After losing the mayoral race in San Francisco, California state senator Leland Yee is getting back into the groove.. of targeting violent video games and giving parents advice before they go out shopping for the holidays. The good senator from the San Francisco/San Mateo district issued a press release this morning urging parents not to buy their children violent video games for the holidays.
While we agree with Yee's sentiment that kids shouldn't play games that are inappropriate for them (I.E. games rated "M" for "Mature" by the ESRB), we don't agree with the way he frames his message. Here's an example, from the press release:
"It is vitally important that parents and grandparents consider the content in video games before making holiday purchases," said Yee. "There is significant evidence demonstrating ultra-violent video games have negative effects on children, and can cause real behavioral changes."
The significant evidence he refers to was soundly rejected by the Supreme Court earlier this year after it heard arguments in the landmark case Brown v. the EMA. He goes on to mention the law he pushed for in 2004 that also failed and the dissenting opinion of Justice Stephen Breyer from San Francisco in the aforementioned court case as well.
You can read the whole thing here (which also bears the name of Yee's Chief of Staff, Adam J. Keigwin), but below are his recommendations to parents that plan on buying video games for their children:
• Be aware of advertising and marketing to children. Advertising pressure contributes to impulse buying.
• Check the age ratings and video game descriptors found on the box. Read other reviews, such as www.commonsensemedia.org and www.parentstv.org
• Become familiar with the game.
• If there are violence and sexual themes in the title or cover picture, you can assume these themes are also in the game.
• Avoid “first person shooter” and “third person shooter” games, which usually focus on gunning down hundreds of people.
• Discourage games that reward the player with more points or new scenes for anti-social and violent behavior.
Several media sources urge parents to avoid the following bestselling violent video games – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Assassins Creed: Revelations, Saints Row 3, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, LOTR War in the North, Dark Souls, Dues Ex: Human Revolution, Gears of War 3, Rage, Dead Island, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut, and Resistance 3.
Our advice to parents: use your judgment when buying games for your children, and when in doubt, visit ESRB.org. They also have an app for Apple's various devices as well as Android phones that you can use in your favorite store to get more information in real-time.