The Needles: Master Chief Goes to Washington

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The Needles: Master Chief Goes to Washington

California's controversial videogame law is on its way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which means it's time for gamers to quit playing around.

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How is it even their RIGHT to "outlaw" a videogame? Is it hurting anyone? Does it get you addicted to heroin? Its really none of their business.

Wow Andy, that was a spectacular article. I had heard something about this topic but not enough to really form an opinion on it, but this got me fired up. I'm going to follow this story intently.

It feels like stupid witch hunts are starting up again and are taking pages from Atkinson books...of how to really, really alienate alot of people

Andy Chalk:
-TopicSnip-

This is why the two-party system fails. All you have to do to change a Liberal Democrat into a died-in-the-wool Constitutional Libertarian Republican is try and pass a law against something they like.

That being said, I'm anti-censorship and pro-parenting. That also being said, parents of my generation are retarded and apathetic for the most part. Government should be mandating parenting classes, not censorship legislation.

For the record, I agree.

However, playing Devil's advocate for a moment, I'd say that comparing game laws to movie laws doesn't make a whole lot of sense. After all, games by definition contain a strong interactive element. It could easily be argued that watching a violent act being carried out on TV is something very different from playing a simulation of acting out that violent act yourself. In that light, it's not so strange that people think it's more important to keep small children from playing violent games than it is to keep them from listening to abusive lyrics or watching violent movies.

Also, this isn't such a straight-cut freedom of speech case as you make it out to be. They aren't trying to ban those games entirely. They aren't restricting anyone's speech, they simply want to keep potentially harmful products out of the hands of children. While it could (and should) be argued that this is the parents' job and not the government's, this has nothing to do with being free to express yourself. Whether violent games are harmful to children or not is another matter, but if you believe that they are (and the people pushing this law obviously do), then wouldn't it be a good thing to prevent children from getting their hands on them? There are laws against underage drinking as well, and I don't see anyone protesting that (at least, anyone sane).

I tend to agree with Derp ^.

I don't see this as much of a 1st amendment killer in the way that many other laws are [such as the hazy pornography regulations].

I'm not going to condone this bill, but the conservative side of me sees the logic to it. And I'll have to look up that bit about R-rated movies, because growing up we always thought our best shot was standing on each others' shoulders and putting on the overcoat -- theatres hold to that regulation as if it were law even if it's not.

Don't mess around with Video Game laws America; it may spread north! I really don't want to see any restrictions on video gaming as I think our current system is adequate.

Eh, this'll always get the same response from me?

"So, you want to tell me I can't do something that only affects me? Oh right. Well then, fuck off".

Edit: Can we swear on these forums? I've never really got an answer.

If you want to see the true impact of laws like this simply look what is currently happening here in australia...

Video Games absolutely SHOULD be protected, but unfortunately in the American legal system the final say doesn't rest within the wording of their Constitution or the spirit of the law. It rests within the political leanings of the majority of members of their Supreme Court.

I'd say "Glad I live in Canada", except that if it passes in the South, we'll likely only be a few years behind.

It would definitely be another chink cut into the armor of true liberty and freedom for a law such as these to pass. Even sociologists haven't been able to concretely link video game violence to violent behavior and any laws passed restricting freedoms based upon assumptions should be overturned until such time as we can be shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a legitimate need for them. As stated in the column the MPAA and ESRB have both done very good jobs of regulating themselves up until now and should be allowed to continue unimpeded by federal or state regulations until such time as they fail to continue adequately self-regulating.

Any time someone says "There ought to be a law against ______" there most probably shouldn't.

Look at the bright side: if this law goes into effect, there will probably be less homophobic racist screaming 13 year olds playing your favorite FPS game.

I really wish people would stop calling Washing DC "Washington" & just call it DC or District County. I met a foreigner who insisted, absolutely insisted, that Seattle was in Washington DC. He thought I was bullshitting him when I told him Washington was on the West Coast.

Wait, so in America, minors can buy any game and see any movie they like? I had no idea.
I live in Australia (cue chuckling) and usually need to produce I.D to be allowed in to an MA movie. I'm 18 and grow a fair beard, as well. And you need to be over 18 to even be able to trade in games.
Don't I feel like an idiot.

Also, great article, Andy.

RobfromtheGulag:
And I'll have to look up that bit about R-rated movies, because growing up we always thought our best shot was standing on each others' shoulders and putting on the overcoat -- theatres hold to that regulation as if it were law even if it's not.

Sure they do - but they have no legal compulsion to do so. And the FTC has found repeatedly that ESRB ratings have a much higher rate of compliance ("refusal rate," I believe it's called) than MPAA ratings.

