The video game industry started over 30 years ago and is still one of the largest growing industries out there. But over time you can see that video games, for many reasons, is clashing with politics and rights groups. Over the course of 30 years the games have grown more intricate in stories and visuals. Politicians and rights groups are trying to get rid or censor video games, but I am willing to put up a valid argument of why video games should not be censored.
First off, where did this clash come from? Well, in 1976 a game by the name of “Death Race” came out which was based off of the movie “Death Race 2000”. In the game the main objective was to run down gremlins while you drove a car. Although they were gremlins people linked this game to the idea of car homicide (hit and runs). The movie “Death Race 2000” was created in 1975 and was basically about people racing and gaining points by driving to checkpoints and accumulating points by hitting people with their cars. The point system is as follows:
-Male Adult: 20 Points
-Male Teenager: 40 Points
-Male Infant/Toddler: 70 Points
-Female (any age): +10 Point Bonus
-Senior citizen (either gender): 100 Points.
Now, with “Death Race 2000” in mind, this brings me to another point. If the movie was based on the same exact thing, why is the game so controversial? In 1975 weren’t the graphics so primitive that there would be minimal stomach turning cinematics to the game? But the movie would be more realistic, it would contain actual people being hit by cars. So why wasn’t the movie as controversial as the game? The only thing I can come up with is the fact that video games are interactive entertainment, meaning that you control what is happening most of the time, its actions aren’t as pre-planned like a movie.
One idea to help censor video games, or limit its sales to minors was the Entertainment Software Rating Board (aka ESRB) in 1994, which was the mirror image of the movie rating system that was out. What the ESRB system does is rate a game by its maturity level and says what it includes that makes the rating what it is. The ratings are as follows:
-EC: Early Childhood. For ages 3 and older.
-E: Everyone. For ages 6 and older.
-E10+: Everyone 10+. For ages 10 and older.
-T: Teen. Ages 13 and older.
-M: Mature. Ages 17 and older.
-AO: Adults Only. Ages 18 and older.
-RP: Rating Pending. The game is awaiting final rating.
With violence in video games the ESRB rating was a great way to prohibit games that were “too violent’ from being sold to minors. Also, it was a great way to show parents which games were “too violent”, or any other reasons (gambling, tobacco/alcohol/drug use, ect) the game would be rated its rating. However, ESRB has been accused of underrating games for their violence, which I think is absurd. The ESRB staff goes through a routine analysis of each game they rate. Plus, not only is there a rating on each game, there is content descriptions on each game as well telling why the game is rated its rating. A parent with decent wits should know how to read and comprehend these details and know if their child should be exposed to the content within the game. If a child (lets say age 12) grabs a game rated Mature (M) and the parent buys it, why is the video game industry being penalized for a stupid parental decision.
I have a great personal example of an instance of parental stupidity. I was at the mall in a gaming store waiting on line to buy something. Low and behold there was a father and a small child with him. What game is this child holding so his father will buy it for him? Grand Theft Auto III, one of the most controversial games on the market without a doubt. First of all, the father didn’t even know what the game was about. The father asked the kid if it was too violent, and inquired about the game overall. The kid simpy played it off that Grant Theft Auto (aka GTA) wasn’t bad, and that his friends have it too. Overall the father bought the game for the child and had no idea what he was getting himself into. The ESRB rating was simply on the game, details of the rating in sight on the front of the Grand Theft Auto’s case.
For you of those who don’t know what Grand Theft Auto III is, its one game in a series of games that are heavily violent and contain drug use, gangs, murder, gun use, sexual references, and much more. This is just to clarify my point that GTA is in fact a truly violent game, and the child should not have had it. But whose fault was it that the child got the game? The store? No. The video game undustry? They built the game and paid out of their pocket to get a raiting from ESRB to warn parents of the violence in the game, so no, it’s not their fault. The parents? Yes. A parent should always monitor (but not smother) a child, especially when it comes to video games. But when something happens like a school shooting, a robbery, or any crime for that matter, parents need a finger to point at someone and why not the video game industry? The video game industry is a valid target in their mind since they are filled with overwhelming violence and drug/sex/alcohol references. But parents simple inquiring and observations could have easily prevented such a violent game from getting into the hands of their “angel” of a child whome is perfect and cannot do any evil.. it must be those games, right?! Wrong.
As video games have become graphically enhanced, so has other forms of entertainment. Music, although not in looks, has become much more violent and rude over time. The lyrics coming from todays Hip-Hop stars are undeniably marked with violence and easily stereotypical sexual and drug references. The movie scene has become also gruesome with such titles as Saw (I, II, and III) and Hostel. The violence and gore within these movies named alone can make someones stomach toss and turn, but was there nearly as much controversy here as there is towards gaming? Once again, no.
Video games are also, in my mind, an expression of art. Each game comes from an empty canvas which is eventually filled with ideas for story lines, graphics, and other concepts embedded into a video game when it is created. Tampering with ones art is not a good idea since it can easily block someones minds path on where they want to go when constructing a project. If art is so controversial, why are there naked sculptures that are called masterpieces around the world?
Overall, how does this clash with politics? Easy. Everything I have said here shows steps people can take to prevent their children from getting “violent” games. Also, on what grounds do politicians and these other groups have to attack mainly video games rather than other forms of entertainment? Because it has an interactive edge over other forms of entertainment for the most part? Video games have too many beneficial pointers to it for it to be censored or tampered with in my opinion. Just because a game contains violence doesn’t mean it should be censored, rather there should be a penalty for selling a game to a child that is under the age of the ESRB rating. Yes, there is the chance that the people committing the acts of violence are as old or older than the ESRB rating, but there is always that marginal error due to their personal ignorance. In any aspect of any field there is always a chance of some idiot going out and doing something wrong that can be linked to some sort of entertainment. Taking responsibility for your own actions can be a daunting task, and pushing the blame onto someone.something else is the easy way out, but it’s also the wrong way.
On the other hand, there have been games simulating the Columbine shooting, which is irrational nd harsh to peoples feelings that were involved with the tragedy. To go as far as to make a game like that is too far just to make money. But making a shooter based on the army or killing aliens is fine, as long as the person purchasing and playing the game is old enough and mature enough. Games are a second reality, its for tasks you cannot do in every day life, no matter how violent they are. As long as a person can grasp the concept that video games are not a first reality, and they know the right and wrong for any situation linked to video games in real life, then they are fine to play whatever they want.
Politics should have no say in games as long as they do not cause a potential threat to anyone, which it shouldn’t since it is a second reality, a fantasy realm. Video games are entertainment and art, lets keep our minds open and remember what is truly reality.
Questions/comments? E-mail me at [email protected]