Failure of governance: The regulation of video games

Look, I rarely drink. Being the happy go lucky lad that I am, I also don’t usually pay much attention to polititicans, lawyers, or even public service announcements for that matter. However, sometimes an article will land in my virtual lap and I have no choice but to pass it on to you fine folks. In essence, it is my civic duty.

Such is the case of the latest entry from Mark Methenitis’s The Law Of The Game blog, a sort of social commentary on video game life as we know it — from a game playing attorney’s vantage point. 

In his most recent commentary, titled Video Game Regulation Is Just Poor Governance, Mark continues to debate the hot topic that just won’t fade away. With all the negative media attention that video games continually attract (Thanks in no small part to crusaders of the uninformed such as Jack Thompson), just who exactly is to blame?

The answer possibly awaits, after the jump.               

If you ask Mark, the government itself, is part of the problem. In an attempt to feign the appearance of being helpful, they just might be doing more harm than good. 

Why do politicians gravitate to these non-issues? The simple answer is to placate the reactionary, uneducated voter. Moreover, it makes these government officials appear to be protecting the public when they are in fact allowing parents to scapegoat an easy target. No parent wants to admit they are failing their child, but to be perfectly honest, most of them are not paying nearly enough attention to their child’s media consumption. In fact, if they took the time to pick up the box and look at the rating, even that would be a substantial step in the right direction. This is not a complex issue, and it is one that has worked in both the movie and television industry. Game ratings are no different.

Rather than wasting an absurd amount of taxpayer money re-regulating a self-regulated industry and litigating issues that have been previously struck down, the government should be trying to help the public become educated and learn to take personal responsibility for their actions. The courts have done their part in striking down these unconstitutional restrictions on speech, but free speech has never been the reason I see these regulations as so absurd. To me, reactionary politics is a perpetual waste of time and money that could be avoided with reasonable discourse and personal responsibility.

So the real question is, What do we do about it? I thought you’d never ask.

Of course, if the video game lobby was not eons behind certain other industries, more reasonable solutions such as these may already be on the table. I would have thought the history of the ESRB would have been enough impetus to increase the lobbying presence, but it took the upheaval brought on by recent events to get the ball rolling, so to speak.

My great hope is that excessive government entanglement will be avoided, lest we repeat history. While I don’t believe ten year olds should be able to freely access M-Rated games, I do believe parents need to take more responsibility for their children. We have survived the printed word, the radio, and the motion picture without excessive government action to “protect” us from the media. We will survive the video game just the same.

As Mark has shown, the video game industry needs to start an aggressive push to lobby our cause. Parents need to continue to keep themselves abreast with what games are suitable for their children — and enforce those ratings in the home.

Most of all, we the gamers need to not only continue to fight legislation and ideas that would lead us one step closer to the failed path of prohibition, but to continually point out the great things that come out of video games —  that are often overlooked. As much as we would like to sit back on our haunches and watch the spectacle from afar, we have much work to do.

[Via Law Of The Game

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