It has been a week since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut but the country has no more answers for what caused the horrific tragedy than it did last week. In the weeks ahead you can expect the media and politicians to talk about violent media, guns, and metal health care in this country, but one analyst believes that all of this media attention won't have much of an effect on what entertainment consumers will buy (thanks to The Escapist).
In a segment that aired during Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto's show this week, Daniel Greenberg joined in to discuss Senator Jay Rockefeller's (D-WV) bill to study the effects of violent video games on children. Greenberg is the IGDA Anti-Censorship Committee Chairman and game developer at Washington D.C.-based Media Rez.
Last night 24-year-old James Holmes used four guns (a rifle, a shotgun and two handguns, according police), and tear gas to shoot, disorientate, and trap theater goers attending the opening of The Dark Knight Rising movie at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. The attack left 12 people dead and
38 59 injured. He was arrested outside the theater by police shortly thereafter.
In the old days, Supreme Court Justices had very little information to turn to outside of legal briefs presented by combatants and case law when making a ruling, but a new study by William & Mary law professor Allison Orr Larsen finds that justice are increasingly turning to information on the Internet to shore up their opinions. According to research from Larsen, there were more than 100 instances where justices used information on the Internet in their opinions.
According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian parliament has decided that an enquiry is necessary to investigate the "imbalance in pricing" for online content and services in the country compared to other global territories.
Two UK tabloids - The Sun and The Daily Mail - are highlighting comments from a neuroscientist who claims that video games can cause dementia in children. Neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield told a gathering at the science centre (part of the Sherbourne Girls' School) in Dorset this week that online gaming and activities such as Facebook can "disable connections in the brain" - and in extreme circumstances - cause dementia in children. She also said that, on average, children spend around 2,000 hours a year either playing games or doing other things online.
I'm all for letters to the editor, but one written by one Tina L. Bechtel, is particularly over the top and needs to be read to be believed. The Marysville, California mother of at least one son (at least the one she mentions in her letter) delivers what she calls her "long-overdue reaction to the 'supreme sellout' of our children," referring to the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year in the Brown v. EMA case.
Some early research from Brock University in Canada seems to indicate that playing highly competitive video games may lead to aggressive behavior faster than playing games with more violent content. Competitiveness, says a new study published by the American Psychological Association, may be "the main video game characteristic" that influences or causes aggression.
UK publication Express turns to guest columnist Jo Frost (better known as the star of the TV show Super Nanny), for answers to what caused last week's riots in London. And a good thing too, because apparently Jo has a "plan to save" those out-of-control youngsters who burned, looted, and committed acts of violence (thanks to C&VG by way of our own Magic). But first, Jo describes the riots as she saw them:
Former Oasis front man and now solo artist Noel Gallagher says that video games and TV violence are to blame for the civil unrest in London.
"We live in this age of violence—and I don't care what other people say: Brutal TV and brutal videogames are a reason for this pointless violence as well," Gallagher is quoted as saying in Bang Showbiz. "The people are immune to violence, they are used to it. And if they get caught they aren't punished the right way. The prisons are already full? Then build new ones!"
Some police in Switzerland hate fun. A Swiss police association has called for a ban on The Darkness II because the game depicts scenes where police are shot at and killed. And in other news, police have also called for the ban of every television crime drama ever made in the entire world.
"Politicians, game producers and sellers have been advised that such games be immediately removed from circulation," read a statement from the Swiss Christian Police Association."
The Australian Christian Lobby has called for games to be banned if they contain violence that is "excessive or gratuitous." The call came as the world digests the bizarre rambling of a 1500-page manifesto written by Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik and released online shortly before he killed 76 people in and around Oslo, Norway.
The Australian federal government said yesterday that Breivik committed his crimes because there is "something clearly intrinsically wrong with him", not because he played violent video games.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge did say that Modern Warfare 2 should be reviewed to have a more restrictive R18+ rating in the country. It is currently rated MA15+.
An open letter by Mrs. O. Babiuk of New Westminster, British Columbia - written on behalf of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International - urges (with dramatic flair) Premier Christy Clark to "keep sexually explicit video games away from kids." The letter appeared this week in the Royal City Record newspaper. The group she represents is a professional honorary Society devoted to women educators in British Columbia. In her letter Babiuk asks Clark to take steps to limit the availability of violent and sexually explicit video games as part of the premier's "caring for children and families initiatives."
