Friday, February 22, 2013

Ban the Light Guns?

Run Bambi's Mom! That kid is gonna get you!
Toni Nathaniel Harp, a senator from Connecticut, has proposed a bill that would prevent minors (anyone under 18) from using a light gun in arcades. And to create a special task force to study the effects of violent video games on youth. The text of the bill can be found online.

The focus on the bill is mostly on the former aspect, to not have children and teenagers using a light gun in public. The burden would be placed on the owner of the establishments with arcades to facilitate on how to monitor them. The bill states that there will be an infraction, but it doesn’t go into details or specifics on what will happen to the business if they are found “guilty.” That might be an issue in getting the bill passed.

Two things came to mind when I read this article. First, when was the last time anyone saw a light gun in an arcade setting? Very few arcades exist in my area. The ones that do are in bowling alleys and movie theaters. Or it’s a Dave & Busters. The games involved are typically racing, ski-ball, mini-basketball, and the occasional classic such as PacMan or Donkey Kong. So the law would really only impact such a minority that it’s even a wonder why it must be discussed.

Second, and this is in conjunction to one of the comments in the original article, is does this apply to all games that use a light gun or only a few that are deemed “violent?”

Let’s take the hunting games, such as Buck’s Big Hunter. Those sell pretty well and are one of the few that still take advantage of a light gun with gaming systems and in arcades. (Seriously at GameStop one Christmas, we couldn't keep these stocked anywhere for the Wii. They would constantly sell out.) But they have yet to be attacked by the media or the government for being violent. Interesting considering that out of all of the games on the market, it is probably the most realistic. The game takes you through a real-life hunting simulation. It teaches you the art of stealth, how to properly aim a gun, and how to take out your target (in this case deer and various animals). It’s still an odd looking orange toy gun, but the reality in Big Hunter is much more prevalent and relatable to society compared to anything that Grand Theft Auto could dream up.

Driving through red lights, running over pedestrians, beating up on police vehicles, shooting pigeons at random would guarantee you life behind bars and an instant capture by authorities. There is nothing real about Grand Theft Auto other then the graphics. Big Hunter is a reality that a number of people are involved with on a daily basis. Lots of people hunt, and hunt legally. They legally own a weapon. They legally know how to take down wild animals. Big Hunter is about as real as a “violent” game will ever get because it’s something that can and really does happen.

So why aren’t we up in arms about these hunting games? They could be more corruptible to a child’s mind than anything else. Because it’s not consider unusual to be a hunter, spending your weekends out in the woods shooting at deer. Whereas driving over hookers isn’t normal. It’s never normal.

Moral of the story? Killing people is bad. Killing animals is ok.

But seriously, it’s another aspect to think about in our continuing debate about violent video games.

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