How should we respond to the murdering of 20 Connecticut elementary school children? By studying violent video games, says West Virginia Democrat Jack Rockefeller.
Rockefeller has reportedly introduced a bill to Congress that would see the National Academy of Sciences (or NAS) investigate the effects violent video games have on children.
The study may also examine violent movies and TV shows, though it’s clear from Rockefeller’s statements that the emphasis will be on the video game industry.
“Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children,” Rockefeller said in a recent statement. “They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role.”
This is hardly the first time violent video games have been blamed for school shootings. Following the Columbine shootings in 1999, many people pointed to the shooters’ playing of Doom — a dated and hardly realistic first-person shooter — as a possible explanation for the killings.
The bill goes on to insist that the NAS study look at how violence is being portrayed in games as the industry advances, and games become more and more realistic.
“With respect to violent video games, NAS must look at whether current or emerging aspects of games, like their interactive nature and the personal and vivid way violence is portrayed, have a unique impact on kids.”
If the bill passes, the NAS will have 18 months to submit a report on the issue.
Rockefeller isn’t completely ignoring gun control. The West Virginia democrat is also introducing a bill that would ban high-capacity, military-grade assault rifles.
So, what do you think? Do violent video games really have an effect on children, teenagers or adults? Does the video game industry need to do a better job of keeping mature games out of young hands?
Or, is this a case of yet another in a long line of politicians blaming the wrong thing for the violence in society?