California State Senator Leland Yee, a noted critic of the videogame industry, has issued a press release urging parents not to purchase violent videogames for their children.
"Eighty-seven percent of children between 8 and 17 years of age play video or computer games and about 60 percent list their favorite games as rated M for Mature, which are games designed for adults," Yee said. "It is vitally important that parents and grandparents consider the content in videogames before making holiday purchases."
In the press release, Lee made particular note of the recently released Manhunt 2, claiming that "many have called [it] the most violent game ever produced." Noting that the game has been banned in England and that Target stores are no longer carrying the game, the press release criticizes the ESRB for its refusal to re-rate the game despite the fact that it has "accessible content designed for an Adults Only (AO) rating."
"Unfortunately, some parents don't realize that in many top selling games, the player actively participates in and is rewarded for violence, including killing police officers, maiming elderly persons, running over pedestrians and torturing women and racial minorities," he said.
The Senator also included a checklist for parents unfamiliar with videogames who may be purchasing them for their children at Christmas:
- Be aware of advertising and marketing to children. Advertising pressure contributes to impulse buying.
- Check the age ratings video game descriptors found on the box. Read other reviews, such as www.mediafamily.org, www commonsensemedia.org, and www.familymediaguide.com.
- Become familiar with the game.
- If there are violence and sexual themes in the title and cover picture, you can assume these themes are also in the game.
- Look for games involving multiple players to encourage group play.
- Pick games that require the player to come up with strategies and make decisions in a game environment that is more complex than punch, steal, and kill.
- Avoid the "first person shooter" and "third person shooter" killing-machine games.
- Discourage games that reward the player with more points or new scenes for anti-social and violent behavior.
The full text of Senator Yee's press release is available at his official California State Senate webpage.