NBC's Today Show featured a segment this morning called "The Other View: Getting A Guy's Perspective On Love." Along with hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, TV personality Donny Deutsch was asked to address several questions about relationships from a man's perspective. Deutsch is the host of the relationship show "The Big Idea" where he doles out advice to men and women on a variety of topics.
But the most important part of the segment, and relevant to our readership, is Deutsch's answer to the question: "Is it normal for men to play games in their 40s?"
According to the male equivalent of Dear Abby, "When you're 30, there should be something more on your mind than video games, that's it," Deutsch said.
The hosts agreed, calling it "weird."
In a July 1 opinion piece in First Things, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the California video game violence law (Brown v. EMA) is "wrong," and will add "poison" the country's future.
Chaput also wrote that the court's ruling "extends and elevates the individual’s right to free expression – or in this case, a corporation’s right to make a healthy profit - at the expense of family sovereignty, the natural rights of parents and the intent of the Constitution’s authors."
Chaput went on to write that the ruling overlooked the government's duty to protect "human dignity and the common good."
"A law which respects mothers and fathers trying to make good choices for their family does just that," he wrote.
While Leland Yee maybe disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Brown v. EMA, he says that he isn't done with the fight against violent videogames, according to multiple reports. One story from ABC station KGO and another from newspaper The San Francisco Appeal report says that Yee was heartened by the dissenting opinions of Thomas and Breyer, and that comments from Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito have left the door open for future legislation.
"Even with the existing court, there may be, if we craft the bill differently, there may be a basis for trying to get another hearing within the Supreme Court on this critical matter," Yee said.
An Early Day Motion tabled by UK Labour MP Keith Vaz, an outspoken critic of video games, has managed to garner 11 signatures. The Early Day Motion calls for better control of video game sales to customers under the age of 18, and encourages parents to limit the screen time of children. Eight signatures are from Labour MPs, with one from the Liberal Democrats, one from the Conservatives and another from the DUP. The petition was tabled last Friday, May 13th.
Develop points out that these signatories have basically agreed that video games are addictive, and that game playing should be combined with a variety of extra-curricular activities (preferably outdoors) to ensure that "children flourish." The motion also highlights the "Hungarian EU Presidency priority of protecting minors from harmful audiovisual media content in media legislation.”
A North Carolina father has gotten his 5 - 10 minutes of fame by complaining about adoption jokes in Portal 2. Charlotte news channel WBTV indulges the complaining parent in a story that goes out of its way to malign one of the best games of 2011. According to the report, Neal Stapel was playing Portal 2 with his adopted daughter and enjoying it until jokes started to fly about one of the characters being adopted. Stapel found himself utterly offended. None of the other jokes and occasionally crude humor bothered him, apparently.
"It throws the question, the most ultimate question that that child is ever gonna have for you and it just throws it right in your living room," he said. "It says it's rated "E" for everybody and I'm thinking maybe it's rated "E" for everybody except for orphans."
In 1982 the south coastal Massachusetts town of Marshfield banned arcade games in public businesses. The town wanted to maintain the town's image as an authentic "Massachusetts seaside" destination. Though the fight went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the town prevailed and the ban has remained for 29 years. Now a new effort hopes to let the residents of the town overturn that decision and allow games in businesses that want them. At the time the ban was passed, parents were worried about the effects of coin-operated Donkey Kong and Pac-Man on their children.
"People wanna come in, it's another form of entertainment," Stephen Drosopoulos, owner of the Venus II Restaurant. "(They) wanna come in, have a couple drinks, play some video games in the bar."
But some residents are holding on to the ban, saying that it will change the image of the town:
UK game player advocacy group Gamers' Voice has filed a formal complaint with Channel 5 over an episode of The Wright Stuff in which violent video games were the topic of discussion. During the show playing violent video games were linked to the shooting of Agnes Sina-Inakoju by Leon Dunkley and Mohammed Smoured. The two have already been convicted for the crime. The pair are members of the London Fields gang, who were responsible for a number of violent acts including the stabbing of 14 year old Shaquille Smith in 2009.
During the show, the host and panel members discussed whether violent games were a significant factor in the boys' behavior. Anne Diamond, who is known for anti-video game rhetoric, was one of those panelists. The show also aired footage of 18-rated Modern Warfare 2's infamous "No Russian" level.
