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AMERICAN MORNING

Violent Video Games

Aired May 15, 2003 - 09:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: You may think of them as video games as being harmless, but if you've ever played them, you would find many of them violent and sexually explicit. Their sale is supposed to be restricted to adults only, but that does not seem to prevent children from getting them and buying them. Congress now considering taking action, and that is our topic right now.
Daphne White, executive director of the Lion and Lamb Project, an antiviolence and entertainment advocacy group, our guest today from D.C. . Vince Desi, the cofounder of Running With Scissors, which created the video game "Postal" and "Postal II," is our guest today from L.A.

Welcome to both of you on this topic.

Daphne, I want to start with you, games like "Postal," Grand Theft Auto," what's the objective on these video games to win?

DAPHNE WHITE, EXEC. DIR., LION & LAMB PROJECT: The objective is you have to kill -- you have to do certain missions, but a lot of them involve killing, running over pedestrians, decapitating them. Shooting them even when they are begging you not to, and that's how you get points and that's how you win.

HEMMER: And this has been out for a couple years, we do know that, but I think a lot of viewers are not too familiar with the objective of the game. By the way, we're going to run some videotape here from a couple of these games. I want to let our viewers know that our producers here at AMERICAN MORNING went through the videotape and deemed a lot of this just unfit for morning television. So that, as a caveat.

Vince, what's wrong with more legislation to keep this away from kids?

VINCE DESI, COFOUNDER, RUNNING WITH SCISSORS: Well, I mean, to begin with, I think the most important thing is to realize that we live in America, and video games are a form of entertainment, just like television, or movies, music or books. And I'm not trying to just whitewash this and make an excuse, but I do firmly believe that enough is enough, and the argument that we shouldn't do this or we shouldn't do that, or we should have new laws, I mean, it's just a waste of time.

The last thing we need is more laws. What we need is maybe more attention -- attention on the part of parents, attention on the part of people that maybe even involved in the stores, the retailers, and even in our own industry. I'm not shying away from it at all. However, more laws, absolutely last thing we need.

HEMMER: Would laws do it, Daphne? Will laws do it?

WHITE: Well, first of all, there are no laws right now. He keeps saying we don't need more laws -- there are no laws regulating the sale of violent video games to children.

I agree with him, this is America, and these games should be available to adults, just like alcohol, cigarettes and pornography are legal for adults.

We do regulate the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to children. Public health research shows that violent video games are a public health risk to children, because they learn through video games, which are supposed to be played.

HEMMER: What about his allegation about parents and their responsibility? Daphne?

WHITE: I think parents need to be responsible. I head up the Lion and Lamb project as a mother. I started it as a mother. It's a parents advocacy group. Parents very much want control. Unfortunately right now, the industry is marketing these adult-rated violent video games to our children directly through children's media, children's Web sites, children's magazines, bypassing parents.

So parents would have control with this congressional legislation being proposed right now, which would make it legal for adults. Any parent who wants to buy these games for their children could buy these games.

HEMMER: OK, I got your argument.

Vince, what's your target audience when you put these games out?

DESI: Our target audience for "Postal II" is what we refer to as mature gamers, and actually that's probably somewhere between 25 and 35 male, is the target audience.

So, you know, the argument that this really gets -- we're not designing this for kids. This is a game that we designed for mature gamers, for adults. It's filled with mature humor; it is not our intention that this be sold to kids. It was not designed for kids.

So I think somewhere in between what she's saying and I'm saying, there might be some compromise, but the fact is, you know, what we're doing and everything we do actually, we go out of our way to work within the industry, within the industry's own guidelines, to do what we can to make it known that this is game for mature audiences. This is not a game for kids. However...

HEMMER: Vince, you said the magical word there, you said compromise, and perhaps there will be something in there.

Vince Desi, Daphne White, thanks for talking with us.

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