Well, here we stand in wake of the holiday season. I hope you all had a very merry Christmas, because I certainly did. Much to my delight and astonishment I was gifted with a PlayStation 3, which means I am now the proud owner of all three current-generation consoles. Sadly I do not have any games for it at the moment, but I have my eyes on both Folklore and Ninja Gaiden Sigma, among some others.
I suppose I should have remembered this from years past, but the holiday season has a nasty habit of drying up the well of news, as it were. As a result I am forced to turn out a rather, well, threadbare column. I briefly considered not turning out a column at all, but I quickly realized that such a thing is beneath my high moral standards. I have a few things for you to peruse, glance at, and think upon; and I encourage you to do so!
PSP Sales Surge in Japan
IT'S A SONY REVOLUTION
If the past couple of months are any indication, people are warming up to Sony just a little bit. Sales of the PS3 have increased of late both in Japan and North America. In fact, in the month of November the PS3 actually outsold the Wii. And now, according to figures from Japan, the PSP is becoming a hot item in recent weeks. In the week ending December 16 the PSP sold 184,610 units, compared to the previous week's 91,481. There are no new titles to account for this either; the PSP seems to have generated its own steam. But then, impressive as that may be, the DS is still owning the handheld race. Nintendo sold 222,144 units of its handheld in the aforementioned week. Furthermore, the PS3 seems to have resumed its number 2 position on the console charts. According to Media Create the Wii sold 170,558 in that week, with the PS3 selling 63,720.
For every Sony hater out there, you have a fanboy preaching that despite all odds, Sony will come out on top in the current race. I suppose that argument applies more to the PS3 than the PSP, but both systems are contributors to Sony's success or demise. Just to give my personal opinion, I have no hate for Sony. I think they made a poor decision in the initial pricing and marketing of the PS3, but other than that I really see no reason to hate them, or to hope for their demise. I think that the PS3's library is growing at a decent pace, with some excellent titles having already arrived and many more on the way. Do I think Sony will end up the winner of the current console race? That's difficult to say. What I will say is that this coming year will tell the story.
Wisconsin Senator Proposes 1% Tax on Videogames
For the children!
Democratic Wisconsin Senator Jon Erpenbach is proposing that a 1% tax be placed upon videogames in order to fund rehabilitation programs for the state's youth. The goal here is to keep non-violent juvenile offenders from being processed through the adult court, and apparently Mr. Erpenbach thinks that taxing videogames is the most effective way to accomplish this goal.
Not many people are going to argue with keeping non-violent children from being charged as adults, but come on; why videogames? Erpenbach may or may not be suggesting that videogames contribute to juvenile delinquency, as he hasn't really specified. I suppose it's possible that he just wants something profitable to tax, but that seems unlikely to me. If that's what he wants, why doesn't he just go slap another tax on cigarettes? That's the popular thing to do these days, after all.
Clinton and Romney Talk Videogame Regulations
They will save us...from ourselves
Before I begin this article, I'd like to say that I sincerely hope that come election 2008, none of you vote based solely on the videogame issue. Tempting as that may be, in the grand scheme of things it really isn't a huge issue. However, something to keep in mind is that a certain candidate's stance on an issue such as videogame regulation may be indicative of their stance on other issues. And, for that matter, any candidate who would consider spending federal resources on videogame regulation is, quite possibly, someone you may not want to consider voting for. And that being the case, perhaps you should base your vote on the videogame issue.
Now that we've gone in a complete circle, let me get to the point. Common Sense Media took a survey of the 2008 presidential candidates, asking them where they stood on the issue of videogame regulation. Some did not respond (Huckabee and Giuliani), some expressed no interest in regulating videogames (Obama, Edwards), while two candidates expressed their intense desire to police the videogame industry. Who are these two? Front-running Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Romney actually expressed some time ago his disdain for "violent" videogames, among all forms of violent media. Apparently he wants to "clean up the water" in which our kids are swimming, and that includes violent games. There isn't much to say about Romney. He briefly mentioned videogames as being part of a so-called "ocean of filth," but other than that he hasn't really taken any action, or laid out any manner of plan for regulation.
More recently however, Hillary Clinton told Common Sense Media that she would push for federal legislation of videogame sales. This shouldn't really come as surprise. If you've kept up with the industry at all you know that Clinton's been involved in several attempts to regulate the industry in the past, using the "Hot Coffee" debacle back in 2005 as a springboard.
Research has shown that violent and sexually explicit media contribute to aggressive behavior, early sexual experimentation, obesity, and depression. Whenever I meet young parents, they tell me that they are worried about losing control over the raising of their own children and about ceding the responsibility of implicating values and behaviors to a multi-dimensional media marketplace over which they have no control. Studies have found that exposure to TV violence can increase the risk of aggressive behavior in children and may be related to attention problems later in life. And some experts say that time spent watching too much TV or surfing the Internet or playing videogames may detract from the time children spend interacting with their parents, participating in physical activity, or using their imaginations.
Well, thank God we have you to rescue us from this sea of despair, Hillary.
So much of her above statement borders on the ridiculous. Implementing a federal regulation on the sales of violent games will not solve any of the alleged problems she brought up. She speaks of parents worried about losing control. A legitimate concern, I suppose, but is it the role of our government to step in and ensure the fact that parents have "control" over their children? And how does restricting the sales of violent media accomplish that goal anyways? Answer: it doesn't. The fact of the matter is that while minors are occasionally able to purchase M-rated games, I believe that it is far more often the case that parents buy M-rated games for their children. And if a parent can't maintain control of their children... well, I find it hard to shift the blame onto any form of media.
She mentions that playing videogames can "detract from the time children spend interacting with their parents, participating in physical activity, or using their imaginations." I'm not too sure what to make of this one. I simply cannot comprehend a politician who honestly believes it is the role of the government to assure that children spend time interacting with their parents rather than playing videogames. I don't see how such a problem is the fault of videogames, either. Someone who neglects his family in order to spend time on videogames has a personal problem, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with videogames. Furthermore, what does this have to do with her goal of keeping violent media from children's hands? Does she also plan on proposing legislation limiting the amount of time we can play our videogames? Who knows? I certainly wouldn't be surprised. I know it seems like I focused in on Hillary in this article, but in reality this rant applies to Mitt, Hillary, and anyone who is foolish enough to believe that it is the role of our government to tell us what sort of media we should and should not expose ourselves to.
RANDOM: Without Which These Relatively Obscure, Yet Inherently Awesome Stories May Not Be Noticed!
I couldn't resist. Just one random.
Rockstar and their woes. They are simply adamant on releasing Manhunt 2 in the UK, and yet they have a very staunch opponent in the form of the BBFC. I reported previously that the Video Appeals Committee actually decided to overturn the game's ban, but the BBFC responded by petitioning to take the case to the High Court and keep the game off store shelves in the meantime. As it would turn out, the BBFC have won that appeal, which means that the saga of Manhunt 2 still has some life in it yet. The hearing will not take place until January 31, however, which means we'll have a slight intermission.
Well that was... that was... that was something, I guess. Nothing big, nothing complex, nothing fancy, but it was something. I'm sure the fountain of news will be operational by next week. At least I hope so, because not only is it annoying to turn out such gimpy little columns, it bores me to visit my favorite news sites every day only to be greeted with two-week-old news. That's why I love writing Currents so much after all; I'm a serious news junkie myself. Not a day passes when I don't visit two or three of my favorite game sites in hopes of a good read, an exciting announcement, or a witty editorial.
But that's enough of my gushing. Currents will be back next week. Provided, of course, there's anything current to report on.