So why do we want to legislate games?

MrPatience:
Wait, so in America, minors can buy any game and see any movie they like?

Not really. There's no legal restriction against it, but industries maintain voluntary rating systems and enforcement to keep the kiddies out. That's why your average movie theater won't let a kid in to watch an R-rated movie, but nobody's going to end up in jail if a few kids manage to sneak in.

Which, again, is what we're already doing with the ESRB - and better than any other medium on the market.

It's the opposite in the UK, for a long time videogames were the unenforced medium and laws enforcing it is seen as part of a growing up process, recognising that it's now a mainstream industry (at least I think that's how it goes)

Living in the UK the ratings on films and games ARE law, it's actually illegal to buy a ticket for or purchase one respectively if you're under the age limit and I think that there's nothing wrong with that system. I honestly don't think a 10 year old should be allowed to play some of the 18+ games that I've played and same with some of the 18+ movies I've seen.

I don't see a law preventing kids from buying M and, if they exist, AO rated games as an infringement of the First Amendment. It's not preventing people from making such games, or stores from selling those games, it's just making sure that only people of the appropriate age can purchase those games. I don't even know if the law will prevent kids from actually playing them (with parental supervision or approval), it just keeps them from buying the games.

And I, for one, think the law is a good idea. Some of the M-rated games I've played over the years were really disturbing or graphically violent. Modern Warfare 2 immediately comes to mind, especially if you've shot a character in the gut and they're feebly trying to crawl away, leaving a trail of blood behind them or being able to clearly see the open eyes of dead characters. I just don't think that kids have the emotional or mental maturity to deal with stuff like that, and almost certainly they won't accept that those games are inappropriate from them (just look at how man under-aged kids get started with booze and cigarettes).

I signed..ill be dammed if we lose this right..cuz guess wat comes next....state regulated internet..and that means porn dammit.

Currently I am attending college and one of my classes is called Ethics In Society. The point of this class is to discuss the moral issues we face in our lives, from poverty and world hunger to abortion. Well our last discussion was about the first amendment and how the government is trying to change it for our better. I don't believe it will be better for it to be changed at all. In my opinion the first amendment is what makes this country (U.S.A.) a free country, it is the basis for our freedom. If we change that in anyway then we are no longer free, we no longer deserve to be free if we allow this. This article is proof that the government needs to re-evaluate their thinking in order to make sure our country stays free. I know for sure that I will be doing all I can to stop them from changing our freedoms, including that of video games.

Of course I had to mention last time how my British-ness keeps me from signing that petition but for the sake of us all I would urge American gamers to sign it, and get all their friends to sign it, lest we see similar registration here, and with our government moving ever more rightward, I would hate to see them steal away something that I use to take some time away from the soulles entity that is their politics.

Please people, don't just think of it as being your right, think of all us who take our cues rightly or wrongly from your society and remember that we are all democracy, whatever else we may be, and that central principle must be upheld. This is our (or your) decision, and your rights which need to be protected.

twistedmic:
I don't see a law preventing kids from buying M and, if they exist, AO rated games as an infringement of the First Amendment.

Fortunately, federal courts in 12 separate states have thus far disagreed with your assessment.

Why is it okay to regulate videogames, but not movies, books, music or DVDs?

Crunchy English:
Video Games absolutely SHOULD be protected, but unfortunately in the American legal system the final say doesn't rest within the wording of their Constitution or the spirit of the law. It rests within the political leanings of the majority of members of their Supreme Court.

I'd say "Glad I live in Canada", except that if it passes in the South, we'll likely only be a few years behind.

Not so sure about that, I mean, our government's in a state of severe confusion right now, and look at the way that the Canadian government usually ignores America's whining about our piracy laws.

The article makes an interesting point - why is some media regulated, but not others?

I've become kind of used to having games, movies and music regulated by a ratings system. (I live in New Zealand, which uses a similar system to England where games and movies are given a rataing which - in some cases - is legally binding. E.g. a game rated 'Restricted 18 for graphic violence' (by far and away the most common rating for games) cannot *legally* be sold to anyone under 18.).

Generally this system works, is consistent with film ratings, and means the parents who complain about violence in GTA games come across as hypocrites.

However, the article raises a good point - why is it OK to rate movies and games, but not books? Music?

I suspect it's because books are still regarded as the medium of choice for the intellectual. True or not, that means that most people regard a ratings system for print as unnecessary.

twistedmic:
I don't see a law preventing kids from buying M and, if they exist, AO rated games as an infringement of the First Amendment. It's not preventing people from making such games, or stores from selling those games, it's just making sure that only people of the appropriate age can purchase those games. I don't even know if the law will prevent kids from actually playing them (with parental supervision or approval), it just keeps them from buying the games.

