Stephen King defends videogames

Another thread has been woven into the messy tapestry that is the current debate on violent videogames. Renowned horror author Stephen King has come out to defend the videogames industry. In an article for Entertainment Weekly, King reacts to a recent bill in the state of Massachusetts which would effectively ban the sale of violent videogames to under 18’s.

“The vid-critics claim they [videogames] exist for one reason and one reason only, so kids can experience the vicarious thrill of killing,” explains King, “What makes me crazy is when politicians take it upon themselves to play surrogate parents. The results of that are usually disastrous.”

Recently politicians on all ends of the political spectrum, including presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been jumping on the anti-game bandwagon. With Obama telling voters: “We’re going to have to parent better, and turn off the television set, and put the video games away.”

King goes on to say, “What really makes me insane is how eager politicians are to use the pop culture — not just videogames but TV, movies, even Harry Potter — as a whipping boy. It’s easy for them, even sort of fun, because the pop-cult always hollers nice and loud,”

“It seems to me that the games only reflect a violence that already exists in the society. The Elephant in the Living Room is America’s almost pathological love of guns. It was too easy for critics to claim — falsely, it turned out — that Cho Seung-Hui (the Virginia Tech killer) was a fan of Counter-Strike; I just wish to God that legislators were as eager to point out that this nutball had no problem obtaining a 9mm semiautomatic handgun.”

King’s insights are nothing new, it is a rationale presented by defenders of this medium and others throughout history. We can only hope that his voice will ring a little louder due to him being something of a cultural demigod.

In my mind it seems counter-productive for politicians or the press to demonise one of fastest growing industries in the world. Though, that said, videogames won’t be the first or last to bear the brunt of a political knee jerk, the same has happened to movies, music, comic books and even poetry (if you look back far enough). So let’s just hope we can weather the storm.