Sen. Yee: “Gamers Need to Quiet Down;” A Rebuttal

Last week, California State Senator Leland Yee said that violence-craving gamers have no credibility in the debate concerning children and video games because they are protecting their own interests, and that they should remain silent on the subject.

Speaking with the San Francisco Chronicle, Yee said:

“Gamers have got to just quiet down. Gamers have no credibility in this argument. This is all about their lust for violence and the industry’s lust for money. This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest.”

Yee has a history of opposing the exposure of children to violent video games — and a history of being opposed by gamers. Of note, in 2005, Yee chartered a bill which banned the sale of violent video games to children, and while the bill passed, it was shortly thereafter ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In 2009, Yee supported Governor Schwarzenegger’s appeal to the ruling, which was met with criticism that he was wasting taxpayer money on a law already judged unconstitutional.

This latest comment from Yee is just another arrow fired in his ongoing crusade against violent games, and while his message is short, it says a great deal in a few words. Fortunately, most of what he says can be easily rebutted.

Let’s start with the one point Yee makes about gamers that isn’t completely objectionable: we have no credibility in this debate. Superficially, that’s a sound argument: we’re biased. You wouldn’t ask an alcoholic for his opinion on prohibition, right? But here’s where Yee’s argument falls apart — gamers aren’t alcoholics. Alcoholics have a problem — a dependance on alcohol that negatively impacts their life. They are addicted to alcohol and will not behave rationally if its taken away from them. Gamers are just people who play video games, no different than people who listen to music or watch movies. If some motion were being made against music, would you say that music lovers have no credibility in the debate? Besides, who else will speak out on behalf of games other than gamers? I don’t see people with no interest in video games stepping up to the plate any time soon.

Also, Senator Yee might not realize it, but that sword he’s waving can cut both ways. If parties with a vested interest in video games are not credible, than what about parties that are willfully ignorant on the subject? Yee is far from some uneducated yahoo; he has a Ph.D. in Child Psychology from the University of Hawaii and was formerly President of the San Francisco School Board. Despite this, he ignores the fact that, after numerous studies conducted by experts in the field, no correlation has been found between video games and aggression in children. And yet Yee continues to push for legislation against games year after year. Who, then, is less credible? Someone with bias, or someone who stubbornly holds to beliefs that fly in the face of years of evidence?

But Yee didn’t just say that the opinions of gamers should be taken with a grain of salt due to bias; no, he felt the need to antagonize them with aggressive statements. His categorization of gamers as deviants when he claims we are motivated by our “lust for violence” suggests we regularly fantasize about bloodshed and that it’s all we can do to get through a day without going on a killing spree. With those three words, Yee has reduced gamers to a caricature of raging, pubescent FPS players who erupt in berserk rages. If such people even do exist, which I won’t deny as a possibility, they are a minority in what is an otherwise psychologically well-adjusted population. You see, gamers aren’t part of some crazed cult living on the fringes of society; they’re as diverse and widespread as music or movie lovers, and they resent being labeled just as much as anyone else.

Regardless of who gamers are, most alarming is the violation of our political right to freedom of speech when Yee demands that gamers “quiet down.” This, coming from an individual who received numerous journalistic awards and in 2006 chaptered a bill into law which aimed to protect student free speech and prohibit school administrators from censoring school newspapers and broadcast journalism. When an apparent champion of journalism and free speech decides that a large segment of the population should be censored because its opinion is biased, alarm bells should be ringing. But maybe I just missed the clause that states that people with dissenting opinions have the right to sit down and shut up. Well, sorry, Yee; we won’t roll over at your command.

Ultimately, Senator Yee’s words do little more than further alienate a segment of the voting population. He can don his armor and keep trying to rally troops for his misguided crusade all he wants; the war is over. The Supreme Court made its ruling. No amount of necromancy will bring that bill, or any similar, back from the grave. Yee can try to devalue our opinion, he can try to demonize us, and he can try to get us to quiet down, but all that’s doing is keeping his attention focused on a scapegoat and away from the numerous studies that disprove his beliefs.

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

14 Comments on Sen. Yee: “Gamers Need to Quiet Down;” A Rebuttal

Mike

On January 29, 2013 at 9:32 am

Yet another example of the bastion of idiotic legislators known as California.

Patches

On January 29, 2013 at 9:54 am

Fail senator is fail…

gasmaskangel

On January 29, 2013 at 9:56 am

Oh for the love of God, another one of these idiots.

You know, I can’t help but notice that all of these arguments that games are murder simulators that train children to murder everyone they’ve ever met no one thinks to say… call out the disgusting way the American news media fetishizes real world violence ensuring that everyone knows the name of the insane bastards who shoot up schools, but not the name of their victims thus making it apperant to anyone else feeling empty and insignifigant that a good way to leave your mark on the world is to murder a bunch of innocent people, or that the American mental health system is tragically broken and in deep need of being repaired, or that it is terrifyingly easy for a madman to buy a bunch of guns. No, these are questions that must never be raised. Obivously it’s because of theose damn video games, they didn’t have those when I was a kid and nothing bad ever happened then.

Loveless

On January 29, 2013 at 10:03 am

I don’t know why this is shocking. Politicians only like free speech when you agree with their ideals. Otherwise you are wrong, stupid, and evil…..and maybe a republican.

