Willy Sutter has everything he needs for a lazy summer afternoon. The West Junior High student has a wide collection of video games for the various consoles, a comfy chair and a nice television. Could life be any easier?
Actually, it could. Redbox, the popular DVD rental kiosk, started offering video game rentals this month. That makes games more accessible and cheaper for gamers like Willy, which worries some west metro parents who don’t want their children to have easier access to violent video games.
Hopkins resident Karen Totall allows both her sons to play video games but restricts her elementary school-aged son Brian because of his age. She doesn’t like the idea of Brian being able to rent games without being checked by someone behind a counter.
“We use the ratings on the games. We trust that they know what is appropriate for different ages and follow that,” Totall said. “I have ways to control the types of games he plays since he doesn’t have as much financial or transportation freedom…The idea that this is the direction we’re heading is concerning for me as a mom.”
Minnetonka resident Joyce Fiedler, mother of three, has similar concerns. Her daughter, Eleanor, who’s entering junior high next year, is less interested in violent or inappropriate games, preferring dance or sport games on the Microsoft Kinect or Wii.
“As a mother I still have some control over what my youngest is exposed to. But with a Redbox nearby, I can see where Eleanor might get the idea that she could rent a game,” Fiedler said. “As a girl, I think she is less prone to that temptation of violent games…With an older brother, she has some of the mature games in the house already, so I just need to keep an eye out and make sure she doesn’t abuse that.”
Video games aren’t the first media for mature audiences at Redbox. Customers can also rent rated-R movies. Redbox spokeswoman Kate Brennan said the company requires customers to be 18 to rent any rate-R movies or video games rated mature. Customers must have a credit card and validate their age when renting these titles. The company also encourages parents to use the content controls already available on the video game consoles that run the games.
"Ultimately, we believe parents should determine what games are suitable for their family and set their video game console Parental Controls accordingly,” she said.
Willy’s mother, Anne Sutter, is not as concerned about her son’s exposure. She noted that he doesn’t have a credit card to rent games and that he can’t drive yet. She also thinks that it is still parents’ responsibility to control what their children play.
“His two older brothers both have the games, and it was easier to limit things with them. But Willy has been around it and seen it before even playing himself. I hate some of the games, but I think as they get older they can handle them,” she said. “If parents are aware they can control what their kids are exposed to, as long as they know the issue and how to combat it.”
Where are Redboxes near Hopkins?
- 300 11th Ave. S.
- 1511 Highway 7
- 11400 Highway 7
- 540 Blake Road N.
- 4637 Shady Oak Road S.