Debating Violent Video Games and Kids

Readers share their thoughts.

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Timothy Winter of the Parents Television Council supports a ban on selling or renting violent video games to minors; the Entertainment Software Association’s Michael Gallagher does not. Your feedback:

I think that kids can, in fact, be harmed by exposure to violent, sexually explicit, or otherwise complicated topics without the proper context. I feel, however, that the responsibility to protect kids from this is on the parents. The Entertainment Software Rating Board does at least an adequate job of describing what game content might be inappropriate for children. Parents should be able to take care of their kids, protect them from what they deem inappropriate, and explain morally or conceptually complicated ideas to them when they have to. Saddling the gaming industry with those tasks is irresponsible and will be unsuccessful.

SOLOMON LUTZE Haverford, Pa.

I’m going to keep it plain and simple: Why ban kids from buying violent video games when all that’s going to do is make kids want to find other ways of getting them? Just monitor them when they play the games.

BRYANT OLIVER Clarksville, Va.

Let me police my own kids. The question that is not defined is: “What is violent?” To allow government to do the restriction involves the restriction itself and creating the definition that invokes the restriction. Perhaps some of us disagree with the threshold.

DAVE MARK Omaha

The current ratings system categorizes all the games and includes, in plain English, why it was done. If that’s not enough, looking up any game online will reveal a plethora of information, from screenshots to reviews to entire videos of gameplay. It’s simply lazy parenting not to take responsibility and be aware of what games your child is playing.

MICHAEL KEARNEY El Cajon, Calif.

Parents, seriously, if you don’t want your children buying a video game with violence in it, don’t hand them money to buy whatever they want and then walk away. C’mon, buck up, face the music, and be a parent, not an ATM that caters to your kid’s every whim.

CHRISTIAN FORGIONE Clifton, Va.

 As a parent of four, it is my job to raise my kids how my wife and I see fit. It’s not the job of some third or fourth party to come along and be the parents. If that were the case, the government would be the parents for all kids born in this country.

DUSTIN ROBE Fort Worth

As a former retailer of video games, it’s my opinion that the problem is with uninformed parents. Not enough parents bother to check the ratings on games or to make sure that other parents are checking. Some parents think a shooter game is fine if the blood is reduced, of an alternate color, or turned off. I believe that’s the worst idea of all. I think games that feature violence without the appropriate amount of [obvious] damage send the message that violence is exciting and fun, instead of shocking and disturbing.

AUSTIN SCHIFFMAN Denton, Texas

As a gamer, I think violent video games should not be sold to children who are under a game’s age limit. Stores should have a way to legally extricate themselves from the situation. It is the parents’ responsibility—so let them say it right there, on a piece of paper. Sure, it’s more paperwork for the retailers, but at least it gets their feet out of the fire. We would not be having the discussion right now if more parents stepped up earlier, rather than after Billy or Suzy ripped the head off that pixel ninja.

VANN JARMON Russellville, Ark.

Video games with adult themes should be treated just like any other items intended for adults, whether they are R-rated (or higher) movies, tobacco, alcohol, etc. Children should not be able to purchase them, but if the parents see fit for them to partake, then let the parents purchase and supply them to their children.

RYAN AMOS Madison, Ala.

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