Games on Trial

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LarenzoAOG:

I'm not "Flattering myself" I just assumed that a site devoted to gaming may not be frequented by those that study Objectivist philosiphy, and I may have been wrong to assume but until today I hadn't talked to one.

Quite right. Don't listen to the nay sayers - you are the one of the few people on here to fully understand rand's works. You are a genius, and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Well I am pretty great, lol, seriously though, this is the first forum on the Escapist that I've seen anyone talk about Ayn Rand.

I don't understand why there's such a big fuss. Can't they just say that games with 'obscene violence' are R-rated (Or whatever the American equivalent is) and can only be purchased by adults upon presentation of a driver's license or proof of age card? It works for cigarettes and alcohol. No major restructuring would be necessary on anyone's behalf.

What am I missing?

"We do not have a tradition in this country of telling children they should watch people actively hitting schoolgirls over the head with a shovel so they'll beg for mercy, pour gasoline over them, and urinate on them... We protect children from that."

Yes, because there are just so many games where you can do that.

And this hyperbole is coming from the Chief Justice of the United States of America.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.

SpinFusor:

FungiGamer:
California Logic:

Godfather, Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead, Clockwork Orange- Alright to show the kiddies
Super Mario 64, Katamari Damacy, Timesplitters, Super Smash Bros. Brawl- OMFG DRUG REFERENCES AND RANDOM VIOLENCE BAN IT BAN IT BAN IT

Well, just you wait until some crazed kid gets a giant ball and "rolls up" his class mates. Then, we'll see who's laughing.

Ha ha ha ha... that would be awesome.

Scalia rocks. <3

TheDoctor455:
Frankly, if the law were better written, and reinforced ESRB's ratings system with penalties for those who violate its standards, there wouldn't be much wrong with the law. As it stands though, CA's law would replace ESRB's relatively comprehensive system of ratings and descriptors with a binary "are you 18 or not" system.

One of the main reasons that I suspect that the compliance rates are stuck at 80% is because the ESRB ratings don't have much enforceable legislation backing them up. If there were a system set up similar to say... the film industry... there wouldn't be much wrong with the concept, but having looked over how the law was argued in the Supreme Court's transcript... CA's law was at best poorly written with good intentions in mind, and at worst, written to deliberately harm the game industry and ban as many games as possible.

I'm not really sure what you're talking about with "enforceable legislation" backing them up. The MPAA operates much like the ESRB. They're both private organizations that have voluntary industry compliance and enforcement. I seriously doubt those 80% success rates are significantly different from the rates for stopping 16 year olds getting in to see R rated movies. Heck, when I was 16 I was able to buy a ticket at least half the time, and when I couldn't there was virtually nothing stopping me from just buying a ticket for another movie and sneaking into the theater. Either way, the movie industry has its own enforcement problems, just like the game industry. This is irrelevant to the argument California made, though. What they're saying is that games and movies are fundamentally different, and thus that holding them to the same standard is not enough. Even if games were to have a 99% success rate of not being sold to minors, their argument would still be the same. They'd still be saying that government regulation would further improve that figure, and thus that it should be implemented.

I think you also need to take another look at the article here, because I don't see how you can conclude that there's "not much wrong with the law." This law seeks to put violent games in a category of censored material that will discourage retailers from stocking them. It won't guarantee that they stop carrying these games, but it will be a pressure on them not to do it. Because no matter what they do, they're never going to achieve 100% enforcement. Therefore, it's simply a matter of time before they face legal repercussions over this if they continue to stock the games. So they then have to answer the question "do we want to carry them and bother with that?" While Gamestop probably would still take the risk, what about the big mega-chains that don't rely on video games to turn a profit? Is Walmart going to take that risk? Target? Best Buy? To them it'll look a lot less worthwhile. And if they stop carrying violent games, that's a HUGE portion of the country that suddenly doesn't have access to them locally, not to mention what this kind of law could do to online retailers. And if violent games suddenly aren't as profitable as they once were because they're having trouble saturating the market, what's to stop developers from just saying "**** it, let's just make mario party 28, we can sell that everywhere." The primary fear here isn't what the law directly does, but the indirect effects it will have. This law could indirectly cause game studios to reduce the number of violent games they make, cut the budgets for them, or even quit making them altogether.

EDIT:

And don't get me wrong, the law does some pretty scary, terrible stuff on its own merit, but I think that it's nothing compared to what might happen in a worse-case scenario when developers end up having to respond to retailers who don't want to stock violent games any more.

