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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Parents' Role In Purchases Of Videogames

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - If it isn't the role of parents, then who is it?

KoopaTV's campaign to have Nintendo change their ESRB eShop policy to allow users under 17, with parental permission, to digitally download M-rated games
runs on an important assumption: Parents should be the ones making decisions about what their children play. That's not a far-fetched assumption, right?

Well, according to the disturbing left-wing statists at MSNBC, children do not belong to their parents. They belong to the collective. If this was true, then the responsibility over children does not belong to parents; it belongs to the nebulous "community." Children turn into something everyone owns, a public good to be exploited by whoever. And when everyone owns something, then no one does. There's no accountability.

I don't think Nintendo subscribes to this collectivist view. Or, if they do, they don't want to show it. That's why they offer a robust set of parental controls. The ESRB itself says,
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is the non-profit, self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps so parents can make informed choices. The ESRB rating system encompasses guidance about age-appropriateness, content, and interactive elements.


To empower consumers, especially parents, with guidance that allows them to make informed decisions about the age-appropriateness and suitability of video games and apps while holding the video game industry accountable for responsible marketing practices.
See that? Parents. However, Joindots might think a bit differently about who should be making these decisions when I contacted them as per the campaign in the first paragraph.

Since the Joindots e-mail contact is outdated, I tried their Facebook.
Dear Ludwig, thanks a lot for pointing out this issue – and good luck for the try to change this. We at Joindots needed to have “Secret Agent Files: Miami” rated by ESRB. The same game has a 12+ rating in Germany and a 16+ rating in the rest of Europe. The thing is we cannot do anything regarding the ability to buy a 17+ ESRB title in the eShop when you are younger. In fact, I am even not sure if the parents are the right people to make that decision. Sure, they can do so at retail, but hey: are all parents informed good enough? Thanks for contacting us and have a great day! All the best, Thorsten
To which I said,
Well, I know you can't do anything about the eShop.
What I think would be awesome is if you contacted Nintendo of America and let them know that parents should be able to allow that sort of thing.

As for parents not being the right people, who ARE the right people? Parents know their own children the best, and are ultimately responsible for them.
Parents should sit together with their interested child and have a conversation with them about the content of the game and if the child is old enough to handle it.

I've talked to people under 17 who have, for example, shown their mom and dad YouTube footage of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies (rated M in America) and talked to them about why it's rated M but they're mature enough to "handle" it. Parents may or may not agree, but unfortunately eShop doesn't care about that sort of feedback.

Thanks for the reply, though!
They never replied to that, and this was from over two months ago. In fact, their reply to me was the last thing they ever did on that Facebook page. For all I know, they're out of business. Their site takes minutes to load and hasn't been touched since like, 2012.

Marvel the gratuitous English.

I already talked about the importance of parental decisions when I outlined the different content ratings for Capcom's Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Dual Destinies. There is no way the community can be making those decisions for you. The ESRB by definition is a guideline. The ESRB directly says its purpose is for parents. How can parents not be the right ones to make these decisions?

Sometimes, parents are not informed enough. You see this when little children are playing Call of Duty games. We specifically advise not raising your children this way. But that's on the parents. There should not be any organization that forces parents to choose a certain outcome in a decision. Kids are the responsibility of their parents. That's a fundamental piece of society. So the Federal Bureau Of Child Protection should not exist. (And it doesn't.)

"But Koopa!" you whine, "It's for the benefit of society that kids with bad parents be raised by someone else!" And then I say, "You're going off-topic, dude! This is about videogames!" And then you say, "Well, why not take this to its logical conclusion?"

If you're a bad parent and you know you're a bad parent, but you don't want to do anything about it, you're just a bad person. There are all sorts of resources available. Use them. Your life, and the life of your children, will be better. Videogames, and any other medium of entertainment, are not a substitute for good parenting. You're meant to work alongside them. Teachable moments and moral lessons are embedded within quality entertainment. Anyway, people don't want to be bad parents. There isn't incentive to be a bad parent. Treating your own flesh and blood like crap isn't beneficial to you. Your kid will just be annoying and your friends will think you're a terrible person.

If you're using entertainment as a substitute for parenting, that will end up more expensive than if you used entertainment as a tool for parenting. With parental involvement, the value of the entertainment goes up, which means there is more longevity. It also means one piece of entertainment can suffice to entertain both you and the kid. Your child has fun and you get to bond with your kid at the same time. You can buy four games a year instead of ten and get the same total amount of value since you're enriching it for the kid. That helps your wallet. Not doing so hurts your wallet. Incentives.

I'm not a developmental psychologist, but if you want to learn more about having a positive, enriching home environment, look here if you want. Nothing to do with videogames specifically, but I think we share the same point.

To tie this back to what this article is actually about, parents have incentive to be involved with their kids and their videogame decisions. That's why they're the best to make these decisions with their kids: They know their kid the best, and they're responsible if something bad happens. The hypothetical Federal Bureau of Child Protection has no accountability in this regard, and they don't emotionally give a damn if your 6-year old plays Sunset Overdrive or not.

This is not what your family's trip to Disney World should be like.

If the parent isn't well-informed enough, then that's up to the ESRB and the guys pushing out the content. Why aren't they informed enough? That's the problem. Then implement a solution to fix that problem, not to mask it.

Ludwig isn't a parent himself, but he has deep convictions that lead him to his beliefs about things even if he hasn't experienced them. If you'd like to see more of these beliefs, read other things on KoopaTV and maybe Follow him at Miiverse at NNID PrinceOfKoopas. Also, he's never been to Disney World.

If you'd like to read more about the parental role and the ESRB, look here about... swearing!
Hillary Clinton wanted to take the role from the parent to the government.


  1. Good article. Though there are bad parents out there, it makes sense that a child's parents would have the final say in the purchase of a video game. It is their child, after all.

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      As for bad parents, while I'm against forcing anything on them, we can certainly... persuade 'em to do the right thing.


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