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Senator Leland Yee: Games May Be 'Artful', But Children Are Too Vulnerable

Senator Leland Yee: Games May Be 'Artful', But Children Are Too Vulnerable

May 4, 2010 | By Christian Nutt

Politician Leland Yee spearheaded the controversial law which would ban the sale of "violent video games" to minors, which is about to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Yee said that games do have merit, but also implied that children cannot be otherwise protected by their parents.

Calling the contested law the "right approach to go after ultra-violent video games", Yee says that he is in fact "very pleasantly surprised that the Supreme Court is taking a look at this issue."

The crux of the matter, says Yee, is that "What this new technology presents is really over the top," and that its interactive nature pushes it beyond the realm of film, as well as desensitizing gamers to violence over time. Yee fears that "if you demonstrate to a child that you can do these things, it becomes part of their repertoire for dealing with anger."

Yee suggests that while parents can easily review the content of films by watching them, they "may never fully understand what [games] contain because you have to be a very sophisticated player to trigger [violent content]." Yee's view implicitly devalues the work of ratings agencies like the ESRB when it comes to accurately informing parents about the content of games.

Yee himself acknowledges that he was able to monitor the video game play of his own children, now grown. Says Yee, "...when they played in their rooms, the screen was always facing the doorway. I could walk by and see what was happening."

Yee understands dissenting voices who say that, as a non-gamer, he can't understand the medium, calling it "a fair criticism." He also says that some critics "misunderstand" him as being completely anti-game, and he believes that video games are "artful and it takes a lot of creativity to make them."

His issue, he says, is restricted entirely with children getting access to violent titles. "I'm never going to be the person who stands up and says we should ban these ultra-violent video games... video games are just as worthy under the 1st Amendment as movies."

Yee is currently a Caifornia State Senator for District 8, which includes parts of San Francisco and San Mateo county. He also has a Ph.D. in child psychology.

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