The Needles: Master Chief Goes to Washington

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Not G. Ivingname:

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.

But isn't that just the problem? The ratings systems prevent sales to the inappropriate audiences, but it reaches those people nonetheless.

Of course, this is just more proof that legislation wouldn't solve anything, but what I am saying is that this should be addressed too.

Tenmar:

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.

But I'm not saying that it's the games that need to be defended; as you say, violent games are meant to be so. I'm saying that the problem is that the games are filtering down to the inappropriate audiences *after* they get their ESRB stamp, meaning that despite the upholding of the ratings, the kids get the games anyways, through parents or older siblings or other friends.

I'd let a young child read American Psycho. If he can get through the book I think he's mature enough to handle the content.

If you said no, congratulations: You're part of the vast majority of Americans who believe that not all content is appropriate for all ages.

That's a bit biased, don't you think? Not everyone visiting the escapist is American, and I'm sure you don't intend to write only for Americans.

Edit: Haha, I hadn't actually read to the last line yet when I wrote this post. I'm sure you get my point then. :P

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.

No need to insult the US Supreme court. They do a better job interpreting the constitution then you might think.

JusticarPhaeton:

But I'm not saying that it's the games that need to be defended; as you say, violent games are meant to be so. I'm saying that the problem is that the games are filtering down to the inappropriate audiences *after* they get their ESRB stamp, meaning that despite the upholding of the ratings, the kids get the games anyways, through parents or older siblings or other friends.

So basically, you have kids that are actively attempting to get their hands on content that is only deemed to be inappropriate for a specific age range. Through parents? Well that is called parenting. Older siblings? Well that is making a judgement call or personal decision. Other friends? Same thing with older siblings.

Not everyone is a round peg in a round hole and there is no one size fits all when it comes to the human condition. Some people who are younger are more mature than those that are older and we of course have seen where older people are less mature than those that are younger. Also it is part of the human condition to try and get things that they want but is considered out of reach. I don't know how old you are but have you actually seen college students that are underage try and get alcohol? Trust me give them enough time and they will find a way. But do you also notice that when a college student does come of age getting alcohol doesn't become a big deal? Ever wonder why? It is that restriction, that ability to be "more mature" or "to rebel" and this is nothing new so we shouldn't treat it as new when it comes to video games.

Also if you are supportive of this law then you really should be active in trying to ban children from being exposed to lyrics that are adult themed. Just note that the girls you see here are all first graders.

The ESRB are meant to be basic guidelines. Would you really prevent a child who is twelve years old from getting a T rated game? And if so what is it that that child is missing that would prevent them from handling said T rated content? While people will just rail against the M rating what specific trait or qualification is actually required to be able to play a video game and handle the content that does vary from game to game? The answer is that there is no single trait or qualification a person can attain or does attain instantly that should prevent a person from having access to a video game that does no physical harm unlike consuming alcohol or smoking. Maturity is gained in time and that time is different from person to person and this includes children.

Honestly your reason to support the law because "Despite the ratings the kids are going to get them anyway" just ignores that there is a lot of enforcement within the video game industry and that includes the retail industry. First retail employees can actually lose their job if they are caught selling mature games to those who are not of age. I don't know about you but that is a pretty good incentive to follow store policy. Second, sales of Mature rated games require identification from the purchaser. So if a kid is trying to buy a game they are required to show their ID proving that they are 17 years old.

Finally, if friends, parents or older siblings have decided to give the game to their kids? That is their judgement call. They decide for better or worse that their child should be able to play the game they want. I've encountered this in stores multiple times where parents go up to me and ask me what kind of content is in a game like Metal Gear Solid or JRPGS and they make the decision if they will buy the game. Some shrug my warnings of violence and adult themes and buy games like MGS4 for their kid just to shut them up but that is the parents judgement call. If there is a problem the problem isn't the ESRB anymore, it is the parents, the friends and the siblings.

