Violent actions occur everyday, but have you ever stopped and asked yourself why? Diane Franklin of Camdenton, Missouri thinks she has the answer, video games. She has proposed to add a one percent sales tax on video games that are rated “teen,” “mature,” and “adult-only” to fund mental health programs and law enforcement aimed at preventing mass shootings like the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook. Missouri is not the first state to propose taxes on violent video games. Oklahoma and New Mexico have both tried and failed. If laws like this were to pass, consumers would also be paying taxes on video games like “Guitar Hero.”
There does not need to be additional regulation on video games. Regulations already exist and places like Walmart and Gamestop id people to ensure they are the correct age to be buying a game. Geek Squad’s website defines the following ratings as:
Early Childhood – Titles rated early childhood have content suitable for children 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
Everyone– Titles rated everyone have content that suitable for persons age 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief, and/or mild language.
Everyone 10+ – Titles rated everyone 10 and older have content that may be suitable for older children age 10 and up. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Teen – Titles rated teen have content suitable for persons ages 13 and older. May contain violent content, mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.
Mature 17+ – Titles rated mature have content suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence, and/or strong language.
Adults only 18+ – Titles rated adults only have content suitable only for adults. Titles in this category may include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adults-only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.
The video game ratings may keep underage kids from buying the game, but it doesn’t keep them from playing the game. Their parents could still purchase the game for them or they could play at a friend’s house. The ratings allow parents to see the content descriptors and suggested age appropriateness. This can help them to make a decision about what they feel is suitable for their children to play.
Children and adults can distinguish the difference between virtual and reality, they do it all time. Animation, digital effects, technology, and the Internet have opened peoples’ minds and imaginations, bringing them to a world outside of our own. These depictions sometimes display violent acts, which can engage or thrill the audience. Video games however, do not make people violent. Few people that pick up a controller have the desire to go out and kill people. Just because they see or play a violent game does not mean they will act out in real life. Players know the difference between the game and reality.
Our nation’s security doesn’t depend on the regulation of video games. Even the Army uses video games and simulated rifles to get potential recruits in the door at The Army Experience Center. Those who walk in aren’t pressured to join the military, it’s just a way to attract new visitors, interact with Army personnel, and answer any questions that the visitors might have. The Army wouldn’t use this form of recruitment if they thought it was dangerous and could potentially harm society. “The military understands that if it can’t embrace today’s digital youth, they are never going to recruit the kind of soldiers that they need to have for the next century,” says Noah Shachtman in “Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier.”
Video games, violent or not, can actually help gamers tap into bottled emotions, understand the limits of reality, and deal with that reality. Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence by Gerard Jones discusses how violent entertainment is beneficial in helping children develop in a healthy way. Gaming has become a social activity, connecting friends and family all around the world. It allows users to kick back, relax, and relieve stress.