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Going to the National Summit on Video Games, Youth and Public Policy
posted by: Aaron Stanton
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date posted: 01:50 PM Wed Oct 11th, 2006
last revision: 02:03 PM Wed Oct 11th, 2006

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Click to read.At first glance the National Summit on Video Games, Youth and Public Policy seems like the ideal place to be; with bills like the Truth in Video Game Ratings Act floating around Congress, a summit on video games and youth sounds like ground zero for the argument. Respected speakers will attend to talk about a range of interesting subjects, from the effectiveness of the ESRB rating system to what affect violent media has on children. That\'s why I bought my ticket to Minnesota, where the conference is being held on October 20th and 21st, with every intention of enjoying alternative perspectives on the industry.

On the other hand, it might not be the friendliest place to be for the pro-game-industry journalist, either. The event is being put on by Iowa State University, a University to which my family has long standing ties - my great-grandfather was President of the University for years - and the National Institute on Media and the Family. The National Institute on Media and the Family, run by Dr. David Walsh, has earned a reputation for being critical of the game industry. At least one of the speakers, Dr. Kim Thompson, has published research which I publicly consider to use flawed methodology. On the other hand the conference has extended a hand to ESRB President Patricia Vance by inviting her to speak, and I consider that a good sign. At the very least, I consider it an effort to assure the games industry that the conference is not their enemy.

Either that, or it\'s the equivalent of inviting someone to a fake costume party and then laughing when they\'re the only ones that show up wearing something silly. There\'s no doubt that representatives of the game industry will be isolated in an alternative crowd, but that\'s not necessarily a bad thing. Hopefully, attending will be enlightening, with research and discussions that are productive instead of just vilifying. I wouldn\'t go if I thought it were an event likely to just make me angry for no reason. My attendance is already confirmed; now it\'s just a matter of keeping an open mind, and hoping others will do the same.

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