One couple, two perspectives, tons of geekery

Monday, May 2, 2011

Censorship in Gaming: Where do you draw the line?

Where do you draw the line?

With video games being such a prominent form of entertainment these days, games are delving into numerous genres and themes. Some of these more tame than others. Certainly, we are all aware of the multitude of outrage over games like Grand Theft Auto and Rule of Rose. Are there any merits to these complaints and where exactly do we draw the line in fantasy? The Princess and the Warlock discuss…

The Princess:
I completely understand where the concern comes from. Humanity is affected by their environment and vice versa. As a society, we are always changing and what was considered acceptable/unacceptable behavior likewise has changed throughout history. Over three hundred years ago, women had minimal rights. This was a societal norm. Now, women hold the same rights as men. Ideas and attitude changed over time. With exposure to ideas, opinions can change over time. It is therefore understandable that some people may be concerned about exposure to violent and graphic video games helping to contribute to a global desensitization to these destructive aspects. However, I think the important thing that these groups forget is that we have audience ratings for a reason. And these rating systems, I highly support. They provide buyers with instant information about the games content. We can get an idea of how mature and graphic the game will be based on these ratings. The problem is not with the media itself, but with buyers not paying attention to these ratings. In particular, parents. The majority of public outcries come from angry parents, but these parents fail to realize that it is not the media’s job to raise their children. That responsibility lies solely with the parents. Parents need to pay attention to what they are purchasing for their children. They need to be active in their children’s lives and be aware of what type of media their children are absorbing.  When it comes to exposure to extreme violence in fantasy settings such as video games, I disagree with restricting content via censorship. Game makers should have the freedom to tell whatever story they want to tell, just as authors should be allowed to write whatever they desire (though I am starting to think that children’s fiction is in need of a ratings system these days). It is fantasy. It is make believe. If you are upset by the content, then do not buy the game. Granted, many games are in bad taste when it comes to these themes and I may not play them, but I do not feel that they truly do any harm. Violence and violation conducted in a video game does not hurt real people. It only affects a fake, pixelated image. The bottom line is that we, as individuals, chose how we ultimately behave in real life. It is our job to distinguish between fantasy and reality. If we are unable to do so, then there are deeper issues going on that are not the direct result of a video game. 

The Warlock:
I think people need to get over it.  Video games are not just for children anymore.  They may have been for children when they came out, but they have grown up along with all the kids who played them.  (Although there were adult Atari games back then too). At this point video games have longer scripts and scenes than many movies and people are always looking for the next game or type of game.  It was inevitable that “more mature” games would come along, and honestly if they are being played by an adult it’s no different than watching an R rated movie.   If we are going to scrutinize sex and violence in society that is one thing, but focusing on video games while excluding movies, TV, books, and even the newspapers is just picking on the newest entertainment medium.
I’m totally against censorship in video games but fully support the rating system.  Clearly many games are inappropriate for certain age groups, but Gamestop has stopped my students from buying games they were too young for, and I’ve seen them stop other minors.  And honestly it was stuff I wouldn’t have even thought they needed to be carded for, like Halo, which is so common placed and omnipresent in video games I had glossed over the fact that it is violent.  But the point is, the rating system does catch it, and if they don’t then parents/caregivers should be at least checking all the games there kids play anyway.  My parents did, and I was kicking myself forever after showing initiative and inviting my dad to play Street Fighter II in the arcade, and then being told “Boy you really messed up you know? I was thinking of getting it for you for Christmas, but it’s way too violent”.  (I just had to use Blanka and bite his face….I couldn’t have stuck with Guile like I always did, anyway…)  Though I felt worse for my brother losing GTA: Vice City until he was older.  I think we both turned out fine, even given the stuff we were allowed.   

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more with the points you guys make. A lot of things that are seen as "for kids" actually have adults as their primary audience. People need to stop assuming, and take advantage of the ratings systems that are already there.

    If you wouldn't take your kid to an R rated movie, you shouldn't be buying them M rated games. If you would take your kid to an R rated movie, then the consequences of that are on you. It can be done. It can even be done safely. It takes parenting though, not trusting the entertainment industry to raise your kids for you.


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