And I, for one, think the law is a good idea. Some of the M-rated games I've played over the years were really disturbing or graphically violent. Modern Warfare 2 immediately comes to mind, especially if you've shot a character in the gut and they're feebly trying to crawl away, leaving a trail of blood behind them or being able to clearly see the open eyes of dead characters. I just don't think that kids have the emotional or mental maturity to deal with stuff like that, and almost certainly they won't accept that those games are inappropriate from them (just look at how man under-aged kids get started with booze and cigarettes).

Which is why almost every gaming establishment already doesn't sell to minors. The ESRB and many retail outlets already stop kids from getting violent games. In fact, they stop kids from getting violent content better than any other form of entertainment.

This law is completely redundant and pointless. And if parents don't want their kids playing the games, then maybe they should actually be a parent and not buy them the games.

Its not the government's job to watch after the kids and regulate what content they get, its the parent's job. And onlythe parent's job.

twistedmic:


And I, for one, think the law is a good idea. Some of the M-rated games I've played over the years were really disturbing or graphically violent. Modern Warfare 2 immediately comes to mind, especially if you've shot a character in the gut and they're feebly trying to crawl away, leaving a trail of blood behind them or being able to clearly see the open eyes of dead characters. I just don't think that kids have the emotional or mental maturity to deal with stuff like that, and almost certainly they won't accept that those games are inappropriate from them (just look at how man under-aged kids get started with booze and cigarettes).

You do realize by that logic there should also be a federal restriction on books right? You do realize that children can go into your local library or bookstore and borrow or purchase some of the most gore and psychotic literature known to man without any restriction? Where the only difference is one requires the imagination to visualize while the other shows that adult material.

You also realize when it comes to music that the only real censorship is foul language and even then there is no regulation if a consumer wishes to purchase the uncensored version.

Also Modern Warfare 2 as disturbing and violent? If anything I put that stuff in line with the over the top B movies or movies like Rambo or Commando.

This law being promoted by California Democratic Senator Yee is quite literally the choice between freedom or security(I know that sounds old given today's politics but this is the truth). The choice where we should have laws that do the parenting for adults with children or let parents actually be responsible for parenting. Regardless of what your politics are this is one of those lines that will actually say as a society that we as a gaming community will either say that everything is okay or none of it is. Whether we should allow developers to produce and create games to receive the freedom of the first amendment as a form of expression allowing developers who actually choose to, to do more with a video game by growing up and taking on hard issues. Or should we decide that video games should not be a form of expression preventing those who dare to use a new and expanding medium the ability to be protected.

We already have seen this as well with such games like the Metal Gear Solid series. Why do we as a community want to shoot ourselves in the foot and prevent developers from not being able to explore areas where no developer has gone before, before we even started exploring?

After all video games when it comes to violence has been there since the Nintendo. With all the happiness that mario creates you cannot deny that Super Mario Bros. for the NES was not a violent game. Mario murdered Goombas, plain and simple. Sure you don't see the blood but the action has always been there with nothing more than a childlike persona making the player not think about the actions but instead focus on the goal.

Do yourself a favor and if you want video games to mature just like music and movies, take the time and sign the petition and get the people around you to sign the petition. Don't prevent a medium to grow just because you don't like what you could see and others can see, that is their choice, because you don't have the right to decide what other people should create and you don't have the right to tell other people how to parent and you don't have the right to enforce your morals onto others.

EDIT: I strongly urge anyone who wants to play devil's advocate and those that believe that a law like this should be passed to watch Moviebob's video here.

EDIT 2: Was informed that youtube link to Moviebob's 25th episode over this issue was broken. so here is the embed(thanks escapist tech staff for making this easy).

When will these politicans learn, we don't intend for Mature games to go to minors. I don't think Kick Ass had any kids in mind while making this (besides Hit Girl), nor do I think Dante's Inferno was meant to be played by anybody that is old enough to go to collage either. How these politicans seem to think that developer's are walking down the street and hands GTA out to any middle school they see. When will they see that WE HAVING A RATING SYSTEM, WE CAN REGULATE OUR SELVES, AND WE ARE AS LEGITEMATE AN ART FORM AS ANY FILM!

Irridium:

Its not the government's job to watch after the kids and regulate what content they get, its the parent's job. And onlythe parent's job.

Take that sentence right there. Call it X. This is how I envision it:

X= (((The entire point of fighting this change)))

The parenthesis signify the outer shell of a nut, essentially.

