Microsoft & Best Buy Team To Explore Age-Appropriate Slaughter - InformationWeek

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1/15/2009
05:07 PM
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Microsoft & Best Buy Team To Explore Age-Appropriate Slaughter

There's a new public-service campaign coming from Microsoft, Best Buy, and a handful of industry and parent groups, intended to promote age-appropriate carjacking, zombie annihilation, and troll slaughter.

There's a new public-service campaign coming from Microsoft, Best Buy, and a handful of industry and parent groups, intended to promote age-appropriate carjacking, zombie annihilation, and troll slaughter.Do you think it's going to do a bit of good?

The program has a Web site with all the requisite blather about dialogue and conversations between parents and their gamer kids. There are lots of tools for responsible gaming, including checklists for controlling access and time, and a pledge for parents and kids to sign. Family stories are featured, and comments are solicited.

I'm not sure how much conversation is required short of parents saying yes or no to specific game titles, and controlling the technology devices in their homes. A gamer industry ratings board (a la MPAA) designates letter badges to denote age-appropriateness, which is a blunt tool -- who knows what criteria upon which the ratings are based, or relative importance weighted -- so more of a dialogue doesn't seem to have a clear purpose.

That is, unless you consider the likely real goal of the campaign.

Games are violent, mean-spirited, and stocked with buxom female characters (or at least the good ones are). There's little that's appropriate about many of them and, considering the time kids spend playing them, they must affect them somewhat.

So my guess is that video gaming is a perfect target for government regulation, and the education campaign is an effort to stave off that eventuality with an industry-sponsored self-policing program. Imagine if teenagers couldn't buy the most gruesome stuff because of a law!

Makes some pointless conversation and dialogue seem pretty good indeed.

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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