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Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany

Click to Kill


By Sebastian Moll

Translated By Ron Argentati

17 January 2013

Edited by Gillian Palmer


Germany - Frankfurter Rundschau - Original Article (German)

The Newtown massacre is stoking the discussion over America's culture of violence. Now video games like “Kindergarten Killer” are being scrutinized.

Wayne Lapierre has become the butt of many jokes in the United States. No television comedy show has left the director of the National Rifle Association unscathed since he suggested that the way to combat gun violence was to make guns more available in society. He blamed America's culture of violence on video games and violent television programs. But he has managed to accomplish at least one thing with his rant against video games: Since Christmas, a debate has begun in America about the possible dangers inherent in violent video games like “Kindergarten Killer,” where players track down and shoot small children.

$10 Billion in Sales

The Arts section of the New York Times presented a look at the connection between playing video games like “Mortal Kombat” or “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” and their effects on the lives of the gamers who play them. Politicians on both sides came down on Wayne Lapierre's side, at least on this point, and criticized the games. The special task force headed by Joe Biden also put video games on its agenda for examination.

Biden's focus is basically on finding ways to better control the acquisition and possession of guns. But he also promised to look at the problem from all points of view, and not to exclude any possible contributing factors. So on Friday, he sat down with representatives of the video gaming industry to discuss what could be done.

Biden really took the industry to task, despite the fact that it has over $10 billion per year in sales in the U.S. alone, but stopped short of making any judgments. The vice president admitted to gaming industry officials that there was no proven connection between their games and real life incidents of violence.

Biden was also in agreement with industry representatives that their current self-policing efforts — including age limits for certain games and warning labels concerning content — were sufficient. The only thing Biden suggested was that the industry improve communications publicizing what they were already doing.

Biden was prevented from proposing more drastic measures by the game industry's deep financial pockets, but especially by the Supreme Court's decision last year that video games enjoyed First Amendment protection under the Constitution. Any government attempt to regulate or limit the industry would have to reckon with tough legal trench warfare.

Upping the Political Pressure

However, Biden has only increased the political pressure to do something about violent video games in the wake of the Newtown shootings. Gaming opponents are complaining louder than ever since Biden's half-hearted meeting with the industry. They point out that every mass shooter in the past had a history of obsessive video gaming.

But the discussion over violent video games won't displace gun control from the top spot on the agenda. Wayne Lapierre will likely have to contend with continued attacks on his organization.



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