Because if we do apply that logic then why isn't it the movies rating board problem if a kid sees an R rated movie because of their parents, friends, or older siblings at home? The movie got the stamp but the kids are going to see the movie anyway. Same can be applied to books, or music. The album got the label with adult lyrics but the kids are going to get the album or listen to the album anyway because of parents, friends, or older siblings.

...wait...don't people get carded for this sorta stuff? Like, for R-rated movies, ID is required. Same for M-rated video games. How does this law change anything whatsoever?

So far, America has done well to avoid GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP. That's the difference. What's going to stop a state government from labeling a non-violent game "Adults Only" because it questions American law? Do you see free speech slowly draining away yet?

While I absolutely agree with the article, it seems odd that they're even bothering with this law. Nearly every game and electronics store will have customers show ID when they buy an M-rated game. I tried to pick up a copy of Diablo II when I was fourteen, and was denied it by the cashier. They may not be legally obligated to do so, but every game retailer I can think of enforces the restrictions anyway. If the law was such so they were legally obligated to not enforce them, that would noticeably change things for the better. After all, a preteen can go to the library and check out any number of books with violent or sexual content. I certainly agree that video games should be allowed the same freedoms.

tsu-money:
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.

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We must mandate this as law in the U.S.

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.

The problem is this: A large number of lazy, inept, or otherwise substandard parents WANT it to be the government's job. They don't want to pay attention to what their children are doing; they want to be able to sit on the couch, watch American Idol or the new season of Survivor, and let their minds shut down, comfortable in the knowledge that Uncle Sam is making sure their kids can't do anything, you know, fun.

What? Other people being affected by the law? Everybody knows that only children and shut-ins play video games. Now shut up, I'm harvesting my Farmville field.

Outright Villainy:
[quote="Irridium" post="6.195677.6278637"]

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

This. I cannot stress this enough. It is up to the parents to decide whether or not they want their child to view or play something. The problem is, people don't like being told that they suck at their job, which is often the case.

Okay, let me tell this. I'm as far on the sliding scale of creative freedom as one can possibly be, which I suppose means I believe depictions of pedophilia that don't involve children should be allowed (unlike that UK law that just passed), and that is pretty much the only ground I'm willing to lose. I think any attempt by the government to tell people what they can and can't enjoy is ridiculous, based on the hateful notion that, if I am a good man and I don't like this, then it must be evil; or worse, that if I am a good man and I don't like this, then those who do are evil. It is pathetic.

I honestly see nothing wrong with this law.

It's stopping minors from buying violent videogames. It's not stopping their parents from buying it from them, if they think they're fit for it. It's stopping them from buying them behind their back. It's defending a parent's right to be selective about what their children play, as much as it's possible.

You say that it would set a precedent as games being seen as an special precedent that's somehow worse than other media. Fine, I buy that. It would also take away most of the air of the large majority of video game haters. Their main argument is 'think of the children'! And our only defence for that is 'hey, there's a system here that prevents children from playing games they shouldn't, never mind that it's run by the industry and it's not enforceable on a massive degree'. If this law passes, it will become 'They can't play it, no more than they can drink alcohol. It's against the law.'

Now, I don't want this law to pass, nor do I think it would be good for the medium as a whole if it did. But it's not the end-all doomsday you make it sound like in the article. If it's the first step of a slippery slope it'll be the least slippery of the slopes.

If gamers should gather around an ideal, it should be to press developers to make better games, more varied, appealing to a greater crowd. If every senator could look at GTAIV and see a variation of something they do on his free time, as they do when they look at a violent movie, the entire argument would lose its footing. Gamers should stop sitting atop their rock and shouting at the Eberts and Atkins of the world, turn around, and ask themselves why they ended up with that opinion.

