Recently, a federal appeals court smacked down a California law that would have made it illegal to rent or sell violent video games to anyone under the age of 18. This is hardly a new conversation, but it’s still an interesting one in that it’s easy to see both sides of the issue.
Looking at it from the pro-law side, it does make sense. Considering the subject matter, language and sexual content of some of today’s most popular games, having them made available to children seems like a mistake. I’m not a parent yet, but I don’t know if I’d be cool with my kid playing a game where they hacked someone to death with a chainsaw or have virtual sex with someone in a car. Plus, having heard the gamer mouth on my underage cousin, I’m not sure that I’d be particularly thrilled to have my own future spawn spouting off the word “motherf*cker” in casual conversation.
But there’s a lot to be said for the anti-law side too. I mean who among us didn’t see an R-Rated movie before we were legal age? Logically is this really something that is enforceable, and, were it to become illegal, would people really want their tax dollars to spent enforcing it? Just the manpower and legal time alone would cost a hefty sum. Plus, it does feel a bit puritanical and could bring about a number of other similarly restrictive laws in the arts realm. If we’ve drawn the line on video games then what about music and books?
Appreciating both sides of the argument, I ultimately agree with the decision of the law makers in California. While I appreciate that the ESRB exists and is there to help nontechnologically saavy parents figure things out, I think that having a faceless institution make rules for everybody’s children on such a subjective issue is a mistake. At the end of the day, this is not a legal issue but an ethical one and each situation should be judged accordingly.
What say you, gamer peeps? Do you think the law is valid/a good idea or do you think it’s just another case of older lawmarkers who just don’t get it? Sound off below!
**The above picture is from the game Manhunt 2. Weirdly enough, a version of the game, which has players perform acts of violence on foes, was made for the Nintendo Wii (a system that’s target audience is children) and was only rated Adults Only after an advocacy group staged a massive letter writing campaign.**