Video games in danger of censorship

May 20, 2010 — by Kim Tsai

Depending on the Supreme Court’s decision in the next upcoming term, it is possible that a California law saying video games such as “Halo”, “Call of Duty”, “Grand Theft Auto” and “Counter-Strike” may only be sold to those ages 18 years or older could be reversed.

In all reality, these games should not need to be censored from kids. The games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board for mature audiences because of the gore and other adult themes that they involve. Many say that violent games corrupt children, but others also say that censoring these games is a violation of the First Amendment.

According to The International Game Developers Association and other gaming businesses such as Electronic Arts, if the Supreme Court does decide to allow censorship of mature-rated video games, it could threaten the success of this leading industry. It is also important to consider that with the United States’ poor economy, it would not be logical to place restrictions on a healthy industry.

In 2005, California adopted a law specifying that rated “M” games could only be sold to those old enough, but it was ignored by retailers all over the state. There is not a strong need for games to be censored seeing as parents usually know what their children are buying and how to control that. And if the parents do not know in the first place, video games are the very least of their concerns. All-in-all, the government should not be restricting what children can or cannot do; they should be encouraging parents to govern their children.

The problem most seem to have with the video games is that anyone can buy them. However, even if children did somehow find the money to buy these games and play them, it would be hard to hide these video games from parents, as they require consoles channeled through the television.

Parents have an obligation to shield their children against corruption. Preventing their children from buying certain games would be the same as telling their children that certain books are not okay to check-out from the library. It should be the parents’ job to decide whether their children are ready for certain things in life. It is not the job of the government.

Many concerned parents still believe that the violence in video games has a negative effect on children. However, the Sacramento Bee has also said studies have shown violent children play violent games and that it is not the video games that make children more violent. In other words, video games do not corrupt children. Children who are already violent in behavior are the ones who choose to play the games. If studies do show that video games have little effect on children, these video games should have no reason to be censored.

The Supreme Court has never had a case dealing with violent games before and their future decision would be a basis for cases in the future.

Michael Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association, said, “Research shows that the public agrees, video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music.”

If the Supreme Court decides to stick with the law, it would be more readily enforced and popular games such as “Halo” would be unavailable to the crowds of teens who should be mature enough to handle cartoon bloodshed every so often. If games such as these are censored, the government might as well limit what books children can read.