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

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

It's not. They should -all- be regulated[1]. I'm an Australian, and my system is close to perfect, with two huge, glaring omissions. No R18+ rating, and no rating above that. Which means that my government can decide what I can and can't watch/play/read/etc. This is wrong. However, the ESRB's rating system is also near perfect, except for two problems. It's not law. It should be. There's absolutely no reason why media shouldn't be rated, but at the same time, there's also no reason private companies or organisations should be allowed to determine what's in the public's interest to see or hear. That's the second problem - the ESRB is a private organisation, not a government one. It needs to be, so it can be transparent, and accountable.

As far as the pending Supreme Court challenge goes, you're dead on: games must not be regulated differently from other media. But I'm of the opinion that it should -all- be restricted to age-appropriate groups, not just opened up to anyone.

[1] This is absolutely not an advocation of censorship: regulation and restriction do not involve the banning or outlawing of media; just its viewing by specific age groups.

I think that this debate could have a middle side. Even with freedom of speech, if everyone did whatever they wanted and said whatever nasty things came to mind to people on the street, they'd get arrested. The ESRB rating system is a good one, if careful scrutiny of a game shows it to be not for minors, it should not be played by them. Then again, it is always the parent's choice what their children's priviliges and maturity level are. So, do not sell mature games to minors, unless parental confirmation is there. A 12 year old asks for GTA, the clerk confirms age, asks for parental confirmation. Parents give confirmation. Problem solved. Of course, often games are played by teens that were meant for older adults. The age minimum might just be lower than the rating permits, but its a start. A 15 year old can by Halo on their own, a 10 year old cannot.

Also, I'm Canadian, and some of this First Amendment stuff is pretty loose to me.

What do you mean there are no laws against minors seeing R-rated movies? It's illegal to sell a ticket for an R-rated movie to a minor. There are other laws like this already in effect in the US. It's not that big a deal. All the kid has to do is ask his/her misinformed parent to buy it for them.

The Random One:
Okay, let me tell this. I'm as far on the sliding scale of creative freedom as one can possibly be, which I suppose means I believe depictions of pedophilia that don't involve children should be allowed (unlike that UK law that just passed), and that is pretty much the only ground I'm willing to lose. I think any attempt by the government to tell people what they can and can't enjoy is ridiculous, based on the hateful notion that, if I am a good man and I don't like this, then it must be evil; or worse, that if I am a good man and I don't like this, then those who do are evil. It is pathetic.

I honestly see nothing wrong with this law.

It's stopping minors from buying violent videogames. It's not stopping their parents from buying it from them, if they think they're fit for it. It's stopping them from buying them behind their back. It's defending a parent's right to be selective about what their children play, as much as it's possible.

You say that it would set a precedent as games being seen as an special precedent that's somehow worse than other media. Fine, I buy that. It would also take away most of the air of the large majority of video game haters. Their main argument is 'think of the children'! And our only defence for that is 'hey, there's a system here that prevents children from playing games they shouldn't, never mind that it's run by the industry and it's not enforceable on a massive degree'. If this law passes, it will become 'They can't play it, no more than they can drink alcohol. It's against the law.'

Now, I don't want this law to pass, nor do I think it would be good for the medium as a whole if it did. But it's not the end-all doomsday you make it sound like in the article. If it's the first step of a slippery slope it'll be the least slippery of the slopes.

If gamers should gather around an ideal, it should be to press developers to make better games, more varied, appealing to a greater crowd. If every senator could look at GTAIV and see a variation of something they do on his free time, as they do when they look at a violent movie, the entire argument would lose its footing. Gamers should stop sitting atop their rock and shouting at the Eberts and Atkins of the world, turn around, and ask themselves why they ended up with that opinion.

One thing I must say: The industry already stops kids from buying violent games, which makes this law completely pointless. The gaming industry also has the highest age compliance of all other forms of media.

I can't stress this enough, this law is just pointless and redundant.

Everything else I agree with.

JUMBO PALACE:
What do you mean there are no laws against minors seeing R-rated movies? It's illegal to sell a ticket for an R-rated movie to a minor. There are other laws like this already in effect in the US. It's not that big a deal. All the kid has to do is ask his/her misinformed parent to buy it for them.

