Video game controversy: who’s to blame?

The June 2011 Supreme Court ruling struck down a California law that prohibited the sale of “violent” video games to children. The ruling was based on the decision that the current video game rating system was appropriate for parents to decide what content their children are exposed to.

First of all, I need to exclude myself from the parent category since I don’t have kids and my cats haven’t mastered a joystick yet. However, I am a gamer, and although I am exposed to violence in video games, I have real problems with games that present moral controversies. We can fight and win or lose and die and rise again. We can choose our weapons and armor and chase things. However, at the end of the day, most of us tune out and resume our normal lives. I don’t really think about the game after the glowing pixels have been removed for the day. But when we play a game that offers moral choices, it seems to linger in our minds a bit longer than normal shooter games.

Fable (Lionhead Studios) gives us options on whether we want to be fair or not so nice. We can go the way of doing good deeds for the townspeople or we can choose to rob and cheat them. The rewards can be achieved in any way. You are facing consequences if you choose to rob someone just like in real life. Maybe they’ll catch you and maybe they won’t. Adults can make these decisions and have the ability (at least I hope so!) when they log off, to put this experience in perspective: this was a video game and not a reflection of real life behavior that has emerged through our development. of concrete thought that is a graduation of the adolescent thought of our youth.

Bioshock (2k Boston/IrrationalGames) presents us with the option of killing naughty girls. Now these are actually monsters that have been transformed into naughty girls, but they have the visual appearance of your sweet little sister. You have to kill them, yes, really. You have to make the decision to kill them or be killed. This game arouses some emotions in any person, regardless of age. Killing something cute and innocent, whether it’s puppies, kittens, or girls, just doesn’t feel right. Rather… it shouldn’t feel good.

There are endless game titles that display graphic violence. These are not games I choose to play, but it is not for me to judge what an adult chooses to play on her watch. But what about parents who play these extreme games and have them at home? What about parents who restrict these games, only to find out that these games are being played at a friend’s house? I have to wonder if parents really understand that a child doesn’t really have the ability to differentiate the effects these games have on their developing brain.

We all know that teenagers have a very difficult time understanding the consequences of their behavior through many real life examples and unnecessary risks they take. Most children feel that they are invulnerable to everything. Do video games help in this type of thinking? If you allow your children to play video games, it is YOUR responsibility to think carefully and make wise decisions. It is not the responsibility of the State in which you reside or anyone else to determine what your child is exposed to; that’s her job. Please do so responsibly and choose age-appropriate games for your children. Games are great fun and can teach many positive skills – use them to your advantage, not to your child’s detriment.

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