VondeVon:
I don't understand why there's such a big fuss. Can't they just say that games with 'obscene violence' are R-rated (Or whatever the American equivalent is) and can only be purchased by adults upon presentation of a driver's license or proof of age card? It works for cigarettes and alcohol. No major restructuring would be necessary on anyone's behalf.

What am I missing?

This isn't really about minors playing games. There's a much bigger picture here. This has to do with Games First Amendment rights, i.e. are they protected by freedom of speech?

Imagine what would happen if these laws pass. First of all, there will have to be strict definitions of what is and isn't acceptable. Then to complicate things more, these laws will be defined at the state level, meaning that you could have very different standards to follow when making a game. That severely narrows what a designer can do. Games with violence (and lets face it, there are a lot) become riskier to make. That could shake the whole industry, and set the whole medium back a generation. They would be regulated by people that don't know and don't care about games.

The biggest insult though, is that this isn't even a question for other media. The Godfather and The Great Gatsby both depict murder and other immoral behavior, but they're both considered great pieces art. But violence in a video game? That's not acceptable

VondeVon:
I don't understand why there's such a big fuss. Can't they just say that games with 'obscene violence' are R-rated (Or whatever the American equivalent is) and can only be purchased by adults upon presentation of a driver's license or proof of age card? It works for cigarettes and alcohol. No major restructuring would be necessary on anyone's behalf.

What am I missing?

What you're missing is the first amendment. Cigarettes and alcohol are not forms of expression. They are not speech. This law seeks to prohibit free expression of violent material in a way that is not applied to any other medium. It is not a crime for a movie theater to let an underage viewer in to see an R rated movie: it is the policy of the theater to comply with the MPAA guidelines. But that's not good enough for games, apparently - California wants to single them out and treat them differently. It also has some drastic implications for potential outcomes should it be implemented, which both this article and my previous post outline.

Stevepinto3:
"We do not have a tradition in this country of telling children they should watch people actively hitting schoolgirls over the head with a shovel so they'll beg for mercy, pour gasoline over them, and urinate on them... We protect children from that."

Yes, because there are just so many games where you can do that.

And this hyperbole is coming from the Chief Justice of the United States of America.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Honestly, I still can't figure out what game they were talking about, I think they just made it up for shock value. Isn't that, I don't know, illegal?

On the bright side though someone could send them this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGVd8MOrWzk

The problem is that this is ENTIRELY a first amendment issue and almost goes to determining whether or not violent games can be considered obscene even though violent movies and books aren't.

A lot of people don't see that, and just think "well, kids aren't really able to buy M rated games anyway...". It's what I thought when I first saw it.

The focus on freedom of speech in America always confused me. Canada drew its constitution much later than American, and our politicians qualified the freedom of speech as being preserved, so long as its use does not significantly restrict the rights and freedoms of the overall population.

For example, a Nazi subculture in Toronto decided it wanted to march down Queen Street some years ago. The police caught word of it and broke up the march under the premise that, freedom of speech or not, nobody needs nazism in their community. That restricting this use of free speech does not significantly impede the rights and freedoms of Canadians at large. So long as restrictions are applied responsibly (which I personally agree that they were in this case) there will be no real problems.

I only quote this as an analogy, not to compare video gaming to nazism. But, maybe there are some parts of the gaming products that should be examined, and that we should say, 'dude, seriously, that's wrong.' With its authority and scope of operations, so long as you can find good ministers maybe the courts are the best medium available for that.

I don't think many gamers would have too much of a problem if a new law was written that was made specifically to try to help enforce the ESRB's rating system to prevent minors from purchasing games that they shouldn't be buying. However, unless it's narrowed down to do exactly that and not this covert bullshit to censor gaming and screw over game companies and game consumers (heh, sounds like we eat them!), I don't see it passing.

This is both good and bad, seeing as how the judges were so evenly split. This worries me, but I'm going to try to be helpful.

Horben:
The focus on freedom of speech in America always confused me. Canada drew its constitution much later than American, and our politicians qualified the freedom of speech as being preserved, so long as its use, does not significantly restrict the rights and freedoms of the overall population.

For example, a Nazi subculture in Toronto decided it wanted to march down Queen Street some years ago. The police caught word of it and broke up the march under the premise that, freedom of speech or not, nobody needs nazism in their community. That restricting this use of free speech does not significantly impede the rights and freedoms of Canadians at large. So long as restrictions are applied responsibly (which I personally agree that they were in this case) there will be no real problems.

I only quote this as an analogy, not to compare video gaming to nazism. But, maybe there are some parts of the gaming products that should be examined, and that we should say, 'dude, seriously, that's wrong.' With its authority and scope of operations, so long as you can find good ministers maybe the courts are the best medium available for that.