Incorrect. The rating system is voluntary, and movie theatres prevent minors from purchasing tickets as company policies. Laws aren't on the books, however. It isn't illegal to go see an R rated movie if you're under 17. You can't be arrested for it. The theatre has the right to throw you out because it's against their rules, but you can't be arrested. Big difference.

This is a big deal because, if this law passes, it would be a restriction against the 1st Amendment. The one that guarantees you the right to say, read, or write anything you want. The one that protects all forms of artistic expression. All it takes is one little injustice, one restriction, and that opens the door to more infringements on our rights. It's the apathy and ignorance of folks like you that make me truly afraid this country could start losing some of its defining characteristics, and some folks won't even notice.

Fenixius:
I'm an Australian

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Ahem. Sorry.

Honestly, I'm surprised that you'd come down on the "their oughta be a law" side of the equation. I would think that if anything, the Australian experience would demonstrate precisely why government regulation of creative expression (talking about all media here, not just games) is a bad thing.

The Random One:
If gamers should gather around an ideal, it should be to press developers to make better games, more varied, appealing to a greater crowd. If every senator could look at GTAIV and see a variation of something they do on his free time, as they do when they look at a violent movie, the entire argument would lose its footing. Gamers should stop sitting atop their rock and shouting at the Eberts and Atkins of the world, turn around, and ask themselves why they ended up with that opinion.

They ended up with those opinions out of ignorance and a determination to apply old media standards to new media.

And I'm curious as to why you think game developers should be making games that are more palatable to politicians, but don't seem to have a problem with movie studios that churn out idiotic, blood-soaked bullshit. Why is there a double-standard?

The Random One:
depictions of pedophilia that don't involve children

I agree with most of your post, but I have to ask... how does that work?

Couldn't an adult just pick up the game and then give it to their kid later?
If so, that law wouldn't be very effective.

As an american I can see a new business showing up soon. Yeah that's Ed he sells drugs at this school, over there, yeah that's Jon. Jon sells M rated video games for a 10% markup, welcome to 9th grade. My parents didn't do too much damage raising me without government protection. I don't need other people's opinion of decent shoved down my throat; I learned from my parents what was required from me. I also learned many things from my own experiences, to be shown the answer is not worth as much as learning on your own. When did Cali decide to enforce laws on peoples rights, we have other crazy states for that.

Maybe we should become violent to show how well adjusted we are?

-2fish

The Random One:

It's stopping minors from buying violent videogames. It's not stopping their parents from buying it from them, if they think they're fit for it. It's stopping them from buying them behind their back. It's defending a parent's right to be selective about what their children play, as much as it's possible.

Your logic on that is rather erroneous as it relies on the fact that parents don't buy M-rated games for their kids. The problem with that fact is that is an untrue fact. There are many documented cases where a parent specifically bought an M-rated game for their child, even despite warnings from the clerk about the content in the game, then later got outraged at what they discovered within.

Basically, the problem isn't that kids are able to sneak behind their parents' backs to buy these games. The problem is that parents consistently under-estimate the amount of content in some games and then buy the games anyway. Seriously, go read some articles about parents outraged about a game. In roughly 9 of 10 articles you'll read that the parent isn't pissed that their kid was able to buy the game, they're pissed because THEY THEMSELVES bought the game and didn't know what kind of content was in the game (despite usually having been warned).

So in the end, what we're stuck with is this: Little Jimmy told mom that he wanted her to buy a game for him because Gamestop wouldn't let him buy it. She agreed to do so, bought the game, saw what was in the game, then freaked-out and is now petitioning that her son shouldn't be allowed to buy the game... that he wasn't being allowed to buy in the first place. o.O

Gamers should stop sitting atop their rock and shouting at the Eberts and Atkins of the world, turn around, and ask themselves why they ended up with that opinion.

