Over at US News they have a poll about video games, a subject near to my heart and wallet, and whether or not kids should be able to purchase violent ones. I wanted to vote and say that children should not be able to purchase violent games, no more than they should be able to see violent movies or TV shows. Personally I feel that parents and retailers should be keeping violent games out of the hands of children but that it should be handled like movies and not regulated like a controlled substance.
Obviously a simple yes/no poll doesn’t offer much of a chance to articulate this view; by voting that kids shouldn’t be able to buy them I’m putting myself in the same camp as someone who doesn't think that anyone should buy violent games. Still, I was curious and wanted to see how the poll would work itself out. Then I saw the question:
“Should Kids Not Be Sold Violent Video Games?”
Wait, what? This may be a legitimate english sentence but it is goddamn confusing. It’s even more confusing because it’s a poll question that asks you to affirm a negative. Would it have been hard to rephrase the question as “should violent video games not be sold to kids” or even better (although it changes the answers) “should violent video games be sold to kids”? No, it wouldn’t. Part of me wants to rail against US News for creating a question that shapes the results towards a desired outcome but I don’t think they have any desire to do so with this poll. It’s just awkward and poor writing.