Anti-Censorship Group Scolds US State Over Arcade Game Removals

Gamers have good reason for feeling beat up as the American conversation on gun violence seems to lurch inevitably towards scary video games as a scapegoat. The Entertainment Consumers Association — the voice of the gamers — went to Washington last week and came back convinced that lawmakers have made up their minds about games as a culprit.

And that was all before Senator Lamar Alexander opened that hole in the front of his face and a noise came forth that sounded like "video games is a bigger problem than guns".

Well, the National Coalition Against Censorship has now gotten involved, as much as it can so far, anyway. The NCAC, a 40-year-old free expression advocacy group, has called out Massachusetts' Department of Transportation for its removal, earlier in the month, of some video games from arcades in turnpike rest stops managed by the state.

Reminding that video games, according to a 2011 Supreme Court decision, are protected speech under the First Amendment, the NCAC told transportation secretary Richard A. Davey that "removing certain games because some people object to their message or content is equally constitutionally problematic.

"There is no legitimate state interest that could be asserted to justify removing specific games to appease the sensibilities of certain motorists," the NCAC's Joan E. Berlin continues. "It is no more acceptable for the Department to remove certain kinds of video games than it would be to selectively remove other materials in rest stops and concessions because some motorists find something in them objectionable."

"Those who do not wish to play video games at rest-stops do not have to," she writes."However, they do not have the right to keep others from playing and enjoying a perfectly legal form of casual entertainment."

Removing Time Crisis and other light-gun cabinets from arcades may not directly deprive most gamers of legitimate entertainment they enjoy, but the fact a government's doing it means someone needs to tell it to knock it the hell off, lest it go further.

I am under little illusion that Massachusetts will reconsider, given how friendless games are and how tone-deaf mainstream reporting is on this subject. Davey can probably see the headlines now: "Transportation Secretary Puts Violent Video Games Back Into Taxpayer Supported Rest Stops." But at least this sends the message that caving in to every person who goes out of their way to be offended in a public space isn't an act of courage that gets a unanimous ovation from the public, or that poking a big free-speech snake is not an issue the highway department really needs to get involved in.

NCAC Takes Action Against Video Game Removal By MA Department of Transportation [National Coalition Against Censorship]


Comments

    They have something of a point, in that I guess lightgun games could possibly improve your ability with real guns. Not, you know, anywhere as near as the fact that you can just go and buy yourself a real gun, but still...

    There's still no link between the games and real gun violence, though. I love me some Time Crisis, I couldn't tell you how many hours I spent playing TC2 on my PS2, but when I was offered the opportunity to go hunting with a friend I turned it down 'cause I'm a big old wuss who couldn't handle the idea of actually shooting and killing an animal.

    Enter Penn and Teller (and a few NSFW words): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SgM_acEsqw

      They have something of a point, in that I guess lightgun games could possibly improve your ability with real guns.

      I'd like to shoot this theory in the head if I could please? Respectfully... (pun intended)

      I thought this might be the case too, I played Time Crisis through my teens, into my adulthood. LOVED it. Played it so much Im sure there's an arcade cabinet somewhere in my honour. I got to the point where I could literally get through part 1 without losing a life. Dunno about now with not having played it for years...

      Also played many other shooters in arcades.

      That being said, a few years back I got to go to a firing range and try a range of handguns for a gunshow they had there. Long story short for the tl:dr crowd?

      I SUCK at pistols. Im ok at rifles? But that's because Ive only ever used a .22, a baby rifle as such. I fired a .303 once and it near tore my shoulder out. But the pistols? Yeah, no. Games don't prepare you for the kick, the lift, the weight of the gun, squeezing the trigger instead of pulling etc. It's very hard to explain but they're not complimentary to each other at all.

        Also the fact that you're aiming at an object that's only six inches in front of you.

          Absolutely this too. The targets were like 25m or so away roughly. Don't get me wrong, I am not in any way putting badger down, I've heard that comment from anti videogame groups many times, it annoys me to no end.

            That's interesting. Like I alluded to, I've never actually fired a real gun. I just assumed it would help at least a little bit when it came to aiming. The real point was that it's dumb to take away arcade machines but not make actual guns harder to buy.

            Next you'll be telling me that playing Rock Band doesn't make you a real drummer...

              No ways bro, I play so many rhythm based games I should go out and pull off gigs and live shows...

    You have to remember look at this from the politicians point of view. Doing something about all these games makes them at least look like they're doing something even though they know full well that anything they create will be turned over in court. Score points, do nothing, next time there is a shooting say 'Hey, we actually did something last time remember?' Score again, meanwhile keeping massive NRA investment for their campaigns safe. Don't believe me that they'll politicise the crap out of this while continuously fail to govern or have the best interests of the people in mind? Remember the economic thing? Yeah, that.

    Heck let them do what they want about games, ban then, burn them what ever but after when they are done blaming games and still allow guns to be sold to everyone and the shootings continue, oh boy are they going to feel stupid!

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