Glasgow responds to SouthtownStar editorial
By James Glasgow Will County State’s Attorney November 6, 2013 10:14PM
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow
Updated: December 9, 2013 10:48AM
There is absolutely no dispute that children should not be exposed to the grotesque and wanton violence that saturates today’s M-rated video games. In fact, the video game industry and I are in complete agreement: Impressionable children should not play these hyperviolent games. However, we disagree on the level of information the industry should provide parents to truly alert them about the content of its games.
In your editorial (Oct. 27), you disparage an endeavor to inform good parents that the video game they just purchased for their child will allow them to repeatedly — and without consequence — murder police officers or butcher women. They can pick up prostitutes and kill them rather than pay them. They can shoot a woman in the face at point blank range or slit someone’s throat for no reason or bludgeon a man to a pulp with a baseball bat. They can get drunk or high and weave speeding cars onto the sidewalk to mow down senior citizens. They even can kill a dog, or have the dog kill a person — if that’s their pleasure.
Women, police officers, pedestrians, animals: All fodder for lessons in mayhem and depravity that in real life would qualify a defendant for the death penalty in some states. Your dismissal of this grotesque and hedonistic violence as “crass cultural influences” is like saying terrorists are discourteous.
In 1994, a more sensitive Congress was outraged by increasingly violent video games and stepped in to take action to protect children. The Entertainment Software Association rushed in to block Congress with an offer to self-regulate by creating the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. The stated mission was to empower parents with information to make knowledgeable decisions about the age-appropriateness of video games and to require the industry to adopt responsible marketing practices.
The result was a voluntary and unenforceable ratings system that includes an “M” for “mature” games (17 and older). The “M” should stand for “meaningless,” because parents never get a full view of the psychopathic carnage their children may commit. Nothing in the packaging, advertising or on game websites discloses the deliberate, cold-blooded murder and torture contained in these games. When I actually show parents in our community what their children are playing, they are repulsed and often cover their eyes or look away from the screen.
A 2006 report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Special Issue noted that content that was not described on the boxes of 81 percent of the M-rated games in a random sampling. The report further noted that consumers more than a decade ago were purchasing 40 percent of all M-rated games for children younger than 17. The situation has escalated.
I never have advocated censoring or banning these games for adults. I simply want to guarantee that parents have accurate information about their content. We don’t allow children to view pornography, drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes because we know the harm these activities cause. It’s time we placed M-rated violent video games in the same category.