Matthew Ford’s Infernal Blog

Politics, games, computers, philosophy, human nature, Australia, and general rabbiting on

Letter to the Editor

I read an article in the Brisbane Courier-Mail about a crime victim group’s protest against the game Hitman, and decided to write my first letter to the editor here. I wrote:

Monday’s article “Hitman game strikes nerve for crime victims” struck a nerve with me, because I care about social ills and I make video games for a living here in Brisbane. I want to defend my industry and art, which employs hundreds of skilled people in Queensland. As a father, I and most in the video game business strongly support the use of game ratings, and Hitman’s “MA 15+” rating is the game maker’s strong assertion that it is not to be played lightly by the young. Parents should monitor game playing just like TV watching and web surfing. Crime victims naturally want to find a cause, and it is easy to blame entertainment as the cause of crime. Unfortunately the solution is more challenging than suppressing works of fiction. Politics and misinterpretations aside, no valid study has shown that violent video games cause violent behavior. Past panics about comic books, cowboy matinees, and pirate storybooks similarly proved unfounded. Lastly, I plead the case that video games should enjoy the same freedom of expression as any form of entertainment. Violent video games often explore and provoke thought about themes of violence, crime, and lawlessness– not merely glorify it for thrills. These games are recreation and not of huge social merit, but they also are not the cause of violence. Let’s focus on the real causes of crime and not divert ourselves by blaming the mirrors held up to society.

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