Each week Dennis McCauley contributes The Political Game, a column on the collision of politics and video games:
If you pay attention to the First Amendment arguments offered in defense of video games, you'll often hear reference to something called the "slippery slope." This does not refer to a downhill run in a new snowboarding game. The term is often used to warn against those who promise they will only censor us a little bit. For example, passing laws restricting video game sales might not seem to impact society at large, but it starts us down that slippery slope of censorship. Who knows where it might end? This month Grand Theft Auto IV might be restricted, but what do the hypocritical politicians and culture cops target next? Halo 3? Hip-hop? Comic books? Ulysses?
The video game industry is facing a bit of a slippery slope problem right now in Massachusetts – and it is, to a certain extent, their own fault. There, Mayor Thomas Menino is pushing legislation which would classify violent games as "harmful to minors" in the same legal sense as porn. Unlike most politicians, the blustering Menino freely tosses around the word "ban" and seems intent on enforcing his worldview on the population of Massachusetts. He recently told a Boston radio station, "Kids start at five, six, seven years old watching those video games. They think it's a way of life and I'm trying to make them understand there's a different way of life."
The Menino way, apparently.