Wait, Andy didn't you say in a previous news post about this that Canadians can also sign the petition?

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.194554-Gaming-Faces-Its-Single-Most-Important-Challenge-at-the-Supreme-Court

A few posts down you say it.

If its still the case, then CANADIANS, ASSEMBLE!

Not G. Ivingname:
When will these politicans learn, we don't intend for Mature games to go to minors. I don't think Kick Ass had any kids in mind while making this (besides Hit Girl), nor do I think Dante's Inferno was meant to be played by anybody that is old enough to go to collage either. How these politicans seem to think that developer's are walking down the street and hands GTA out to any middle school they see. When will they see that WE HAVING A RATING SYSTEM, WE CAN REGULATE OUR SELVES, AND WE ARE AS LEGITEMATE AN ART FORM AS ANY FILM!

I think the difference is the exposure level. How many kids will see Kick-Ass or American Psycho? How many kids will see someone playing GTA or Dante's Inferno? With movies, it's a one-time, 2-hour deal, which takes place in a living room late at night or in a theatre, whereas games are bandied about with much more casual attitudes and much more publicly. I know I'm walking a fine line by saying this in the wake of the Ebert issue, but games really are a different form of media and that may warrant treating them in a different way. Does it need legislation? Prolly not, in my opinion, but it seems to me that the ERSB and the ratings systems we have in place aren't really very effective as you can go to any intermediate school and all the kids will know what GTA is and how you play it.

JusticarPhaeton:

Not G. Ivingname:
When will these politicans learn, we don't intend for Mature games to go to minors. I don't think Kick Ass had any kids in mind while making this (besides Hit Girl), nor do I think Dante's Inferno was meant to be played by anybody that is old enough to go to collage either. How these politicans seem to think that developer's are walking down the street and hands GTA out to any middle school they see. When will they see that WE HAVING A RATING SYSTEM, WE CAN REGULATE OUR SELVES, AND WE ARE AS LEGITEMATE AN ART FORM AS ANY FILM!

I think the difference is the exposure level. How many kids will see Kick-Ass or American Psycho? How many kids will see someone playing GTA or Dante's Inferno? With movies, it's a one-time, 2-hour deal, which takes place in a living room late at night or in a theatre, whereas games are bandied about with much more casual attitudes and much more publicly. I know I'm walking a fine line by saying this in the wake of the Ebert issue, but games really are a different form of media and that may warrant treating them in a different way. Does it need legislation? Prolly not, in my opinion, but it seems to me that the ERSB and the ratings systems we have in place aren't really very effective as you can go to any intermediate school and all the kids will know what GTA is and how you play it.

Blame the parents on that one, since most stores I go to uphold the rating systems. It is the misinformed parents that don't notice the big M for MATURE that has to go out and buy these games, not the children themselves.

dogstile:

Edit: Can we swear on these forums? I've never really got an answer.

I believe minor swearing is fine, as long as it backs the idea of what you're trying to say in a semi-constructive way, rather than just swearing to swear or to troll.

Dammit.

JusticarPhaeton:

I think the difference is the exposure level. How many kids will see Kick-Ass or American Psycho? How many kids will see someone playing GTA or Dante's Inferno? With movies, it's a one-time, 2-hour deal, which takes place in a living room late at night or in a theatre, whereas games are bandied about with much more casual attitudes. I know I'm walking a fine line by saying this in the wake of the Ebert issue, but games really are a different form of media and that may warrant treating them in a different way. Does it need legislation? Prolly not, in my opinion, but it seems to me that the ERSB and the ratings systems we have in place aren't really very effective as you can go to any intermediate school and all the kids will know what GTA is and how you play it.

Actually the ESRB is very effective because video game publishers won't publish a game until the game gets the appropriate rating that the publisher wants and this includes games that want an E rating instead of a T rating.

Also Justicar, of course kids are going to know about GTA and there are many reasons why. They are hot topic games that even the lightest search of any sort of information media have talked about it. Same applies to other hot topic games like Call of Duty:Modern Warfare because we as a gaming community are older and getting older. These games are held up as the reasons why but let me ask you something Justicar. Do you think kids that do not actively pursue the hobby of video games know about games such as Night Trap? Do you think all those politicians and pundits for video game legislation actually understand the meaning of Bioshock or the satire of games like No More Heroes or 3D dot game heroes or understand the active attempt of an industry to tell a story like Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy? The answer is simple, no, because games like Manhunt and GTA are the ones held up to be scrutinized and ya know what? They don't need defending at all because the point of the game is to be violent but the story of the games like GTA 4 is the attempt for immigrants to achieve the american dream which has always been a concept.

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