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There’s no substitute
Posted December 9, 2005

If you’ve been following the news at all for the last couple of years, chances are you’ve seen the topic of violence, sex and other unwholesome themes in videogames come up quite often.

The likes of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton and a whole gaggle of other, almost exclusively left-leaning gasbags, have made a hobby of keel hauling the booming industry over the allegedly over-the-top content of games like those from the ever-popular “Grand Theft Auto” series.

“These games glorify gun violence, prostitution, drug abuse, cop killing and all sorts of nasty stuff,” they moan. “It’s corrupting our youth!”
Well, these bozos on Capitol Hill might have had themselves a valid and compelling argument if not for one small detail: These games aren’t intended for children.

Turn the clock back a decade or so and you’ll find that mounting pressure from the public and some of these same glory hogs over games like “Mortal Kombat,” which had the gore and violence knobs cranked to 11, prompted the formation of the Electronic Software Ratings Board (ESRB), an agency that determined a game’s age appropriateness by giving it a rating similar to the ones used for movies.

Kids, parents, retailers and, presumably, positive-publicity hungry politicians could now see a game’s moral compass heading right on the box.

Problem solved, right?

Well, not exactly. The overwhelming majority of parents, possessing the mindset of “videogame = babysitter,” have been all too happy to purchase or rent whatever titles their preteen progeny requested, systematically ignoring whatever letter or letters happened to occupy the little white box on the bottom corner of the packaging.

It wasn’t until they saw and/or heard what little Timmy or Susy was playing that they realized that their digital stand-ins were less Fred Rogers and more Steven Seagal.

Naturally, like any “good American,” they have absolved themselves of any fault and have instead thrust the blame on someone else, in this case the game’s programmers.

Soon more and more bloodthirsty guardians join the fray until the people that make the games are dragged into the national spotlight and roasted to a crisp by the army of hypocrisy that is comprised of the mainstream media, politicians and the public at large.

Personally, I would like to hope that parents would take more interest in what kind of themes and ideas their children are being exposed to.

Granted, I don’t have kids of my own, but I do know that turning on a computer, TV set or some other electronic gizmo and expecting it to do all of your educating, nurturing and disciplining for you is a sure sign that you aren’t parenting material.

Besides, how can anyone possibly protect their kids from the negative influences of the world without stapling their eyelids shut and filling their ears with calking compound?

Yes, I know, I’m a realist by nature (“pessimist” is so last century), but do you honestly think you’re capable of censoring every single morsel of information your children see, read or hear, 24 hours a day everyday?
Didn’t think so.

The point I’m trying to make, folks, is that if you want something done right, especially if it’s raising a child, you have to do it yourself.

I’m not saying that you should keep them away from video games, movies and other media altogether, but that you should always be on duty to teach them right from wrong and to inspire them to do something positive with their lives.

Enjoy your holiday season, and I’ll see you again in 2006.

Tom Anderson, a junior journalism major, is news editor for the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at