On March 29, 2006 the United States Senate, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary met to discuss possible regulations and the constitutionality of prohibiting video game sales to minors. The Chairman for this proceeding is Senator Brownback from Kansas. The goal of this meeting is to discuss the recent developments in state efforts to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors and, as put by Chairman Brownback, “to try to get and to build a factual basis of why there as a legitimate state interest in legislating on violence in video games and their targeting and marketing toward children” (3). This whole proceeding is mostly centered around a group of two panels. In the first panel the discussion is mostly related to effects of video games on children and in the second it concerns the constitutionality of regulating video games.
The first witness is Reverend Strickland whose brother was shot by a teen that is reported to be an avid player of video games. He talks about how his brother was a police officer and the teen age boy took his gun and shot him as well as two other officers. To this the boy replied, “life is a video game everyone has to die sometime” (6). He talks more in depth about how simulators relative to cop killing games create such behavior.
The next witness is Ms Carll is far more concerned with the way violence is portrayed in video games as well as sexual and racial themes. The sort of aggression against women especially in violent games is “depicted as humorous and glamorous and is rewarded” (9). Her recommendations for helping to alleviate worries is: 1) teach children about media literacy and 2) link violent behaviors with negative social consequences. However, Dmitri Williams from U of I believes that we should take more skeptically to the video game violence epidemic. The studies so far have been way too short and inconclusive to decide whether or not regulations apply.
Now, the constitutionality issue around violent video games arises because of the first amendment. One comment that I think puts the issue best is this, “our Constitution mandates that the Government regulate behavior, not speech that is perceived as likely to cause undesirable behavior among listeners or recipients” (27). Since the science is lacking quite a bit in these issues it may be too soon to impose government regulations on video games. Kevin Saunders, Professor of Law at MSU, believes that the first amendment issue can be resolved by: 1) argue sufficiently that violent material, when presented to children, is obscene or 2) is that video game activity is not an activity protected by the first amendment. Whether or not these to strategies will work I believe that more long term studies should be conducted first and the focus should be on the parents obligation to filter and teach their kids about inappropriate forms of media.