January 10th, 2006

Rocky Mountain News Surveys 2006 Political Landscape

You may know Brian Crecente better as the editor of the popular Kotaku game blog. But Brian's full-time gig is that of video game columnist for the Rocky Mountain News.

Writing in the Rocky today, Brian surveys gaming's political landscape as we head into the 2006 legislative season. Brian has interviews with ESA senior counsel Gail Markels, who leads the industry's campaign against legislation; California Assembly Speaker Leland Yee; a First Amendment law expert; and a rather silly quote from a certain GamePolitics editor.

Good stuff!

Dorothy, We're Not in Kansas Anymore... Guv Hints at Game Law

Toto, hide the video games...

Will Kansas join the growing list of states with game legislation in 2006? It seems likely, based on comments made last night by Governor Kathleen Sebelius during her State of the State address to assembled legislators.

Sebelius, a Democrat, made the following comments in relation to games during her address. Her words appear to signal upcoming legislation:

"Parents today face new challenges that we didn't have when our children were younger. Video games and music lyrics promote violence... Moms and dads shouldn't be alone in their fight to raise children the right way. They shouldn't be alone in their fight to instill the values that lead to a life of meaning, rather than a life wasted. We can help parents by giving them access to tools... and limits on access to violent video games. In the coming days, I will make these tools available to parents across Kansas."

GamePolitics will be tracking this story for further developments.

Another Aggression Study...

I don't know about you, but GP is getting desensitized - to game research stories. One says there's definitely a link between games and violence. The next day there's a story finding no link. Not knowing who to believe, sometimes I just block it all out and play more F.E.A.R., or my latest obsession, Battleground Europe: World War II Online.

What's bringing on this little rant? Another study, of course. The Times Online details new research conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia which appears to demonstrate a causal link between computer games and violence.

Researchers found that players of violent games had a diminished emotional brain response to images of real-life violence. However, the gamers had normal responses to other disturbing images, including dead animals and sick children.

Speaking of the gamers' response to violent images, lead researcher Dr. Bruce Bartholow said, "People who play a lot of violent video games didn't see them (violent images) as much different from neutral (images). "

Gamers also showed a higher likelihood to "punish" fictitious opponents in a game when given the opportunity. Not all are convinced, however. Jonathan Freedman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, and author of Media Violence and its Effects on Aggression, commented, "We habituate to any kind of stimulus. All we are really getting is de-sensitization to images. There's no way to show that this relates to real-life aggression."

GP: There could be something to what Freedman says. After all, doctors, nurses and cops develop a professional detachment when dealing with gruesome injuries that would shock or repulse the average person. What's more, we'd like to see some studies on the aggression caused by, say, rooting for your favorite team in an NFL playoff game or watching the battle scenes in Saving Private Ryan.

The full study will appear later this year in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. For now, you'll find more on this at New Scientist.