Many parents, teachers, and politicians are attempting to ban the sale of violent videogames to children. According to the proponents of videogame censorship, the videogame industry is directly responsible for the recent violence in several American high schools. They claim that the only solution to this recent outbreak of violence is to censor videogames and restrict their sale to minors. Over the past several years, politicians such as Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) have proposed various pieces of legislation to restrict violence in videogames. In order to save lives and preserve a multi-billion dollar industry, such legislation must be prevented from becoming law.
In response to this proposed legislation, the videogame industry created a self-regulatory entity called the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Established in 1994, the purpose of the ESRB is to rate the content of videogames in order to help parents select software appropriate for their children. Although it helps parents make selections for their children, most states do not restrict the purchase of adult rated games to minors. Currently, St. Louis County is the only area enforcing such a law. The law requires a parent's permission before a minor can purchase a violent or sexually explicit game. The ESRB rating system is an excellent example of industry self-regulation and shows that the videogame industry is moving in the right direction. It provides parents with the necessary tools to determine which games are appropriate for their children.
The ESRB rating system is a good step to help parents raise their children. However, many politicians are promoting legislation that will ban violence from videogames altogether. Movies have a rating system, which has proved quite effective in protecting minors from violent content. This is a perfect example of why a rating system is the only action needed to properly censor violence from children. For many years, parents have been able to select suitable content for their children based on the MPAA rating system. With the establishment of the ESRB, parents now have this ability with videogames as well. Before any more legislation is considered, the ESRB should have the opportunity to prove its effectiveness.
One of the arguments used by many politicians is that videogames are too realistic. Children play violent games and cannot distinguish between the game world and reality. They claim that this is because the graphics and sounds in games are very realistic. If realism is the problem, then why are the politicians not attacking the sport of Paintball? There have not been any cases in which a child committed violent acts after playing a game...