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System of a (Break) Down

Regarding the recent issues with the rating reassignment, especially that of Rockstar Games? Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, to me, it looks like most everyone has been doing about the best job they can do.  Game publishers are keeping the content at the age-appropriate level according to the ratings set forth by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), the ESRB ratings are fairly appropriate (?83% of the time parents agree with the ratings assigned by the ESRB.? According to a study conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates commissioned by the ESRB November 2004) and, in general, most stores are making a greater effort to card kids that are buying games.  So, with the exception of the occasional wrinkle, such as the ?Hot Coffee? sex scene that can be hacked into – with great effort, mind you – what exactly is the problem with the system?  My guess is, it?s the parents.

Some of you are going to roll your eyes at this and say that parents get blamed for everything, but you know what? Parents should be blamed for this one.  There are games out there that are incredibly violent and contain sexual content not appropriate for young kids. If you?re shopping for a new game for little Stella and she picks something up that you?re not familiar with, ask the guy at the counter his opinion.  A vast majority of them will be honest with you.  If the guy seems smarmy, willing to put your little girl at risk for seeing something she?s not supposed to see, use your common sense.  Stop blaming the game publishers and ratings system for your ignorance of the ratings system and of the content of the games. 

Sure, some games are violent and some have sexual themes. I?ll be the first to tell you that the violence and cruelty in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a little over the top.  You can bludgeon an old lady to death, leave her lying in a pool of her own blood in the street while you steal her car and drive away.  Yeah, that?s violent.  But I?m adult.  I know this is just a game.  It doesn?t make me want to run out into the street, ready to kill my neighbors and steal their cars.  Kids of all ages probably know this, too, but if they?re not of the appropriate age stated on the game?s packaging, they shouldn?t be purchasing and playing the game. If your child is ever playing a game and you see something you, personally, don?t approve of in your household, make them stop playing the game and get rid of it. 

 If you are going to buy games for your kids, please be responsible and know what you?re buying.  Don?t just take little Griffin?s word for it because he?ll tell you that Dylan down the road has the game and he?ll see it anyway.   That?s when you might need to make a call to Dylan?s folks.  If so, make sure they know what the game has in it and that you don?t allow your son to play it.  Parents blaming the game companies and ratings system need to start taking responsibility for their kids.  It?s not going to make you the most popular parent with the other kids or maybe even other parents, but you know what, you?re setting an example.  You?re showing your kids, as well as other parents, that it?s not ok to play these games.

Hilary Clinton and a few other politicians out there are talking about putting federal regulations on the games.  Come on!  Do you honestly think that they are trying to help you and your family out?  And what do they propose to do that the ESRB isn?t doing?  They must be either wanting a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie or they?re trying to get re-elected.

What I propose is simple. Look out for your own family and you?ll do just fine.  Know what you?re buying.  Know what your kids are playing. You are the adult and you are ultimately responsible for the welfare and well being of your child.  You are raising a human being that likes to play games.  Get them age-appropriate games according to the ESRB ratings sticker. All games need to come through you.  Ask questions.  Educate yourself.  That?s all you have to do.  Don?t spoil it for everybody else because you don?t know how to play by the rules.

If you want to know more about the ESRB ratings, here?s a little something you should read,

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