Summary:According to stuff.co.nz, New Zealand's chief government censor Bill Hastings proposed that the parents who give their children access to violent video games should be prosecuted.
According to stuff.co.nz, New Zealand's chief government censor Bill Hastings proposed that the parents who give their children access to violent video games should be prosecuted.
Laws around video games were "an even stricter regime than alcohol", because if an adult gives a child aged under 18 access to a restricted video game even in their own home they are breaking the law, he said.
If someone was caught knowingly allowing a child access to restricted video games such as the R-18 GTA series they could be punished by up to three months' imprisonment or a fine of up to 10,000 dollars while no-one had yet been prosecuted under the law.
A user-generated clip from Grand Theft Auto IV
"That's what the law says, but... you're not going to have police officers in every bedroom... There would certainly be some shock value to prosecuting a parent who gives their under-18 child access to a restricted game. It would send out a message that the enforcement agency means business."
Mr. Hastings said studies had shown that repeated exposure to violence and sexual violence had an adverse effect on attitude, and it was important that parents realised some games were created for adults not children.
"I think the word 'game' can mislead people for sure. It's not checkers.
"For the first time in history, kids are more savvy with technology than parents... parents need to get up to speed on the digital divide. They need to look at what their kids are playing and doing," he said. "The fear of getting caught shouldn't be the motivating factor for you obeying the laws.
"It should be the pleasure in being able to sleep at night knowing that you have done the right thing by your kids. That should be the motivating factor."
In his opinion, video-game makers appeared to be steering away from extreme graphic sadism, as seen in the first video game to be banned in New Zealand, Manhunt.
Mr. Hastings said parents were often hampered in educating themselves about video-game ratings because of out-of-date legislation, which meant many titles slipped onto New Zealand shelves without a rating.
He intended to ask the Internal Affairs Ministry to repeal parts of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act, drafted in 1993, in order to classify all the video games.