You'd think that trying to ban violent video games in order to gain brownie points with the older voters has gone out of vogue, especially after politicians tried and failed repeatedly throughout the previous decade, but here we go again. Rep. Marcus Evans of Illinois is seeking to redefine what "violent video games" constitute, and restrict their sale in the state.
This notion comes during a time of heightened crime in and around the city of Chicago, with a notable spike in carjackings having been reported in the past few weeks. Records show that CPD officers responded to 218 cases of carjacking in the month of January, which is considered quite high.
Before video games got mixed up in this mess, an initiative to curb carjacking was launched and centered around gas stations, where a lot of these crimes are concentrated. Named Operation Safe Pump, the project stationed security guards at the pumps themselves, as a deterrence.
The man who started Operation Safe Pump, Early Walker, had approached various lawmakers recently to promote his idea of banning violent video games, or restricting their sale to minors. Walker names the Grand Theft Auto franchise specifically, due to the role of automobile theft in the series. Evans was, seemingly, the first to team up with him.
This resulted in Bill HB3531 which essentially seeks to alter a previous law from 2012. This would reclassify what legally constitutes a violent video game based on rather arbitrary and vague terms, while also affecting the distribution of these titles.
According to HB3531, violent video games should be defined as having players “control a character within the video game that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal” and depicting “psychological harm,” including “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.”
This move is both pointless and potentially harmful, despite what appear to be good intentions fueling it. Attempts to have violent video games banned in the past routinely fail, though not for the right reasons - the industry has a huge market, thus financial interests make restricting their sales legally difficult.
Additionally, the myth accusing violent video games of causing players to become more violent has been debunked time and again by reputed studies, with many having been conducted due to the notion constantly popping up. Continuing to blame games for crime diverts attention from the real underlying social causes, delaying solutions and placing more innocent people at risk.
If past attempts are anything to go by, HB3531 won't get far. It being passed would only affect the state of Illinois initially, while setting a troubling precedent. Luckily, there isn't much chance of this happening.