Germany has a federal government structure, with 16 states. And the interior ministers of all 16 have asked the central government for a total ban on the production and distribution of violent video games. This comes as an ignorant knee jerk reaction after the school shooting at Winnenden. They are wrong on so many levels:
- Tim Kretschmer, who committed the shootings, was a very keen table tennis player who wanted to turn professional. If you take a simple view of cause and effect, which the Germans obviously do, then there should be an immediate ban on table tennis.
- Video gaming is just another medium, like film, books , the opera or the theatre. Why ban violence in just one of these? It makes no sense whatsoever.
- The book Grand Theft Childhood, financed by a $1.5 million US government grant to pay for original and proper scientific research, comes to the exact opposite conclusions to what the stupid German legislators think: “Boys who don’t regularly play video games were more likely than even the boys who played M-rated (adult) games to get into fights, steal from a store, or have problems at school.” Every politician or journalist who wants to pass comment on video gaming should read this book first so as not to look like a complete idiot.
- The US Secret Service, after investigating many incidents, have reported that there is no correlation between video games and the sick nutters who commit these atrocities. This just shows how wrong those German politicians are.
- Video gaming is still at its very beginning. The technology it uses of interaction, connectivity and non linearity make all previous media instantly obsolete. Because of this it will become all pervading, not just in recreation but also in education, business, government and the military. It will become one of the biggest businesses on earth. And the Germans are cutting themselves off from it. The future economic harm they are doing themselves is immense.
- These school shootings are committed by people who are mentally ill, not by people who play video games. Also the shootings are done with guns. If the mentally ill people couldn’t get their hands on guns then there would be no school shootings. The politicians should be looking at mental illness and gun control before (metaphorically speaking) burning books.
- The German legislation on video games is already suppressive. So Germans buy their games by mail order from other countries. This happens on a massive scale and cannot be stopped, because of European Union free trade rules. Also game distribution is moving away from physical media to online, using the internet. So the German legislators will never prevent the purchase, distribution and playing of violent games within Germany. Their laws will have no effect.
- There is an excellent Pan-European age rating system for games called PEGI. If the German legislators are worried then perhaps they should ensure that this is properly implemented. And maybe introduce an age rating system for books, the opera and ballet.
The German legislators are acting out of ignorance and fear. They do not understand video games. The good news is that the younger generations do understand video games. And when these people become journalists and politicians we will see some sense brought to the subject.