As a parent, I like to think that I know what video games my children are playing, what music they are listening to, and what movies they are watching. As a parent, I am not actually that naive. I know that regardless of what I allow in my household, their friend’s parents may not follow my same policies. I am pretty open to what video games they can play, because I have taught them the difference between real, and a game. I believe that many parents out there have also taught their children the difference between real and a game. What I don’t understand though, is why the various levels of government think it is okay to tell us how to raise our kids and what video games they should play.
In an unsurprising announcement, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has jumped on the “control video game” bandwagon. The bill would prevent children/young adults from buying video games rated M, for mature. If a child wants the game, then a parent would need to purchase it for them. It seems that anytime a horrible act of violence occurs in our country, especially when committed by a child/young adult, someone/somewhere attacks either the video game industry (current target), movie industry, or music industry. Please help us gamers if a new FPS game arrives directed by Quentin Tarantino, with a soundtrack provided by Marilyn Manson. Like clockwork, someone tries to be a hero and save us from the mind altering affects of a splash of pixels
Now, many would think that this is already in full effect, much like having an adult present when a child is taken to see a rated R movie. However, at least here in Indiana, the rating system is currently a joke. My 11 or 16 year old daughters could walk into on of the gaming stores nearby (4 Gamestops, a couple pre-owned local stores, and the big box stores), strike up a conversation with the clerk, and walk out with the game. Why? Because many gamers think the rating system us biased.
The problem with Christie’s bill is that, if passed, it wouldn’t be long before someone in the state disagrees with the rating given to a game. Then, we will see the state regulating the ratings internally, which will cause the industry to spend more money to abide by the terms of that state, and give, in this case, New Jersey a different rating than other states. Before long, every state will want a different rating.
In the end, I don’t see this bill even coming close to passing. It has been tried before, and the High Court ruled that video games are a form of speech. So, as long as we have free speech, we parents should be able to continue monitoring our children’s gaming experience without government control. What are your thoughts on this proposed bill? Do you agree with it, or disagree, and why?
Special thank you to MikeisaPoet for originally bringing the proposed bill to my attention!