Political Games

Friday, November 13, 2009


The National Assembly of Venezuela passed a law this month that will outlaw the sale of violent video games in the country. Journalist Clive Thompson says bans like these have more to do with political gamesmanship than preventing violence.

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Comments [5]

Miriam Cooper from Cambridge, MA

I'm wondering whether Clive Thompson, in his haste to make fun of Hugo Chavez's ignorance, was looking at an English translation of his remarks regarding the video game legislation. Chavez's referring to "the Nintendo" wouldn't have been goofily anachronistic in his own language; it's proper Spanish usage to put a definitive article before certain proper nouns. A badly done translation of "el Nintendo"--which is correct in Spanish-- would have resulted in "the Nintendo," which is awkward in English. A good translation would have just read "Nintendo." ¡Qué vergüenza, señor Thompson!

Nov. 29 2009 10:34 PM
Adam C. Engst from Ithaca, NY

Isn't it just a wee bit telling that the story directly before this one talks about how television is now known to be actively bad for young children, resulting in fewer words, shortened attention spans, poorer showings in school, and then we're told that there's absolutely no problem with playing violent videogames? (Well, if I remember right, there was an slight acknowledgment that playing videogames results in more aggressive behavior.)

The whole Venezuelan thing is of course ludicrous - no rational person could argue that videogames are responsible for an epidemic of killings, especially in a place that has long had problems with violence.

But - and I speak as a publishing professional who uses a computer non-stop - I personally think it's equally as ludicrous to claim that things we do and watch onscreen - whether passive TV or active videogames - have no effect on behavior. Surely, Bob, if that were true, no one would bother to advertise on TV.

Nov. 21 2009 04:31 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven

Another not-so-obscure politician who jumped on this bandwagon or, rather, led the wagon train is the pandering Connecticut Senator and former Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman but where would he be in prosecuting the real holy war (rather than the rhetorical one Orrin Hatch predicted of on health insurance reform) on those in those Muslims who oppose the existence of his beloved Israel? The operators of the drones used to target those enemies of both Israel and scores of years-long policies of the United States government, especially those of the duplicitous Presidents named Reagan and Bush, gained their skills in their world of warcraft on the very same game terminals he so condemned!

Talk of hypocrisy in action, at least Chavez (and I had a 75-year old Venezuelan anti-Hugo activist - who was my recently deceased mother's favorite bridge partner - over for coffee just Sunday) has no drone program with which to exploit what he condemns. Joe and Hillary do.

Now, though, Joe has set his sights on misreading the motivations of those whom he claims failed to connect the dots on Hasan. Rather than "political correctness", I posit that they ignored the dots in a conspiracy of silence with hopes that the time-bomb within him would explode and provide a perfect rationale for the coming witch-hunt against Islamic American soldiers.

Doesn't anyone recall when the Air Force academy was exposed as inculcating cadets with right-wing, conservative Christianity? That mind-set is not unique to that service and since in recent decades that sect has chosen to embrace Israel as a strategy to advance Armageddon, that's o.k. with Joe, too.

Nov. 20 2009 09:04 AM
Darrel Plant from Portland, Oregon

It's all very easy to make fun of that wacky Hugo Chavez and his kwazy theories about video games and how all that passed us by long ago, but someone who works for WIRED should have a long enough memory to know that it was just a few years back -- not the 1990s -- when politicians were attacking "Grand Theft Auto" for its violence. Not exactly obscure politicians on the fringes of the body politic, either. In 2005, it was then-Sen. Hilary Clinton leading the charge, calling GTA a "major threat" to morality and calling for a $90 million investigation into the link between games and electronic media on the "cognitive, social, emotional and physical development" of children.

"Children are playing a game that encourages them to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them," she said in a statement on the issue. "This is a silent epidemic of media desensitisation that teaches kids it's OK to diss people because they are a woman, they're a different colour or they're from a different place."

Then again, our culture might be on the brink of collapse, too, but I don't think it was the video games that did it.


Nov. 17 2009 06:54 PM
Robert from NYC

Baloney, Clive Thompson. What studies is he referring to? Who did the studies? Where does his information come from? I don't believe he is entirely correct and I think a real study would prove his blanket statement that video games and tv and movies have NO effect on violence in the lives of either children or adults. I regularly hear kids and adults alike make reference to how cool are certain violent actions in these media and there have been stories, e.g., Columbine for one where the perpetrators were influenced by violent media. Stop spinning this.

Nov. 15 2009 10:50 AM

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