Violent video games are once again taking the stage of political controversy as Illinois Rep. Marcus C. Evans, Jr. introduces legislation that would ban all sales of violent video games in the state. The bill would make amendments to an existing 2012 law that regulates the sale of violent games to minors, and expand it to outright ban the sale of violent video games altogether.
House Bill 3531 defines “violent video games” as any game that “allows a user or player to control a character within the video game that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.” They also want to amend the “serious physical harm” terminology to include carjacking, “among other things,” Polygon reports.
This is in response to an increase in carjackings in Illinois that legislators are blaming on games like Grand Theft Auto. They say the carjackings in the game bear an uncanny resemblance to those happening in real life. Evans wants the bill to prevent sales of games that promote crimes and illegal activities that communities in Illinois are suffering from. It would come with a $1000 fine for selling or renting out violent video games in the state.
The misguided bill fails to address the fact that there are no substantiated links between violent video games and violent crime—and there are even studies explicitly suggesting that the influence of violent video games does not lead to real life violence. Last year, the American Psychological Association called violence a “complex social problem that…stems from many factors,” and said the attribution to video games as the inciting factor in violent behaviors ignores other crucial elements. Video games have also been classified as free speech under a 2011 ruling.
Given these factors, and previous failed attempts to legislate violent video games, it’s unlikely that this bill will gain any traction, but it’s good to know that politicians are still after the low-hanging fruit rather than attempting to address the socioeconomic problems that lead to escalating violence and crime in the first place.