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(To my Facebook readers: you can see this actual blog post at bigmercenary.blogspot.com. It's my personal blog about video game reviews, issues, my thoughts, etc. Plus things like Tech News. I have it tied in to Facebook so that's why you're all seeing this. Discussions are ALWAYS welcome whether on the blog or on Facebook.)

Let's say a 13 year old kid walks into a gun store and wants to buy a rifle and some ammo, they're not going to let him. But if that kid walks into Wal-Mart and wants to buys an M-rated game, they probably won't bat an eyelid.

Why is that?

The gun store employees are trained (not to mention have enough common sense I hope) to not sell weapons to minors. But the employee turnout in Wal-Mart is so astronomical that they won't care who they're selling the game to (because they probably won't be there next month). Neither will the head honchos of this place because it's just money to them. I've been carded every time in the past few years when I bought an M-rated game from EBGames or GameStop. (Play N Trade has my info on file, so they don't need to ask.)
K-Mart just recently picked it up last year.
Wal-Mart? No idea.

After a school shooting a few years ago, it was found that the kid had access to guns. Where did he gets the guns from? His mom bought them FOR HIM. She didn't recognize what was going on in her son's life that would lead to that debacle. The finger was also pointed at the video games he had played.
In the same way some kid's parent will buy them M-rated games and not even pay attention to the rating or how it will affect the kid playing the game.
It can also be noted that many parents just don't care what the rating is. In this case the store employees can not refuse to sell the game. It may result in legal action, heavy fines, etc.

Some years ago there was a RollingStone magazine with Britney Spears on the cover in her underwear, being interviewed about her home life. The FCC criticized this but the magazine still sold well. So what about this piece of "objectionable material"? I'm pretty sure lots of 13 year old boys bought that issue. It was never pulled from store shelves or boycotted.

I can bring this point up a million times and it may never get through the thick skulls of some people: It's the parent's responsibility to make sure that they're kids are not playing these games.
It should also be noted that a video game system IS NOT A BABYSITTER. It is NOT OKAY for you to sit your kids down in front of a console and leave for work or a dance club.

Video games are no substitute for reality.
Time spent with your children is important.

If you do allow them to be played, you need to make sure they understand the difference between video games and reality. AND you need to be there with them to make sure things don't get out of hand.

It requires a group effort for things of this nature to go right. Game store employees already know to card for M-rated games. The parents need to know about the ratings system and to pay attention to the behavior of their children. Those of us who play games as a hobby and beyond shouldn't point the finger back or ignore this issue. We need to encourage parents to get involved with their kid's lives.

These are the current ESRB ratings for video games, direct from the ESRB website:
(Please note, there are currently only 19 games rated Adults Only.)
EC: Early Childhood: Titles rated EC have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
E: Everyone: Titles rated E have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
E 10+: Everyone 10 and Up: Titles rated E10+ have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
T: Teen: Titles rated T have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
M: Mature: Titles rated M have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
AO: Adults Only: Titles rated AO have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
RP: Rating Pending: Titles listed as RP have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)


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