The Sacramento Public Library has become the focal point for a new controversy surrounding violent video games, one that illustrates the difference in how the medium is viewed by its proponents and detractors.
As part of the library's ongoing efforts to attract young people -- particularly "17 to 35-year-old males" -- to use the facility, staff have organized a series of Call of Duty: Black Ops
tournaments dubbed 'Nerd Fest'.
The tournaments have been well-attended, but have also attracted criticism from Veteran groups, who claim the game's content is inappropriate for use in a public library. At the most recent event, held on November 27, members of the groups Veterans for Peace
and Grandmothers for Peace
protested the event, carrying placards that read: "War is not a game."
Speaking to the Sacramento News & Review
, John Reiger, president of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace
said: “We shouldn’t be encouraging this kind of stuff. The public library has a moral authority; it should be about learning, not learning to kill.”
It's a point of view shared by Jeanie Keltner, Veterans for Peace
ally, who said: “I don’t want [the library] to sponsor games where the winner kills the most. I don’t mind that they have it. I just don’t want them to sponsor it.”
However, Scott Miller, the.organizer of the Nerd Fest event argues that the true nature of the game is different to its theme. “The multiplayer [game] is not so much about the killing as about teamwork,” he explained.
One attendee, Oscar Rios, was eager to debunk the idea that a link exists between games that feature violent imagery in media, and violence, a view shared by the findings of an Australian Government report on the subject released yesterday
. "There’s a lot of people in this world that play war games, and there’s a limited amount of people who commit violent acts,” he said.
Miller argues that the event is working in its stated aim: to attract new visitors to the public library. "We’re getting the missing demographic into the library, which is basically males who are 17 to 35 years old,” said Miller. “They are participating in the library and checking out the different offerings.”
Indeed, for library director Rivkah Sass the focus on video games is entirely justified as part of the shifting remit of libraries. “Libraries are really changing how we meet the needs of our communities,” she said. “I recognize that we have a group of people who are objecting to one piece of our spectrum. And I respect that, but it’s a piece of what a library is in 2010.”
The next Nerd Fest tournament is scheduled to be held
on December 11 and is open to participants aged 17 and over. Veterans for Peace plans to protest the event.