Jessica: Sixteen-year-old Ben Cermak and his thirteen-year-old-brother, Nate, like to play the war game Call of Duty.
Ben: Even though it is violent, I don’t think this is going to make me violent.
Jessica: It is up for debate if violent video games and violent behavior are linked. Some studies say there is a connection, others say there is not.
But last month’s mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut has people asking what is contributing to America’s culture of violence? The head of the National Rifle Association, a group which supports gun rights, is targeting video games.
Wayne LaPierre: They play murder, portray murder as a way of life, and then they all have the nerve to call it entertainment.
Jessica: Vice President Joe Biden recently sat down with video game manufacturers, as well as several other groups, to come up with recommendations on gun control. Yesterday, he met with President Obama to talk over a wide range of proposals expected to be released today.
Vice President Biden: There is no silver bullet. There is no – as one of my friends said – no seat belt that you can put on to assure that you will not be in this circumstance again.
Jessica: The video game industry responded to a government crackdown twenty years ago by creating ratings similar to those for movies. Violent games are rated M, which the industry considers suitable for ages 17 and up.
Critics say that is not enough. They want the government to order violent games to carry warnings like those on cigarettes.
Putting legal restrictions on violent video games may be difficult for the Obama administration because of a 2011 decision by the Supreme Court. The court said video games are protected by the First Amendment right to free speech. So, change may have to start with video game players, like Max Goldstein.
Last month, the Newtown, Connecticut seventh grader started a group called Played Out. It encourages young people to throw away their first-person shooter games.
Max Goldstein: It was a little inappropriate and rude to the families who lost children to play these games.
Jessica: Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.
Maggie: Look familiar? These fourteen lifeguards did something hundreds of other teens have done worldwide: make their own version of the wildly popular Gangnam Style video. Posted on YouTube two months ago by the South Korean rapper known as PSY, this mega-hit video has been viewed more than 200 million times. But the video made by the lifeguards, who are all employed by the city of El Monte, California, got them all fired.
Lifeguard: I was in shock, because I didn’t really think that it would escalate to termination.
Maggie: Juliet Gilek is one of the 14 fired lifeguards. And she says their video never meant to cause problems.
Juliet Gilek: I loved what I did. I loved teaching the kids. I loved making sure everybody was safe. So I would have never wanted to hurt the pool in any way. This was just a fun thing to capture our memories with.
Maggie: Many of the lifeguards are college students who relied on their jobs for income.
Lifeguard: To be blunt, this was my only job and my only source of income in terms of paying for books and contributing to my schooling.
Maggie: The city of El Monte said it wasn’t the content of the video that was the problem. Instead it was “a clear unauthorized use of city resources and property.”
While Gangnam Style might be the YouTube video of the moment, it certainly isn’t the first to go viral. And making spoofs of these famous videos is just as popular. Remember all the “Call Me Maybe” spin-offs from earlier this year?
El Monte resident: I think maybe some of this is just a generational divide, that maybe there’s people on the El Monte City Council who don’t fully appreciate that this is just the way people communicate today.
Maggie: The fired lifeguards hoped to bridge that generational divide when they met with the El Monte City Council earlier this week.
Lifeguard: Never did I complain. Never did I ask for a raise. My boss knew that I was dedicated.
City Council member: Management practices, the nature and extent of the punishment, social media policy – there are quite a few things that we have to look into.
Maggie: The city may be standing firm, but much of the online community supports the lifeguards. A “Bring back the 14 El Monte Lifeguards” page on Facebook already has more than 15,000 likes.
And even PSY – the man behind the original Gangnam Style – has spoken out for the lifeguards.
PSY: I’m begging you, do not fire, please.
Maggie: With arguments lined up on both sides, some say the situation is a modern day generation gap.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
Steven: Having this kind of experience in college definitely gives you a leg up over other students. Of course, any experience should give you a leg up. But experience in playing video games? Seriously?
Well, these young people — believe it or not — are actually studying at the Replay Lab at Drexel University in Philadelphia. And the experience they gain here could help them get a job once they graduate.
“We actually created the rest of this all by ourselves — like all the models, all the characters, all the effects you see here, we did.
Steven: Using tools, like a motion capture studio and 3D modeling, Andrew Patras and his classmates are learning the art of video game development. And they are in the right place because it is a career and a business that is exploding.
In 2009, Americans bought more than $20 billion worth of video game systems and software. That is 3 billion more than the movie industry made. $18.7 billion in box office and DVD sales!
The entertainment part of the video game industry is huge. A modern title can make a couple hundred million dollars in one weekend.
Tom Bissell, who is the author of the new book Why Video Games Matter calls video games the artform of our time.
Tom Bissell: I think we are really on the verge of a wider acceptance that it’s not just nerds, it’s not just geeks that play these things. Some very intelligent, thoughtful, smart people are designing them and playing them.
Steven: People like you. Today more than 200 colleges offer gaming courses, training future workers in everything from art design to computer engineering who will one day work at video game giants like Electronic Arts, the company responsible for games like Madden Football and Tiger Woods Golf.
And check this out: EA says it is going to add more than 600 jobs this year. So, what is next for people that want to get started?
