Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was released one week ago, and it was the biggest video game launch in entertainment history, with more than $400 million worth of games sold in the U.S. and the U.K. on day one, and more than 6.5 million copies during the first week. Part of the draw of this game is realistic warfare situations, that can be extremely graphic, and this has many critics saying it's too violent for kids. However, not even the Supreme Court is doing anything about it - and some parents were lining up on launch-day to buy the game for their kids!
The launch of Modern Warfare 3 took place last Monday night at midnight, and gamers camped out for hours, including 12-year-old Salvatore Del Valle. For Sal, a sixth-grader, it was a school night, but that couldn't keep him away from his favorite game. The game is filled with fast-paced blood splatter from his enemies' bodies, which is serious stuff for a child, especially considering that the game is rated "M" for mature, and the recommended age is 17 or older.
In line with 12-year-old Sal Monday night was his mom, and as it turns out, she wasn't the only parent waiting to buy the game for their kid. Adult gamers say they see it all the time: young people buying violent video games, and some are less than thrilled. Politicians agree, and several have tried to keep "M" rated games out of the hands of children. States all over the country have tried to set up laws to creat an age limit for violent games, but just this year, the Supreme Court shot down the idea.
Kurt Squire is a video game designer and researcher at the University of Wisconsin. Squire says courts have a history of protecting video games under the First Amendment, which means no age limits, but Squire says there's no need to protect children from these games.
"The overwhelming body of research says it's fine. It's not that different than books or film. Kids have been seeing everything from action films to horror movies for a long time, and in general, it looks like there is really very little, if any, effect," Squire said.
Some critics disagree, saying games expose violence to children they would not normally see, some going as far to say that it could lead to real-life violence. Sal's mom is siding with Squire, saying it's just a game. She decided to reward Sal with the game because his report card was excellent, and she feels he's mature enough to handle the content. She says, the decision should be up to the individual parent.
"What's most important is being involved in your kids' lives. Know what they are playing. Help them and yourself to make good choices about what kinds of media you can consume," Sal's mom said.
There are no laws in Wisconsin protecting children from these games, but stores can implement their own policies. For example, at GameStop, no one under the age of 17 can purchase Modern Warfare 3 without a parent present.