Playing (Video) Games in Illinois

by on December 16, 2004

The state of Illinois wants to regulate the sale of video games to minors. I have written about this issue elsewhere, but in general, the problem with measures such as these is that it requires someone in government to define what constitutes “violent” or “sexually explicit” games. Thus, there will certainly be an element of censorship involved here.

Previous enactments such as this have already been tested in the courts and found to be unconstitutional. But without getting into the legal issues, I think the real question here is whether government or parents should be primarily responsible for what children watch or play. I grew up playing hundreds of video games on several different platforms (starting with Atari 2600 back in the late 70s). And I am now am a parent myself of two small children, one of which has already started playing some interactive computer games. As with anything else in this world, the answer here lies in moderation and parental guidance. When my kids are confronted by troubling themes or images, I will talk to them about it just as my parents talked to me. I will explain the difference between fantasy and reality. In some cases I might restrict their access to some of these games, or prohibit them from being in my house altogether. And, most of all, I will encourage my kids to do something more with their free time than sit on their butts in front of the television all day! I’ll give them good books, read to them, take them to the park, throw a ball with them, etc., etc.,…

Regardless, this is my business and the business of the millions of other parents out there–not the government. Quit telling me how to raise my children and quit acting as if I’m not capable enough to do this job myself. And shame on any parent out there who is lazy and runs to the government asking them to play the role of surrogate parent for them. If you just hand you kid $50 bucks and let them go buy any game they want and then let them play it without any supervision whatsover, then that’s your own damn problem. That video game console didn’t just walk into your house uninvited after all. Someone had to shell out the $200 bucks to put it there.

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