Posted by jedionston
As a younger player I always thought of the ESRB implimintation as something that was oppressing the creativity and innovation uniquely associated with video games and its players. One of my favorite franchises in the arcade renaissance was Mortal Kombat. Despite my enthusiasm, parents and just about any adult I met during this time seemed to think my opinion was largely unimportant in how I viewed Mortal Kombat and other video games at the time. Make no mistake Night Trap and Mortal Kombat were not the only games getting public and political heat, nearly every “gamer” and “developer” during this time was being belittled and ashamed publicly. Times have sense changed and video games do not hold the same negative connotation they use to, largely because all the studies that have been published to scapegoat and vilify games have failed. Thanks in part to the passionate and active internet community that supports and protects the video games industry from all corners of the world. Personally I enjoy video games that push the boundaries of society and ask harder questions for the gamer to personally answer for themselves. Video games have been and still are much different than movies, music, and books. While there is a tremendous push in the video game industry to make more AAA games cinematic in appearance, it is important to look at some of the important milestones games have made in the past and build off those accomplishments. The ESRB must be considered a tipping point for when video games deservingly entered the stage of politics and in light of scrutiny held on to industry independence. I am proud as a gamer of how far the players, developers, and the industry as a whole has come sense these times.
The ESRB is much different to me now, I do not view it as an oppressive system but as the contractual bridge that keeps very real and depressing restrictions and limitations on games federally. Thankfully there are so many avenues that games have entered now that it would be nearly impossible to regulate them any more than the ESRB already does. It is very important for parents to have a basic understanding of the themes and struggles their child may experience while playing a game and right now they can. I always advocate for parents to watch some small gameplay videos or look up user reviews before purchasing a game for their child, but that is the parents job not the developers. The ESRB enforces consumer awareness and has continually lowered the ability of minors to obtain inappropriate games every year. With the threat of federal regulations looming, all the major game publishers at the time including Acclaim, EA, Nintendo, and Sega, formed a political trade group to debate self-regulatory frameworks for assessing and rating video games. This cooperation between bitter business rivals paved the way for all future video game development, while protecting all developers for the forseable future. Developers now have a choice of targeting certain ratings to be placed on their games and have a neutral party to send them back any critical areas that might have been overlooked. I must admit though paying fines for easter eggs seems like a shady and under the table kind of deal. Perhaps in the future the ESRB will find a more savory ways to communicate with developers regarding this area of production. I think the ESRB offers the perfect amount of limitation for developers and has bred true mastery from those who abide by its regulation.
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