This last Monday, May 13th, a legislative strategy meeting was held between political and religious figures, and video games just happen to come up. Historically, those two factors—out-of-touch leaders and the games industry—are a recipe for comically inaccurate assumptions and shortsighted judgment. And thanks to several comments from America’s VP Joe Biden regarding violence in media, the meeting yielded exactly that. However, Biden’s most recent contribution to the tumultuous violence debate was more than just misguided; it highlights precisely how such a situation shouldn’t be handled.
In a shocking and unprecedented turn of events, violent media was once again deemed volatile, dangerously pervasive, poisonous, and a handful of other nasty adjectives. In response to this oh-so-horrifying threat to the world, Biden proposed a tax on violent entertainment in all media, be it films or video games. Biden was quoted saying, there is “no restriction on the ability to do that” nor do they have “legal reason why they couldn’t [tax violent images].”
Unsurprisingly, video games were labeled the most detrimental of the bunch, and, consequently, were more ruthlessly targeted. A report from Gameskinny explains that Biden later went on to ask for “a comprehensive study of the impact that violent video games and movies has on developing brains”. You know, kind of like the hundreds of studies that have already been done—virtually all of which have provided conclusive evidence regarding the influence of violent video games (spoilers: it has no negative effect whatsoever), and are available to any Internet user’s fingertips.
For the umpteenth time, America’s big-wigs have demonstrated their complete misunderstanding of video games. That violent video games have once again been labeled the catalyst for recent atrocities is ridiculous—they’re simply beating a dead horse. Scratch that; they’re beating a previously-beaten dead horse. They’re beating a puddle of dead horse.
America’s Vice President spent his Monday beating a puddle of dead horse. Just think about that.
Biden’s proposed violence tax is nothing more than a rehashed version of the copyright infringement acts that plague Internet laws. It’s a scare tactic designed to discourage the production of violent media via monetary punishment, and simultaneously improve tax margins. However, it just so happens to be masquerading as a way to defend the general public, which gets the uninformed majority on board without a second thought.
Not only is Biden’s angle a needless bother, but completely counterintuitive to boot. Taxing only violent media won’t solve anything to begin with, as the subjectivity of “What is violence?” will only lead to legal dithering and clause-dodging among developers in an effort to avoid the proposed tax. Death scenes will become metaphorical, censors will run rampant, and content will be objectively dumbed-down, but still present. At that point, the enforced tax will have served only as a discriminatory regulation that didn’t even achieve its far-fetched intent: to lessen the fictitious negative effects of violent media.
Speaking of discrimination, where do other media outlets play into this? Biden is solely targeting violent imagery in his case, leaving the printed word sorely absent. For every outlandish claim connecting murder to video games, there are ten more drawing lines between novels and assassination attempts, short stories and rape, and the like. Their absence from the tax further demonstrates how incomplete Biden’s attempt at content regulation truly is.
Again, that’s to say nothing of the fact that hundreds, if not thousands of studies have already been published revealing absolutely no connection between violent video games and violent behavior. So yeah, a puddle of dead horse.