"Does not significantly impede the rights and freedoms of Canadians at large." This is what I, and the writers of the US constitution, have a problem with. This is skirting on tyranny of the majority. Because the "average" viewpoint does not support something, should it be outlawed for everyone? "Canadians at large" may not have felt marginalized or threatened by the police's actions in that case, but you can bet the guys who got told they weren't allowed to express themselves freely did. Even if the only thing being censored nowadays are fringe Nazi groups, the concern is that, if these guys can be silenced, there is potential for the expansion of these powers. Where do you draw the line? It's completely arbitrary, and thus it's dangerous to use this as law, which is supposed to be precise. Canada has experienced more than one sticky court case over their limitation clause, and it's just going to keep happening so long as they keep that vagueness in there. If Nazis are being censored now, what's to keep some other group that is very similar to Nazis, but not quite, from being censored? And then a group just a little different from them, and one a little different from them, etcetera etcetera until you've moved down the line to, I don't know, anything, really. That's the problem with vague definitions and arbitrary limitations in law - it leaves the door open for things to get out of hand.

The US constitution attempts to protect the freedoms of everyone with regards to speech regardless of their extreme views, up until the extent that their speech infringes upon other another person's rights. Restrictions such as "shouting fire" are in place only because they carry potential for causing immediate physical harm to other people. The one obvious exception to this general rule is the obscenity clause, which traditionally only relates to sexual material, and which is what California is currently trying to incorporate into its attempt to control the distribution of violent games.

EDIT:
And please don't get me wrong - I don't think anyone should be censored, even fringe Nazi groups. I don't care if the average person doesn't want them out expressing their views in their community. "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." To prefer censorship to confronting bad ideas and dealing with them in the light of day is just cowardly, and can't lead anywhere good. If people want to preach hate and ignorance, let them, and then go out and preach the opposite. If you dislike what they have to say, do something about it yourself, don't rely on the government creating a special exception to human rights so that people don't have to confront something like this. Imagine if they treated other issues the same way! No, having a clear, defined, and most importantly, UNIVERSALLY applied rule of law is vital, especially when it comes to guaranteed freedoms.

hitheremynameisbob:
[quote="Horben" post="6.243229.8836511"] hitheremynameisbob

I appreciate your argument, and the discipline to remain vigilant against undue government interference is admirable. However, I am concerned that the "slippery slope fallacy" may present in these arguments. Yes, some slopes are very slippery, but that some are doesn't mean that all are, and not all alternatives are "sloped" at all. Also, the fear that oneself will come to be among the people censored underlies most of these arguments. Given what you know about yourself, is that fear reasonable?

Also, that you quote us having "sticky cases" (ie the Wartime Measures Act under Trudeau) doesn't seem to carry a lot of weight. Especially given the quality of arguments expressed by the judges, what we all just read appears to be pretty sticky itself. So any arguments concerning the difficulties of our method can be countered by arguments regarding the difficulty of yours, and it's all a wash.

Also, please refer to the "good ministers" qualification above; good ministers would not censor unreasonably. I sympathize with the distrust of government, I share it too, but could that not be focused instead on improving the application governance, rather than simply demanding less of it? I apologize if this is too soon, but I feel it must be said. I have encountered many plausible sentiments that America's recent trend towards some applications of deregulation caused severe problems in your country, and rather than promote freedom and self-reliance it was meant to do, gave permission to very greedy people to make irresponsible policies that hurt many people. This damage would not have happened had the right regulation been developed.

TheDoctor455:
Frankly, if the law were better written, and reinforced ESRB's ratings system with penalties for those who violate its standards, there wouldn't be much wrong with the law. As it stands though, CA's law would replace ESRB's relatively comprehensive system of ratings and descriptors with a binary "are you 18 or not" system.

One of the main reasons that I suspect that the compliance rates are stuck at 80% is because the ESRB ratings don't have much enforceable legislation backing them up. If there were a system set up similar to say... the film industry... there wouldn't be much wrong with the concept, but having looked over how the law was argued in the Supreme Court's transcript... CA's law was at best poorly written with good intentions in mind, and at worst, written to deliberately harm the game industry and ban as many games as possible.