Pennsylvania State representative Lawrence Curry (D- Montgomery/Philadelphia County) is warning parents about " a violent video game" called School Shooter: World Tour 2012. He apparently doesn't know that it's a modification for Half-Life 2, or that it will be free to download if its creators actually ever finish it, but we won't split hairs.
"The game is modeled after the Columbine incident, or Northern Illinois or the Virginia episode. It is a real concern to me," said Curry to News station CBS 21.
"I think it's definitely in poor taste," adds Dr. Kathleen Doherty, the chair of psychology at Harrisburg Area Community College.
She tells them during the interview that she believes all the studies she has seen that link violent media to aggressive behavior in children.
A new study from Simmons College researchers comes to the conclusion that children exposed to more violent games for longer periods of time are less able to sympathize with others. The new study published in the Journal of Children and Media surveyed 166 Boston, MA and southern New Hampshire schoolchildren. The study was overseen by Simmons College professors Edward T. Vieira and Marina Krcmar. They examined the relationship between violent games and kids' attitudes toward violence.
The duo surveyed children age 7-15 about their favorite games, how many hours a week they played, and questions to gauge their ability to sympathize with others, to see things from another person's perspective, and whether they saw violence as an appropriate response in situations where it would be deemed justified or unjustified. The favorite "violent games" included Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Counter Strike, Mortal Kombat: Deception, and World of Warcraft.
Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is only anti-game when it suits him apparently. Even as the Supreme Court deliberates over the validity of the 2005 anti-gaming law, Schwarzenegger confirms that Stan Lee is making a comic book that will inevitably be made into a video game. The comic book will be called "The Governator" and will be written by the legendary comic book icon Stan Lee. The comic book follows the exploits of a governor who leads by day and fights crime by night as a costumed super hero.
"First will come comic books, then a TV series and after that we will develop the games and then a movie," Schwarzenegger said at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend. "Maybe then we'll be back in Cannes for that."
The Times Leader reports on a drug and alcohol counselor who is agitated over the Half-Life 2 mod, School Shooter: North American Tour 2012. The CEO of Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services wants parents, teachers, school administrators to be aware of its existence and the possibility that it might be "available soon."
Showing that he doesn't understand the concept of a mod or that it is being developed online and to be given away for free, Ambrosino said he has warned the superintendents of area schools, federal and state legislators, as well as major retailers such as Kmart, Walmart and Target about the game.
The Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab is hosting a series of video talks that explores everything from ratings systems in Europe and North America to game censorship. The first in the series, available now, is called "Blood, Sex, and Politics in Video Games: How Censorship Is Done (or Not): "'Die!' Censoring Game Violence." Below is the tease from the GAMBIT Game Lab site:
ModernGhana.com reports that the government of Sunyani, a municipality in the African nation of Ghana, may pass strict laws on video game centers. Last week the 15-member Brong-Ahafo Regional multi-sectoral Child Right Committee expressed its concerns about an uptick in "commercial video game centres in the Sunyani Municipality." The committee appealed the Municipal Assembly to work with other institutions within the government to enact some sort of by-laws governing these businesses.
We have to write a story about Jack Thompson today. The anti-video game firebrand and former Florida attorney fired off a letter to Valve Software threatening to do something (we're not sure what he is threatening to do because he hasn't indicated the consequences in his letter to Valve's CEO) if the company doesn't do something about the Half-Life 2 mod, "School Shooter: North American Tour 2012."
Before we get into what Valve can actually do about a mod it has nothing to do with, here is Thompson's letter:
Responding to public comments from Australian Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor about the desire to have a consensus about an R18+ game classification at July's SCAG meeting, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has come out swinging. The ACL issued a statement saying that the ban on games that require a classification higher than the current rating of R15 should continue as it is.
First, let's look at what Brendan O'Connor said to ABC Australia:
Just a friendly reminder that the Commonwealth Club will host a panel featuring California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco); George Rose, the Executive VP and Chief Public Policy Officer for Activision Blizzard; and Michael McConnell, the Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
The trio will debate whether playing violent video games leads to violence in the real world. They will also discuss at length AB 1179, the notorious anti-game legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2005 but never put into effect because of a court-ordered injunction. Now the case is before the Supreme Court.
The debate will take place this Thursday (March 17) at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco () at 6:00 PM local time. More information from the Commonwealth Club follows: