Apr 26 2017

Kids To Censor Themselves?

I’m an advocate for enforcing censoring and ensuring that young people aren’t exposed to materials that are deemed unsuitable for them, usually so they don’t grow up with some mental disorder. With video games, there is a big difference between a game for 7-year-olds with bright colours and whimsical characters, and an 18+ game that encourages to butcher people up and uses the acts of committing crimes as an objective.

In our culture, most media, whether that’s movies, tv shows, music or games, children have really easy access to it, not having to provide any proof of age when viewing this online or getting a parent obtain it for them. For a game that has been rated 18+, children will either play the game as an adult player leaves their copy lying around the TV or even demands their parents to go out and buy them these games, which most of them comply to do just to shut the brat up. At this stage, it’s the parents’ responsibility to moderate the games that child is playing. A lot of parents don’t play games, so aren’t usually aware of the content that can be in certain games, usually only coming to the conclusion that the most the game probably contains is guns, which most games these days contains in some form or other, even 10+ years rated games such as the cartoony Splatoon for the Wii U, as the characters shoot paint each at each other, only a step down from using bullets.

Don’t get me wrong, whilst I was a 10 year old I had easy access to plenty of 18+ games, but most of these at the time were released on the N64, with graphics that did most games no justice, as a pool of blood was represented as a large red polygon. These games weren’t exactly graphic in the mortality sense and could easily be recognised as events that had only transpired in a video game. In today’s world with the current gen graphic technology, a lot of games truly do look realistic, as most of these games are now based in an exact replica of our own world. So when characters are getting shot up on the screen, it’s only a true reflection of actual real life actions, though the problem with it being reenacted in a game, is that the player doesn’t have to face the consequences.

We live in a world with even more shootings and crime reported on the news. Some of these heinous crimes are absolutely disgusting and vile, with innocent people, elderly and children caught up in some psychopath’s bender. It’s absolutely devastating to see, and immediate action needs to be taken to reduce these occurrences, but in the mean time, we need to ensure that children aren’t exposed to this crap far too early, otherwise they’ll become desensitised to it, laughing and joking about it amongst their friends, and maybe even get to stage of at least encouraging someone to commit a foolish act, or even do it themselves.

Movies can be dangerous for a child to watch, as they see actors cut someone up, which the rest of the audience will of course not object to (how can you when you’d only be shouting at a pre-recorded screen which you paid good money to go and see, you want to at least get your money’s worth), thus making the act of violence appear as though it’s a normal thing. In Video games, it can be much more dangerous for a person to experience, as not only are they pressing the buttons to commit this act of violence, in most games unless it’s a cutscene, the player has to go through an arduous challenge to harm another onscreen character, a challenge that pushes and tests the players mental capabilities to succeed, which results in an onscreen reward of someone dying. I can’t imagine it’s healthy for anyone to be constantly tested like this, over and over, having to overcome a challenge for the reward of killing a character. It could get to the point where this person in real life, is tested in some sort of similar challenge, or at least they feel as overburdened as they may feel when playing that game, and so resort to violence.

I’m no psychologist, and I don’t think most people should be either, taking psychology courses in college though most people can’t handle the truth about the cruel potentials of humans without it now sitting in the back of their mind at even the most basic of social events, but it doesn’t take a therapist to see that for a child to play violent games on their own for hours, in an online community that is filled with anger and ‘jokes’ of Nazis and whatever else that’s trending amongst the younger gen, that that child isn’t going to come out of that gaming session without at least some side effects and behavioural alteration. It’s similar to the old tests of the hunters, taking their child out to hunt with them and making that child kill its first animal. It may start with them having to snap the neck of a rabbit caught in a trap, but they’ll work up to taking the life of bigger beasts, to the point that they do what they have to do and no longer think about it, even if it ever came to taking on another human. We no longer need these hunters, and we don’t need kids to go through their hunting initiation in a video game unsupervised.

