Up On My Soapbox: Censoring Video Games

First things first: I am a flaming liberal who believes in a high amount of freedom. So I don’t believe in censorship of any kind. I do understand and support the need for a rating system, both in movies and in games. Nothing pisses me off more than when I go to see Zach and Miri Make A Porn and in the middle of a movie, a couple of 14 year olds stroll in. Hearing 12 years old talk about GTA and Gears of War irritates me as well because those games are for adults.

That being said, no one should ever have their game’s content censored. For any reason. Ever. With the recent hubbub about the song in LittleBigPlanet that offended a Muslim group, this topic has been on the minds of many lately. Regarding that incident: the song in question was written and performed by a devout Muslim, so if its good enough for him…

And for those that wonder why Sony went to such extreme measures to appease this group: one need only look at the riots over a cartoon in a newspaper a few years ago that was seen as an insult to Islam. Most other religions would resort to peaceful methods to resolve something like that, but certain radical elements of the Muslim world have yet to learn. Sadly, that small percentage of the Muslim faith is the one that gets the most media coverage.

Back to games: I saw a study that let kids play violent video games and then observed their behavior. What happened is no surprise: the children were more aggressive, but only because they were pretending! When I was a kid, I watched Star Wars about…every day or so. And I re-enacted the fights all the time and even when playing with my brother, I knew not to really hurt him. How did I know this? Because my mom taught me.

See, it all comes down to parents. I have seen movies with nudity and violence since I was 5 and I have not turned out too depraved. As long as the parents explain to children that games and movies are make-believe, the children will not copy it. There was a story here in Florida where a 12 year old killed his little sister copying WWE wrestling. I copied wrestling all the time, but I never once hurt anyone. If this kid’s parents had told him that wrestling was fake, his sister might still be alive.

And going on to bigger issues like Columbine and other school shootings, the issue remains the same. But let’s take the parents out of it for a minute. Let’s focus on the person. Those two murderers from Columbine played Doom, listened to Marilyn Manson and watched The Matrix. These things were blamed for their actions. But guess what? MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of people have played that game, heard that artist and seen that movie and have never committed a violent act in their lives. The problem is not with the music, movie or game: it is with the person. If someone is inspired to do something unlawful because of a game, that person was already mentally unbalanced to begin with.

So there’s my rant, I shall now descend from my soapbox. That one has been building up for a few years now. What is your guy’s take on this issue? Am I off base or right on target?

Written by

Age: 34 PSN ID: Starkiller81. I've played games since before I can remember, starting with my dad's Atari and I haven't stopped yet. Keep them coming and I will keep playing them.

32 thoughts on “Up On My Soapbox: Censoring Video Games”

  1. Right on target. I get so mad with this topic. And I will argue to no end. If games were making people into crazy killers ALL of us would be out there slaughtering people. It would be anarchy. How many people bought GTA IV, Halo 3, and Gears 2. Yet the world seems just as fine as it did before. If these games did something to you there wouldn’t be one or two Columbines. It would be thousands at the LEAST.

  2. Totally on the mark. If any element of media is being censored, be it newspaper, movie, or video game, the government isn’t doing its job to protect our freedoms.

  3. Man you are so right. I get very pissed when i hear 12 yo talking over the mic while ur playing some mature rated game… if the parents don’t control (i mean don’t let them see content inappropriate for their age) what this children see, it’s not game of movie fault it’s just failures in the way these parents are raising their sons. You don’t expect a child to play GTA and not try to do same things that he did in the game… if the parents don’t tell them that this is only a video game and i really think that they shouldn’t play these games at all, they are not mentally prepared to deal with this kind of things that they see in games or movies.

  4. I agree with you…people don’t realize that there are stupid people out there and that stupid people can be parents.

    We should give parents these games and see if they want to go out and kill people…wait…what was that? They don’t? WOW that’s right, it is all about the teaching to the child, not the games/movies/music they watch/play.

