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MORE TERRIBLE ANTI-GAME ARGUMENTS

25 Oct 2010

Gamasutra brings us an update on the next chapter in the silly government-versus-video-games saga: California State Senator Leland Yee has released a statement arguing in support of the restrictions on video game sales that are to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court next month. Going by Gamasutra's reporting, Senator Yee's arguments could use some work:

"Parents – not retailers or game makers – should be able to decide whether or not their children can play in a world of murder and violence that often degrades women and racial minorities," Yee said.

Yes. When have retailers or game makers ever made this decision? Even if GameStop sells that copy of GTA to the 10-year-old kid, that kid still has parents who can say, "No, Jonny, you are not playing that game in this house."

Parenting! What a concept.

Moving on:

"Parents can easily discern if other forms of media are appropriate for their children," Yee said, "whereas violent video games can contain hundreds of hours of footage with the most atrocious, racist, and sexist content often reserved for the highest levels.”

So in Senator Yee's world, there must be no ESRB.

It's funny, because the ESRB rating appears many times larger on the packaging than, for example, MPAA ratings. And it's on the front cover, whereas MPAA ratings are hidden amongst the tiny credits block on the back. But somehow it's easier to judge age-appropriateness for movies than for games? What about books, which have no ratings at all? Or music, which simply as a "Parental Advisory" and no accompanying descriptors or indicator of severity?

Also, what's with the bit about "the most atrocious, racist, and sexist content often reserved for the highest levels"? What exactly is Senator Yee referring to here? The game he played in his imagination?

Yee said he was hopeful the Supreme Court would rule in his favor, citing similar Supreme-Court-imposed restrictions on minors' access to "pornography, gambling, marriage, firearms, jury duty, tobacco, alcohol, voting, abortion, licenses, and the death penalty."

There are two concepts that tie together gambling, marriage, firearms, jury duty, tobacco, alcohol, voting, abortion, licenses, and the death penalty: they all require adult responsibility, and they all have real-life consequences. That's why restrictions on those activities exist.

Video games -- even violent ones -- simply do not fall into that category. (And neither does pornography, hence my deliberate omission of it from that list, but that's a whole separate topic.)

How much taxpayer money do we have yet to spend pursuing this pointless fight?

Posted In:

politics video-games