NBC News with Brian Williams
By Kevin Tibbles Correspondent
NBC News
updated 12/22/2004 7:45:57 PM ET 2004-12-23T00:45:57

On screen, the gunslinger blows away aliens with abandon in one of the hottest video games this season. Off screen, the trigger man is 11 years old.

So when Andy Martinez fires up his Xbox, his father's often riding shotgun on the sofa, ensuring the games his son plays aren't what he considers too violent.

"What they are watching and what they are doing is going to reflect on how they develop," says Frederico Martinez.

Now there's someone else who says he wants to assist parents by standing between violent video games and children — first-term Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich is 48 years old and a father of two. He plans to introduce legislation next month that would ban the sale of violent and sexually explicit games to kids under 18.

"The whole object of these games is teaching kids to practice things that we put them in jail for," says Blagojevich.

Beyond games with bad language and nudity, others in the governor's sights even reward players for stealing cars and shooting police officers. He says he's crusading for everyone's kids, including his own daughter.

"She doesn't have the constitutionally protected right to play a video game where she cuts somebody's head off and blood spurts from somebody's neck," says Blagojevich.

And the governor has publicly criticized Chicago Transit for allowing advertisements for some games on city buses. But merchants argue that games are already labeled with ratings recommending who should and shouldn't play.

"It's not the role of the retailer to be the violence or sexual police of the country," says David Vite, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. "And it's certainly not the job of government to step into the role of parents every time a problem is perceived."

Others also think the governor is going too far.

"We're now starting to call culture and communications products a public health issue like we do with tobacco or drugs," says Syracuse University professor of television and pop culture Robert Thompson. "I think that is a potentially very, very dangerous road to go down."

Still, in the $7 billion fantasy world of video games, one real-world governor wants to zap the sex and violence before it becomes child's play.

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