Would you rent an R rated movie for your child? What about a movie rated NC-17? And if you did ignore the MPA rating, and your child ended up viewing highly inappropriate content, whose fault would that be?
In case you are the only human who has yet to hear this vital news, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas contains pixilated sexual activity in game play that (although not viewable out of the box) can be enabled using freely downloadable mods.
Uh oh, uproar time. The product has been rerated with an AO (adults only) rating. And even Hillary Clinton has weighed in demanding increased legislation and stiffer penalties to keep violent or pornographic video games away from children.
I have never played any of the Grand Theft Auto games. Frankly, they just don’t appeal to me. I have also not bought them for my kids. Why? Because they carried an M rating (M as in mature). What does M mean? As per the ESRB, “Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.” And that text appears alongside the M rating on each and every box. In case that is not clear enough, the ESRB M rating is very similar to the MPA R rating. AO, by contrast, “should only be played by persons 18 years and older”, similar to the MPA NC-17 rating.
Not that ages 17 and 18 are that different. The real difference between games rated M and those rated AO is where they are sold. Target, Best Buy, and other stores are pulling Grand Theft Auto San Andreas from their shelves now that it is rated AO. But does that actually mean anything as far as game suitability is concerned? Does the fact that these stores sell M rated games mean that they are appropriate for kids? Games rated M are not for kids, it’s as simple as that! If you do chose to ignore the rating, well, you have no one to blame but yourself.
The games I buy for my kids are mostly rated E (everyone), and I’d consider a game rated T (teen) if it were researched thoroughly and found not to be inappropriate. But I don’t buy my kids games rated M because, well, they are rated M!
Then you Senator Clinton for your concern, but if parents don’t want their kids playing games clearly marked “for persons ages 17 and older” and “sexual content”, then don’t buy them games rated M! Duh!