Parents, not ESRB, should monitor kids’ gaming

By The University Star

(U-WIRE) SAN MARCOS, Texas – Killing hookers isn’t that bad.

Neither is stealing a cop car, performing drive-bys on rival gang members or making multimillion-dollar drug deals.

In the world of Grand Theft Auto, all these actions “may be suitable for persons age 17 and older,” but introduce digitized, pixilated and badly acted hardcore sex acts and everybody has a fit.

In the pursuit of both journalistic ethics and the chance to find something to laugh at, members of The University Star staff and editorial board observed a 1 1/2-minute video clip of the so-called “Hot Coffee” mini-game in which GTA: San Andreas’ main character C.J. and his girlfriend engage in oral sex and multiple positions of intercourse.

While we believe the Entertainment Software Ratings Board’s change in rating from “Mature” to “Adults Only” is warranted based on the descriptors of rating content, we also believe that this incident is once again a loud call to the parents of video-game players to finally take personal responsibility in what they purchase instead of relying on and asking the government, video-game publishers and retailers to perform the duties of content police.

It is noteworthy that the legal age of consent to actually perform the acts portrayed in the game is in most states younger than what people are arguing should be the legal age to purchase the game.

Now, as with every hot-button issue that gets voters crazy, Congress is stepping to the plate to defend those people who absolutely need the government to tell them what to play and read.

On Monday, the House of Representatives voted 355-21 for HR 376 to investigate whether or not the publishers of the game intentionally hid the content from the ESRB. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, is also threatening to ask for a Senate investigation. At this point, politicians are simply grandstanding, and it should be noted that Clinton is a possible presidential candidate in 2008.

We don’t deny that Rockstar and Take Two Interactive are the authors of the offending code, and they have admitted as much. Instead of whining about how offended we all should be and how much this is morally bankrupting America, why not let consumers decide if Rockstar/Take Two should suffer any consequences?

If enough of the squeaky wheels choose not to spend their money on any products from the company, so be it.

While the uproar is a shining example of what’s wrong – and it’s the lack of personal responsibility from parents, not digital fornication in a video game, that we’re talking about – maybe this can serve as the catalyst for parents of underage game players to stop relying on Best Buy, Gamestop and Wal-Mart to slap their children on the hand when they choose a game not meant for their age and maturity level.

Hopefully this happens before somebody chastises Electronic Arts, maker of The Sims 2, for possibly showing nipples and pubic hair.

Too late.

Staff Editorial

The University Star (Texas State U.-San Marcos)