Video Games Under Fire Again

I don’t even know where to begin. Once again, legislators are trying to get some level of government censorship for video games. This time, sexual content is leading the way, not violence.
Apparently there is some sexually explicit content in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This content was left out of the game (PC version) but can be re-enabled by a 3rd-party hack. The problem is that the rating for the game is an “M” for mature, whereas it might have been an “AO” for adults only if the content was figured into the rating. But much like extra movie footage cut out of an NC-17 movie to get it an R rating, the content is not available in the game as the publisher is selling it.
As always, my main complaint here is that I don’t think the government should be in the parenting business. That’s for parents. If parents, like myself, want to monitor and regulate the books, movies, music and video games that our kids play, then that is fine with me. I’d certainly expect that most, if not all, parents would not let their kids play GTA San Andreas. I wouldn’t.
But I take offense at those that think they are to busy or lazy to participate in their child’s development, and instead want their government to step in and do it. What makes me more upset is that there are backlashes to this sort of govenment intervention. Imposing fines on retailers who sell games like GTA to minors imposes a burden on retailers. The retailers may then find it easier to live without this burden and simply not carry these games. The result is that these games aren’t available in very many places, sales suffer and these games don’t get made in the future. Viola! Censorship. I don’t play very many violent video games myself, but I don’t want to take away the rights of other adults to make and play them.
And where do we draw the line? Violence in video games is a slippery slope. In GTA you can shoot simulated people. You can also do that in war simulation games like the first-person WWII games and Vietnam games. Should war games be banned as well? War is real. Do we send our kids off to fight and die in Iraq but then ban the simulated act of war in video games? How about violence in sports like hockey? Most hockey games are very realistic and include fighting and blood. How about war strategy games. I love to play those. But while doing so I will do things like command a B-17 to run a mission and bomb an enemy city. Thousands of simulated people die. What comes next? Ban Risk? Ban Chess?
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., said “In a videogame, you’re actually pursuing and simulating a person. You’re under hypnosis. You’re a person that is dramatizing, that is living the example of what is going on.”
I’ll ignore the “You’re under hypnosis” part. That’s just weird. But the rest is true. But it is also true of kids playing tag, “war” or “cops and robbers.” You know, just having fun in the playground or school yard. Should those be banned? Maybe playgrounds should have government-appointed monitors that make sure the kids only play games with non-violent undertones.
I have no problem with people not liking violent or sexually explicit video games. I support their right to not let their kids play them. I support their right to use private funds to speak out against them and warn other parents of their evils. I support retailers making their own decisions to not sell games because they are violent, secually explicit, or for any reason. But I wish Hillary Clinton, Joe Baca and Joe Leiberman would leave the parenting to the parents.

Posted on July 19, 2005 at 8:57 am by site admin · Permalink
In: General