As we've opined in our Video Game Politics section, we are against the selling and renting of "M" rated games to minors. However, we don't feel that wasting tax payer dollars on bills that everybody knows will be struck down is the correct way to address this problem.
And, in fact, the law would have little impact on the real problem: parents buying or renting these games for their kids.
Let me relate to you a true story. About two weeks ago, Allison and I went to our local Hollywood Video to rent a few games (Mario Party 6 and Amped 3, if you must know). In front of us in line was a mother, her 8-11 year old son and her 5-6 year old daughter. The son, of course wearing those shoes with the wheel in the heel, kept telling her about Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and Prince of Persia: Two Thrones; both of which are rated "M" for Mature (17+). The son had the rental box for Warrior Within, in line with his mom. He was showing her the box, telling her all about the game. She grabbed the box herself to look at it. There is no way that mom didn't see the large "M" rating on the box.
The absurdity of allowing your 10 year old to rent an "M" game was not lost on the little sister. She said, "Mom, look at the back." Indeed, there is a scantily clad Kaileena (the Empress of Time, if you must know) on the back. The mom brushed her off.
The mom then gave the box back to the son and told him that if that's the game he wanted to rent with his gift certificate, then it was fine. The mom paid for her three movies, moved past the security gates to get her movies and then told the clerk that her son, still in line, wanted to rent the game with his gift certificate.
The clerk rung up the kid, the kid paid, and off he was, with an "M" rated game in his hand.
If you're wondering how a 9 year old can purchase a violent game, as was highlighted and much referred to in the most recent National Institute for Media and Family (NIMF), I just told you.
The fact is, most kids that get their hands on violent or "adult" (not porn) games do so because a parent is with them when they buy it.
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within is not the most violent game out there. However, it is very bloody and has some sexual references. It is rated "M" for a reason. If this kid were 14, 15, 16, whatever, I really wouldn't have a problem with it and would fully support a parent who consciously makes that decision for their child. However, a 10 year old playing that game? I just don't think it's appropriate.
That game could have just as easily been God of War, an extremely violent game with nudity. This mother had no concern regarding what her son was renting.
I'm not blaming this mother, but I am blaming legislatures that feel it's their role to be the arbiters of taste. If this mother really felt it fine that her son play "M" games, well, then that's her perogitive. It shouldn't be up to the government to say that that mother is wrong.
However, if that mother had been better educated about the rating system currently in place, she may have thought twice about letting her son rent it.
And, that, as always, is where we come down on the government's role in video games: education. A mix of in-store displays, educated clerks, and public service campaigns aired on TV and radio is where tax money needs to be spent.
It's a waste to spend tax money on unconstitutional laws, laws that legislators are behind simply for personal gain. In other words, our tax dollars are going to help bad law makers get re-elected rather than helping to keep violent video games out of the hands of kids.
And don't get me started on underfunded schools...