Censorship Within Computer Games

Nowadays, censorship exists virtually everywhere. Nearly every single product sold has some form of age requirement or rating attached to it which is intended (at least in theory) to protect audiences from material which may be damaging or offensive to people of their age. This is mainly to protect minors from exposure or over-exposure to violence, sex visceral, or other forms of imagery & ideas which could be considered damaging or offensive.

One of the biggest debates regarding censorship however; is if it actually has any effect at all. For many people the answer varies depending on the situation. Within video games, one of the best examples of censorship being demanded is Grand Theft Auto. This is because GTA provides the player with the ability to run around a city murdering innocent strangers in a variety of ways, all simply for amusement. As the setting for GTA is realistically based, & could (hypothetically) happen within our own world, many parents do not allow their children to play these games.

On the other hand, games such as the Halo series receive little to no censoring, because, although the player goes around with the direct intention of killing nearly everything that crosses their path; the setting, and targets, are all completely fantastical in nature, set in an imagined future reality & based upon a fictitious war setting. Even though players can stick grenades to enemies then watch as the enemy panics before being blown to pieces, it is not censored because the enemies are not even humans or any ‘real’ creature, & therefore is not seen by most people to be something that needs censoring.

Several people with children & younger family members were asked how much they let their children play censored & age rated games, & where they ‘drew the line’ with certain games.

The first person who was asked said that they didn’t get any game for their child that the child wasn’t old enough to buy on their own; and that the child wasn’t allowed to play, or watch anyone else in the household play, game which were rated above their own age.

Another person said that they allowed their children to play games such as Modern Warfare, yet would not allow them to play GTA, as they felt Modern Warfare wasn’t an issue as they usually played the game together, whereas GTA was likely to be played alone. The case that this person made was summed up as “They can play stuff that’s age restricted, but only if someone’s watching them”.

Another person said that they didn’t allow their children to play any age restricted games, or watch films or media of any type with an age restriction, believing that the age restrictions are placed for a reason. However, they admitted that their children had played & seen age restricted games & films at their friends.

Many younger gamers do have their own opinions on this issue; one young man (16) said when asked that he didn’t generally care about censorship when gaming. That he would just have older friends & family buy age restricted games for him, & that when prompted he would leave blood & gore & bad language settings in games alone as he felt in added to the ‘realism’ of the experience.

Nearly everyone who was asked about this stated that whenever they left censorship settings (blood, swearing etc) turned off, they did so not because they wanted to watch people bleed, swear & suffer, but in actual fact because of the opposite. One person said “When you get cut or shot you bleed right? So isn’t it worse if people play this stuff & think it’s fine to shoot people because it doesn’t make them bleed or hurt them?”. This was a very good point not expected to come from someone 15 years old, but was one with a lot of logic to it regarding the downside of censorship; stating that censoring offensive material could make people grow to think it doesn’t exist at all.

Overall though, it seems that many people do not show any concern for age restriction & censorship, & that most people still seem to buy, or at least let their children play, age restricted games. It seems that the only peoplewho actually pay any heed to censorship are those with enough common sense & emotional maturity that they probably don’t need it anyway …

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