It’s Reasonable to Not Want Small Kids to Play Violent Games
As Dolan put it, Black Ops isn’t the issue, but a grandmother walking into a games store and asking what’s popular, only to have a clerk hand her a military shooter for a young kid, is. People get movie ratings, but even with the changes the Electronics Software Ratings Board has made over the years to make game ratings clearer, there’s still a breakdown for lots of consumers.
We can sit here and say that the responsibility is with the parents to figure out what their kids are playing, but obviously, from a practical standpoint, it’s not true. Because if it was, people like Dolan wouldn’t feel the need to help parents get rid of their violent media and educate them about it, and Obama wouldn’t feel the need to study that media. Gaming’s current stance isn’t working.
The Federal Trade Commission has found that the gaming industry actually does a pretty solid job of policing itself and preventing violent games from being sold to minors. That a GameStop clerk sells a game to little four-year-old Jimmy and Jane isn’t the problem, it’s that Jimmy and Jane ask Mom and Dad for those games, and Mom and Dad don’t know any better. But unfortunately, the long-term result is the same, and we’re seeing it unfold right now.
The games industry can and should do more. It should work harder to break down the barriers for parents of what games are and how their treated. It should be the games industry, not politicians or governments, that is helping parents get educated about what they’re handing to their kids for the holidays. Because I’m sure developers have the same interests as parents and politicians in this instance: that everyone be able to enjoy everything and parents do their jobs.
We as a community need to step up in this department and help take the mystery away from games for laypeople like out-of-touch parents, and to help them make good decisions about what kids should play. If we can demystify all this a little bit, games will seem less like a cultural boogeyman, and the next time someone tries to make them a cultural boogeyman, it’ll seem laughable to more people than just those of us immersed in gamer culture.
But that’s on us — players, developers, and everyone else that makes up this community. If we don’t deal with it, you can bet that politicians and others who don’t understand the medium of games will, with results we’re not going to like.