As a full-grown adult that doesn’t have kids, I’m still shocked at how graphic games are. I’ve played through the Assassin Creed series and there’s always a new move in the latest iteration that is more graphic than anything before. I remember in Assassin’s Creed 2, there would be a move that would make Ezio treat his victim as a punchbag, only he didn’t use his fists, instead using the hidden blades strapped beneath both his wrists, violently stabbing this man’s chest in a flurry of jabs until he finally collapsed. In AC: Unity, there’s a move where you walk past your victim, doing nothing more than gently stroking their chin with your hand as your hidden blade just silently runs across their throat, in which they collapse to the floor gasping whilst you carry on walking through the crowd, already moving onto the next target and leaving the trial of bodies behind with no afterthought.

Maybe I’m just becoming a pussy, as the kids would call me these days, but I really do wonder if all this killing and blood shed in games really is necessary. I don’t have the stomach for it any longer when there’s enough of these violent acts in the real world. I use games as a way to escape from the bullshit of this world, and I don’t want to get away from one violent world only to jump into another. The other day, I watched the comedy movie Central Intelligence with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, and for most of the film, applauded that not a single person died, instead just being made temporarily incapacitated by objects around them being shot to explode or exert blunt force trauma like a lamp shade swinging at their head (poor Aaron Paul though, his final scene in the elevator was hilarious). Can developers instead focus on having these type of game mechanics rather than having the animation of someone’s head exploding right down to the fine detail of their brain stem becoming airborne dust.

One site that is helping to inform parents of the content their child maybe exposed to in movies and video games is commonsensemedia.org. Here, user reviews can be submitted that whilst giving an insightful view into how good or bad a game is, will flag any inappropriate content in the game, whether that’s violence, drugs, alcohol, sex, language and douchbaggery (Ok, that last one’s made up but really should be included, kids will try to impersonate the most annoying of people). What’s interesting about this site though, is that it gives both adults and anyone aged under 18 a chance to rate what the lower age limit someone should reasonably be before playing the game. So even if the game is rated 18+, are the adult references in it fine for a 16-year-old to play, or even someone younger?

This is a great social experiment that I hope many people can become interested in, as seeing each side of the polls reveals some very interesting results. At this point, you would think that if a child had the opportunity to do so, of course they are going to take advantage and say that a game should be played by minors, no matter the official rating, but what I find surprising, is that for some of the most violent games, the kids are rating the age limit higher than the adults are. The kids are clearly seeing that the game is for someone a little older, whilst the adults are the ones technically letting the side down, and are saying that some of these 18+ games are socially acceptable to be played by someone not only younger than what the kids are saying is acceptable, but for some games that contain bloodshed to be played as low as aged 12. What’s scary, is what if a parent is allowing/getting (in the sense that the kid has nothing else to play) a kid to play an 18+ game even though that kid is saying the game should only be played by someone older, is this a form of abuse we need to address but just goes unnoticed?

This isn’t the full story though, as there are plenty of games that have been rated higher by the adults than the kids, and also as many games that have the same age recommendation by both parties, the common theme throughout all this though is that the recommended minimum age is far below the 18/16 rating, even by both sides. So both sides do see that it is acceptable for someone younger than the official designated age limit to play the game. Is that because the game isn’t as mature as initially thought by the big wigs, or is it due to everyone being lax about the rules, not really caring what minors are playing and what short/long term effects this could be having.

As someone who has played 18 rated games from the age of 10 and seen a tonne of 18 certified movies as a kid, I wouldn’t say that personally it’s made me have the urge to kill, but what I will say is that I feel that I have become slightly desensitised to hearing/seeing certain acts of violence, which I think I see amongst many other people, as we laugh when we see Arnie on the big screen saying his one liner before dropping someone off the edge of cliff, and in some way, this makes me more inhuman than I would like to believe. But if games are a reflection on this cruel life that we have to bring kids up within, maybe it’s best to allow them to get an idea of what’s out there in the big world-wide from the safety of their own homes. Just don’t ever let them watch YouTube, there’s some pretty freaky shit on there.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thelategamer.com/blog/kids-to-censor-themselves/

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