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Game Consoles and the Big Red Button
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 13, 2009   |   Episode 158 (Show Archive)  

   

Well, at least Microsoft figured out a way to prevent the red ring of death!
They say that you learn something new every day. I definitely learned that old adage is true this week when I discovered just how different the European games industry really is. I always knew there was something wrong that side of the Atlantic; after all, who comes up with the name Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and uses the name Probotector instead of Contra? But despite this evidence, I wasn't exactly sure how big of a divide there was between us American gamers and all of those foreign-sounding people on that other continent.

Late this week the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection recommended that future video game consoles and game-playing computers come with a "red button that could allow parents to control content and how long games are being played." They suggest that this "red button" could be used when a child is freaking out or showing signs of anti-social behavior. It

NOOOOOO!!! Not THAT big red button!!
would work like a panic button, something that could be pushed if the parent feels the exposure to video games is just too much for their child to handle.

As somebody who has never lived in Europe, I was shocked to discover that in that part of the world gamers don't have the luxury of a power button. As somebody who uses his power button on an almost daily basis, I can tell you that this committee is on the right track when it comes to protecting the youth. And really, it's not just the youth that they

Europe is going to need more than this to power all of those computers and game systems that are never being turned off!
are protecting. They are helping everybody out by giving people a way to save on electricity, instead of just leaving their PCs and game consoles running all day. Apparently in the past those unfortunate Europeans had to literally unplug their console when they wanted to take a break, a real hassle if you ask me.

This news also alerted me to the unfortunate reality that European televisions are far more addictive than those elsewhere in the world. After all, even when I don't turn off my computer and game systems, I'm still able to function like a regular human being. And, for the most part, so are my other game-playing countrymen and women. You see, while video games are fun, it's easy for most of us to get up, make food and have a normal life away from the distractions of interactive entertainment.

You see, this makes life in the U.S. considerably easier. No kid wants to put

Trust me, video game addiction is no laughing matter!
down the games and play outside, but at least we don't have to worry about our games being so addictive that we actually need a panic button to tear our youth's eyes away from the radiation box. I would be up in arms too if our video games were so addictive that it was starting to hurt the bottom line. I'm not sure what it is about that part of the world, but I'm sure PAL has something to do with it.

But not having an off button, that's a tough one. It really makes no sense why of all of the continents in the world Europe would be left out when it comes to "on/off" buttons. I know the Japanese consoles have these important buttons, I own a number of import game systems and have never once had this problem. But Europe has to be different. They always have to march at the beat of their own drummer. This may explain why they driving on the wrong side of the road, outlawed capital punishment

Seriously, what does Europe have against ninjas? I suppose it's Hero Gaiden and Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Hero over there!
and refused to help us invade Iraq. Who knew that the same countries that legalized marijuana and prostitution would have so many problems turning off their game systems? Well, I guess deep down I always suspected something was up, but it always felt a little racist to say out loud.

So good job Europe; way to go! If this committee's recommendations are taken seriously then you will start to see game consoles and computers with their own power buttons. I'm not sure I agree with the idea of making these buttons big and red, but it's always nice to have a way of powering down your console when you are ready to turn in for the night. This is yet another example of the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection looking out for all of the little people out there. Where would we be without these guys?

And you know this is coming from a good place, because this committee even came out and said that video games were good for you. No really, they did just that. "Video games are in most cases not dangerous and can even contribute to the development to the development of important skills," said Toine Manders, the Dutch liberal lawmaker who drafted the report. "[They stimulate] learning of facts and skills such as strategic reflection, creativity, cooperation and a sense of innovation." See, they are totally not against video games. They just want to protect us and save us energy. And really, is that so wrong?
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