The video game violence controversy has come to the Caribbean.
As reported by The Nation Newspaper, government officials in Barbados are under pressure to ban violent video games, or at least enforce their content ratings.
The flap began on Monday when the head of the National Organisation for Women called for a ban on violent games and toy weapons.
In lobbying for a ban, Yvonnes Walkes said:
We need an approach to reverse this culture of violence and force that the Deputy Commissionerof Police… spoke about. We have to start with the children, the schools and the parents…
We have to be aware and be vigilant to get measures in place. This will also be one of our main focuses during our 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women…
In response to Walkes’ remarks, video game retailers requested that the government intervene with legal restrictions against selling games to underage players. Mahesh Mahtani, manager of a game shop, pointed to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:
We do not sell [GTA:SA] at all, because it is the worst we have seen, with very strong sexual content and
sexual crimes. In fact, any games that depict gang violence and gang warfare, we generally do not encourage.
However, another store manager, Brent Cook, felt that singling out video games for blame in the nation’s violence epidemic was unfair:
It comes down to practising good parenting… You have to monitor everything your child does.
GP: While the article is not clear on this point, it seems that some Barbados retailers are voluntarily enforcing content ratings. Perhaps other retailers may feel that having the force of law behind them would make it easier to turn down underage buyers.
In the U.S., vastly improved ratings enforcement at point-of-sale, especially among major retailers, has significantly reduced the rate of M-rated game sales to minors. But those improvements came in response to political pressure and were fostered by strong industry trade associations for game publishers and retailers.