Of Game Ratings, Authoritarians, and Letting Parents Parent


As if the UK wasn’t imitating an Orwell novel enough, now we have this lovely piece of intrusive control hitting gamers across the pond.  In case you don’t want to deal with the awful design, and ads in the Independent’s piece, basically a bunch of schools sent letters home to parents saying they’d call the police, and child services, if their children were known to play games rated 18+, as a form of neglect.  To make matters worse, these teachers, and school officials, educators whose job is to pass on the facts of the world to young people, base this all on the debunked pseudo-science that video games cause violence.  I’ll give you a moment to let that particularly sour piece of meat settle.

So, boys and girls, if it wasn’t bad enough that our friends in jolly ol’ England could go to jail for expressing wrong-think on Twitter, now they can get the cops called if they decide their kid is mature enough to play Call of Duty.  My first thought was: is it even illegal?  Over here in the states, stores can’t sell or give mature content to kids.  It’s not illegal for a parent to buy a mature game and give it to their kid, though.  Turns out it’s not illegal in England either, so it begs the question, where the hell do these schools get off making threats like this?  Well, they’re calling it neglect, endangering the children…them dangerous words again, for the children, won’t someone think of them?

I’m all for wanting parents to be parents.  I’ve written about it many times before.  I hate to see parents ignore their children and let technology be the parent, or babysitter, but I hate seeing that decision taken away from parents even more.  Parents decide when their child is mature enough for certain books, movies, and games, not the school.  The police should only ever be involved if there’s a crime, which we’ve determined this wouldn’t be.  And child services?  Don’t they have enough to do with children in real abusive and neglectful homes?  Don’t you think they should be focusing on the kids who get locked in closets, beaten, starved and molested rather than Sally who plays COD on the weekends?  Oh, let’s not forget the other part of the schools’ threats, having a social media account could also see a call to the authorities.

What does this mean for us over here?  Well, all too often we have people who think we’d be better off emulating Europe and Britain.  Whose to say a bunch of regressive parents groups and anti-gamer puritans don’t get together and lobby for a similar law?  We don’t exactly have a history of politicians who are kind to gamers, especially when it had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to decide that video games get the same artistic protection as books and movies.  Keep your eyes open friends, things are getting stupid out there.

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