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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-08-18 07:27:05
Kids and M Rated Games
The politicos have latched onto this issue as one of the great dangers threatening the "fabric of our society". Not only is it an unimaginative regurgitation of the "think of the children" soapbox that previously assaulted comic books, music, television, and film; it's a complete waste of valuable legislative time and money. Invariably, all of their efforts to regulate the sale of M rated games are struck down as unconstitutional. It's easy to assume that they're stupid, desperate for attention, or both.
Perhaps that snap judgment isn't entirely fair. As a rule, previous generations have difficulty grasping youth culture, and don't understand that the median age for gamers is now upward of thirty. They view videogames as toys and childrens' pastimes, as opposed to a maturing, modern form of media, much less a legitimate (albeit nascent) art form.
We need to find common ground. I think everyone across the generational divide can agree that children should not be playing Grand Theft Auto any more than they should be watching The Sopranos.
According to the Nielsen Company, 17 percent of GTA IV purchasers were underaged. Considering that an additional 39 percent of that minority cajoled an older person to purchase it for them, it would appear to me that self-regulation in the retail space is currently reasonably successful. Thinking back to my own misspent youth, it wasn't nearly as difficult to obtain illicit goods. Whether it was loitering outside a 7-Eleven or Circle K for someone willing to purchase alcohol for a minor, or shoplifting VHS porn tapes from the roped off area of the video store, a combination of determination and rudimentary planning was all we needed to obtain our contraband. I have no hard numbers to back me up, but I'd be willing to wager a small sum that it'd be easier for a kid to score some weed or X than an M rated game.
As a gamer dad, I've fallen into a routine that is growing increasingly commonplace among my peers: desperately squeezing in a few hours of our pastime of choice after our little one(s) go to sleep. I pray and hope that I'm able to instill enough wisdom in my kid for him to avoid critically poor decisions. I hate to judge, but I couldn't understand parents who brought their elementary school children to a viewing of The Dark Knight. Parental involvement and guidance is the only practical measure for dealing with this issue.
So government: butt out and spend your efforts on fostering desirable jobs, providing worthwhile public education, corralling the health care industry...problems that only you can properly address.
And parents: pay attention to your kids to lessen the odds of them growing to become sociopaths.
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