This time it's Yon from Tripod in the hot seat.
Tripod, in case you weren't aware, are an awesome Aussie comedy musical trio that love games. They wrote this song , which makes them automatically awesome. You can find more information on Tripod and what they're currently up to here.
Take it away Yon...
Gatesy, one of the other Tripod blokes, was telling me last night about his friend's son. He's 11, and all of his mates have bought Black Ops - which I'm playing at the moment - and he wants his dad to buy it for him.
It's pretty nasty, though what would I know? I'm old and numb to it all - well screen violence - not actual violence. I'm in no way numb to that. In fact, seeing a pub brawl that's spilled out onto the street from across the road gives me a sick (ye olde sick, not sick as in good) feeling. I freeze, and all the conversation around me goes into the background. I've noticed this bothers me more than it does my wife. So why do I play these ultra-violent games? I guess it's to serve my manly ultraviolent core from the safe and disconnected spot on my office swivel chair.
Re: Gatesy's friend's kid and these games, it doesn't hugely bother me that he and his mates get their hands on them, because screen violence, to me anyway, is so wildly different to real violence that I don't really see a strong connection. I remember watching the movie Commando as a kid and my mates and I would laugh and cheer as the guy gets his head cut in half (but on an angle!) by a flying circular saw blade. It's a fantasy and we all knew it. But that movie does have an R18+ rating, and that was useful.
Useful firstly so a kid can feel properly dangerous as he partakes in an illicit product, and secondly, so parents have some sort of guideline about what's generally accepted as suitable for kids. Poor old Gatesy's mate has to ring up Gatesy (not a reliable man in any way, with as many vices as there are Saw movies) to find out whether his son should be playing this game. Parents might ignore ratings on games, particularly in the face of incessant pleading and bargaining, but at least they're a good starting point.
When it comes to the banning of certain games because there's no R18+ rating - well, games so obviously should be undergoing the same screening process as films. Occasionally films with sexual violence get banned in Aus, but because games can get banned for a lot less, being too rough for an MA15+, all it gives them is a not-always-well-deserved publicity push and gamers find a way to get them anyway. I first bought a PS2 because GTA3 was on it. As soon as it arrived I sent it off to get chipped so I could play the proper (and therefore pirated) version where you could have sex with prostitutes. By the time I'd shown all my friends, I was tired of this and just played the game. I haven't played a pirated game since – only because there was no famously censored must-play game in my sights. My motive, if you believe it, was mostly that I resented being treated like a child and given a nannified version of a game people were playing in the rest of the world.
Above all, parents should be engaging with their kids on what they play and watch and not just relying on ratings, but if they know nothing about games and don't even have informed taste arbiters like Gatesy on speed dial, then surely it's better to have R18+, MA15+, M, PG and G. Remember NRC? My heart quickens as I recall that that's what Empire Strikes Back was...