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Posted by Chris Scott Barr on Nov 22, 2007

US Senators call for a “thorough review” of ESRB

Hillary Clinton With Wiimote

The site has been up for less than a week and I’m already posting my first rant. By now I’m sure that everyone has heard about the news surrounding Manhunt 2, so I’ll spare you the back story. However, there is a new development that I find particularly disturbing. Apparently four US Senators are calling for a “thorough review” of the ESRB because of it all.

Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh and Sam Brownback are the ones calling for the investigation. Naturally, all four of them have been highly critical of the entire gaming industry for some time now. You’d think that in the years since Hot Coffee that they would have taken some time to understand just how video games, and the ESRB work. It’s quite apparent that they have not.

Essentially, they are upset that the game did not receive an ‘AO’ rating. As anyone that plays video games knows, many stores won’t carry titles that have earned such a rating, and some companies such as Nintendo won’t even allow them to be played on their consoles. Essentially, a game with an ‘AO’ rating would likely be a disaster.

There are two main reasons why they are upset about the game’s rating. First, they believe that the game contains “unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone.” Secondly, due to the nature of the Wii’s controller, it “permits children to act out each of the many graphic torture scenes and murders.”

First, I wonder if any of these four Senators have been to the movies lately. Surely the scenes in movies such as the Saw series (among many others) depict the same “unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone,” yet viewers that are the age 17 are allowed to watch them. Of course, those underage can see them if their parents either take them to the theater or purchase the DVD for them. So I ask, how is a video game any different?

I’m quite disturbed by the second argument, as they specifically mention children. I dare you to call anyone the age 17 a child. Yes, they are considered minors, but they are by no means still children. I can only take their statement to mean that it allows people who are under the age of 17 to act out these scenes. If this is their meaning, then it is apparent that they have absolutely no respect for parents. The ‘M’ rating prevents anyone under the age of 17 to acquire the game, and thus must be purchased by a parent.

If the US senators have an issue with children having access to the game, why are they going after the ESRB? They’ve done their job, and have blocked anyone under 17 from getting it of their own accord. The parents are the ones purchasing the games for their children and I dare any US Senator to criticize the way any parent is raising their child. Sure, I don’t think that most kid should play this game, but you’ll never hear me lash out at someone for letting their children play it. That’s their right as a parent.

What I find interesting here is that Hillary Clinton is running for president, and she’s spearheading this assault on video games. I’m curious what chance she has of capturing the young votes this time next year. You can bet that she doesn’t have mine. Seriously, you want to run our country and you’re choosing to attack violent video games? Yes, that’s what’s wrong with our country right now.

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