A lot of people have been asking me about my opinion on the recent issue of the ultra-violent videogame 25 to Life and whether or not I agree with New York Senator Charles Schumer’s individual campaign to have the game banned.
Schumer’s heart is in the right place, but I feel that he is going about it all wrong. You cannot ban a videogame because of its content, regardless of how unethical or immoral it is. You can, however, strictly enforce which individuals are allowed to play it and which are not. A videogame ratings system (ESRB) has been around for some while now but it is very rarely enforced. I cannot count the number of times I’ve witnessed young children purchasing “M” rated games such as Grand Theft Auto with absolutely no obstruction.
There are plenty of violent films that come out (and rightly so) that depict real life violence and gore using real life actors. These films are not banned because it is socially acceptable for someone young to be denied entrance to one of these “R” rated films. When the time comes in our culture that it is acceptable for a younger gamer to be denied the purchasing of a violent “M” rated videogame there will be nothing left to argue about.
It is not a surprise that Mr. Schumer is alone in his public campaign against the game. It would shock me however if he were alone in a campaign that sought to enforce laws that prevented the sales of “M” rated videogames to minors.
In the end, parents are the ones that should monitor their child’s gaming. Children will get their hands on the games regardless of the law (they surely know how to sneak into “R” rated films). It’s one thing to sell a violent game to a minor; but to be in charge of one who is playing a violent game unknowingly to the parent is simply ignorant.
The game will most likely come out on schedule as it should, but with the new generation of consoles and games on the horizon, laws need to be set into motion now to prepare for games that will look even more authentic. If you thought games looked violent now, you are in for a rude awakening come 2006.