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Video Game Bans Vs. Rating Systems
As a proud Canadian and an avid gamer I am always happy when a new game hits the store shelves that I have been waiting for intently. Its like Christmas morning no matter what time of the year it is. I'm even more excited when a friend says, “Try this game, it is amazing!” and I get my mind blown. I think I take my ability to choose my own entertainment for granted. If there is a game out there I can buy it or order it online if need be. All games are fair game in my country.
We have a rating system in place that allows people to choose games appropriate for the age group that they are focusing on. The rating system is as follows;
EC – ages 2 – 5
E – ages 6 – 9
E10+ - ages 10 and up
T – ages 12 and up
M – ages 17 and up
AO – ages 18 and up (adults only)
RP – this game is not rated
List of how all countries rate video games
There are also warnings on game covers along with the rating. If the front cover has a rating of “M” listed, you can turn the game over and see why it is rated as such. An example of the warning listed on the reverse of an “M” rated game would be; Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes and Use of Alcohol. By reading these warnings you can determine whether this game is right for you and/or your children.
With this system in place there is no need for our government to make further restrictions to our entertainment. We can use the ratings in place to make informed decisions as to what is right for us with the information we are provided. Games that are rated “M” or “AO” can not be sold to people under the ages recommended on the packaging, and may establishments warn adults not to purchase certain games for children due to their graphic nature.
Many countries don’t have these choices because their government decides whether a game is appropriate to be sold in the country. Here are a few examples of restrictions in other countries on video games;
Brazil bans quite a few games for having “high impact violence” in them.
China has outlawed gaming consoles in mainland China completely since June of 2000. However after a 13 year ban the government there is considering lifting it. This appears to have a lot to do with money and possible profits for the country its self. Honestly I don’t really care why the ban is being lift, other then the fact that it seems insane in the first place. I can not wait for the profits to role into game developers allowing them to make better games for me to enjoy in the end.
- China may lift decade-long ban on games consoles (Wired UK)
Video game console-makers everywhere are collectively holding their breath, as rumours circulate that China is considering lifting a nearly 13-year-long ban on the items
Saudi Arabia banned the “Pokemon Trading Card Game” because it promotes Zionism. An image resembling the Star of David was printed on some of the cards. Also the trading aspect of the game is said to promote gambling. Other games have been banned for nudity and suggestive themes such as prostitution. I would like to point out that although there is a ban in this county of certain games its not readily enforced by anyone.
Full World list of banned video games
The big question for me is; Do these bans actually help these countries in anyway? I will use the three very different examples above to answering this question.
Brazil – According to 2012 statistics there are 21 murders per 100000 people in Brazil where as in Canada there are 1.6 per 100000. If video games were causing violence in populations you would think that the numbers would show this. It doesn’t even seem close to me.
China – The ban on gaming consoles doesn’t seem to be about censorship of a certain type of game, but more about young people and their ability to be more productive if they are not in front of a gaming system all day. This honestly seems valid in theory, the less time you spend in front of a console the more time you spend doing other things. However children are still allowed to play games in front of computers so it seems that removing consoles from the country didn’t do a whole lot. Also many of the games that consoles have are release on PC sooner then they are on consoles making the ban almost pointless. One of the things that the government has done to limit computer gaming in the country is to force game programmers to install programming into games that turn off the game completely or limit the things you can do with the game after 3 hours of play in 1 day. This limitation is only for children. If the game is installed for an adult with the adult settings chose, no restrictions are applied. This all seems like a big government waste of time to me. Parents should spend more time watching what their children are doing and choose what is right for them. Big brother shouldn’t take over peoples right to think for themselves if you ask me.
Saudi Arabia – I understand the ban on nudity is based on a religious belief for the country. Its hard to argue a belief that is held by most of the citizens in a specific area or is based on religion (i don’t want to knock people belief system). Having said that, why have a ban on something if it is not going to be enforced anyway. Seems like the government is trying to make some point but doesn’t really care about it in the end.
In conclusion, banning video games doesn’t really remove the problem. It creates human rights issues and clearly doesn’t prevent violence in a country. Also regardless of race or religious belief people should have the right to choose how they entertain themselves. Furthermore parents need to have an active role in what their children are playing. If you have a young child, make sure you are reading labels and choosing games that are appropriate for your childs age level and comprehension.