While many of the positions are for programmers and software enigneers, you could still be hired even if you have never taken a computer class. Making a game like Madden Football requires graphics artists, animators, writers, testers and even people with foreign language skills. Companies need people to translate games into and out of Japanese!
In this field, software engineers and programmers make the big bucks. They rake in an average of $80,000 and can make as much as six figures. Graphics artists earn an average of $42,000; animators $56,000; writers $53,000 and translators $39,000.
The average starting salary for video game developers? $40,000.
Philip Holt: There is a lot people, this is their first job — or one of their first jobs — right out of college
Steven: Philip Holt is EA’s Orlando studio general manager.
Philip: We love university students because they come in, they’re excited, they are a freshly-minted skill set, and you know they are looking to establish themselves and start a career and work hard and do great things.
Steven: And this game isn’t just for guys.
Philip: It’s a fun business but it’s a serious business as well. So, we actually have deadlines and goals that we have to accomplish. We just can’t sit around and play games all day. I wish we could.
Steven: Steven Fabian, Channel One News.
Can you really get fit by working out with your video game?
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — History’s first Latin American pope returns to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday, bringing a message of solidarity with the region’s poor, who are expected to turn out in droves to welcome their native son home.
“The pope of the poor” chose to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay specifically because they are among the poorest and most marginal nations of a region that claims 40 percent of the world’s Catholics. He’s skipping his homeland of Argentina, at least partly to avoid papal entanglement in this year’s presidential election.
The trip starts in Ecuador, where falling world prices for oil and minerals threaten to fray the social safety net woven by President Rafael Correa, who has been buffeted for nearly a month by the most serious anti-government street protests of his more than eight years in power.
Francis is likely to raise environmental concerns with Correa and the leader of Bolivia — who have promoted mining and oil drilling in wilderness areas — given his recent encyclical on the need to protect nature and the poor who suffer most when it is exploited.
In that document, Francis called for a new development model that rejects today’s profit-at-all cost mentality in favor of a Christian view of economic progress that respects human rights, safeguards the planet and involves all sectors of society, the poor and marginalized included.
In a video message on the eve of his departure, Francis said he wanted to bring a message of hope and joy to all “especially the neediest, the elderly, the sick, those in prison and the poor and all those who are victims of this ‘throwaway culture.'”
Francis’ stops include a violent Bolivian prison, a flood-prone Paraguayan shantytown and a meeting with Bolivian trash pickers, the sort of people he ministered to in the slums of Buenos Aires as archbishop.
Crowds are expected to be huge. While the countries themselves are tiny compared to regional powerhouses like Brazil and Argentina, they are fervently Catholic: 79 percent of the population is Catholic in Ecuador, 77 percent in Bolivia and a whopping 89 percent in Paraguay, according to the Pew Research Center.
“You can imagine what this embrace of love will be, this devotion of our people toward the pope, the universal pastor who comes from Latin America,” said Guzman Carriquiri, the No. 2 of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and a top papal adviser.
The Vatican says it expects more than 1 million people to turn out for Francis’ major public Masses in each country, and organizers have scheduled plenty of time for the pope to meander through the throngs expected to line his motorcade route.
When St. John Paul II visited Ecuador in 1985, he called for a more just society and reminded indigenous groups of the role played by missionaries who had arrived on the continent centuries before. Francis will likely repeat those messages and pay particular attention to the role his Jesuit order played.
John Paul’s visits were shadowed by the Polish pope’s concern about the rise of liberation theology, fearing that Marxists were using its “preferential option for the poor” to turn the Gospel into a call for armed revolution.
Carriquiri said a less turbulent situation awaits Francis, who has sought to revive a purer, less political version of liberation theology and recently approved beatification for one of its heroes, Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. Francis also brokered a historic thaw between the United States and Cuba, countries he will visit in September.
“Francis’ visit will be a huge boost to the priests of the Third World and theology of liberation,” said Xavier Albo, a fellow Jesuit who, like the pope, is 78. “He lives that theology through mercy, modesty and his obligation to the poor, the immigrants and the imprisoned.”
Jesuits paid with their lives defending the downtrodden against dictatorships, as the pope knows well from his days as head of the Jesuits during the right-wing military dictatorship in Argentina.
Opponents of dictatorships in neighboring Paraguay and Bolivia were also disappeared. One, who was tortured and killed in 1980, was Father Luis Espinal, a Bolivian close to Albo whose body was dumped by the side of the airport road that Francis will travel on his way into La Paz on Wednesday.
Francis will stop the Popemobile there, get out and pray.
Nicole Winfield reported from Rome. Associated Press writer Gonzalo Solano in Quito contributed to this report.
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. (AP) — Police say a woman was shot while inside an amusement park in suburban Pittsburgh, and they’re investigating whether the bullet came from someone nearby celebrating the Fourth of July.
Allegheny County Police say the 26-year-old woman was in stable condition following the shooting just after 10 p.m. Saturday at Kennywood Park in West Mifflin. She was struck in the upper chest near her shoulder.
Police believe the gunshot came from outside the park, possibly from someone firing a gun to celebrate the holiday. They say they interviewed numerous witnesses, and none said they heard the shot or saw anyone fire a gun. Police don’t believe the woman or anyone near her at the time were targeted.
Investigators are viewing surveillance video from parking lots and surrounding businesses.