Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A perhaps, well-intentioned politician sees the violence that is taking place on our streets and in our schools and decides he or she must do something about it. Instead of moving to make it harder to purchase assault weapons or increase funding for mental health care, the politician takes aim at what at the very least is an ancillary cause of the violence. Yes, yet another state legislator has decided the problem is video games.
This time around it is Indiana representative Christopher B. Quinn who believes he knows how to cure what ails the country. Quinn recently introduced a measure in his state house that would attach a 10 percent sales tax on “violent” video games. The money earned from this tax does indeed go towards a good cause as his bill, known as HB2705 also establishes a fund that would pay out the tax and any interest earned to Indiana schools so they can better pay for more advanced security measures.
In his explanation for the bill Quinn writes, “Over the past few years, acts of violence in schools seem to be occurring more frequently and with more intensity. From Colorado to Connecticut to most recently in Parkland, Florida, students have experienced unthinkable actions by peers in a place that should promote learning and enrichment, safety and protection.”
Quinn then pointed to a study that showed that video games can de-sensitive teens. He apparently believes that by making “violent” video games a bit more expensive, it could limit how often they are purchased. In order to do this, the bill would tack the 10 percent tax on any video game that has been graded as “mature” or “adult.” While the approach is certainly better than attempting to ban these games altogether, as some politicians have tried to do in the past, Quinn is still missing the point.
Violent Video Games Do Not Lead to Violence in Real Life
The Indiana politician is making the same mistake dozens of politicians have made before him. They’re going after the easy target. There are plenty of games that do indeed have over the top violence. Sometimes that’s entirely the point. Sometimes the points of these games is to bring a ridiculous amount of violence so that kids can see how horrible it is. When talking about a game like Nidhogg 2, the violence is there and it’s so ridiculous that it stands out. It makes the player wince a bit when they are playing, even if it’s in cartoon form like that game.
Even if someone doesn’t believe that violence in video games can show people the “horrors of war,” there is another point to be made here. Violence in video games doesn’t lead to violence in the real world. There is another “adult” themed video game released every month of the year. Usually, they are released multiple times a month. The rise in violence in our culture is certainly cause for alarm. That rise in violence is not keeping pace with the number of violent video games that are one the market. When it comes to looking for ways to stop the rampant violence and mass shootings going on in the United States, making select video games just a little bit more expensive isn’t going to make a dent.