In what’s one of the most ass-backward pieces of politics since having too many fire doors was blamed for school shootings, a Pennsylvania Republican State Representative asked for the introduction of a “sin tax” on games that are rated ‘Mature’ and therefore typically feature violence.
Republican State Representative Christopher Quinn is the man who’s dreamed this one up, and is attempting to introduce it through House Bill 109. The so-called sin tax would apply to all video games with Mature of Adult Only age ratings and would drive the price of games up from $60 to $70. A sin tax is similar to other taxes on industries that are potentially harmful to public health, such as alcohol or cigarettes.
Of course, the actual chances of this being voted through government are slim, although anything’s possible these days, particularly where a few more tax dollars are concerned.
Quinn said, “one factor that may be contributing to the rise in, and intensity of, school violence is the material kids see, and act out, in video games.” He fails to note the dozens of other influences which could contribute to this, nor identify how making games ten bucks more expensive will result in a reduction in violent gun crime.
But Quinn does say “studies have shown that playing violent video games can increase aggressive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings in both the short-term and long-term,” a statement made with utterly no reference to mental health, ease of access to weapons, or other contributing factors in the original report from the National Center for Health Research.
The ESA provides a counterpoint, saying “Numerous authorities — including scientists, medical professionals, government agencies, and the US Supreme Court — found that video games do not cause violence.
“We encourage Pennsylvania legislators to work with us to raise awareness about parental controls and the ESRB video game rating system, which are effective tools to ensure parents maintain control over the video games played in their home.”
Needless to say, these very same violent games are available in dozens and dozens of countries across the globe and yet nowhere else suffers anywhere near the same scale of shootings. There is no conclusive correlation between violence in games, or any media form, translating into real-life violent behaviour. Instead, we have to look at dozens of interconnected issues and influences, and then question how or why potentially dangerous have access to such deadly weapons.
What are your thoughts on a so-called sin tax on violent games? Do you think this could actually do anything to help with gun violence or is just another way to make a quick buck? Let us know your thoughts!