We’ve all heard the famous lawsuits against big corporations. They include but are not limited to: Jodie Whittaker, Elvis’s “juries,” and OJ Simpson’s “lying” in court. We’ve heard about more famous lawsuits against companies than we care to remember. All the lawsuits have one thing in common, though: they all resulted in major changes to the way that companies do business.
One of the most famous of these lawsuits was brought against Sony over their PlayStation brand of video game consoles and accessories.
The class action suit alleged that Sony violated several federal and state laws, among them the RICO Act, by allowing its advertisers to promote violent video games to children who were below the age of thirteen. As you might expect, this resulted in many members of the public and even some politicians decrying the move as nothing less than a form of child pornography. The United States government, led by George Bush, quickly assented and supported the class action suit. In the end, Sony paid a hefty fine to settle the case and prevent what would have been a huge public relations nightmare for the company.
Not so far away from PlayStation, there was also another major infraction.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) charged that Nintendo with approving several games for the Nintendo Game Cube system that contained a non-approved form of artificial intelligence, or EA, which is used to allow the player to control and experience the effects of video game violence. EA has been banned in several different countries and regions around the world, including Australia. The FDA claims that the creation of the artificial intelligence in the games allowed children to experience feelings similar to those they might have if they were experiencing real-life violence. The lawsuit was eventually ruled in favor of Nintendo, but the damage was already done.
Video game companies are facing a new wave of lawsuits regarding their responsibility to provide a safe environment for their consumers.
These lawsuits are centered around two different scenarios. The first comes from parents who have raised concerns about the increasing occurrence of violent video games in the market place. Many kids are exposed to violent media on a daily basis, which can create an array of negative consequences. Even adults are susceptible to the harmful affects of video game violence, which often creates unhealthy interpersonal relationships and can result in depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.
The second category comes from advertisers who feel that they are being discriminated against because of the aggressive advertising strategies used by video games producers.
Companies like Electronic Arts and Nintendo have been accused of pushing violence in video games to sell more products. Whether or not these accusations are true remains to be seen, but the public is not buying into the idea that violent video games are completely harmless.
While it may be true that there are concerns about the effect that violent video games cause violence in society, it is also true that many people enjoy playing them.
The debate will likely continue until a medical research has been conducted to determine if there is a link between violent video games and real world violence. Until then, parents should be concerned about the impact of violent media on their children, but they should also be aware that it could have much less to do with the effect on society as a whole. Instead, they should focus on creating a safe home environment for their kids, which should ultimately allow them to enjoy playing video games.