Rockstar Games, famous for its Grand Theft Auto line of video games, is in the spotlight yet again.  The company’s newest game, Manhunt 2, has been banned in Great Britain.  The premise for the game is killing your way to freedom as an escaped mental patient. 

The company is not new to controversy.  Its Grand Theft Auto games have always been under scrutiny by parents, critics, and committees, most notably since Grand Theft Auto III.  Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was especially attacked when it was discovered players could watch a graphic sex scene when the right cheat codes were typed in.  The game was temporarily pulled from the shelves, and while the government said it mandated a new AO (Adults Only) game rating, a special edition of the game was released, still sporting the M (Mature). 

There is no real difference between the M and the AO.  You must be 17 to buy an M rated game, 18 to buy an AO.  That, and AO games are difficult to find.

Manhunt 2, however, adds a new element of controversy.  An edition has been made for Nintendo’s new Wii console, which means that the controller would allow players to go through the motions of the violent acts their character commits. 

Protests against the game have already begun here in the states.  The same old arguments have ensued, from placing an AO rating on the game as opposed to an M to banning the game altogether. 

The debate over the effects of these games have on society is nothing new, especially the argument that violent video games cause violent actions from the children that play them.  However, there are children that act violent no matter what they play.  There are children that play violent video games that do not have violent tendencies or outbursts.

All violent video games are giving ratings for a reason: to inform buyers and parents of the content.  If parents do not wish their children to see a rated R movie, they do not buy them the rated R movie.  If they do not wish their children to listen to music with explicit lyrics, they put forth the effort to keep albums with Parental Advisory Warnings out of the house. 

The time for excuses is over.  Like movies, all video games have ratings on the outside case and reasons for why that rating is there.  There is no excuse not to learn the rating system, or at least look on the case before making a purchase.  Even if stores slip up and sells to a child younger than the rating age, there’s no reason a parent can’t keep tabs on their child’s possessions.  Like movies, as with many of life’s luxuries, there are some for children and some for adults. 

The video game industry seems to be one of the only industries where adult material is banned just because parents don’t want to put forth the effort to parent. 

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