There’s been a lot of talk about violent video games recently in the wake of the Sandyhook shooting in the US and this has led to people looking to do something about it. The most recent event is a library in New Jersey that has announced it will no longer allow patrons to play violent video games on its systems.
This news was released by library board member Irene Stirling, who said (via Game Politics): “We felt we should do everything we can to prevent our kids from learning these behaviours.”
Of course it’s debatable whether violent games and specifically shooters teach much beyond decent hand to eye coordination – but that’s another article in itself. What is pertinent here though is free speech, as the National Coalition Against Censorship has weighed in with its own take on this move.
“It is no more acceptable for a library to ban access to certain kinds of video games than it would be to selectively remove other lawful materials. Library patrons,including young people, have a First Amendment right to make their own decisions about literature, art, informational materials, and entertainment without having those choices limited by the subjective views of library officials. Library officials attempt to justify their decision by claiming that they are acting in parens patriae.”
“However, librarians are not baby-sitters, and they have no way to know that their views correspond with those of parents or guardians. Moreover, the policy apparently applies to patrons of all ages, including adults and minors who are accompanied by an adult.”
It’s not clear whether we’re talking PCs or consoles, but it seems more likely the former. In which case, it’s pretty simple to setup an under-18 account system so that only those that aren’t children can play these sorts of games.
KitGuru Says: What do you guys think of this? Seems to me that the library is an odd place for playing games, but if it’s your only option and the facilities are provided, then adults should be allowed to use them. Of course the library staff should maintain age rating restrictions just as a shop is legally required to.