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The Great Videogame Debate Part 1

In the wake of recent shooting tragedies, videogames are again a hot topic of debate, but what is being left unsaid?

In the wake of Sandy Hook and President Obama's recent speech about gun control, I've been thinking about the side-debate roaring around violent videogames. Seen as a large contributor to the "culture of violence" pervading American households, videogames have once again been thrust into the national spotlight as corrupters of the young and innocent. Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin's Creed 3, and Halo 4 are all top sellers and titles that many children from as early as elementary school are aware of and play, but are made for adults. While the discussion swirling about videogames and their role in tragedies like what took place in Newtown are worth having, there are a few big questions I have that no one seems to be addressing.

The ESRB, or Entertainment Software Rating Board, has existed since 1994 and is tasked with rating all videogames intended for resale in the United States. The ratings are as follows:

EC: Early Childhood

E: Everyone

E10+: Everyone 10 years of age and older

T: Teen

M: Mature 17+

AO: Adult only 18+

Like the Motion Picture Association of America's film rating system, the ESRB applies a content-based rating to each game with the intent to provide consumers with as much information prior to making a purchase. Despite being in existence for close to 20 years now, ESRB ratings remain a mystery to both shoppers and parents. Oddly, even if one were unaware of the meaning behind these ratings, each and every game box lists descriptors explaining them.

For all the well-meaning discussion taking place across the country, why isn't anyone asking parents why they feel no sense of responsibility to check the ratings of the games they buy for their children? Most parents are sensible enough to not let their five-years olds watch R-rated movies or pornography, so why are many of these same parents willing to fork over M-rated games?

Small children have no means of procuring these games. No means of transport, no money, your average kid under the age of 14 or so is generally restricted to the whims of their parents when it comes to making any purchases. So again I wonder, why are so many parents letting their children get hold of these inappropriate games?

To Be Continued...

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