This storm, however, is not made of bullets, but more of the finger pointing variety. It is really frustrating when “professionals” step up and opine about what is best for society, especially when professionals suggest all the evil in this world is the media’s fault. The government has already set in place certain restrictions regarding selling very violent and mature video games, movies, and even puts plastic covering over sexually explicit magazines. However, it is ultimately the parents who are responsible to protect their children from the graphic nature of media outlets they watch, see, or play.
In August of 2010, Gamestop hosted an exclusive event where gamers could play and get a sneak peak of Halo: Reach. Being a fan of the Halo series, I had to attend this particular promotion. My daughter and I were excited as both of us thoroughly enjoyed Halo 3, especially the multiplayer. We finally get to our local Gamestop in Florida and I asked the cashier if this store would be demonstrating Halo: Reach. He said, “Yes, but there is one problem.” I asked him, “Ok, what’s the problem?” He hesitantly replied, “Since Halo: Reach is a rated M for mature game, anyone under the age of 17 was not allowed to attend the presentation.” You see, my daughter was 10 years old at the time and clearly under the age of 17. Frustrated and embarrassed, I left. Knowledge is power as they say and had I paid attention to the rating, this faux pas could have been prevented. However, and more importantly, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) guide is available to let parents know which games are appropriate, depending on his/her child’s age.
Am I a bad parent for taking her to an event that showed a rated “M for mature” game? Maybe, but that’s a debate I’ll have in the privacy of my home, at another time. However, the key here is that the system currently in place worked. The government can only do so much when it comes to regulating media. In the end, however, it’s the parents who are the last line of defense for offensive games, not the developer, publisher, or the government.
Media blaming has been rampant since the dawn of rock ‘n roll music. Baseless claims have been filed in various courts time and time again. The best examples are Ozzy Osbourne and the group AC/DC. They have been sued claiming their music contributed to suicide and murder, respectively. However, both AC/DC and Mr. Osbourne were not held responsible. The assertion that “[T]he increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games”, as suggested by Carol Lieberman in a recent news article, is an off-the-cuff, malicious remark that could have significant adverse consequences for the gaming industry. What is most telling, however, is the fact that there are no citations to scholarly work or studies that would support this ridiculous claim. People who do this sort of malicious act against women are just evil. Blaming this violent act on media outlets rather than the perpetrators is irresponsible. According to kidshealth.org, “[R]ape is about power, not sex”. This has been a long-standing, well-known and often cited fact. Leave the media out of it.
Dr. Jerry Weichman, a psychologist, makes another outrageous claim, suggesting that, “If a younger kid experiences Bulletstorm’s explicit language and violence, the damage could be significant.” Really? Like “having their parents pay for them to see Kill Bill” significant? Perhaps it’s an “over the age of 21 uncle that buys beer for the children” significant? Oh wait, I got it, it’s like “the single parent that smokes, but the kids sneak a cigarette behind the house” significant? Dr. Weichman goes even further to suggest that “[V]iolent video games like Bulletstorm have the potential to send the message that violence and insults with sexual innuendos are the way to handle disputes and problems.” So, rap music supports and upholds the sanctity of women by calling them bitches and hoes? Listening to heavy metal music will persuade you to burn crosses, apparently. Warning kids! Looking at Playboys will make you want to fap and cause you to go blind! But no worries, the government will protect you!
If someone decides to commit horrific acts of violence, it could just mean that this particular person is mentally unstable in the first place. Quite frankly, teenagers will find a way to get the game just like young adults find ways to do drugs, get pregnant, and drink underage. Do these out-of-touch elitists think that applying more government regulation to video games will stop violent crimes such as rape? Blaming media outlets is not the answer for the evil that people do in this world.
You can have all the laws, rules, and regulations the local, state, and federal governments can muster, but eventually it is the PARENTS responsibility to take care of these kids. Why evil people rape is not for me to decipher, however, would I buy or let my kids play Bulletstorm? The answer would be unequivocally, hell no!
Right now, many in government would love to see this country become a nanny state, but currently, I still have parental authority. There are all kinds of music, books, magazines, movies, and video games that children should not be exposed to. The government has put into place regulations and there are available guides, such as the ESRB rating system, to help parents judge what their kids can and cannot watch, listen, see, or play. There are times, however, when parents need to be Mothers and Fathers and not just their offspring’s best friend. Yeah, being the cool Dad taking his daughter to the Halo event was admirable, but to buy her the game Bulletstorm – not so much. That being said, you will have to excuse me. The kids are in bed now and it’s time to play some Dead Space 2.