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Video Games and Violence – Who really has the responsibility?

With technology becoming more and more advanced every day, there has been a growing concern among some circles concerning a child’s ability to differentiate between real life and fantasy. Recently, the video game industry has been at the forefront of the battles between real life and fantasy. A growing number of people have called for regulation with video games, and governments have gotten involved. Whether it is the recent Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act in the United States, looking to put a legal minimal age to buy certain games, or altogether censorship of games like Left 4 Dead 2 in Australia, the video game industry is now fighting an uphill battle around the globe to protect their civil rights. However, the real question is not if the gaming industry should be held accountable for violence in games, but who has the ultimate responsibility to keep games that are deemed violent away from children?

Representative Lee Terry from Nebraska, one of the sponsors of the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act, argues that the government needs to step in to protect American youth from violent games. Representative Terry claims that “many young children are walking into stores and are able to buy or rent these games without their parents even knowing about it. Many retailers have tried to develop voluntary policies to make sure mature games do not end up in the hands of young kids, but we need to do more to protect our children.” What Representative Terry fails to realize is that his bill not only violates the First Amendment, but also removes responsibility from parents, already in a world of quickly diminishing personal-responsibility. The courts agree too, with similar bills in 8 states, including Louisiana and California, being deemed unconstitutional. The real problem at hand is not the legality of these bills, but the alarming attempt to remove a parent’s responsibility. The gaming industry has voluntarily made it easier and easier for parents to control what their children play. Nearly every major game studio submits their game to the ESRB, an independent video game ratings company. The ESRB gives each game a rating ranging from Everyone to Adult Only, allowing parents to choose what games are right for their kids without even having to buy the game. In addition, parents on the fence about a game could view the developer’s website, which almost always has videos of the actual game play. With these tools, parents can and should be able to make a well-informed choice about any game that they allow their child to play. On top of the rating system, all ‘next-gen’ video game systems (the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3) have filters that allow parents to prevent games from being played based on rating, specific title, or in some cases even themes of a game.

With all these resources, there is no reason for a law to be passed that will invade the game developer’s civil rights. Much like Hollywood in the past, the game industry has been unjustly scapegoated for violence in society. If bills like this pass, more sticky situations are created then are solved. Who decides what should be banned and what shouldn’t? Would these factors change as different parties gain control of the government? How many jobs will be lost in the gaming industry because of a bill? Problems like these will no-doubt arise if a bill like this ever has the misfortune of passing. The government should not look to place responsibility on the gaming industry, but on the parents, where the true power should lie.





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Jmox1 said...
Apr. 18, 2010 at 7:57 am
Really interesting article!
 
wisepwner said...
Apr. 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm
1st comment
 
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