Presidential candidates talk video game violence

Health care? Taxes? Immigration? Why do presidential candidates insist on wasting our time talking about such trivial issues? When will they address the questions we really care about -- the ones about video games? Well, actually, right now.

Non-partisan, not-for-profit advocacy group Common Sense Media has quizzed some of the leading presidential candidates on a variety of media issues, video game violence legislation among them. Here's a quick summary of their views on proposed federal legislation limiting children's access to violent games:
  • Senator John Edwards (D - NC): The ESRB and retailers are doing a pretty good job, but the FTC found that 42 percent of children under 17 can still purchase M-rated games, and that's too high. Publishers need to tone down the marketing of violent games to kids. If the industry isn't careful, the government "will need to consider further steps" to keep these games away from children
  • Senator Barack Obama (D - IL): Video games should use technology to let parents restrict content [Note to Obama: they already do.] The rating system should be improved to make content information "easier to find and easier to understand. ... but if the industry fails to act, then my administration would." In any case, the government should spend money to study the problem.
  • Governor Bill Richardson (D - NM): "I would consider this legislation," but it's really up to the parents. I'll give federal employees paid time off to spend with their kids.
  • Fmr. Governor Mitt Romney (R - Mass.): I would enforce current obscenity laws to protect children from "a societal cesspool of filth, pornography, violence, sex, and perversion." I would "go after" retailers that sell violent games.
While the responses are interesting, the lack of participation from front-runners like Hillary Clinton, Rudy Guliani and Mike Huckabee makes the information a little less than complete just weeks away from the Iowa caucuses. Still, the full questionnaire has illuminated the candidates' thoughts on other game-related issues such as childhood obesity, screen time, media literacy and the media's impact on the candidates' own kids. Be an informed voter and give it a read.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.