Not too long ago, I was waiting with my best friend, as we get rare, off-colored versions of Pokémon called “Shinies” at GameStop. Behind us at the counter, we hear an eight-year-old boy whining to his dad about buying two games called “Saints Row Four” and “Naughty Bear.” I thought the father was going to tell his son to put back the games, but instead, he bought both for his son!
With the recent release of Grand Theft Auto Five, or GTA V for short, the controversy over entertainment influencing real life violence became a popular topic once more. With cases of juveniles and minors committing heinous crimes of violence, people are always looking to point to video games as the reason why their child got their hands on a gun and started to blast their schoolmates.
Absolute nonsense. I blame parents.
Ever since the lovely and gory original “Mortal Combat”, a foundation called the ESRB took it into their hands to start rating video games and their age appropriateness just like movies. They spend hours at a video game, considering multiple factors on what would be the youngest age for a player.
Factors of course include violence and sexuality, but there are other multiple factors. Not every rated Teen or Mature game has gore or violence. For example, when I was 13 the first rated Teen game I ever played was “Legend of Zelda-Twilight Princess”. While there was not a splash of blood on that screen, a very disturbing cut scene gave my ten year old sister nightmares for a week.
I do not know how many of my readers are parents, or expect to be parents one day, but please consider the ratings in the corner of games very seriously. Parents should treat video game ratings with equal severity of movie ratings. People look down on parents when they take their prepubescent bundles of joy into an R rated movie, but do not bat an eye when they buy for them a mature rated game.
One of the most annoying complaints I get about rated E for Everyone games is that there are none that are “fun and enjoyable for all ages”. There are plenty of rated E games that are enjoyable, challenging, and stimulating. Titles that automatically pop up into my head include anything from the Mario game series, “Little Big Planet”, “Spyro the Dragon”, “Crash Bandicoot”, and so on. This way, you can play with your child or younger sibling and teach them a love for gaming too.
Some games have been known to teach prosocial qualities, such as volunteer work and safety, rather than antisocial qualities, such as general violence. One of the most popular examples of a prosocial game is “Super Mario Sunshine”.
Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony all have great selections of every rating for their systems. While most of my readers are adults with mentally stable minds, when you finally receive a child, or are with your much younger sibling, the next time you buy a video game, consider the rating.