They ended-up with their opinions because they're classic cases of old men demonizing something they aren't familiar with. Or do you forget that 60 years ago they were trying to ban Rock and Roll? Simply put, just because someone has an opinion, doesn't mean that their opinion is educated or justified (even if the person holding the opinion is usually fairly educated himself). When schools were teaching you about how an opinion is never wrong, what they were saying is that YOUR opinion is never wrong TO YOU (so long as you truly believe your reasoning behind it).

So yeah, TO EBERT, games will never be art. But let's not forget that Ebert has spent probably less than one hour total in his entire life playing them.

tsu-money:
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.

Nice!

Brevity is the soul of wit.. and that good sir is a great way to look at it!

OT: We don't need the government concerning itself with gaming; or for that matter, how this will end some mutant form of censorship. Either way; The US is broke, we don't need to be spending money on some line of bureaucrats who's job is too restrict and enforce ratings and such.

Waste of time and money... it really is... don't we have bigger fish to fry?

The notion that restricting the sale of videogames to minors is a Freedom of Speech issue is frankly ridiculous. I would stand behind the above statement if you replaced 'videogames' with 'books, films, tv, etc ad nauseum'. The point of any such legislation is to prevent unsuitable materials being bought by children without parental involvement. They are not restricting the type of games made and published, they are merely cutting out the most vulnerable from being able to enjoy this on their own, legally. That there is already a system in place that more or less makes this happen (in each of these media areas) shows that there is probably a need for sales to be regulated and I can't see why (and you haven't provided the why, merely the 'they don't do it to films or books') backing this body with legislation infringes anyone's freedom to speak. If such a restriction really is a restriction of freedom of speech, shouldn't something be done about the ESRB (and analogues in other media) de facto restricting freedom of speech?

Basically, no, your article is intellectually wrong and doesn't really spell out any of the harms that such a move would make (mostly because there don't seem to be any). You've fallen victim the the 'Freedom of Speech' propaganda that is really Supreme Court over-relying on the First Amendment because it is one of the new commandments and therefore inherently justified rather than its relevance to the case at hand. Is it not better to harmonise the practise (restricting video games sales to minors) and the law, rather than allow non-governmental 'volunteer organisations' to decide who can and who can't buy things?

P.S.

Andy Chalk:
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.

Hysterical comments like this harm your credibility. Jail is not the only sanction that infringement of a law can land someone in. Chances are that any regulatory law would impose sizeable fines for non-compliance. So no-one's going to end up in jail either way.

Addendum: My personal politics on this subject says deregulate completely, anyone should be allowed to buy whatever games, films, books, music that they want to buy, kids are a lot more resilient and parents need to be more involved in their kids' thinking about the world as a whole. Promoting a healthy understanding that media is entertainment rather than a guide for how to live your life from a young age can only benefit people. The comments before this addendum are criticism rather than an account of how I think things should be.

You know? All I can think now is "It's about time the crazy anti-videogame movement" left Australia and headed to you guys. I have strangely little sympathy, really.

Think of it this way: you guys are taking one for the team and letting us have a turn. Except that doesn't really work, since our government is already full of twits.

Considering that I live in the UK, where it is officially illegal for an under 18 to buy a PEGI 18 rated game and the power to ban games (which they've used... twice), let me remind you that these laws make exactly zero difference to the amount of games that get into the hands of the youth.

I don't suppose that the American government will listen to Australian protesters will they. Oh well.

Look, I'm from Australia, and as your all aware I can tell you EXACTLY what can happen if you remove the protections given to those who publish these products. It's simple, decide that Video Games arn't covered by the First Amendment and it will open the door to politicans and do-gooders to start censoring the games you want to play all the time. Do you really want to put up with the goreless version of L4D2? Or how about the modified version of Fallout 3? Hell, why not just remove games from shelves before they get there.

You know, I feel that gamers outside American should voice their opinion on this matter as well. I'm not an expert in games marketing, but I'm pretty sure that the U.S market for games is the largest in the world. And, I can see how forcing game publishers to alter their games for sale the American market will affect the version of the game we get here. Ok, so this law will only prevent the sale of games to children, not to everyone, but deeming that games don't share the protections from your bill of rights as other media do just makes this seem like the first step along a horrible horrible road.

