This is an axe I have been grinding in my writing since 2007 when I wrote an article, entitled Violent Ends, looking at the potential German banning of the making of violent games.
Since then I have been quietly researching the subject and watching the debates in Australia, the US, Germany, the UK and, most recently, Switzerland. A recent debate on BBC Radio Leeds has given me cause to write about violence in video games again, briefly to higlight a specific problem.
Now, the debate was about violence in video games and the potential effect that they may have on young minds. The most interesting thing to come out of the debate was the comments and observations made by the parents group, Mothers Against Violence.
The group’s spokesperson was quoted in Eurogamer as saying on the programme: “I’m not directly blaming games, I’m blaming parents,” adding: “If someone doesn’t do something where does it stop?” This echoes the statement released by Rockstar to the BBC for the programme empasising that their controversial GTA series is “18-rated and is entertainment clearly aimed at an adult audience”.
The programme seemed to decide that one of the main problems is that parents do not pay attention to the information placed on the packaging to inform their choices of games to buy for their kids.
For a long time I have been watching parents ignore games ratings wholesale for various reasons that I will not go into here and I was relieved to finally hear a parents group stand up and claim responsibility for choosing what games their kids play.
I hope, now that somebody has finally said this, that more parents will take an interest in what their children are playing an make sure that they will ensure that 18-rated games do not find their way into the hands to 10-year-olds. We need to change attitudes. Video games are not ‘just games’ any more. Parents would not let their children watch films that bear the 18 certificate from the BBFC so why are they letting them play games that carry the same certification?
Games aren’t just for kids any more.