Supreme Court protects video games under first amendment forcing parents to parent

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Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 is one of the most highly anticipated games to be released this year and one of the most violent.


The Supreme Court this week ruled that video games are protected under the first amendment just like art, music, books and plays. While others will discuss the historical significance of adding a new medium to the protection of the constitution, I’m left wondering why taxpayers money and the court’s time was spent on this.

This ruling stems from a Californian law intended to ban the sale of violent video games to minors. I total agree that young children should never play violent games. Just like they shouldn’t watch R–rated movies, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and all of the other things intended for adults. But isn’t this something parents are suppose to monitor?

The video game industry adopted a system, ESBR, in 1994 which gives a standardized rating system for video game content. In 1998, the rating system became more visible with it displayed larger on the front of video game cases. The rating system was also tweaked to reflect the genres becoming available to the public. This rating system was developed to inform parents and adults on what is appropriate for a certain age group.

It’s the parents responsibility to decide what their child is allowed play, in regards to video games, as well as what they can watch on TV, what movies are appropriate, etc. It’s not the industries’ responsibility or the government’s to tell “us” what is appropriate. It’s the parents job.

I can understand that merchants selling this mature product should more vigilant in the sale of mature games to minors. There is a large black icon on the front which states the age level. Little Timmy is obviously not old enough to own that game so don’t sell it to him. Most stores, like Walmart, will sound an alarm asking the clerk if the buyer is of legal age just like the purchase of tobacco and alcohol. So I don’t see an epidemic of employees selling to underage gamers.

But I can see some employees not following proper protocol. Most sales are to adults and parents who just don’t take the time to know what their child is playing. Unless the child is employed and can drive, parents are giving them the money for the games and driving them to the store. Shouldn’t they see the rating when purchasing the product?

But I guess life is just so busy. Turn the XBOX on and let little Timmy play his game while mommy or daddy checks Facebook, chat on the phone or get ready for the club. It takes a village to raise a child because many parents are too busy with their own lives to be involved with their child’s life. TV and video games should never be a substitute for a parent. Parents need to be involved with their child’s life, know what they are playing and buying.

I know that not all parents are like this but I’ve seen way to many examples of bad parenting out there. It seems like there is an epidemic of uninvolved, uncaring parents in this country. I love to hear citizens saying they don’t want big government ruling their lives but will be the first to push their responsibilities onto the rest of society. Common sense says that a game where you must car jack characters and pick up prostitutes are not appropriate for a 10 year old.

Parents, please be involved.

I’m a gamer and a dad. I’ve been playing games for over 25 years. I love video games. The art, programming and plots of modern games are amazing. They are true works of art. They can also be a great learning tool for children and help with hand/eye coordination. I allow my son to play age appropriate games in moderation. There are games which help him learn to read and write, learn math and about history and science. It’s also a great bonding experience for us. Of course you must balance out the gaming with playing outdoors, fishing, hiking and other fun physical activities.

As much as he would like to play Daddy’s games, I will not let him chainsaw a guy in half or run over prostitutes in a stolen vehicle while listening to some death metal. My games are definitely not appropriate for him. He knows games are not real but that kind of content is in no way intended for him. I’d never let him watch a scary movie, so how could I let him play the new Duke Nukem?

In the end it is our responsibility to parent our children. Blame solely rests on our shoulders. Get involved and know what they are playing. If you don’t know what a game is, research it. There are many resources online that can help you including our website. Glossyeyed.com, which is full of reviews on games with parents in mind.

So, be informed and involved. We can all enjoy gaming.
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