Legislating access to violent video games?

I find this whole thing puzzling. The state of California wrote a law in 2005 to prohibit selling or renting M rated videogames to minors. Read the Wall Street Journal's writeup of the issue.

Isn't the entire point of the videogame-rating system to prevent access of minors to mature-rated video games?

And if this CA law is upheld, does this open up the government to have opinions about all kinds of things that here in my home, I make choices about that are appropriate for my family?

image from halo.xbox.com Because, I have a confession to make. I let my son play M-rated videogames. He's 9, well under the approved age of 17. But here's a newsflash - I know exactly what he's playing, and he can't play the one M game we play (well, three versions of the same title) without an adult in the room. And usually I play with him. And we talk about how terrible the one section of the one game is (if you're a gamer you'll know what I mean when I say the Flood in Halo 3. Eww.)

But hey - I'm the parent! Yoo-hoo! I get to decide if it's appropriate. I get to decide how much is too much (this is one of those "occasional requests" that I say yes to - maybe he plays once or twice a month, sometimes more but then sometimes months will go by with no requests.) He is 100% monitored during his play. And because I know my own child, I know that he is mature enough to handle it, knows the difference between fantasy and reality, and is not acting aggressive or antisocial as a result of playing the game. Know why?


I had to shout that last bit, because I hear over and over about parents who are battling with children about videogames, or this defeatist attitude about kids who are fat, dumb, and degenerates because they play videogames so much. Excuse me, but when did you voluntarily hand over your parenting rights to a videogame? If your child is playing too much, you should set some appropriate limits! (You might start by getting the videogames and TVs out of the kids' bedrooms, but that's the subject for an entirely different rant.)

As the article points out, the voluntary videogame rating system works remarkably well. Children have a far easier time buying an R-rated movie or CD with explicit lyrics than a video game with an M rating. That should make us all do a double-take, because part of the slippery slope this potential legislation leads to is having to show ID to buy a movie or CD. Do you want that? Because I already get creeped out when the Target guys want to scan my driver's license when I buy beer.

I support the videogame rating system. I do not think most 9 year olds should have access to M-rated games (though I also am puzzled by the tie-in action figures for children for this particular game we play. Last I checked, most 17 year olds aren't too into action figures, but I digress...) If they are to play, it should be monitored, understood, discussed. Kids shouldn't be left to draw their own conclusions about your family's values on violence or mature content. But again, this is *your* job as the parent. Let's not let the government make these choices for our families.



I write on Suburban (In)sanity. I have two kids, two cats, a dog, a husband and a minivan. I live in the suburbs now and try to stay sane. Some days, I succeed.


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