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No Grown-Ups Allowed

After all of this hub-bub about Manhunt 2, many have come to realize that America still views video games as a kids-oriented hobby, when, in fact, most gamers are in the age bracket that’s considered adults. “Oh, who will look after the children?!” they cry.

Oh, I don’t know…how about the parents?

That is what this entire issues boils down to. Parents do not regulate what their children are exposed to–they’re lazy, and expect the government to do it for them. Ratings are not designed to keep children away, folks, they are designed to tell parents the content of a game so they can decide for themselves if their child should play it. Granted, even then, parents let their kids play M-rated games.

And now, with this rating, Rockstar can’t sell the bloody thing, because no one will accept a game with that rating on their console. And I’m sorry, but the argument of “you’re actually doing it” does not count, because pushing a button is miles from actually pulling a trigger, or slicing someone’s neck open. Even making the motions with a controller is not the same thing. Games do not make people violent–games amplify tendencies of violent people. They make people just as violent as watching football does. No matter what your stance is on this, it is hard to deny that games do not make people any more violent than any other violent form of media.

Why, then are these school criminals associated with video games? Because they’re violent individuals, and video games are a means of expressing that violence in a way where they face no consequences. Violence in media can numb individuals to real-life violence, but I strongly believe that this only happens to individuals who have problems to begin with. Video games act as a form of escapism, letting them commit the acts they want to before they are physically ready to do it, but it is not a causal relationship.

If it was, all of my friends and I should be out there gutting people and blowing their brains out–but we’re not, and we’re not physically capable of doing such a thing.

It is foolish to punish developers, publishers, or any part of industry for creating content not designed for children. Manhunt 2 was designed squarely for adults and late teens, not children. We live in a free country where if someone wants to make something gory and violent, they are fully entitled to it–but it was be labeled with the proper warnings so that consumers are aware of its content.

I don’t see how Manhunt 2 has an “Adult Only” rating when “Mature” is essentially an “R” rating in movies. “Mature” implies that they are adults, doesn’t it?

I’m quite sure that Saw 3 contains material just as graphic as this game, yet it got mainstream appeal, did it not? No one freaked out about who went to go see that, did they? Why is this happening with video games?

It’s because we as a culture still look at video games as a child’s plaything when it is, in fact, a rapidly growing form of media with a wide audience. Once our culture accepts that and begins to accomodate it, we will not see such nonsense near as badly as we do now.

It just as easy to see an “R” rated movie with this level of violence, yet I don’t see people getting up in arms over that. Why is this? I haven’t the slightest. It could be because in the end, the government can do nothing but slap a label on a game. Oh, that’s right–it’s because it’s not their job to monitor what children are exposed to, it’s the parent’s.

If we can get word out to parents and get them to start treating video games more like movies insofar as content is concerned, we’ll be one large step in the right direction. But in the end, only the individual parent can really control and solve this issue.

Publishers and developers should not be punished for the lack of attention parents pay to what their children are exposed to.

People still look at games as toys, and they’re not–they are a legitimate form of media that can be just as shallow (and just as artistic) as movies or television. Video games aren’t just for kids, people. If all of these M-rated games coming out didn’t give you the hint, now you know. If we are going to blame media for the violent tendencies of our youth, then we should blame all of it.

But I think restricting the freedom of the artist is foolish so long as the artist is hurting no one. Art that depicts violence harms no one in and of itself–parents who don’t actively educate themselves on the content of the material they let their children get exposed to harms everyone involved.


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