In response to Video game sin tax? Where’s the sin?:
Every legislator who treats gamers as rageaholic psychopaths just waiting to explode has literally no idea what video games are like today. If anything, games make young men fat and docile, because the vast majority of them now are designed to be virtually endless.
With more and more resources going into costly development tools for graphics and animation, games started getting extremely short when the new generation of consoles hit around 2005. Since the cost of titles went from $50 to $60 at that point, gamers lashed out at developers, feeling they weren’t getting their money’s worth.
In response to this backlash, and with the rising prevalence of broadband Internet, developers focused on expanding multiplayer–more modes, more variety–to keep players interested. Enter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a 2007 first-person shooter, which popularized the mechanic of progression in multiplayer: instead of everyone being on a level playing field with static weapon loadouts, players could gain an edge by earning experience points to unlock weapons and perks, in the same vein as World of Warcraft and other RPGs.
This effectively introduced the concept of “grinding,” or performing a repetitive task over and over to achieve some minuscule reward after enough of it, to genres which traditionally did not include it. This tiny little incentive–cheaper to program than extra map designs or an extended single-player campaign–can add hundreds of hours to gameplay. Speaking from personal experience, the psychological motivation–mostly placebo, as the rewards are so marginal–is actually that powerful.
The result is that even with these violent shooter games, players become couch zombies, not berserkers likely to pop without provocation. “Shoot up a school? But I’ve got to get 28 more of these pins to get this badge, and I’m about to become level 43; once that’s done in 12 hours, I’ve got seven new releases I’ve got to try out…”
Which leads to a second thought: a video game sin tax is exactly the kind of thing that proves the self-contradiction of Obamacare. We got a tanning bed sin tax from the bill; why not taxes on video games and soda? Nobody’s ever died from a tanning bed, but there have been a few cases of young men dying from marathon gaming sessions. Blood clots, obesity–yikes! Quite the health epidemic we’re seeing from gaming, not to mention the affront it is to “Let’s Move.”
Instead, we got a tax on… medical devices. We decided to lower the cost of healthcare by raising the cost of… healthcare. And this is what reveals the racket. Had the left been consistent to its own principles and placed a sin tax on games–not for violence, but for the sedentary lifestyle they demand–they would have taught millions of young people a direct lesson about the utter lameness and annoyance of Big Government. Their favorite studios could downsize or shut down thanks to lower profits, and that $60 copy of Dead Space 3 would now cost $65, just cuz Uncle Sam said so.
The left, therefore, chose to soak the parents caring for a child with omphalocele and respiratory disorders related to his NICU treatment, who years later need machines in their home to keep him alive as he sleeps. They chose to soak the elderly by shuffling gobs of money out of Medicare. It’s becoming clearer to me that the whole conceit of Obamacare is pandering to the young by continuing the illusion that “other people” can pay for their lifestyles as long as possible. Young people, after all, will be voting in more future election than those oldy-oldersons.