Magic Red Button

Caught an interesting story today while I was catching up on my game news feeds in Google Reader.  Apparently a Labour Member of the European Parliament wants to mandate that any gaming device (computers, consoles, etc.) be fitted with a red button that can be used to control access and/or disable a game.

This idea is stupid on several levels.

If the problem is a lack of parental oversight, then either they’re not around to press this button to begin with, or a child is going to press it again once the parent is not around.  Kids are not stupid and for ages have been applying their imagination and ingenuity to doing things they want to do which they are not supposed to do.  A button is either on or off, unless there’s some kind of biometric security built-in, it won’t deter any child over the age of 6 months.

If the problem is more of a panic situation where a parent sees their child playing something they’re not supposed to and want to shutoff the game as quickly as possible, they already have a multitude of options: turn off the TV, turn off the console, or remove the child from the room.  Even better than a magic button, my Xbox 360 already has parental controls built-in, as does my TV, and I’m sure that the Wii and PS3 have similar options.  These types of controls allow me to limit what kinds of games can be played on the console regardless of whether or not I’m standing by to press any buttons, no matter what color they are.

One comment from the politician’s website that does concern me is this:

“We want a code of conduct for retailers and the producers of these games. And internet café owners need to be reminded of their responsibilities. A recent survey showed that large numbers of children, some as young as six, are accessing the internet without adult supervision in internet cafes.”

Children as young as six?  What parent is letting a six year old run around on their own?  I think if there’s any problem here that really needs to be addressed it is a lack of parenting.  I can guarantee you that my 6 month old will not be running around anywhere unattended in the next 10 years.

Still it is nice to know that America doesn’t have a monopoly on stupidity.

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