EDITORIAL: Violent video games not for all

On Saturday, The Associated Press reported the governor of Illinois has vowed to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that shot down a new law banning the sale of violent or sexual video games to minors. Appeal away, we say.

If minors cannot rent or view violent or sexual movies in movie theaters, it seems hypocritical to permit them to play or watch violent or sexual video games. Some might argue it can be more detrimental to allow a minor to participate in paying prostitutes, killing people and stealing cars through a video game than it is to allow them to watch someone else do it on the big screen.

The federal judge who shot down the Illinois law ruled on Friday that the restrictions are unconstitutional. He then barred the state from enforcing the law. Other opponents of the law call it a restriction on free speech.

On the other side stand many – including the members of this editorial board – who believe children are harmed by exposure to games in which characters go on killing sprees or sexual escapades. Although free speech is important, people must take the vulnerability of children into account. There are reasons minors cannot vote or drink, and many of those reasons apply for not permitting them to play violent games. Minors can be immature, and many could mistake things in video games for things they can do in reality. With games such as Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat on the shelves of today’s stores, we cannot afford for impressionable youth to have such ideas.

Although we do believe the Illinois law – and others like it – should be upheld, the members of this editorial board encourage the Entertainment Software Rating Board to refine and improve its rating system for video games. Video game junkies will agree: Some games do not deserve the ratings they are given and should not be kept from minors. Others should be rated strictly for content of questionable nature.

Perhaps the governor of Illinois put it best: “Parents should be able to expect that their kids will not have access to excessively violent and sexually explicit video games without their permission.”

Truly, many games are not for their eyes.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.