Valve, following on their awesome success with Half Life 2, has recently released Team Fortress 2 to rave reviews. But not everyone is a fan. German censorship required Team Fortress 2 to heavily modify the game to avoid strict anti-gore laws. So when someone is hurt or killed, they apparently explode into a cloud of rubber ducks, unicycles, springs, etc. Give Valve major props for dealing with German idiocy in a clever way which complies with the law while giving it the big virtual finger.

But perhaps it’s unfair to label the German approach idiotic. After all, aren’t we regularly informed that video game violence is the natural precursor to real violence? Since the last time the Germans got interested in real violence, lots of people died, perhaps we can forgive them for worrying about the simulated stuff.

But should they?

  • Do violent video games lead to violent people?
  • Is video game violence anything like real violence, or is it harmless fun like cartoon violence?
  • Wait, is cartoon violence harmless?
  • Just when do anti-violence laws cross the line from overzealous into downright stupid?
  • What about “zero tolerance” laws in schools? Should a kid face suspension (or, many times, expulsion) for bringing a plastic knife, a Swiss army knife, etc. to school?
  • For that matter, given “zero tolerance” shouldn’t the whole Physics class be expelled after pulling that Van De Graff “experiment” where they shock random kids in the hall?

As always, discuss amongst yourselves.

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