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?
BEIRUT (AP) — U.S.-led coalition aircraft unleashed a wave of airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in eastern Syria in what the coalition said Sunday was one of its most sustained aerial operations carried out in Syria to date.
IS said at least 10 people were killed and many others wounded in the attacks which activists said triggered successive explosions that shook the city and created panic among residents. The U.S.-led coalition often targets IS-held towns and cities in Syria, but the overnight strikes on Raqqa were rare in their intensity.
In a statement, the coalition said it carried out 18 airstrikes throughout Raqqa province, destroying a number of IS vehicles and 16 bridges. An earlier statement said the attacks also destroyed vital IS-controlled structures and transit routes in Syria.
“The significant airstrikes tonight were executed to deny Daesh the ability to move military capabilities throughout Syria and into Iraq,” said coalition spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Gilleran, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.
“This was one of the largest deliberate engagements we have conducted to date in Syria, and it will have debilitating effects on Daesh’s ability to move” from Raqqa, he said.
Raqqa is the de facto capital of the so-called Islamic caliphate declared a year ago by the Islamic State group in territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. The sustained airstrikes add pressure on the militants in Raqqa, still reeling from last month’s loss of the border town of Tal Abyad to Kurdish fighters. The town on the Turkish border was a major avenue for commerce and smuggling for the group.
A militant website said 10 people were killed and dozens of others wounded. An IS-affiliated Facebook page said one civilian was among those killed and 10 were wounded including women and children. It also said the bombing destroyed several bridges.
The IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency released a video of what it said was the effects of shelling Saturday by a U.S. drone on Raqqa. It showed several wounded men on a stretcher and at least three young boys being treated for wounds at what appeared to be a hospital.
A Raqqa-based anti-IS activist network reported eight civilians were killed by the coalition airstrikes, including a 10-year-old child.
The casualty figures could not be independently confirmed.
The network, called Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, said at least one airstrike targeted a group of IS members in the city center. Another targeted an IS checkpoint while a third destroyed large parts of an IS-held brick factory in the city. It said seven bridges used by civilians inside the city were also destroyed.
In the remote northeastern city of Hassakeh, IS suicide bombers detonated an explosives-laden truck near a main power plant Sunday. State-run news agency SANA reported casualties and damage in the plant on the southern edge of the city.
Fighting has raged in Hassakeh since the IS group attacked several southern neighborhoods held by government troops earlier this month. The violence has forced tens of thousands of residents to flee. The predominantly Kurdish city was split between government forces and Kurdish fighters, who have been fighting the IS group separately.
In Iraq, a Defense Ministry statement said government forces repelled an IS attack Sunday morning on the town of Haditha and the nearby Haditha dam in Anbar province. At least 20 militants were killed in the failed attack, said the statement, which did not provide any further information.
Iraqi forces, backed by Shiite militias, have been struggling to recapture areas lost to the IS group in the country’s west and north.
In May, the militant group scored a stunning victory, overrunning Ramadi, the provincial capital of western Anbar province. Yet, Haditha and some other towns remain under control of government forces and allied Sunni tribal fighters.
In Lebanon, some 200 Kurdish nationals staged a demonstration in downtown Beirut in solidarity with their brethren in Syria who are fighting against IS militants.
Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.
KINGMAN, Arizona (AP) — A third disturbance within four days broke out Saturday in a private prison in Kingman, authorities said.
Units with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office were helping the Department of Corrections with the unrest at Arizona State Prison-Kingman, officials said.
The Department of Corrections says it was asked to assist with a prison riot. Mohave County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jody Schanman told the Arizona Republic that units were called out to the prison.
Inmates in the Hualapai dormitory are “again refusing to comply with directives this afternoon,” Andrew Wilder, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said in a statement.
Wilder said that “additional staffing and response teams are on site, and positive progress is being made.”
Local law enforcement officers are providing security around the perimeter of the prison, he said.
On Friday, about 700 inmates at the prison were moved to new locations after disturbances on consecutive days left their housing units uninhabitable.
Nine corrections officers suffered minor injuries in the incidents at the prison, which has had a long history of problems. No inmate injuries were reported.
The first disturbance occurred Wednesday at a minimum-security unit, followed by what he described as an unrelated riot Thursday night at a medium-security unit that took several hours to quell, Wilder said.
In 2010, three inmates escaped from the prison after a woman in a getaway car threw cutting tools over the fence and they broke out. The inmates went on a violent crime spree that included the murders of an Oklahoma couple during a camping trip in New Mexico. They were killed, and their bodies were found burned in their trailer. The inmates were caught, tried and received new prison sentences.
The Management and Training Corp. continued to operate the prison despite scathing criticism of its lax security during the escape.
An inmate at the prison — and the minimum-security unit where the disturbance happened this week — was sexually assaulted and beaten at the facility in January and died at a hospital three days later, according to a legal claim filed by his family. The legal action says emergency responders weren’t notified for nearly two hours.
The inmate, Neil Early, was serving a five-year sentence for theft and possession of drug paraphernalia after becoming addicted to heroin and stealing video games.
Arizona houses thousands of inmates in private prisons, and the industry has come under fire for its large donations to Republican politicians.