Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sneak Peek

I know I've covered all of this before, but I feel pretty good about this summation. I wrote this for the church news letter, so for those of you who are members of the church and receiving the news letter, this is an official sneak peek! And you might get to have some visual aids that those suckers who still get the paper version won't get.

Don't you feel special?

To My Church Family,
As summer is beginning, and the children and youth are starting to have at least a little actual free time, I think it is the perfect moment to stop and think about one popular pastime: video games.

Video games seem to be more and more in the spotlight lately, and like most of the stories you’ll see on the major news networks, it always seems to be something dire. From Jack Thompson’s “Modest Video Game Proposal” and frequent use of the phrase “murder simulator” to Rockstar Games’ “Hot Coffee” incident, it has become clear that the days of “Pong” have passed. So we should simply ban video games from the lives of our offspring in an attempt to sterilize their world and protect them from becoming crazed, oversexed, rampaging monsters who can’t tell the difference between Dual Shock PS2 Controller and a .45 Auto GLOCK.

Yeah, that sounds wrong to me, too.

Here’s what I really believe: I believe that we were all created in God’s image, and that this means that it behooves us to seek God out in one another. I believe that one way in which we are like God is in our creativity and that therefore it behooves us to seek God out in the creative works of one another. I believe that all art: paintings, photographs, poetry, fiction, film, television—and video games—can and do bare the image of God to us, if we would only look. I believe that video games are a rapidly evolving art form that should enjoy the same rights and privilages of novels, movies, and television. I believe—just as I do for novels, movies, and television—that not all video games are appropriate to all ages, maturity levels, or abilities to separate fantasy from reality. And finally, I believe that it should be the responsibility of parents/guardians to make sure that their children aren't being exposed to materials they aren't equipped to deal with appropriately.

So here’s the bare bones of what you need to know as a parent or guardian of a young one who wants a copy of the latest Grand Theft Auto to play over the summer. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has already done most of the work for you.
Video games have ratings, just like movies and television programs do. The rating is listed right on the box, and says exactly what age group the game is appropriate for. If the rating confuses you, or you can’t read the wee little print, then ask a clerk to explain it to you. If the clerk can’t, then it’s time to raise a fuss—just like you would if the person selling the movie tickets couldn’t explain what an “R” rating means. The ESRB has a website, www.esrb.org, that would also be helpful to you. And finally, if all else fails, there are ways to rent games—in fact most video rental places have a video game section. So here’s a novel idea… rent the game yourself, make your offspring teach you how to turn the machine on, and play it yourself! Only you can make the decision as to what’s appropriate and what’s not, what’s too violent and what’s not, what’s too sensual and what’s not.

Besides which, you might find a game you like to play!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

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