study of the issue. One of those critics is advocacy group Media Coalition:

"We’re concerned the commission proposed has the potential to be politicized and has conclusions built into the language," said David Horowitz, executive director of the Media Coalition.

Horowitz says that the music of Duke Ellington, comic books and dime store novels were all the target of moral panic in the past, and video games are now experiencing a similar vilification without proof.

Opponents also says that Massachusetts doesn't need to conduct a study of its own because there is already plenty of research about the topic.

Patrick Lynch, a consultant to the Entertainment Software Association and the former attorney general of Rhode Island, told lawmakers this week that the video game industry has been a leader in self-regulation through the ESRB ratings system for video games and marketing safeguards unseen in other entertainment industries.

"There is no causal link between playing video games and psychological or neurological harm to minors," Lynch told the committee.

Industry insiders also warned lawmakers that a study could ultimately harm the industry in Massachusetts and discourage college graduates from seeking jobs and expanding the video game industry in the state.

On the other side of the issue, Boston Children’s Hospital pediatrician Dr. Michael Rich said there is evidence to suggest a correlation between "extensive exposure to violence and desensitization toward violence."

“What we see repeatedly is that exposure to violent media is not causal, but we don’t have a causal link between smoking and lung cancer either,” Rich said.

Rich also said that he is more concerned with bullying in schools than school shootings – hinting that media is somehow influencing children to be more aggressive at school.

“I’m more concerned about the bullying that occurs every day in the schoolyard than school shootings,” Rich said.

Sen. Gale Candaras, D-Wilbraham, co-chair of the Economic Development Committee, agreed with critics about the language of the bill, noting to Brownsberger during the hearing that he needed to "focus a little more.”

Mass Live has more reactions from state lawmakers, but it's clear that the majority of them do not understand the subject or the fact that there is a fairly large number of companies in the state that make video games and bring revenue into the state.

Source: Mass Live



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