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Saturday, July 23

Ratings

Ronn had a wonderful post about the ESRB board. I left a comment, but I have to expand. I just must.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board, ESRB, has a rating system that has two parts. The first, a symbol, is much like the MPAA's system for movies. Movies/video games that are deemed appropriate for only those aged over 17 require a license to watch/buy. Addtionally, the ESRB adds descriptors so that parents have an easier time deciding if a game is appropriate.

Let me say right up front that I endorse having a rating system for movies, television, video games, etc. Also, I do not believe that video games are inherently destroying our nation's youth. Both my sons have learned to read, at least in part, from video games. Zelda is reading intensive, promotes forethought, and motor skills. Does it have violence? Yes, and my kids enjoy beating up the bad guys.

Face it. Violence and sex is part of the world. It is up to us, the parents, to guide our kids and teach them acceptable values. There are times when I let my sons, 10 and 11, watch an R rated movie or play an adults only video game. The choice is mine. Ratings are a guideline.

Some games, like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas were given a stronger warning because of lost content. It wasn't given based on the game as sold, but because someone figured out how to hack the game. Lost content isn't new. It is information that was simpler to block from the sold version than to delete, causing bugs. In fact, DVD makers are taking advantage of it with easter eggs. With video games, a hacker delves into lines of coding and pieces together lost missions, characters, etc. just to find it. This new way of applying ratings scares me.

It is taking into consideration not what the publishers inteded, but what someone with too much time on their hands figured out. That steps far out of rating territory and into the censorship zone. If I were a more paranoid person, I'd think that there was a censorship conspiracy. RWA, video games, gay authors. What's next?

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