For a while now, games have been used as the scapegoat to justify violence. Videogames do not make people violent, people have to already possess a tendency to be violent. Since samples of violence in a game are the product of human nature, shall we blame the designers and producers too and label them as violent people from now on?
I like to think of violence in games as a sort of therapy for when I'm pissed off. I let out my frustrations through blowing someone up in Halo 2 or having a furious race in Midnight Club 3 and feel a lot better after.
Besides, it's entertainment. Violence is not the reason why we play the game; gameplay, storyline and replay value are. And no, not everyone plays GTA to get it on with a hooker or kill whatever stereotype they hate the most. Players actually concentrate on doing every mission they can to get a high percentage of completion, while the violence concept takes a secondary role. But even so, it's fun to do things in game you'd never do in real life. Isn't that what games are for? It doesn't hurt anyone, we're only shooting a ton of pixels, and the purpose of the game is to ultimately entertain the gamer, pulling him away from reality for the duration of gameplay.
Unfortunately some people have some serious problems setting virtual and real apart. This is why not everyone can play every game. This is also why we have ratings.
When I purchased Halo 2, I was asked for ID to verify my age. The cashier told me she had to make sure I was over 18 because of the game rating. But then there is Mr. Dad with respective son (probably no older than 10) asking "Will you buy me Halo 2?" and no one seems to care that it is the little kid who will play it. How ironic is that?
I mean, thanks for thinking I'm under 18. That's fine with me, it means when I reach 40, I'll only look 31. But seeing an adult buy it for a child and not say, "Sorry, this game is rated mature and we can't sell it to you because your son is a minor" is just plain wrong. Controlling who is buying the games and for whom needs to be a priority, but it's a virtually impossible task.
Rated S, for Stupid?
And what about "parental consent"? If the parents knew how their kids are acting online, I bet they wouldn't consent their kids to play any other games that aren't rated according to their ages. But if they knew in the first place what kind of content is in these games, they probably wouldn't buy them to start with.
When they say "rating may change during online play" I bet they never thought it would be because of those 10 year old kids (and who knows, maybe even younger), who just scream and yell for no reason, calling you all sorts of names and saying every swear word they can possibly think of in a matter of minutes. My husband and his online friends, in several hours of play, don't swear a third of what those kids do during a single match. It makes them abort the matches just not to hear them yell anymore or call them a repertoire of derogatory names. Where's the fun in being insulted?
The kind of parents that buy these games for their kids are the same parents who let their daughters go to school wearing slutty clothing and too much makeup (and I've seen really young girls wearing more makeup at any given time than I have in my entire life). In these cases, not only do children need to be educated, but their parents as well.
So please, don't come and tell me I'm more likely to shoot someone because I play Halo 2. Videogames do not make people violent. Charles Manson didn't play Halo 2. For each person that you find that has actually killed someone and been blamed on a videogame, there are thousands who have killed many and never played a game in their entire life.