I'll sum up my feelings for this by saying: I live in Australia, look at our video-game situation...it is not good.

Andy Chalk:
Honestly, I'm surprised that you'd come down on the "their oughta be a law" side of the equation. I would think that if anything, the Australian experience would demonstrate precisely why government regulation of creative expression (talking about all media here, not just games) is a bad thing.

Government regulation of any kind of expression isn't necessarily a bad thing. Censorship is. The difference being that some expression can be harmful to some people, and should never be made to view it or exposed to it unintentionally.

What my Government has is the right idea with an awful implementation. If they added the R18+ rating, it's very close to perfect, except that some content which would be AO under the ESRB's system would still be banned, which is sub-optimal.

I, working as a game retailer, have turned away people without ID when they try to buy ultraviolent videogames. Such a thing makes me proud of my government. I also have to sell people ridiculously self-censored versions of games like L4D2, which makes me angry. But we're working to fix it as best we can.

You get where I'm coming from, right? No content should ever be "banned", but restricting it so that minors don't get exposed to media which might result in potentially dangerous mindsets later is a good idea. Especially when parents can easily veto the ban; if a kid is there with the parent, all I need to do is make sure that the parent understands that the game has a restricted rating. It's fine if I get their okay. Some parents go "Oh, thanks! No, Sam, you're not having this", while some go "Yeah, it's okay. I'll play it with him", and others just don't care. It's still the parent's responsibility to parent. That's why I call it "very close to optimal".

Andy Chalk:
And I'm curious as to why you think game developers should be making games that are more palatable to politicians, but don't seem to have a problem with movie studios that churn out idiotic, blood-soaked bullshit. Why is there a double-standard?

There's not a double-standard; just a misunderstanding. His point was that there exist movies which appeal to politicians, so they're going to be more understanding of the medium. Even if they don't particularly look for "idiotic, blood-soaked bullshit", they understand it because it's still similar to whatever they enjoy. There are few to no games which would appeal to people of that age, however, and therefore the medium enjoys less understanding and comprehension than others. This is the problem that The Random One was trying to explain. Indeed, he was not suggesting that violent games should no longer be produced, merely that a greater variety would broaden the base of people who grok gaming.

Control! We know what is best for people, even more so than they do for themselves.

That is exactly how these people think and there are VERY few things, perhaps none, that piss me off more so than this. Governments, fix the roads, fund/take care of the fire and police departments, protect us from foreign aggression, STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY LIVING ROOM.

The Gaiman quote... is he saying that people in Britain don't have free speech?

I loved that I could read and make my own mind up about something.

You can't do that in Britain?

On the main topic:
I live in Sweden, where movies in theaters are censored for violence* and given age recommendations, but games, books, music and movies outside theaters are unrestricted. I believe in this system, partly because I believe the alternatives are much worse.

On one hand, I, as a mother, am responsible for my children and for making sure that they only get access to media I believe is appropriate for them. Being myself a gamer helps a lot. On the other hand, telling parents to control their children so that game-selling can be free is a bit over-simplistic. As a mother, I am also responsible for letting my children experience the world without me. I would not be a good mother to my ten year old son and my six year old daughter if I supervised them every minute of every day, including at school and at their friends' houses, or even when they are alone in their rooms. Having time without your parents is part of growing up. Would you accept/have accepted that your mother retained complete control over your media access until you were 18? Or 21? Would it have been good for you?

All I am saying is that parents are not and should not be omnipotent. I know my children get exposed to things I'd rather they didn't, but in the end, all I can do is be there for them when they need to process what they have seen.

* The Swedish movie censorship is a formality. Nothing has been cut or banned for years, and the system is about to be abolished.

Infernai:
I'll sum up my feelings for this by saying: I live in Australia, look at our video-game situation...it is not good.

