All praise to Bowie, lord of all things musical. No, I'm actually not joking. Deal with it.
So, this happened yesterday, and it's only a matter of time before groups like the ESA start condemning it as censorship. Here's the thing though, as a parent, and a gamer, I don't understand why the software companies and retailers have an issue with it. It's not like they're trying to prevent them from publishing mature content. This isn't the Hays Code. They just want every game to have an ESRB rating for parents to reference.
There's the legal aspect that some game pundits refer to. "You shouldn't make it illegal for a minor to buy an M rated game." Bullshit. If my 11 year old son isn't allowed to buy Playboy, but can buy God of War, that's bullshit. And God of War is worse, because not only is there nudity and sex, there's also extreme violence. "But most companies already do this on a voluntary basis." So fucking what? Most is not all. If you force a parent to provide ID to buy a game for their kid, maybe, just maybe, they'll stop and think "why are they asking?". Is it going to stop kids from getting inappropriate games? Fuck no! Do you have any idea how many ignorant parents are out there? Ones who don't care what their kids play, or can't be bothered to say no once in a while?
I actually got a couple of kids in trouble with their dad while I was browsing games in a Wal-mart. I was looking at games, and he asked me the difference between God of War 3 and the God of War collection, because his boys wanted a new God of War game and he wasn't sure which one to get. I asked how old his kids were. "9 and 11." Completely confused, I asked "You DO know there's nudity and sex in those games, right?" Completely shocked, he's like "No." "Yeah, that's why they're rated M." "Well, I know two boys who are in trouble then." Thing is, I don't blame the boys, I blame him. Just like television and movies, parents need to be aware of what their kids play. But be honest with them about why you're saying no. My son is completely OK with the restriction I have in place on what he can and cannot play, primarily because he knows why I say no or yes.
So I say, bring on the restrictions. Penalize retailers who sell M rated games to juveniles. It's the first necessary step to educating parents on what their children are doing, because frankly, far too many have no fucking clue what their kids are up to.