Kakyo01

On January 29, 2013 at 10:19 am

we had a similar political debate over here at germany years ago… I’m glad that “our” politicians realised that they fight a war which they can’t win (due to them not understanding the medium at all) and dropped it for good

(it may pop up for a while after an amok run but after a week it’s quiet again)

lol

On January 29, 2013 at 11:28 am

“Gamers have got to just quiet down. Gamers have no credibility in this argument. This is all about their lust for violence and the industry’s lust for money. This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest.”

I agree with that statement 100%, gamers these days are super entitled and dramatic over the 60 dollars they spent to LEASE a game. They attack devs viciously, what’s stopping them from attacking someone else?

lol

On January 29, 2013 at 11:29 am

@Kakyo01

Stop talking out of your ass, Germany has the strictest laws for video game violence. THE POLITICIANS WON because of how ed up most of your players are there. You can only play German censored versions of a M+ game in Germany.

Kakyo01

On January 29, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I know, I know… don’t feed the troll and so on…

but @lol

shut your mouth… yes, the laws (less laws, more like guidelines) are strict and several games won’t get released over here but that are only the most violent games with senseless violence for the sake of violence

and the guidelines got less strict over the last few years (God of War was released without changes, even Gears of War 3 passed the censor unchanged (Gears 1 and 2 are not allowed here due to the “violence against human looking beings” while Gears 3 is “violence against creatures”… they found a loophole :p ))

other games like “Prototype 2″ got slight changes (you can’t intentionally target and kill civilians… but they die non the less if they get caught in explosions or area-effect of your abilities)

….

back to business, all this had nothing to do with politics. it is the “USK” (“Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle” —- “self-monitoring of entertainment software”)

the USK isn’t controlled by the goverment (it gets its funding by the goverment but otherwise it acts as any other company)

and I don’t mind that games like “Postal” are banned over here (no loss here)

- Dead Space series
- Dragon Age series
- KillZone series
- Red Dead Redemtion
- WarHammer 40k – Space Marine

just to pick a few games from the top of my head that got released over here (for 18+ and thus “adult only”) without the slightest cut of any sort

our politicians tried to ban all kind of computergaming… that was the part I’ve been reffering to. and that attempt failed over and over again. (they tried it for selveral years without success)

you, “my friend”, are one type of human I despise… your sole purpose (at least here on gamefront) is to provoke other people… get a life…

Daretoask

On January 30, 2013 at 4:24 am

@Kakyo01: I absolutely agree. I still remember when everybody jumped on the “Killerspiele” (killer games) bandwagon and tried (yet again) to ban violent games to make it all better. However, the politicians then went on to demonstrate just how utterly clueless they are about the subject. I still remember one of them mentioning counter stike and wow in the same sentence, as if they were one and the same. They shot themselves in the foot with statements like that (there were a lot of them) and the subject was dropped soon after.

Joey

On January 30, 2013 at 5:15 am

lol – you have a history of sucking the balls of any and all developers regardless of what they’ve done, calling people “entitled” for expecting to receive a full product for what they’ve paid, going so far as to call it a “gamble”. You have no credibility in this debate as we’ve read it all before from you, you’re either trolling or a complete idiot. Either way, enablers like you are the antithesis of independent thought and are holding the industry back.

Elmotion

On January 30, 2013 at 6:04 am

I suggest ‘lol’ should choose another hobby, since he clearly has an irrational, insubstantial disdain for fans of an industry he wants us to believe he also enjoys. This isn’t the first time he’s posted this sort of baseless attack on people with a less-than-100% positive opinion on something, either. We do not need to be quiet on this issue, it is in fact or responsibility to shout from the rooftops our love and support of videogames and our opposition to scaremongering bigots like Leland Yee. If ‘lol’ begs to differ on that, albeit in the most childish and abrasive manner possible, then it’s pretty clear he’s not a real gamer and is just attempting to play devil’s advocate without learning the rules beforehand. Presumably his parents buy his games for him as well, since he has no respect for the fact that consumers justifiably feel ripped off when they have assurances broken or receive half-finished products that require memory-sapping patches to sort out afterwards.

Everyone else here has posted reasoned comments, and the article itself hits the nail on the head. It’s a shame that certain repeat offenders feel the need to completely disrupt the flow of mature debate with odious, prejudiced bile.

Ron Whitaker

On January 30, 2013 at 6:12 am

@lol – Seriously? You’re going to agree with a guy who cost his state a MILLION DOLLARS in tax money by drafting a law that was obviously unconstitutional on its face, and then doubled down on it?

This isn’t about anyone’s lust for anything. It’s about one man’s misguided crusade to attack a medium he barely understands in order to make himself feel like he’s “doing something for the children.” I’m trying to find a way to read your comment as being immensely sarcastic. I really am. It doesn’t seem to be working, though.

Freedonad

On January 30, 2013 at 6:42 am

@lol “They attack devs viciously, what’s stopping them from attacking someone else?”

You mean verbally? Can’t argue with you there, surprisingly… though that’s exactly what YOU’RE DOING TO US RIGHT THERE.

Anonymous

On April 3, 2014 at 8:15 pm

We’ve already got the ESRB, its up to parents to decide whether or not to follow their guidelines when spoiling their brat kids or to make their own.

Heaven ing forbid you have to do your job as a parent, just at someone else to pass a law so you don’t have to deal with your responsibilities.