Thursday, August 18, 2005

The APA hits you for 1 point of damage

Today, the American Psychological Association decided that we shouldn't put violence in games marketed to children:

From the press release:
Based on an examination of the research that shows the negative influences of violence in interactive media on youth, the American Psychological Association (APA) today adopted a resolution recommending that all violence be reduced in video games and interactive media marketed to children and youth.

First of all, apparently, the APA doesn't keep up with current events. Second of all, I can't think of a single modern violent game that's rated less than Teen. The vast majority of games marketed towards children are, for the most part, far less violent than most of the cartoons I grew up with.

The APA goes on to recommend that we:
Develop and disseminate a content-based rating system that accurately reflects the content of the video games and interactive media.

Say, what a clever idea.

Now this recommendation is interesting:
Encourage the entertainment industry to link violent behaviors with negative social consequences.

I will, for the moment, set aside the disturbing echoes of the Comic Book Code in this recommendation, and instead bring up an old pet peeve of mine. For years, television stations in the US have had to edit blood, death and other consequences out of television programs that children or adolescents were likely to watch, because these things were deemed inappropriate for young viewers. This always annoyed me, because I felt that it was socially irresponsible on the part of the censors to allow untold amounts of empty gratuitous violence to play out on the screen, while at the same time, sheltering everyone from any of the the consequences of that violence. The American editors would -- I kid you not -- go so far as to edit new scenes into some Japanese shows, just to retcon the death of a deceased character. What the hell social good was this doing? Why hasn't the APA ever taken them to task about consequences?

However, the APA did say one thing I can get behind:
Teach media literacy to children so they will have the ability to critically evaluate interactive media.

I can't argue with this. Only, I would remove the word "interactive." Adults should be helping children develop the ability to critically evaluate all media. We could even develop a game...

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