A while back in my first ‘Stuff on the Net’ links, I provided a like to the Video Game Voters Network. Basically, you sign up that you agree that legislation against games is stupid (just like legislation against movies, which there isn’t except with regards to pornography), and they will automatically draft and send a letter on your behalf to your senator.
Well, I signed up, and the letter was sent. Monday, my senator, Saxby Chambliss, sent back a reply:
Dear Mr. Pace:
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding S.2126, the Family Entertainment Protection Act. I understand your concerns, and I appreciate hearing from you.
As a father and a grandfather, I understand the concern about young children being exposed to graphic pictures of violence and explicit sexual content. And while I believe it is the responsibility of parents to make sure that children are not exposed to such material, parents must have the tools necessary to protect their children and we, in Congress, must pass meaningful legislation to aid parents.
S.2126 would prohibit a business from allowing children under the age of seventeen access to any video game deemed mature, or for adults-only. This bill certainly will not prevent adolescents from playing these video games; however, they must first obtain parental approval, by way of the parents purchasing the game for the child. Should this legislation come before the Senate I will certainly keep your views in mind.
I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that children are protected from any kind of unsuitable material. Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. If you would like to receive timely email alerts regarding the latest congressional actions and my weekly e-newsletter, please sign up via my web site at: www.chambliss.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to be in touch if I may ever be of assistance to you.
United States Senate
As always, my first and foremost problem with all this is that the government should not be regulating this. At all. At most, they should review the ESRB rating system and ensure that games are being properly labelled. Of course, some people say things like, “CDs with mature lyrics have stickers, and that was the government.” But no, it’s not. The government tried to do it, but in order to keep government out, record companies voluntarily added the mature content stickers. “But what about TV ratings?” Well, the government has enforced that all TVs/VCRs/etc will have a V chip to allow a parent to control what their family watches, but the TV ratings themselves are done by the TV networks themselves to advise of content. “But its illegal to sell a ticket to an R rated movie to someone under 17!” No, it isn’t. While many movie theaters hold to that principle, movie ratings are not based in law, but are a system adopted by the MPAA to self regulate. The truth is, the government does not need to be involved with games because the ESRB is the most comprehensive system out there, and even will re-rate games if concern about an original rating is brought up.
And that gets into my second problem here… My senator wants to protect kids from bad stuff. Now, I’d say he should be backing initiatives that will allow parents to be better parents, but beside that, he is supporting a bill that will effectively do nothing. Do you honestly think that the majority of kids are buying these games for themselves? I go to Best Buy, to EB, Toys R Us, and other stores, and I never see young kids putting money down for games. The parents are buying these games for their kids despite the ratings system. Banning the sale of Mature and Adult rated games to kids will have very little impact at all. Parents will still blindly buy the same games for their kids for any of a number of reasons. About the only way to make a change would be to force the parent to watch a highlight video of the game’s worst moments before making a purchase to ensure they have actually seen what their kids are going to see.
Part and parcel to that, he is backing an Act against games, but if he really feels that kids need to be governmentally protected, the Act should be ammended to include all forms of media. Make it illegal to sell a ticket to R rated movies to kids under 17. Make it illegal to sell mature stickered music CDs to kids. Make it illegal for… err… I was going to say something about TV shows, but short of making it illegal for networks to broadcast them, well, there isn’t anything that can be done, and going that far would indeed be censorship. But hey, the V chip seems to be a good initiative. I mean, I doubt I’ll ever use mine, but I suspect that if I have kids one day I’ll feel better knowing its there and I could turn it on if I find that I don’t have time to be a part of my kid’s daily TV watching. So why not instead legislate a V chip for games, so that consoles and PCs won’t play mature rated games without an access code. I mean, if our government trusts parents with TV content, why not trust them with game content?