Videogame misconceptions

This news story about Wisconsin legislation to put a tax on videogames reflects the widespread misconception in the US that videogames are a "kids thing." That's how the bill's author, state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, described them to WISC-TV. The motivation is good – to raise money to have youth "who commit non-violent crimes" tried in the juvenile system. "Currently, 17-year-olds are treated as adults," according to WISC-TV. The only problem is, videogames aren't a kid thing, actually. "The average videogame player is 33 years old," according to Entertainment Software Association research, and PC World blogger Matt Peckham points to the same data in asking, "Is there any way we could put an age cap on the tax? You know, since you say it's a 'kids-kids' thing, which pretty obviously means you're not talking about the ESA's '67% of American heads of households play computer and video games' statistic. I assume 'heads of households' means adults (not kids), but maybe I'm out on a limb there." Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Peckham likens a videogame tax to a cigarette one, putting a stigma on a product that probably doesn't deserve it. But taxing videogames is also about as effective as fining retailers for selling age-inappropriate games to minors, since "the average age of the most frequent game buyer is 38 years old," again according to ESA research. "In 2007, 92 percent of computer game buyers and 80 percent of console game buyers were over the age of 18." Here's one more notable statistic for anyone overly influenced by all the news media coverage about violent videogames: "85% of all games sold in 2006 were rated 'E' for Everyone, 'T' for Teen, or 'E10+' for Everyone 10+." [Here's the ESA's page on third-party research.] The really violent games are rated "M" for Mature or "AO" for Adult Only. Before anyone buys a game, it always helps to check a game's rating either on its packaging or at the ESA's game ratings site, ESRB.org.


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