Allow me to get expository here for a moment.

My industry, video games, has been taking a lot of flack lately in the media for some of its content. That the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) doesn’t do enough to protect the children from the violent games. What I’d like to point out is that all games are rated by the ESRB, much the same as movies are by the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA). Here is the the ESRB’s rating list and here is the MPAA’s rating list. First off, note that the ESRB has more ratings for minors than the MPAA does. Also, the ESRB always has what content garnered the rating listed right on the game box itself (violence, language, etc.)

But all of this is almost beside the point. It really all comes down to enforcement and who’s responsibility it is to keep inappropriate games out of the hands of minors. In this, I don’t think it should be any different than any other minor-prohibited media. If the game is rated ‘M’ (rated ‘R’ in movie-speak), then don’t complain to the game industry or the government when you find it inappropriate for your 12-year-old after you buy it for him/her. Some parents might allow their children to watch certain ‘R’-rated films or play ‘M’-rated games, and that’s really up to the family to figure out for themselves. After the ESRB rates the game and makes it plain what age group it’s appropriate for, it’s really not in their hands anymore.

I think a lot of this stems from the misconception that all video games are for kids and thus any adult-themed game is bad. This is, of course, not true. The Nintendo Generation has grown up, and most of us are in our late-20’s now. Gaming can be for everyone, young and old, but not all games are for everyone. Video games are here to stay in some form or another, and much like movies, comic books, and rock music, we can’t just call them a blemish on society and make them go away.

Bottom line: read the box, talk with your kids, and use some common sense.

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