The en vogue topic of many U.S. State Legislatures these days appears to be videogames - violent ones, to be specific. Some are using pre-existing guidelines for the direction of game sales to minors, such as ESRB ratings. Some congressmen are attempting to draw lines around the nebulous concept of violence on their own. But interestingly, they are all being shot down. Why?
Games are art. In the U.S., art is protected under the Constitution.
To prove this, I could get into a long discussion here of the etiology of the word art and how that applies to videogames; I could give a nice comparison of the process behind various accepted-as-art forms and the creative process behind games; I could even discuss various philosophers' and critics' ideas of what constitutes "art." But really, if you don't believe it, I cannot convince you with finely worded arguments. In fact, that is one of the things that makes art so wonderful - its subjectivity.
So, let's assume, for a moment, that videogames are not art, that they are afforded no protection from the laws of our land. Let us pretend that we might legislate against videogames that include violence. While we are going about this supposition, let us not forget that violence is itself a very subjective notion, and that some feel that nearly all videogames are violent ("Super Mario Brothers is violent - it's all about killing"). Where does that leave us?
Well, if you think about that, and then hyperbolize the situation, one might imagine how a world without videogames might form. And this hyperbolized situation is exactly the theme we posed to our writers this week. Allen Varney responds by asking several game designers what they might do if making games was illegal - and receives some interesting responses. Tom Rhodes discusses how that situation is really not a possibility and how games were inevitable. Dana Massey looks at the issue from a slightly different angle and suggests that the real problem we need to look at is not the videogames themselves, but other past civilizations' violent entertainment and what that might portend. Find these articles and more in this week's issue of The Escapist.