I’m certain many of you, the readers, have seen the latest Jack Thompson coverage on Game Politics found here and here. Dennis was quick to point out the FTC provision about credit card ownership being adequate proof of age for online transactions, and the FoxNews contributor was quick to play the free speech card. However, there’s an elephant in the room I’d like to address.
Everything Mr. Thompson has said about games applies to movies on DVD.
Anyone with a credit card can go to Amazon.com and pick up Saw I, II, or III (unrated, meaning the more violent cut than the theatrical one) just as easily as you can order Manhunt 2. The same applies to Best Buy, Circuit City, or whatever other entertainment online store you’d like to site. To the same ends, in-store id checks are equally lacking on these (and other) movie titles. While I haven’t played Manhunt 2, I can only imagine the graphic content is probably on par with the Saw series, which is exceptionally brutal if you haven’t seen the movies. Given that the research on the impact of media is mixed, and that movies have been found to affect young people like games by some studies, why ignore the movie industry?
There can only be a few answers:
1. Mr. Thompson is afraid of the people in the movie industry, as they would likely be viewed as “more powerful” than the game industry.
2. Mr. Thompson is giving undue weight to the unproven link between interactivity and a heightened impact.
3. Mr. Thompson has an unhealthy fixation on and unequivocal bias toward games, which cannot easily be explained.
4. Mr. Thompson’s logic is flawed, for some other unexplained reason, so that he either ignores or actually favors violent movies. (Perhaps he is a Saw fan.)
The simple point being: If you would like to go on a crusade against the media, go on a crusade against the media, not one medium.
Ultimately, the decision should still be left to the parents, and the tools are in place for the parents to make those decisions. It is not up to the government, or Mr. Thompson, to make those decisions for society, parents who are failing to perform their duties as parents, or parents who are actively monitoring their child’s media consumption. And if anyone is to be held responsible, it should be the inadequate parents, not the game manufacturers, game retailers, or game raters. I can only hope that the news media will tire of this issue soon, or that the American people will begin to realize that playing the “For the Children” card has reached a point where it should be accompanied by automatic scrutiny, as it is rarely actually being used to help the children anymore.
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