Today's Dose of Awesome has a little bit more serious tone. The violent video games debate continues to rage with many governments, particularly in Europe, considering the implementation of bans on the sale of violent video games. Switzerland is in the process of implementing a ban while Germany was on the verge of bringing in a ban.
German gamers and fans across the world can now breathe a sigh of relief though as the proposed German ban on the production and distribution of violent video games has been squashed. GamePolitics.com reported that a German petition managed to secure the signatures of 73,000 people in opposition to the proposed ban. In the face of so much opposition and calls for greater education on the current rating system, Dr. Herman Kues, the Parliament State Secretary, announced that no changes would be made in regards to the production and distribution of violent video games. The German government will instead do what is regarded by many as the right thing and push for greater education program on the current PEGI rating system so parents know what their children are playing and buying.
While game companies like Electronic Arts are understandably happy, EA's Jens Uwe told GameIndustry.biz , “The German decision is a very welcome step as we encourage policy makers to better understand the reality of today's video game market and give games the same respect as books, films or music.” Gamers across the world should also be happy. The ban on the production of violent video games would have caused German based developer Crytek to relocate its central studios. Such a move could have had adverse effects on what is arguably one of the best developers in the world — see Crysis.
The decision to promote education instead of wholesale banning is the right decision. The German move was motivated by fear at a time when a scapegoat was required. Events like the March 11th school shooting in Winnenden were used as reasons for the implementation of a ban. The shooter in that event played games like Counter-Strike and Far Cry 2 which inferred that this had something to do with it but as The Times Executive Editor Daniel Finkelstein remarked on his blog, "Game addiction is a symptom of something wrong and not a cause." As a result of that same shooting the German government also wanted to ban paintball and laser skirmishes because they supposedly encourage acts of violence. Every one of those shootings is a tragic occurrence but sometimes people become blinded in their search for justice, and pinning something on video games or television is an easy way to explain what happened or to blame someone for what has happened.
Hopefully the planned education program will work as parents need to be made aware of what their children are playing. As Rockstar developer Lazlow told the BBC, "Our games are not designed for young people." He added, "If you're a parent and buy one of our games for your child you're a terrible parent. We design games for adults because we're adults." It's what gamers have been saying all along. Video games need to be treated in the same way as violent movies or TV shows in that some are just too extreme for young people, are not meant for young people and shouldn't be played by young people.