Thursday, June 30, 2011

Video game ruling - why it failed

Unless you were living under a rock the past few weeks, one of the biggest stories in the video game world was the Supreme Court's decision on selling violent video games to young gamers.

Here are the highlights:

On a 7-2 vote, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out the state's ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors' rights under the First Amendment, and the high court agreed.

"No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm," said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion. "But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."


As a parent, I know how important it is to monitor anything my children take in. I am careful about the shows they watch - the music they listen to and especially, the video games they play.

Most of the justices realized this - and ruled against government interference in fining stores that violated the proposed law. If they did fine retailers, retailers could demand the same type of laws for young victims of shootings as well.

No Russian

Here are some observations from Ski11z on the ruling and why it was the right decision, despite the video game industry's $1M lobbying effort.

1. Parents should step up and be ... (gasp) parents. When I was 10, I realized one thing. I had zero privacy. I couldn't sneak toys into our house. My mom had this unreal ability to notice what they bought - and ones that were new. My parents knew whose house I was at, how long I was staying over and when I'd be back. I had a journal, but that was the extent of my privacy. And that wasn't private to my mom's prying eyes.

Now? Parents are scared of their children. They fear someone will call them out for correcting their child. They are content to buying a game their child asks for, then lets them send a God-awful amount of time playing said game. I tried to sneak a 2-Live Crew mixed tape into the house. Did that work? No - and I had skillz in being sneaky too.

Parents should do the necessary research about the games they buy for their children. I cover video games and video game news, so I know what's appropriate for my children to play. They should get a clear understanding about the rating systems on video games as well. There's no excuse for a 12-year-old gamer to own Black Ops.

2. The retailers have no control after the sale. I'm old enough to remember when my underage friends would pay homeless men to go into a store and buy boozes and smokes. The practice isn't illegal - especially if they consumed some of said product. Afterward, the men would give the alcohol to the minors. The same thing can happen at Best Buy or Gamestop. You have a child that wants to play Halo: Upteenth and has some money but the Gamestop employee tells them "Sorry, but you aren't 17 yet." Child walks outside and offers a passer-by $5 to buy the game - and gives the money.

Why should the retailers be fined if a game is found to be in a minor's possession?

Swing and a hit

3. It would be a waste of government resources. The U.S. government is already past the debt limit. There are programs that are facing budget cuts, staff layoffs and yet, the people that pushed this ban felt it was necessary to enforce it. No. No. No. There are much bigger fish to fry instead of worrying about Junior playing Dead Space 2. The high court recognized this dilemma. The government shouldn't enforce this - parents should. Period.

4. An observation - music, movies have a much wider impact than video games. Think about video games - and other digital forms of entertainment. Music and movies can be taken with you. Most video games? Not so much. Music - and yes, I'm talking about Lil Wayne, Kanye or this gem. What about the movie Kick-Ass? Children have access to music on the radio, movies on TV vs. firing up a PC or their 360 to play Duke Nukem. Yes, there are several violent video games out there and no, I am not defending them. Yet, there's many more Parental Advisory labels in the movie/music realm than video games.

Ski11z, out.

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