Moran English literature 122B, 8th March 13, 2005 Why Should Pixels Be Different? As video games become ever more popular to the general public, they also become more heavily criticized. With the industry having grossed $7 billion in sales during the year 2003, the people of the world seemingly love these games(“Video Games”. n.pg.). However, this love does not hold true to all who know the gaming industry, as there are many people opposed to the sale of video games, especially those with violent content. The argument of video game censorship continues seemingly all of the time, but in this game of pointing fingers, it should be pointed out that parents need to be the protector of the child from improper material in this increasingly popular product.
With the video game world increasing in sales, the quality of the work put into video games will be expected to increase as well. Mr. Henry Jenkins insists that these computer models and visual representations should be considered more than just pixels on a screen: “Video games must be taken seriously as an art because they exhibit the artistic capabilities of computer technology” (Jenkins n.pg.). Video game creators harness their intellectual creativity using computers as a tool and create masterpieces containing hundreds of hours of gameplay and cinematic sequence. The population should consider video game design as creative a field as film- making or even writing music, as designers work just as diligently and creatively to produce their products.
However, much of the population forces game designers to bottle up their creativity due to incidents completely out of their control, such as the Columbine shootings. Why should this emerging art form have to censor itself because parents are not doing their inherent duties? This question may never be answered, even if it does theoretically contradict the first amendment. Parents and guardians play the central role in knowing what is best for the child under their care. According to Marjorie Hogan,”Adults in a parental role are the most important models, monitors, and mediators of appropriate media use for children and adolescents” (Hogan n.
pg.). Because children and young adults spend much of their time in front of a media source at home- nearly four and a half hours per day per child (Hogan n. pg.), the public should know exactly how and what to do to regulate the quality and quantity of viewed media. For the quality of media viewed, the gaming industy willingly created a rating system called the Entertainment Software Rating Board, for which video game’s ratings are based on intended audience maturity (“Do Not Encourage” n.pg.). The Board’s ratings provide a simple, yet useful tool in the parental censorship of inappropriate material.
Two of the largest myths concerning the industy are that the most common rating in games is “mature,” and that only teenage boys play video games. Both of these happen to be false, with sixty-one percent of game players being over the age of eighteen and only nine percent of games being rated “mature” (“Regulates Itself” n.pg.). Parents are encouraged to supervise their child while he or she is interacting with the media source; viewing with the child helps to inform the parent exactly what the child is watching or playing, and it helps the child understand mechanics, as well as plot lines of the viewed media. According to B.A. Eisenstock, co-viewing with a sibling, parent, or peer “creates an opportunity to mediate children’s understanding and interpretation of the reality and morality of messages” (Hogan n.pg.). The opportunity created by viewing with a child is a learning experience for both guardian and child.
As the Entertainment Software Rating Board, commonly called the ESRB, is already in place to rate the video games produced, there is no need for further censorship. Stores that sell video games enforce the ESRB ratings by refusing to sell games with a “mature” rating to underage children. If parents maintain their responsibility, there exists no need to further censor video games. Enforcing the ESRB ratings creates enough of a censor; further censorship simply encroaches on the first amendment right. The ammendment gives freedom of speech; video game design is simply a creative form of speech and expression.
Video game creators enjoy the ability to present their ideas to the public through their medium; they do not need a third party infringing on their ideas using censorship. With the ESRB working effectively, no extra external censorship is needed to produce appropriate video games. Censorship is defined as deleting parts of publications, or correspondence, or theatrical performances. The general public seems to be going through the same motions it had went through in the seventies with comic books, or even now with music and movies. The free speech amendment states that people have the right to speak their mind, and if someone else doesn’t like what he or she is hearing, that person has the right not to listen. So how is it different for video games? There is no need for censoring this medium of expression and artwork if the tools already in place are executed in the manner intended.
If a game’s intended audience is for adults, the parent or guardian should make sure that the game does not end up in the hands of his or her child. Many times the parent will buy the game for the child, then turn around and blame the industry for the game. If the public were informed, this would not happen. Since stores already make sure not to sell mature rated games to children, it is the guardian’s duty to continue this precaution. It is not the government’s place.
Hogan, Marjorie. “Parents Should Monitor Their Children’s Media Habits” Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Group. 9 Feb. 2005 .
Jenkins, Henry. “Video Games Are an Emerging Art.” Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Group 9. Feb. 2005.
. Lowenstein, Douglas. “The Video Game Industry Regulates Itself Effectively.” Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Group 7 Feb. 2005 . Lowenstein, Douglas.
“Violent Video Games Do Not Encourage Violent Behavior.” Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Group. 7 Feb. 2005. . “Video Games and Violence.” Facts.com.
13 February 2004. Issues and Controversies. 13 Feb. 2005.