  5. Eww, flaming liberal…

    K, now that thats out of the way, I totally agree.Personally, I don’t care if parents let their kids have M-rated games and what-not. I care that they don’t seem to see the need to TELL them that it’s just a game.

    On a different note though, no kid should be allowed to play an online FPS that isn’t 15 years old AT LEAST. My freakin eardrums and braincells have taken enough punishment,tyvm.

  6. wow. you should be sending this post away to the government because so many people have tried to say this, but few have done it so well. and i agree with the whole online gaming if your not 15 (bit’s post), there should be an online rule, if your balls haven’t dropped, don’t use a mic.

  7. Quote of the year: “The problem is not with the music, movie or game: it is with the person. If someone is inspired to do something unlawful because of a game, that person was already mentally unbalanced to begin with.”

  8. I always get aggravated with this topic. People always just want a scapegoat to comfort themselves instead of looking at the truth, parenting is what really molds a child unless you leave it up to other media sources. Before there was video games there was murderers, rapists, and all around violence. I forgot jack the riper played gta4 though

  9. Great write-up here, and a nice soapbox indeed. It’s weird to me how much video game violence and content gets scrutinized more than the movie or music industry. I hate when people want video games given Adult ratings for something that you can see in any PG-13 movie. The game devs have a right to make what they want, and we have a right to play it. Punish the stores for selling to minors, don’t punish from the top-down.

  10. First off I totally agree with most of what has been said. What I don’t agree with is age restriction on online games. I have been playing online M rated games since I was 10. The rule should be more like if you have a super annoying voice/sound like a 5yr old you can’t use a mic.

  11. [quote comment=”1911″] if your balls haven’t dropped, don’t use a mic.[/quote]

    Lol, I was going to put that,but it seemed off-color at the time. XD

  12. Yeah, Larry. I think we talked about having an “anti-douche” system or a “5yr old mic ban” will be great to have before. I really think they should have that kind of system on ALL online games.

  13. either I’m the only Australian in this, or nobody realizes that Australia doesn’t actually have an r18+ rating for games. most of the really adult games get either banned or censored for us. fallout 3 is the most recent example of this.

  14. Right on, man. It IS up to the parents to teach their kid that life is serious shit, and if they want to do drugs and not care about school and murder someone with a chainsaw, they WILL end up in a gutter, dying of overdose or something. Tell them that video games and movies are make-believe, like you said, and just teach them right and wrong. I mean basically it’s just that. The right way: play the games, have fun, then go live your life. The wrong way: decide that you really hate you teacher so you’re gonna go kill the teacher with a shotgun or something. Whatever. It’s all about the person – the PERSON. Not the the games they play or the movies they watch. SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE PLAY THOSE GAMES AND WATCH THOSE MOVIES, eliminating the source will not eliminate the problem. Some people don’t understand that.

    GOD!!!! I could go on for HOURS, but it’s still such an awkward subject because there’s no real stake to drive through the heart of the issue. Yes, that was violent, but WHO CARES!!

  15. Freedom of speech, unfortunately. If a 15 year old wants to shout racial epitaphs at you during a Halo or Gears match, he’s well within his rights to do so. *sigh*

    Really excellent write-up, by the way. Every point you discuss is something I’ve thought about a lot ever since I’ve become aware of the stigmatism that gaming carries in the general population.

    I think I’ve said something similar on this site before, but every new medium has had its time in the fire. Comic books, music, and even movies still take flak from time to time. The problem with games is that they are far more interactive than any of the other creative mediums.

    Reading about a space marine eviscerating an alien is a bit different from using a contextual action to put it into motion. It’s just like you said,:

    “The problem is not with the music, movie or game: it is with the person. If someone is inspired to do something unlawful because of a game, that person was already mentally unbalanced to begin with.”

    If people can’t distinguish between reality and fantasy it doesn’t matter what drove them to commit social wrong-doings. People are always hesitant to put the blame solely on human nature. Everything seems to need a catalyst.

