Supreme Court Decision

Supreme Court Games


I just want you all to know that I’m sitting here, with a copy of Dirt 3 waiting to be popped into my 360. The Dirt series is kind of near and dear to me, going all the way back to the Colin Mcrae Rally series, and this is the first one I haven’t preordered. I know it’s been out for over a month now and I’m a bit of a slacker on it, but I’ve got something even more important to talk about right now.

I live in Southern California and earlier this week something of a big event happened that was directly related to the gaming industry. Well to put it more precisely it has a lot to do with the gaming industry, but it has more to do with the general public’s rights than anything else. Let me take a step back real quick.

A couple years ago, the state of California passed a law that prohibited the sale of violent video games to minors. Of course it went straight to court and eventually found its way to the Supreme Court where the law was overturned. Of course the gaming industry touted this as a great victory for gaming, but what everyone seems to have missed is something entirely different. While this may be great for one industry in one state, what it really is is a victory for the general public in their rights to be able to make their own decisions. California is a big state, and if this law was to succeed, then it would have taken away the ability of thousands of parents to decide what was appropriate and what was inappropriate for their children.  To me that’s just wrong. Parents should be involved with their kids and should be the ones who make those decisions, not the government. Some would argue that many parents are not qualified to determine what is appropriate or not because they are not kids and don’t know games.

There are two answers to that.

The first response is a simple plain “I call bullshit” to your comment. The average age of gamers today is somewhere in the mid 30’s and could very possibly go up still. When I was a kid that response could have been valid, but parents today grew up with video games and most know the general specifics behind them. Parents know today that games are not just for kids anymore. The PS3 and Xbox 360 are not my old Nintendo from 1985.

The second response is that parents need to be educated. This is where the ESRB comes in. Much like movie ratings, the ESRB rates all video games and gives them a classification, based from a set of standards that determines the appropriate age group for a given game. A quick look at the front of the game box for any game will give you the rating, turn it over and you get a more detailed look. For example, Alice Madness Returns is rated M or Mature 17+ (the number is the age group) for Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, and Violence while Lego Rockband gets an E 10+ or Everyone 10+ for Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence, and Mild Lyrics. If I’m an uneducated parent in the gaming world at first look I might think that Alice would be okay for my kids because they liked the Disney movie, but after reading the rating on the box I know which game I’m getting for my 8 year old and which game I’m not.

But as simple as this is, there are still people out there that don’t get it. They blame video games such as Call of Duty and others for violence in teens and young adults. Instead of blaming the lack of good parenting, they want the government to step in and change things. Luckily for us, the Supreme Court has some pretty smart folks on it and brought up the point that games are an art form that is no different than books, magazines, TV, etc, etc.  Many classic stories involve all sorts of manner of violence in them and we are not about to start banning kids from reading books because of what is portrayed in them as violent behavior. The fact that they lump video games in with such classics as Hansel and Gretel or Homer’s Odyssey, means that gaming has stepped up into the accepted mainstream and finally can truly call itself an art form.  And that my friends, is something to be incredibly proud of.

I’m going to go pop in Dirt 3 now.