Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ban violent video games?

In case you haven't heard, the United States Supreme Court today heard arguments on a California law that aims to prevent sales of violent video games to minors.

I've heard the argument that this should be up to the parents, not the government. As I see it, the law would actually empower parents by removing one avenue by which kids could obtain objectionable games without their consent. I would take comfort knowing that little Johnny can't ride his bike up to the local Game Shack and pick up a copy of "Grand Theft Auto," then head over to his friends house whose parents don't pay as much attention to the games they play as I do.

So when I see headlines like "Ban violent video games?," I take issue. I don't believe that headline is consistent with what is being proposed. I do not support banning violent video games. I do support keeping certain types of content out of the hands of my children, and the force of law assisting me to that end is welcome. Yes, I support the law.

As a society, we already prevent minors from seeing R-rated movies unless accompanied by an adult, and sales of pornography to minors is a no-no. These seem like no-brainers, don't they? But in both cases, nothing prevents you from exposing your children to these things if you choose. It's merely a restriction at the point of sale. If you really want your ten-year-old to be able to play a game that depicts decapitating young girls and urinating on them, it would still be your choice, even with the proposed law. Just go buy it for them. At least that way you'll stay involved in what your kids are doing, and learning.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Netflix offers 3% credit for Watch Instantly outage

Last night, I received an email from Netflix titled "We're sorry you may have had trouble watching instantly."

When I first saw it, I was confused and thought it might be a scam. While I certainly have streamed Netflix before, to my PC, Roku box, and Wii (which, by the way, now works without the disc, yay!), I hadn't done that for maybe a couple of weeks.

I looked further into the email, and it specified "yesterday", meaning Thursday the 21st. Now I'm not the only one with access to said streaming devices in my house, but honestly, if I'm not around nobody seems to be able to figure out how to get it going. And since I know I hadn't used it that recently, I figured nobody had.

Getting to the point of the email, it was Netflix sending me a coupon for a 3% credit to my next billing statement. It was their way of saying "sorry" if I had a problem with the Watch Instantly feature of their service. "If" being the operative word here. Netflix is offering me, someone who didn't have a problem with the service recently, a credit because they likely had some kind of a system-wide issue, and one that would appear prevents them from determining exactly who was affected.

Color me impressed! This is just one reason why, coming up on five years with Netflix, I remain a satisfied customer. Netflix didn't wait for me to report a problem, something they make very easy to do. Most companies nowadays require their customers to jump through hoops to receive a deserved credit. Few companies take a proactive approach like this. I feel privileged to have known at least two such companies over the past few years, Netflix being one, that proactively issue credit for outages, without being asked.

This isn't to say that Netflix is perfect. I'm pretty sure I've been at least a little frustrated at least once over the past five years. But that is by vague recollection only. I can remember no specific problems I've had with them. However, I can clearly recall the problems I had with Blockbuster Online that forced me to switch to Netflix in the first place. Overall, I'm a very happy customer with Netflix, and I would recommend them to anyone.

Just for the record, I didn't even try to cash in on the credit Netflix offered. I didn't think it would be the right thing to do, since I didn't experience any problems with the service. My integrity isn't worth the 3% I would have saved.

What's your experience with Netflix, Blockbuster Online, or some other movie rental service?