A Venezuelan gamer sent an e-mail to game developer Troy Leavitt from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Leavitt has a YouTube channel that he uses to inform and edutain the gaming community (both core and casuals alike) about the ongoing culture war affecting the industry at large. The letter is read aloud by Leavitt, where he goes through the examples of how banning games back in 2009 didn’t help lower the crime-rate in Venezuela at all, and the country is still steeped in seemingly irrecoverable acts of violence.
This comes on the heels of President Donald Trump and other Republicans calling for restrictions, taxes, and possible added ratings for ultra-violent games in the U.S., as a response to the rising tide of school shootings happening on U.S., soil.
Leavitt’s video is quite lengthy but well worth a watch, if you have the time. You can check it out below.
If you need a “too long; didn’t watch” breakdown of the video, it basically highlights how back in 2009 the Venezuelan government decided to ban violent video games, as reported by the Pri organization. Oddly enough the ban was kicked into high gear based on the depiction of Venezuela in the 2008 video game, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.
As pointed out in the video, crime was pretty high in Venezuela already, with the homicide rate sitting at 13,156 back in 2007, according to the Washington Post. After the violent game ban back in 2009 crime increased to exorbitant numbers. For instance, in 2016 Venezuela’s homicide rate hit 28,479, according to the U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
So even after banning violent games, crime still persisted and even soared to record heights in Venezuela… opposite of the United States, where crime has actually steadily decreased over the last 30 years, as noted by Pew Research.
The general gist of the letter from the concerned gamer from Venezuela is that Americans need to be informed that censoring content does not fix cultural nor societal problems.
It seems like common sense, but unfortunately American politics have never really been about common sense, nor common solutions. Of course, most gamers hope that there won’t be any game bans coming down the pipeline, especially since games are supposed to be protected by the First Amendment following the Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association in 2011.
Since 2012 video game press and mainstream media have been targeting and attacking games on the grounds of sexism, even compelling ratings boards to start banning games that previously seemed innocuous. Now politicians have leveraged what the media have started and have utilized the negative stigma video games picked up by claiming that violent media causes young people to become violent.
Nevertheless, with gun rights and violent games coming into the cross hairs of politicians, the Venezuelan gamer thought it necessary to remind gamers that banning violent games only made things worse for Venezuelans.
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