Video Game Controversy

Posted: April 28, 2010 in constitution, freedom, games, news, politics, rants
Tags: , , , , ,

Violence. War. Sex. Gore. These are a few of the mainstays of the movie industry. Also graphic novels & art. Three largely unregulated, and highly profitable, industries. Most people consider all three as forms of art.

But what of video games? They have the same characteristics of art, movies, & graphic novels, yet only gamers see them as an art form. From political intrigue to war to education, there is a slew of video game genres out there. Some even cross over into movies & graphic novels, and vice versa.

And they’re also highly profitable. In 2009, though profits were down slightly, the industry made $19.66 BILLION, down from the 2008 record of $21.4 billion.

The video game industry is to California what the insurance industry is to Connecticut. California employed, in 2006, around 40% of the nations video game employees.

Why do I bring up California? They’re at the center of the reason for this rant. Cali is the latest in a string of states trying to regulate the sale of violent video games to minors.

Sounds noble, right? Not really. The other industries & the retailers that move their merchandise are in charge of regulating the sales themselves. Take the movie industry for example: movies are submitted for rating (voluntarily) to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America); they rate the movie based on content–language, situations, violence, etc; theaters then have a guide to let them know if certain movies are suitable for minors. It’s up to the discretion of each individual theater to decide if they will follow that guide, with no fines or repercussions from law enforcement if they don’t. The same goes for stores who sell the DVDs.

As with movies, video games are submitted to their own rating board, ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board). Games are rated from EC (early childhood–ages 3 & up) to A (adult–18+). As the ESRB’s website says, these ratings symbols “suggest age appropriateness”.

Governments, state & federal, have been trying to regulate, and in some cases ban, video games. California, however, is unique in that even though the state is strapped for cash and the video game industry brings in much needed revenue, they continue to fight for a law that could hurt the state financially, more than they are now (other states tried to enforce similar laws but they were ultimately found unconstitutional). Now the Supreme Court of the Unites States (SCOTUS) has agreed to hear arguments on the law.

And there’s no need for this law anywhere in the country. A recent study found that video game retailers stopped 80% of violent video game sales to minors.

Ultimately, the decision to purchase a video game, violent or not, rests in the hands of parents. They have ample information to make the decision on what’s suitable for their children. And the decision to sell a video game, violent or not, rests with the retailer. They know there are consequences to selling video games not rated for minors to minors, and those consequences hurt their bottom line. That’s why we’ve seen a decrease in the sale of certain games to minors.

In the end, the final decision on the law lies with SCOTUS. Their recent decision (8-1) protecting “animal cruelty” videos as free speech bodes well for those of us opposed to the law. Let’s hope they make the same decision on video games.

  1. Janene Julen says:

    Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out.

  2. […] I mentioned in a previous post, video games, like movies, have their own ratings system. The latest data I could find shows that […]

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