I remember, eons ago when I was in high school, that ratings for TV shows (like the MPAA places on movies) were a hot topic of discussion and, soon after that, congress was hauling heavy metal bands into meetings to give testimony about lurid lyrics. Of course, TV eventually adopted its own ratings code and warning labels on metal and rap albums are common these days. Somewhere along the way, I seem to recall Black Sabbath getting blamed for a suicide and Marilyn Manson taking heat in the wake of the Columbine shootings. Maybe we’re conditioned to look for targets to blame in the media when something goes wrong in our real worlds.
The Supreme Court ruled last month to support the argument that the content of video games is protected under the First Amendment and that California lawmakers were wrong to restrict the sale of “mature” video games. That’s right: the Supreme Court had to weigh in on the ability of minors to buy games.
My kids – okay, my sons, since my daughter rarely plugs into the X-Box or Wii – are addicted to games, like many of their generation. They buy and trade them, and they play them to the wee hours of the morning. I’ll admit to playing a couple of games myself, but unlike the boys, I tend to “hook in” on a couple of games that I find interesting and distracting. Games aren’t all bad, folks. Some test eye-hand co-ordination. Some test reasoning skills. But let’s be honest: A lot of games are just plain fun, and it can be very cathartic after a frustrating day in the office to sit down in front of the big screen and blow some stuff up.