What red-blooded American boy doesn’t remember the first time he picked up a prostitute, paid her money to refill his health meter, and then promptly ran her over to get the money back? Well, watch out, under-17 Grand Theft Auto fans: In what we can all agree is a clear step towards Mussolini-esque socio-fascism, Variety reports that the Supreme Court will hear arguments starting on Nov. 2 regarding California’s ban on selling violent videogames to minors. Censorship! Social engineering! Funkillers!
In all honesty, even though I’m a videogame megafan and a noble anti-censorship crusader, it’s hard not to see the positive side of the ban. Videogames have never looked more realistic, and some franchises have wrung gory black comedy from ever-increasing levels of violence. Consider God of War III – after you defeat the god Helios in a boss battle, you rip off his head and carry it around for the rest of the game as a lantern.
Now, in context, it’s absolutely hilarious…but I would imagine a 12-year-old wouldn’t necessarily get the joke. Remember after Fight Club came out, when all the meathead teenagers started their own clubs? Clearly, they did not grasp the satire. Anyways, it’s not as if kids won’t get to play the games. They’ll just have to ask their parents to buy them. (Or they’ll bribe a hobo. But let’s face it: There’s no defense against the decoy hobo.)
And yet, if I may play Devil’s Advocate for a second, if the ban were deemed constitutional, I’d be willing to bet that we’d see something similar to the PG-13ization of Hollywood. There would still be violent videogames, but the action would be bloodless. Frankly, I find the notion of kids playing shooting games where no one bleeds incredibly terrifying. Violent videogames can be disturbing, but sometimes – as in Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russians” level– they’re disturbing in the right way.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Is California’s ban any different from an R rating? Do violent videogames incite violence, or do they give human beings a healthy outlet for violent thoughts? And seriously, were those kids who started Fight Clubs totally stupid, or what?