Wednesday, November 17, 2010

EXP Podcast #104: Out of Order

Court is in session and the fate of video games in California is on the line! Alright, maybe that's overly dramatic. But really, the Supreme Court is hearing proceedings for Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association. The Justices will decide whether banning the sale of videogames to minors infringes the freedom of speech enshrined in the first amendment. Based on the reactions of the court, which you can read here, I don't the industry is doomed quite yet. However, this case raises legitimate concerns worth considering. Join us this week while Scott and I discuss America's founding fathers and the redeeming values, according to Jason Schreier, of nine violent videogames. As always, we encourage you to leave your thoughts on the comments section and check out Schreier's inspirational article in the show notes below.

Some discussion starters:

- What "adult" games have redeeming values for minors in particular?
- How can the games industry help parents manage their children's consumption of violent videogames?
- Should more gamers be paying attention to the Supreme Court case or do we have nothing to worry about?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
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Show notes:

- Run time: 37 min 59 sec
- “Blood Redemption in 9 Violent Videogames" by Jason Schreier, via Wired GameLife
- Music provided by Brad Sucks

1 comment:

  1. The fundamental issue I see with the bill actually doesn't have anything to do with the merits of videogames. The issue of the merits of art is certainly complex and philosophical so you can absolutely create robust and logically sound arguments on either side of that case. The bigger problem is actually that the law, intended to protect parents abilities to raise their children as they see fit, legally undermines the ability for parents to adopt free-range rearing.

    The concept was brought to the public attention with Lenore Skenazy's book Free-Range Kids, which is where the name comes from, but the practice dates much further back essentially to the origin of life, and has been continually practiced actively to this day. The concept is that, rather than protecting children, you grant them autonomy and responsibility, generally the sort that "good parents" would call dangerous and irresponsible, such as letting your children go downtown to buy nails at the hardware store or hiking alone in the woods. I fully sympathize with this movement because not only have I been raised this way, but so have my parents and grandparents, and this approach has created some truly excellent people in my family, including a well-respected doctor, a successful engineer, several teachers, and a Secret Service agent.

    The problem where this law interferes is that it affects parents rights to give their children freedom of media. Although the general public fails to realize it, the right for parents to turn a blind eye to their children's consumption of media can be just as important as their right to give their children an allowance to spend as they please. I think your case with the library is a perfect example of where the parent's right to allow their child the freedom to explore the regular fiction section is more effective than allowing the parent the option to approve his child's free choices. Although some might argue it is the parent's responsibility to be aware, that is not the same as being an involved agent, which can discourage children from making choices they might think their parents would disapprove of.

    To give an example, my mother, a devout Catholic, dislikes my interest in atheist commentary and criticisms of church policies, but she nonetheless approves it. However, allowing me to pursue my reading on my own gives me more psychological autonomy than if she required me to buy my books through her, even if she supplied whatever I wanted. Similarly, since even before puberty, I've been fascinated with films during the sexual liberation movement, and although her devout Catholicism again creates a conflict of interest, she still allows it. The fact that I have always been allowed to watch these films on my own gives me much more psychological autonomy to absorb the message of these films than if I was forced to watch them with her present.

    Unfortunately for the MPAA, they actually require the latter from theaters. That always bothered me because while my parents were perfectly willing to let me see whatever I wanted, they weren't always interested in watching themselves. Since regulation became commonplace it was impossible for me even to have my parents buy my tickets for me until I turned the arbitrary age that it was okay for me to watch on my own. This, although it undermines their right to parent, is a justified policy, but as a law would have been explicitly in violation of their right to deregulate my media consumption.

    Anyway, that's my two cents.