Thursday, April 27, 2006

The War on Video Games

Republicans love their wars. Wars on terrorism. Wars on science. Imagined wars on Christmas...

But one of the other battles they love to fight is on video games. Many people have heard of wingnut Jack Thompson who wants to blame every social ill on violent video games getting into the hands of children. The least we can say for him is at least he's not taking the trendy route and blaming it on Darwinism, or evil atheists.

However, Jack's still more than a bit off his rocker given that he seems to hold the game companies at fault when it's parents buying their children video games that carry ratings just like movies. This is like saying that Paramount should be held liable when a parent takes their child to an R rated movie.

But Jack doesn't seem to care much for personal responsibility. In fact, in 2005, he offered to donate $10,000 to charity if a game company would "create, manufacture, distribute, and sell a video game in 2006" that allowed the player to take on the role of Osaki Kim, a father whose 14 year old child was beaten to death by another kid that played video games, taking his brutal vengence on the game industry.

And what do you know, someone took him up on his offer. But Jack ducked out saying his offer was satire. So the good gamers over at Penny Arcade made good on Jack's offer and donated the $10,000 in his name.

Jack's response? Attempt to have the creators of Penny Arcade arrested for harassment. To bad it never panned out for him. That was all back in October of 2005.

However, while Thompson has faded from the limelight since then, others have picked up his banner and continue to try to shift the blame of who should be responsible for what children consume.

Rep. Joe Baca Sr. is calling for video game manufacturers to clarify rating systems claiming that they intentionally mislead parents. As Les over at Stupid Evil Bastard points out, Mr Baca must not have read the rating labels already applied as they're quite clear:

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

I've gotta go with Les on this one and say, "How is this not clear?"

And to make things even more clear, games contain even more information explaining precisely which of the many possible things they contain, such as Call of Duty 2 (rated T) being listed as having Blood, Mild Language, Violence.

Meanwhile, more violent games, such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (rated M), are explicitly listed as having Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs.

Again, how is this anything but clear?

How much more do these people need? Does the game need to read its warnings aloud to them?

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