Vanilla Vanish:
Look, I'm from Australia, and as your all aware I can tell you EXACTLY what can happen if you remove the protections given to those who publish these products.

I can see that my opinion is definitely not shared by other Australians who are posting here in this thread, but I very strongly support the classification system in theory. The main issue is that the implementation is poor and/or corrupted by those who would impose their morality on others. Perhaps that's what I'm doing, but I do not feel that by restricting certain content from the legal viewing by minors, many people's ability to enjoy whatever they want, however they want, will be threatened. Under what I would consider an ideal system, similar to the ESRB's, there would not be any way for a piece of content to be "banned".

I should also point out that the Australian Classification Board does not just rate videogames with these same, legally-binding ratings: books, music, and movies/video content are all within the scope of the Australian Classification Board. As such, there is no inconsistency between gaming, movies, etc, except that when the Classification Act of 1995 was drafted, gaming was ill-regarded, and that poor understanding of the new medium remains enshrined in law today. That's all that needs to change for the Australian Classification Act to provide a very strong, very consistent ratings system.

However, the way that the Australian Classification Board rate content: that is, without respect for any sort of preexisting rating of similar content, going by vague, ill-defined "community" standards, etc, is a very serious problem. That, and the poor support the Board receives from legislators and Attourneys-General. More consistent terms and systems need to be installed, or the existing ones updated to become more consistent, before the ACB will truly fulfill their job well.

As a European, I fail to see a problem with this.

Parents are idiots. Hell, most people are idiots. I was once at the department store, and saw a mother trying to buy her twelve year old son a copy of GTA: Liberty City Stories, because she was too daft to look at the bloody box. Obviously, people who work at department stores are idiots, too (the kid probably knew why he didn't take his mom to Gamestop), and have no idea what it is that they're selling.

That should not happen; however, under some wishy-washy voluntary ratings system, it will. And I think that that is the bigger issue here.

As a European, I do not believe in all this "small government" rubbish Americans are so fond of (but then, nobody here elects people with sub-80 IQs like Sarah Palin - if we did, I might start being for less government, too); and my country, like most of its neighbours, HAS no freedom of speech. We have a constitutionally guaranteed freedom of opinion. BIG difference. So since children are opportunistic arseholes and parents and salespeople are morons, actual laws restricting the sale of certain content to minors is totally fine by me.

Come on now, you cannot put a breast on a magazine cover in America, your network TV and radio is home to censorship on a communist level, and you complain about a law that might actually keep Manhunt out of the hands of quite a few pre-teens?

Don't get me wrong, that shit can go over-board, like it has in Germany. But I can understand why German authorities are a bit neurotic when it comes to anything that even looks like it could be glorifying violence. Still, what Germans do, namely keeping things away from ADULTS, is also quite problematic, and I could understand people using that as a "slippery slope" argument.

AnnaIME:
The Gaiman quote... is he saying that people in Britain don't have free speech?

I loved that I could read and make my own mind up about something.

You can't do that in Britain?

Interesting fact - Britain has nothing protecting our freedom of speech. The big difference between us and America is that our government, for all it's faults, doesn't need these laws to stay off our backs - we can do pretty much anything if we aren't hurting anyone else.

Also, that Gaiman quote was (I believe) referring to just after the Thatcher years, when I'm told everything was pretty negative in England. I don't know how much it applies now...

Over here in Ireland we have a ratings law for video games that's pretty well followed, It's similar to the alcohol are tobacco law in that they don't sell over 18's games to kids without a parent (or older brother) It's really no big deal to be honest and kids get their hands on violent games but usually from stupid parents who think silent hill is good for an 8 year old.

In a weird way it kinda has legitimised games here as a valid medium. By putting the same age stickers on games as movies (which follow the same rating rules) means that there is little ambiguity as to the content. Even an 80 year old granny knows that an 18's game is not for kids.

But I guess with a whole freedom of speech thing in America I can see why people are getting up in arms.

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