Monday, March 13, 2006

ESA Says, Vote for Video Games - Shacknews

As you have probably noticed, the legal and political climate surrounding video games and the video game industry is becoming absolutely stifling. The number of laws being proposed or passed on a daily basis relating in some way to the restriction or regulation of games continues to grow. Of course, most of them are struck down by the courts, but the fact that politicians feel compelled to keep proposing them, and elected officials continue to pass them at the senate and house levels, indicates that the general sentiment about games is not a good one. When politicians are unable to pass laws that restrict game sales or content, they obtain funding for surveys that will potentially allow them to do so. At this rate, don't be surprised if some of these attempts end up sticking.

The power structure has been waging war on youth culture for as long as youth culture has existed. If it wasn't rock and roll or long hair or tattoos, it was rap lyrics and heavy metal and video games. We fear what we do not understand, and of course authority figures have never understood young people, despite attempts by public figures like Bill Clinton to look 'cool'. Hell, I have a teenage stepson, and I don't understand him most of the time. The paradox is that a serious percentage of the North American economy revolves around youth culture. Movies, music, games, television, comics, clothes - every player in these industries would tell you that without the under-25 set buying their shit, they'd be fucked. The weekly box office is driven by teenagers - older people wait for the DVD. Who's buying those albums listed on Billboard's Top 100? Are there a lot of middle-aged Eminem fans?

The economy relies more heavily on youth culture than any single industry because they have the most disposable income. You know, the money they should be saving for college. So while those in power rail against the evils of video games and rock music and rappers and morally-depraved movies, what they are really doing is making them cool, because nothing attracts teenagers faster than the idea that old people don't like something they like. The youth culture industries know this and subtly encourage politicians to keep up the 'good' work.

The thing to keep in mind is that this war on youth is all about control (just like the Matrix movies, if you were paying attention). Let's turn the debate towards violence in video games so you aren't paying attention to what's happening in Iraq. The Man is controlling you by keeping your attention focused on the stuff they already control. They don't actually want young people to stop buying games and listening to music. But there is a wild card in all this, a new card added to the game that has everybody nervous. The internet. The government and the corporations are desperate to find ways to control the internet, but its very nature makes it virtually impossible. The Man can't stop you from reading a blog from a native Iraqi. The Man can't stop you from getting your news from alternative sources. The Man can't stop you from talking about the things that interest you. Oh, but they're trying. Teenage bloggers getting suspensions for writing nasty things about their school. Internet providers talking about surcharge schemes to freeze out 'unimportant' network traffic. The DMCA, which grants incredible rights to copyright holders, while stomping all over consumer rights.

So when you read about another politician ranting about violence in video games, or sex on television, or the lyrics in a rap song, remember: it's really an attack on youth culture. An attack on freedom.


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