On December 14th 2012, the nation was struck with a hard realization that something was wrong enough within the system to allow a young adult to kill more than 25 people with the majority of them being children. In recent articles that have surface, everyone is pointing fingers at someone else. The Nation Rifle Association blames video games, scientist blame the way the nation takes care of its mentally ill, citizens blame gun control, and all the while not much is being done to understand what had happened.
NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre states “There exist in this country a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells, sows, violence against its own people.”[CSmonitor] Are you talking about war propaganda Mr. LaPierre or better yet are you referring to NRA’s PlayStation 2 game “NRA Gun Club” that allows gamers to fire 100 different brand-name handguns? No of course not, you were talking about gory movies or maybe even rap music. Heck might as well put porn and military commercials in there! As a teacher once told me in elementary school, “while you’re pointing at someone else to blame, three fingers are pointing back.”
Now I’m not saying video games shouldn’t share the blame of what happened but I’m not saying it should be a means of scapegoat. I’ll explain it in this way. You look at a building covered in flyers, vinyl, posters, and billboards which represents all the influences of social media, entertainment, etc. with the building representing an individual. Once you strip all the outside stuff away, what your left with is the foundation of the building itself. If the foundation is broken, faulty, unleveled, or not taken care of the building will fall apart after wear. Same with children. Sen. J Rockefeller, D-WA. VA., said it better than anyone else “At times like this, we need to take comprehensive look at all the ways we can keep our kids safe.” [GOSANANGELO] Well one of them is reading the Electronic Software Rating Board ( or ESRB) on the front of every video game before you buy it for your kid. It’s ironic how everyone wants to think about how to control how their children spend their time entertaining themselves, when it’s the parents whom are the ones that should take control in the first place. In this regard, I feel the video game industry is to blame because they should teach and train parents what the ESRB rating is all about. You can’t say “major corporations, including video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children” because that’s not true.[Daily News] They market them to adults. Children get their hands on it through adults who don’t understand the ratings the industry put in 1994. The video game industry is doing their part to keep the kids away from such games, even going as far as having gaming retailers not sell any M rated games to any minors without a parent. What more of an aggressive role could Congress even fathom to make to enforce responsibility besides having parents slapped across the face when buying an obvious M rated game for their kids?
So what is the ESRB rating you say? Very simple. In the same sense how movies are rated G till R, video games have their own rating. This little rating is always found either on the bottom front part of the game or the back with details of why it has received that rating. So why is this rating so important? Well because if you’re a parent who has a child with a mental illness or too young to understand the concept of real and make believe, it’s your job to make sure that anything the child comes into contact doesn’t disrupt their mental stability. Children simply cannot understand that when they are playing a game it isn’t reality. Having kids play it or the mentally ill is not the industries fault since they did their part to make buyers know that their content is not for them. What proves my point is the fact that a 12 year-old boy named Max Goldstein realized these games weren’t for him and organized a small movement called Play Out to dispose of these games. Good for you Max, although the Daily News spinned it off a lot different than what really happened. I’m baffled how he got a copy of Call of Duty Black Ops 2.
Now I’m not saying gun control and how our nation treats the mental ill don’t share the blame in all these, but I can’t help but get slightly agitated by the eagerness to denounce video games as the culprits for this event, when it’s an industry no different than music, movies, and sports. The world needs to realize, video games aren’t for kids anymore. A wide range of them are for people in their mid-30s which means most of them are going to be targeted to that age range because A they make money to buy the games and B they grew up on them. For example, Far Cry 3 is rated M because it has a sex scene. If you bought that game for you 12 year-old kid, return that before he opens it tomorrow on Christmas Day. If he asks why he didn’t get it, you explain “It’s not for your age range.”
Narz is CEO/Founder of Girl Gamer vogue(GGVogue) and Lead Video Game Columnist at KnickerBocker Ledger.