  16. Totaly agree I don’t think Games are the main reason for any body to run amok.

    But the developers have to ask them selves, is it allways necessary to put in all that violence! Seriously i like to blow zombies their head off and stuff but do i have to see that in slowmo and close-ups. (Maybe once!);-) but over and over again? Just because they try to produce a trhil that they are too lazy to produce throug new ideas and special game play?

  17. Well put, I cant muster the self control to write a rant that accurate when the topic of video game censorship comes up.

  18. lol, That rant was years in the making. Many a time have I thought about it in the shower or car.
    Sir Fragalot, you are right, some games are gratuitious. When DOA Volleyball came out, I was so ashamed to be a gamer.

  19. [quote comment=”1932″]lol, That rant was years in the making. Many a time have I thought about it in the shower or car.
    Sir Fragalot, you are right, some games are gratuitious. When DOA Volleyball came out, I was so ashamed to be a gamer.[/quote]
    And even more ashamed when you bought your copy? 😛

  20. I belive you cannot use a mic if your live account is for someone under the age of 13
    however, all you need to do to bypass that is lie.

  21. I really like this rant, nice work.
    I think its a bit funny how when someone comes up with an outlandish statement such as “games lead to violence”, or anything along those lines, they justify it with something like “60% of all children in reform centres played games as a child.” Well 60% also drank milk but thats not included.
    It is to do with the individual, and their upbringing- you’re spot on in saying that.
    Gaming is really coming into the stage of being one of the main media for storytelling imo, which is why things like this remind me of when the comic book industry was almost shut down. Same sort of thing “it’s corrupting the young blah blah”. Years back this guy (dont remember the name) wrote a book called “Seduction of the Innocent” in which he blasted a lot of mainstream entertainment and blamed comic books in particular for the ill state of the world. Really over-the-top, and really stupid. He even went so far as to say that reading comic books caused asthma because children were staying inside to read instead of being outside playing…

  22. I honestly couldnt agree with you more anthony, the parents should take control, not the government. For a fact censorship is basically how the government got everyone on their side duing WWI. People at the gamestores need to ask your age.

  23. HA! Kalgros, you phail, I never even had an Xbox!

    lol, there is a great book called, “Everything Bad for You is Good for You” by Steven Johnson.

    He talks about how pop culture is smarter than before, like Lost or the Sopranos with their multiple storylines to follow.

    Or how Pong was really simple, but the Wind Waker is a very complex game that takes real smarts to play. check it out.

  24. I love talking about this, because I’m 14 years old, and I play tons of M rated games. What drives me nuts, though is that people my age that play these games don’t know how to behave themselves. When someone kills me in Halo, I will not swear or go around telling them that they are gay, and it offends me that some of my friends act like this, because they are not mature enough to play and it ruins my online experiance. I guess that parents didn’t really have this problem as much when they were kids and that’s why they don’t know how to explain to their kids that this stuff is not real and things like that. That’s just a guess. Some of you people will have to tell me, but I don’t see why parents don’t talk to thier kids before they let them buy these games. And what’s even more annoying than this is when the government says that kids who play video games and watch violent movies are more aggressive in daily life and that crap. I have never done anything violent in my whole life and I’ve played Bioshock and things like that. And then the government trys to fix it. Censoring things is just going to make people mad. They should back off and leave it to the parents. Wow, I guess I’ve been holding this in for a while too, lol.

  25. Great words shuggie. All true.
    It’s not the kid’s fault for playing M rated games, it’s the Parent’s fault for allowing him to play it. The parents have to control their kids, and I definitely don’t see that here in Japan. Sometimes kids need leashes on them.

  26. what pisses me of is gun nuts who are apparantly, saw this in an anti-gun propiganda email, always the first to lay the blame. and they always lay in on films or games. never guns. i have yet to see a video or disk firing a hand gun.

    one thing i really support gears of war 2 for is the content filters. it’s very useful when kids are around, namly my little bros mates.

  27. forgot to add, i’m fifteen, live in britain and get american gun propoganda, hmm. anyway, i can buy 18+ games and get into 18+ films simply because, to be blunt, no one gives a toss anymore.

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