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Turn Violent Video Games into Free Money From Dumb People

Southington, Connecticut, thinks they have a solution to violence. They’re offering a $25 gift card for every violent video game that’s turned in. The games will be incinerated, probably just with matches, although it would be much cooler if they destroyed them with a flamethrower or a BFG.

They don’t define what makes a game violent. Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty obviously qualify, but what about Diablo II and Starcraft? Rise of Nations features tiny solders killing each other. Football is a violent sport – how about a three-year-old copy of Madden?

I wish I lived close enough to take advantage of their foolishness. I have lots of old games I’ve played and am done with. I never buy them when they first come out – I always wait until the price drops and buy them out of the cheepie bins. I have a shelf full of games that cost five or ten bucks. There are even a couple unopened packages in my collection: A five-dollar intro to World of Warcraft and a promotional disk for Conan the Barbarian someone gave me at a convention. I could take several hundred dollars from these silly people.

“There is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and Movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying,” wrote John Myers, a spokesperson for the program. “Social and political commentators, as well as elected officials including the president, are attributing violent crime to many factors including inadequate gun control laws, a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence.”

There are a few little problems with his claims. First off, most elected officials are experts at getting re-elected, and little else. Social and political commentators are often quite ignorant about whatever they’re pontificating on. Free clue, Mr. Myers: their yammering isn’t proof of anything, ever, on any subject.

Let’s take a look at the “ample evidence” Mr. Meyers talks about. It’s….hang on….wait a minute…still looking…damn. There isn’t any. Not even a little. In fact, we could argue that increased video game violence reduces real-world violence.

Let’s start by agreeing with their premise that video games have become more and more violent over the years. Part of it is the technology – improved graphics allow for more realistic gore. Now let’s look at the sales numbers – American’s spend more on video games than any other form of entertainment, and violent games are among the most popular. Sales of such games rise every year. We’ll avoid the tedium of breaking it down to specific numbers and just give them that point.

Now all we have to do is look rate violent crimes committed in the US and compare them to video game sales.

crime_games

Oops.

The rate of violent crime has been steadily dropping for the past thirty years. There was a spike last year, but the rate is still far below what it was three decades ago. It would be simple, with a few charts and graphs, to “prove” violent video games reduce violence. We could bolster this argument by adding some pseudo psychological babble about providing an outlet and escape valves and teaching children to cope with blah blah blah. This would be just as silly as blaming violent games for real-life violence, but if we did it carefully enough it would fool a lot of people.

crime_delcines

These are all facts, of course, and mere facts are seldom enough to convince the unsmartenized masses, who will continue to clamor for crackdowns on anything they don’t like. But if you live near Southington, Connecticut, at least you have an opportunity to profit from their ignorance. Grab all the old, beat, discarded video games you can find and turn them into cash. Use it to go to a violent movie or buy a bloody video game, and claim you’re doing it to help reduce crime.

More Info:

I glommed the graphics from two good articles on the subject:

The NRA: oblivious and talking
Crime and Victimization Rates: Are Our Streets Still Safe?

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