A minor dustup occurred this week in the world of video game
politics, one that implicates public thinking on First Amendment issues. In a
press release, public relations firm Hill & Knowlton (H&K) reported:
“Sixty percent of US consumers polled agree that the government should regulate the sale of violent or mature content video games while a slim majority (51%) agrees that the government should regulate mature content itself.” (emphasis added).
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which opposes government regulation of video games, responded to H&K’s report with some unusually harsh words. There may be some bad blood between the two organizations based on prior dealings -- the ESA’s criticisms are here [UPDATE: H&K responds here and here] -- but the ESA didn’t discuss one significant qualification to the finding of 51% support for content regulation. A comparison of the results for two of H&K’s questions suggests there is less public enthusiasm for content regulation in this survey than the reported 51%. Here are the two relevant questions:
Q11. Do you think the government should regulate violent content in video games?
Q8. If a person running for office were to take a stand on the regulation of violent or mature content in video games, to what extent would that impact your vote for him or her?*