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Gaming Versus The Government: Part 2,304,895

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch is launching a campaign to raise parental awareness of the video games they buy for their children. According to TurnTo10, his campaign will include a public service announcement asking for parents to pay close attention to the way that the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating board) rates the games that minors play.

At the same time California's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is fighting for appeal against a Supreme Court ruling that overturned his law that has banned the sales of violent video games to minors. His argument is that many games are really made for adults and therefore shouldn’t be played by children, so he’s trying to make it impossible for the children to come into contact with them.

From a gamer’s perspective, there is often a feeling of confliction. We do not want our hobbies to be restricted because of the government and the opinion that games are harmful to us or children. However, as an adult, it is difficult not to feel a little apprehensive while watching a 40-something mother happily purchase Gears of War for a six-year-old tugging at her skirt, knowing in 20 minutes he will be sawing off someone’s head with a chain HD.

Both of these men’s hearts are in the right place. They want to protect the children of the people who voted for them from what they believe to be harmful. Although video games have never been conclusively proven to cause aggression among players (and in fact the opposite is often the truth, since gamers know how fighting games can be great stress relievers), they happen to believe that violent games are harmful to children. Or they may believe that some games are just scary or upsetting to children, which they can be. I’m 22, and I still can’t play a Resident Evil game alone.

What matters here is the roles the parents take. No 11-year-old is going to the mall with a credit card or shelling out the big bucks for M-Rated games (and if they are, violent video games are the least of their issues). It’s the parents who do the buying, and it is the parents who have to learn which games may or may not be appropriate for their kids. The ESRB rating system is very easy to understand, and range from EC (for Early Childhood games like Dora the Explorer: Journey to the Purple Planet) to AO (the dreaded Adults Only, which Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas inadvertantly picked up a few years ago). Most retailers won’t even stock AO games due to family-friendly business practices.

Whether these two men succeed in their efforts or not, what is vital is that if a parent doesn’t want their kid to play a violent game, it shouldn’t be the government’s job to stop the kid from playing it.

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