English literature 122B, 8th
March 13, 2005
Why Should Pixels Be Different?
As video games become ever more popular to the general public, they
also become more heavily criticized. With the industry having grossed $7
billion in sales during the year 2003, the people of the world seemingly
love these games(“Video Games”. n.pg.). However, this love does not hold
true to all who know the gaming industry, as there are many people opposed
to the sale of video games, especially those with violent content. The
argument of video game censorship continues seemingly all of the time, but
in this game of pointing fingers, it should be pointed out that parents
need to be the protector of the child from improper material in this
increasingly popular product.
With the video game world increasing in sales, the quality of the work
put into video games will be expected to increase as well. Mr. Henry
Jenkins insists that these computer models and visual representations
should be considered more than just pixels on a screen: “Video games must
be taken seriously as an art because they exhibit the artistic capabilities
of computer technology” (Jenkins n.pg.). Video game creators harness their
intellectual creativity using computers as a tool and create masterpieces
containing hundreds of hours of gameplay and cinematic sequence. The
population should consider video game design as creative a field as film-
making or even writing music, as designers work just as diligently and
creatively to produce their products. However, much of the population
forces game designers to bottle up their creativity due to incidents
completely out of their control, such as the Columbine shootings. Why
should this emerging art form have to censor itself because parents are not
doing their inherent duties? This question may never be answered, even if
it does theoretically contradict the first amendment.
Parents and guardians play the central role in knowing what is best
for the child under their care. According to Marjorie Hogan,”Adults in a
parental role are the most important models, monitors, and mediators of
appropriate media use for children and adolescents” (Hogan n. pg.). Because
children and young adults spend much of their time in front of a media
source at home- nearly four and a half hours per day per child (Hogan n.
pg.), the public should know exactly how and what to do to regulate the
quality and quantity of viewed media. For the quality of media viewed, the
gaming industy willingly created a rating system called the Entertainment
Software Rating Board, for which video game’s ratings are based on intended
audience maturity (“Do Not Encourage” n.pg.). The Board’s ratings provide a
simple, yet useful tool in the parental censorship of inappropriate
Two of the largest myths concerning the industy are that the most
common rating in games is “mature,” and that only teenage boys play video
games. Both of these happen to be false, with sixty-one percent of game
players being over the age of eighteen and only nine percent of games being
rated “mature” (“Regulates Itself” n.pg.). Parents are encouraged to
supervise their child while he or she is interacting with the media source;
viewing with the child helps to inform the parent exactly what the child is
watching or playing, and it helps the child understand mechanics, as well
as plot lines of the viewed media. According to B.A. Eisenstock, co-viewing
with a sibling, parent, or peer “creates an opportunity to mediate
children’s understanding and interpretation of the reality and morality of
messages” (Hogan n.pg.). The opportunity created by viewing with a child is
a learning experience for both guardian and child.
As the Entertainment Software Rating Board, commonly called the ESRB,
is already in place to rate the video games produced, there is no need for
further censorship. Stores that sell video games enforce the ESRB ratings
by refusing to sell games with a “mature” rating to underage children. If
parents maintain their responsibility, there exists no need to further
censor video games. Enforcing the ESRB ratings creates enough of a censor;
further censorship simply encroaches on the first amendment right. The
ammendment gives freedom of speech; video game design is simply a creative
form of speech and expression. Video game creators enjoy the ability to
present their ideas to the public through their medium; they do not need a
third party infringing on their ideas using censorship. With the ESRB
working effectively, no extra external censorship is needed to produce
appropriate video games.
Censorship is defined as deleting parts of publications, or
correspondence, or theatrical performances. The general public seems to be
going through the same motions it had went through in the seventies with
comic books, or even now with music and movies. The free speech amendment
states that people have the right to speak their mind, and if someone else
doesn’t like what he or she is hearing, that person has the right not to
listen. So how is it different for video games? There is no need for
censoring this medium of expression and artwork if the tools already in
place are executed in the manner intended. If a game’s intended audience is
for adults, the parent or guardian should make sure that the game does not
end up in the hands of his or her child. Many times the parent will buy the
game for the child, then turn around and blame the industry for the game.
If the public were informed, this would not happen. Since stores already
make sure not to sell mature rated games to children, it is the guardian’s
duty to continue this precaution. It is not the government’s place.
Hogan, Marjorie. “Parents Should Monitor Their Children’s Media Habits”
Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Group. 9 Feb. 2005
Jenkins, Henry. “Video Games Are an Emerging Art.” Opposing Viewpoints.
Gale Group 9. Feb. 2005. .
Lowenstein, Douglas. “The Video Game Industry Regulates Itself
Effectively.” Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Group 7 Feb. 2005
Lowenstein, Douglas. “Violent Video Games Do Not Encourage Violent
Behavior.” Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Group. 7 Feb. 2005.
“Video Games and Violence.” Facts.com. 13 February 2004. Issues and
Controversies. 13 Feb. 2005. .