Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Video Game Ruling

Violent Video Games and Our Courts

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte overturned a California state law that prohibited the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18. Judge Whyte found that the law was unconstitutional and that the terms of violence were too broad. He went on to say that the laws proponents failed to show a concrete link between video games and children's behavior, or that the violence in games was no more harmful than what could be found in other media such as television, movies or the Internet.

The law would have made it a crime, punishable by a fine, for video game dealers to sell M rated video games to children under 18. Many video game stores claimed that the M rating was enough, and it was up to the parents to ensure that their children did not purchase these graphically violent video games.

The law had been on hold after the video game industry's Video Software Dealers Association along with the Entertainment Software Association filed a lawsuit against California officials, asking that the law be overturned because such games are protected forms of expression under the first amendment. Jason Della Rocca, Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association, (IGDA), even went so far as to make the comment that video games are 'an emerging art form'.

Let’s examine the facts now. According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp, an M rating is given to games for mature content which may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language. That sounds pretty straightforward to me.

I have seen clips from some of these video games like Grand Theft Auto. Not only are they extremely graphic and violent, the sole purpose for playing them is to commit crimes, including killing as many people as you can, stealing cars, and evading the police. These games serve no purpose other than to expose our children to immoral and sociopathic behavior.

Another part of the ruling was that, “the violence in games was no more harmful than what could be found in other media such as television, movies or the Internet.” That may be true, but if you apply the same mode of thinking as the video game industry, it would not be up to theater personnel to check for ID of kids going to see an R or NC-17 movie. That role would be up to the parents, just as it is now up to us to ensure our children are not purchasing these violent video games.

While the courts are at it, why don’t they just allow our kids to go to any adult bookstore and buy pornographic material as well? These books are protected under the first amendment as well, and since it is the parents job to make sure our kids don’t buy them, why should the stores stop any kid from walking in and picking up a copy of Playboy? While we are at it, why shouldn’t a kid just be allowed to walk into the local 7-11 and pick up a six pack of beer? After all, if his parents allow him to go out by himself, it must be assumed that he has their permission to buy beer and pornography as well.

While I agree that the content on some of these video games is no worse than what can be found on some of the movies on HBO or Showtime, that doesn‘t make it any less offensive. Much of what is shown on television and in the theaters is just plain trash with no moral decency. At least the Motion Picture Association has imposed a ratings system that is enforced by the theaters where this filth plays. Should we expect any less from the dealers of video games who choose to sell filth as well?

We as parents can not be everywhere all the time to monitor our children. That is why we have laws that prohibit our children from doing things when they are not under our supervision. They cannot just go out and buy a firearm. They cannot get behind the wheel of a car and drive. They cannot buy pornography or alcohol. They cannot go into an R or X rated movie, and they should not be allowed to buy M rated video games as well.


The Zombieslayer said...

They should simply use the same laws as they do with movies. M = an R rating. No children under 17 w/o parental supervision. It's not that hard.

neal said...

That's just it, they do have those ratings. The game makers and the stores sued saying it was a violation of their freedom of speech. I just don't get it, how can prohibiting minors from viewing these games be a violation of their freedom to make them?