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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Katherine Kersten's Korner

I thought that while I was gone for Thanksgiving and unable to read Kersten's kolumns that I would have missed something. Turns out she had a vacation like I had, so today's is the first since last week. In it, she takes on an issue that quite honestly vexes people on both the left and the right: the content of video games.

I am pretty libertarian with regards to these things, and I find a lot of the bellowing about games like Grand Theft Auto to be pretty annoying and based out of ignorance. Video games are now a larger industry than movies, and why shouldn't they be? For about five times the cost of an average movie ticket these days, video games can give people hundreds of hours of entertainment in a way that makes you a participant, instead of a spectator. For adults, M-rated video games are no worse than R-rated movies.

That's the key: for adults. Kids should not be playing M-rated video games. This can be achieved in two ways. First, stores should not be allowed to sell M-rated games to kids. If legislation is required for this (and it appears that it is), then pass it. I'm happy to see that Best Buy, a Minnesota company, has 100% compliance with its policy of not selling these adult games to minors. All retailers should abide by this.

Secondly, and more importantly, parents have the duty to monitor what games their kids play, just like they have the duty to monitor what TV programs they watch. Frankly, Kersten doesn't seem to get that. She says at the very beginning of her column, "But at least we can breathe easy when our kids are in their bedrooms playing their favorite video games, right?" Wrong. Every responsible parent knows that video game systems, like computers, do not belong in kids' rooms. They belong out in the open, for everybody to see, so that the activities performed on computers and video game systems can be monitored. Parents also need to set restrictions on "screen time" so that time spent playing video games is limited. These can be black-and-white time limits, but more reasonable (and more successful) is for parents to engage their children in activities that take them away from the tube.

The only way that "Video games [can] become dominant story tellers for many kids" is if parents let that happen. Let's have a little more responsibility and a little less bashing of the messenger.


At 4:04 PM, December 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such legislation was proposed last year by Jeff Johnson and Judy Soderstrom. I believe it got lost in the process.


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