Video Games Do Not Cause Psychological or Neurological harm to Minors

Video Games Voters Network is spreading the latest win for the video game community, the case of Video Software Dealers Association vs. Schwarzenegger.

This is the 13th win for the game developers and the gamers, and countries like the Philippines which almost always copy the United States, have to listen to this – especially the politicians claiming that gamers will soon be war-freak adults.

Follow up:

The major developments from this ruling, according to VGVN:

  • 13th Ruling For Video Games – This is now the 13th court decision which has rules that video games are protected speech – once again video games are found to be protected just like music, books, and movies.
  • The court found there to be no link between video game play and violent behavior.

Oooh, let me repeat that.. no link between video game play and violent behavior!

The Act defines a “violent video game” as follows:

(d)(1) “Violent video game” means a video game in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being, if those acts are depicted in the game in a manner that does either of the following:

  • (A) Comes within all of the following descriptions:
    • (i) A reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors.
    • (ii) It is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors.
    • (iii) It causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
  • (B) Enables the player to virtually inflict serious injury upon images of human beings or characters with substantially human characteristics in a manner which is especially heinous, cruel, or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.

It goes on:

Borrowing language from federal death penalty jury instructions, the Act also defines the terms “cruel,” “depraved,” “heinous,” and “serious physical abuse,” and states that “[p]ertinent factors in determining whether a killing depicted in a video game is especially heinous, cruel, or depraved include infliction of gratuitous violence upon the victim beyond that necessary to commit the killing, needless mutilation of the victim’s body, and helplessness of the victim.”

Here’s more! The meaty part!

A.B. 1179 states that the State of California has two compelling interests that support the Act: (1) “preventing violent, aggressive, and antisocial behavior”; and (2) “preventing psychological or neurological harm to minors who play violent video games.” A.B. 1179 also “finds and declares” that:

  • (a) Exposing minors to depictions of violence in video games, including sexual and heinous violence, makes those minors more likely to experience feelings of aggression, to experience a reduction of activity in the frontal lobes of the brain, and to exhibit violent antisocial or aggressive behavior.
  • (b) Even minors who do not commit acts of violence suffer psychological harm from prolonged exposure to violent video games.

On Page 20, the Supreme Court has warned that the

government cannot constitutionally premise legislation on the desirability of controlling a person’s private thoughts. First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.

(my emphasis)

Now the next part should be given thought by politicians (and most parents),

In Kendrick, the Seventh Circuit commented on a psychological harm rationale in the violent video game context:

  • Violence has always been an remains a central interest of humankind and a recurrent, even obsessive theme of culture both high and low. It engages the interest of children from an early age, as anyone familiar with the classic fairy tales collected by Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault is aware. To shield children right up to the age of 18 from exposure to violent descriptions and images would not only be quixotic, but deforming; it would leave them unequipped to cope with the world as we know it.

Then read Page 22 to 23 regarding the “studies” conducted trying to link violence to violent video games. Part of it is the following:

The State also relies on a study of the effects of video game violence on adolescents, conducted by Dr. Douglas Gentile, which studied eighth and ninth graders and concluded that “[a]dolescents who expose themselves to greater amounts of video game violence were more hostile” and reported getting into more arguments and fights and performing poorly in school.

This was the analysis of the court regarding that:

The extent to which this study supports the State’s position is suspect for similar reasons as Dr. Anderson’s work. First, this study states that due to its “correlational nature” it could not directly answer the following question: “Are young adolescents more hostile and aggressive because they expose themselves to media violence, or do previously hostile adolescents prefer violent media?”

There’s more:

Finally, the State relies on a two-page press release from Indiana University regarding the purported connection between violent video games and altered brain activity in the frontal lobe. Press Release, Indiana University School of Medicine, Aggressive Youths, Violent Video Games Trigger Unusual Brain Activity (Dec. 2, 2002). The research described, conducted in part by Dr. Kronenberger, has been criticized by courts that have reviewed it in depth. See Blagojevich, 404 F. Supp. 2d at 1063-65 (“Dr. Kronenberger conceded that his studies only demonstrate a correlative, not a causal, relationship between high media violence exposure and children who experience behavioral disorders [or] decreased brain activity….”); Granholm, 426 F. Supp. 2d at 653 (“Dr. Kronenberger’s research not only fails to provide concrete evidence that there is a connection between violent media and aggressive behavior, it also fails to distinguish between video games and other forms of media.”).

[13] In sum, the evidence presented by the State does not support the Legislature’s purported interest in preventing psychological or neurological harm. Nearly all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology as they relate to the State’s claimed interest. None of the research establishes or suggests a causal link between minors playing violent video games and actual psychological or neurological harm, and inferences to that effect would not be reasonable. In fact, some of the studies caution against inferring causation. Although we do not require the State to demonstrate a “scientific certainty,” the State must come forward with more than it has. As a result, the State has not met its burden to demonstrate a compelling interest.

To end, here’s the closing of VGVN’s mail report:

Michael Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association said, “This is a win for California’s citizens. This is a clear signal that in California and across the country, the reckless pursuit of anti-video game legislation like this is an exercise in wasting taxpayer money, government time, and state resources. In the end, common sense prevailed with the court determining that, after exhaustive review, video games do not cause psychological or neurological harm to minors. And, that the ESRB rating system, educational campaigns and parental controls are the best tools for parents to help control what their children play.”

(my emphasis)

Dear parents and politicians, we look up to Big Brother USA and Western researchers a lot, like in this case “violence” and “video games”. This fresh report clearly shows us that there is no study clearly linking that video games “will be producing adults who are war-freak and utak-pulbura who will approach their daily problems with the mindset of a warrior or a terminator”.

So why are there some kids, young-adults, and adults who are war-freak and utak-pulbura? The reasons are simple: [1] the Parents (upbringing, are you really there for them, do they really feel and see that you love them, do you teach them, do you listen to them, etc.); [2] Family (what kind of family relationship do you have?); and [3] Neighborhood (immediate neighborhood and school).

Stephen King on Violence and Politicians
Gamers – Will Soon Be War-Freak Adults

Download the ruling and read it (PDF)

Source: Video Game Voters Network

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