What defines violence?

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While the situation in California may not be as divided as say, the O.J. Simpson trial, it still polarizes people to the core: what can be considered violence? While speaking at Chicago-Kent University, Jenner and Block LLP Partner Paul M. Smith said that no matter what a state considers violent, there will always be a vagueness to the rule.

"Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, there's lots and lots of violence in all of those things," he said. "You have to figure out a way to use the English language to describe some subset of violence which is different from that. Even though people are being murdered and beheaded all the time in Lord of the Rings, you don’t want to make it a crime to sell a DVD of Lord of the Rings to a 16-year-old child."

It’s a stupid idea to think of being fined for selling a minor a video game. Why should a company and the states be raising children, when that responsibility falls mainly on the parents.

Take a moment to think of all the movies Hollywood has been recently been producing? There’s blood, sex, swearing and body parts everywhere. Think of the Saw series. The first think that pops into the mind is an orgy of brutal killings. Would any adult let a 10-year-old see that? Of course not. One: Parents are informed of the media in time to make a rationalized decision on if that movie will mentally unhinge their child and two: the MPAA  offers a nice rating system that helps parents decide if their kids can see the movie, and tells kids how awesome a movie is.

Now look at video games. The ESRB, like the MPAA, reviews games, gives them ratings from E (for Everybody) to M (for MATURE) and, also like the MPAA, gives a nice brief report for why the game is given its rating. The only difference is that parents take no interest in what their children are playing, and still expect something else to raise their children. Hell, even Sean Connery in Indiana Jones was waiting for Harrison Ford to get more interesting.

But that’s not all! Mega corporations such as Wal-Mart, Target, GameStop, and any other store you can think of also stands as a middle man. Just like cigarettes, liquor and R-rated movies, an I.D. is needed to purchase a Mature rated game. Just like convince stores, corporations are also subject to sting operations where they are tested to see if they are following the rules.

Even with all the hoops needed to purchase a game, kids still find a way to obtain the latest titles. So what is a parent supposed to do? The easiest thing would be get involved. After crawling out of your rock, look and see that games are not just about sitting down with a controller, but now involve getting off the couch and interacting. With the increasing obesity rates, this would be a great way to ease into the video game world and spend quality time with your child. And if little Bobby isn’t into that sort of thing, you can still take five minutes to see what he is playing, and make sure it is age appropriate.

After Columbine and DOOM getting a bad rap, everyone is looking for a scapegoat, and video games will always be an easy target. Richard Ramírez gave AC/DC a bad name with his obsession with the song “Night Prowler,” and the band had a hard time shaking off that image.

Video games (despite what Roger Ebert says) are an art form, and are protected by the First Amendment. And like the crap on tv, if you don’t want your kid watching it, just change the channel.

As a side note, Officer D-Pad will now be posting under the name 'Gentleman Gamer.' I apologize if this causes any confusion. I will do my best to uphold the standard that the original 'Gentleman Gamer' set.

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