Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Taxing 'Violent Video Games'

Joe Biden's uneducated face
Vice President Joe Biden has proposed the motion of taxing 'violent video games'. I have put 'violent video games' in speech marks because when Biden says 'violent video games', he doesn't realize that the violence exhibited in video games isn't just non-existent, but it's also almost comical in its approach.

Biden says there's 'no restriction on the ability to do that; there's no legal reason why they couldn't' tax violent video games. Does that mean that you should? Just because you have the legal ability to, does that give you the right to lay a tax on video games that are 'violent'? Despite this, there is a legal problem when taxing violent video games due to the way they express violence: The First Amendment. Video Games are protected free speech under The First Amendment, as ruled by the supreme court.

He said that the tax should go towards victims on gun violence, and this is where he really steps out of line. I would say it's outright offensive to liken the gun crime exhibited at Sandy Hook an Aurora to violent video games. Saying that these deplorable, unlikely crimes are the blame of anything other than the perpetrator and/or the mental illness that the perp has, is irresponsible, offensive to the medium, and just wrong despite of all else. How could one know beforehand that their media will exhibit gun crime? As well as that, one does not simply pick up a video game and want to kill people. Also, why gun crime specifically? Is Biden saying that all games are about guns and blood and guns shooting blood? If a brawler game is taxed for its violence, but the taxes go to gun crime victims, what sense does that make?

Where does Biden draw the line between violent and non-violent. Ok, say all 15 and 18 rated games are taxed. There are some 15 rated games that are completely non-violent, like Skate 3 which is rated 16 because of it's bone-breaking Hall of Meat; will that be taxed for gun violence too? Or Spec Ops: The Line, which is anti-violence in it's purest form, which says that killing for entertainment is deplorable too; will that be taxed for influencing gun violence?

Ok, so let's say he taxes games which exhibit any kind of violence. That means he has to start taxing Mario now, as punching bricks and jumping on heads is a form of violence, and we can have a generation of brick-punching head-jumpers. So if that falls flat on it's face, let's just say he taxes games with guns in them. That means he has to tax Portal, even though those guns don't directly kill anything, and even if the game is rated 12, it will still be taxed for influencing gun crime. Oh, and Scribblenauts too, as you can use a gun in that game, it must be responsible for the Sandy Hook shootings.

All three possibilities land flat on their face, but I think the biggest mistake here is leaving Video Game monetization in the hands of a non-gamer. But this isn't just games, this is all media, and I mean all of it. Murder mystery novels, Anti-war films, Police Dramas, they all be taxed, and for what? For inciting gun violence? It doesn't work like that.

City 17
We wish there was a way to stop shootings like this, but these things aren't exactly common. People go to the movies all the time, and the one time there's a shooting out of the millions of times there's a movie showing, it's still a freak occurrence. We can't prepare for these freak occurrences, because they're bloody freak occurrences. They don't happen often at all, so we can't set up policemen and a SWAT team every time someone goes to school or watches a movie or runs a marathon. It would probably make me feel less safe knowing that there are security cameras and guards watching every move, before this becomes a City 17 society, where we're all controlled by Nurse Ratched so that no one will ever commit a crime ever.

Video Games are expensive as it is, and we don't need a bloody tax on top of it; taxing for something so arbitrary and silly.