So California tries to ban the sale of violent video games to minors. Odd really. I mean, the gangs plaguing Los Angeles have existed for decades, and many of them probably grew up playing Pac Man and Space Invaders at the local South Central arcade. Perhaps their state government should worry more about managing the proliferation of physical guns and violence, over their virtual counterparts. Of course, their argument is that the virtual can lead to the physical, right? Well, that’s debatable, I think, but for a moment I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
In fact, I’ll say this. The video games I play tend to be pretty violent. Actually, the ones I play now are universally over-the-top violent. They’re games I don’t want my kids to play at their age, and so I don’t let them. Let’s face it. Companies are going to produce violent games. Just like authors scribe violent literature and production companies film violent movies. You know what? It’s all okay. Government need not be involved, and luckily the US Supreme Court showed some common sense, and erred on the side of the First Amendment, overturning the proposed ban.
Here’s the bottom line. Parents must be involved in their children’s play. To expect video game developers, retailers, or for Christ’s sake, the Government, to manage this above and beyond the institutionalization of a standard rating system, is not only absurd, it speaks to the ignorance people have of both their children and their pasttimes. It also speaks to how they may be unwittingly supporting the suppression of speech and free expression in so many other types of media (supposing you agree with California’s overturned ban). In fact, if you have kids, buy them games. Buy them games suitable for their age. Video games are really nothing more than relatively complex problem solving programs, and provided parents expose kids to games that are suitable for their age, they’ll see how quickly truly interactive media can help with a child’s development. Scientists, not lawyers, have already proven the following:
- Video games improve strategy and decision-making skills
- Multi-player games teach team play and hone social skills
- Video games can teach children about resource management, logistics, multi-tasking and tracking many shifting variables at once.
- The obvious (and proven many times over) video games improve hand-eye coordination, peripheral sensory acuteness and awareness
There are many other benefits, as well as dangers, parents need to manage. As a gamer and a parent, I can’t wait to play the games I like to play with my kids. In the meantime, I’ll play theirs. I’ll even let them win sometimes. I’ll just be happy I get to play with them at all.