It’s apparently hip to pick on the the New York Times these days, so I won’t, even though it’d be easy to glibly confuse their latest position on violent games the way these guys seem to be. The NYT piece in question couldn’t be clearer: Here’s a list of 10 games you might want to avoid this holiday if you have a young child or teenager who, you know, doesn’t meet the Entertainment Software Rating Board‘s age recommendations.
Yeah, I realize that makes the list kind of redundant if you already know what the ESRB is, or how to read the little black and white ratings rectangles on the front and back of the game boxes. Then again, what’s it hurt to put Common Sense Media’s descriptions up in the interest of helping the gaming-illterate get a handle on stuff that takes gamers like you and me a dozen hours just to play through once, much less properly size up?
The NYT piece even finishes with an open-ended question: “What do you think of the Common Sense ‘don’t buy’ list?” and opens the piece to feedback. Isn’t the onus more on reactionary readers who tend to wander by these stories, read two sentences, then work themselves into a rage about the demise of Western society in direct proportion to the quantities of “blood spurting out of victims’ bodies” in games like Dead Space: Extraction or the option to “go undercover as an enemy terrorist” in this year’s shock-and-awe’ster, Modern Warfare 2?
The NYT list:
Assassin’s Creed II
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Dead Space: Extraction
Dragon Age: Origins
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Left 4 Dead 2
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Sure, Common Sense’s descriptions don’t do the games justice. Neither do the marketing blurbs on the backs of game boxes. Neither do most reviews, for that matter. You have to start somewhere, like following up a piece like this by checking the games against the ESRB’s ratings summaries, then making up your own mind.
And if you’re really more interested in games as artful of a piece with films and books and music, what are you doing reading (or caring about) a newspaper anyway?