Not say that California's law is any kind of worthy substitute, but I'm never entirely convinced by arguments that point to an industry's own self-regulation. It's not as if they don't have an obvious conflict of interest. And some of them have what can be charitably described as a spotty track record. State bar associations and attorneys leaps to mind. And the MPAA is, as the acronym suggests, an association of and for the motion picture industry first and foremost, not the consumers of motion pictures. Which isn't to say that the combined efforts of the publishers, the ESRB, and the retailers isn't getting the job done. Just to say that there's very little reason for me to assume on face value that they are. And, upon critical consideration, a 20% error rate isn't all that impressive. If you were a school student, that'd earn you a B- grade (just a slim pubic hair away from a C+). You wouldn't be making the Dean's List, that's for sure.

Horben:

I appreciate your argument, and the discipline to remain vigilant against undue government interference is admirable. However, I am concerned that the "slippery slope fallacy" may present in these arguments. Yes, some slopes are very slippery, but that some are doesn't mean that all are, and not all alternatives are "sloped" at all. Also, the fear that oneself will come to be among the people censored underlies most of these arguments. Given what you know about yourself, is that fear reasonable?

I think the slope here is slippery indeed - as I said, I already think you're going too far by censoring anyone, even fringe groups. Human rights are non-compromising, that's the whole point, but Canada's free speech guarantee is nothing of the sort. It's got a big ol' asterisk on it, and even though it's not used against the majority of the population, the fact that it's being used AT ALL is abhorrent to me. So this isn't even a matter of a slippery slope, it's more of a binary "right or wrong" question that I think Canada is on the wrong side of. I have no reason to suspect that I myself will be censored any time in the near future, yet I still sympathize with any and all who are, even Nazis.

I will acknowledge that things aren't likely to be taken much further any time soon, and if this was just casual discussion I'd leave it there without invoking the slippery slope argument at all, but the problem is that we're talking about legislation, here. Open-ended laws are only good ideas in rare cases, and should only exist where there's a good reason to have them. Otherwise, we should endeavor to close any possible gaps, regardless of how minute or remote their exploitation may seem. I see no reasonable justification for censoring a group of Nazis whatsoever - it seems like the only reason it was done was because people disagreed with them, and that's not a good reason. Why leave the hole open if it's providing no benefit, and has even the smallest chance of being a detriment?

Horben:

Also, please refer to the "good ministers" qualification above; good ministers would not censor unreasonably. I sympathize with the distrust of government, I share it too, but could that not be focused instead on improving the application governance, rather than simply demanding less of it? I apologize if this is too soon, but I feel it must be said. I have encountered many plausible sentiments that America's recent trend towards some applications of deregulation caused severe problems in your country, and rather than promote freedom and self-reliance it was meant to do, gave permission to very greedy people to make irresponsible policies that hurt many people. This damage would not have happened had the right regulation been developed.

Again, this is an assumption that things will stay as they are now, and I already disagree with the notion that they will not censor unreasonably - in my view they already have. The rest of this paragraph assumes that we are working a zero sum game between effective implementation and solid policy, and I don't really see how that is true. Courts and agencies manage implementation, legislature manages policy - they should all be doing their jobs. As for the discussion of decreased regulation - that's completely irrelevant here. I'm not opposed to regulation in all its forms, only in the arena of human rights do I take such an idealistic stance. Government has a place in business and many other areas of life, but not in determining what opinions are okay to express. These are two separate areas of law, and are not comparable.

JDKJ:

TheDoctor455:
Frankly, if the law were better written, and reinforced ESRB's ratings system with penalties for those who violate its standards, there wouldn't be much wrong with the law. As it stands though, CA's law would replace ESRB's relatively comprehensive system of ratings and descriptors with a binary "are you 18 or not" system.

One of the main reasons that I suspect that the compliance rates are stuck at 80% is because the ESRB ratings don't have much enforceable legislation backing them up. If there were a system set up similar to say... the film industry... there wouldn't be much wrong with the concept, but having looked over how the law was argued in the Supreme Court's transcript... CA's law was at best poorly written with good intentions in mind, and at worst, written to deliberately harm the game industry and ban as many games as possible.

Not say that California's law is any kind of worthy substitute, but I'm never entirely convinced by arguments that point to an industry's own self-regulation. It's not as if they don't have an obvious conflict of interest. And some of them have what can be charitably described as a spotty track record. State bar associations and attorneys leaps to mind. And the MPAA is, as the acronym suggests, an association of and for the motion picture industry first and foremost, not the consumers of motion pictures. Which isn't to say that the combined efforts of the publishers, the ESRB, and the retailers isn't getting the job done. Just to say that there's very little reason for me to assume on face value that they are. And a 20% error rate isn't all that impressive. If you were a school student, that'd earn you a B- grade (just a slim pubic hair away from a C+). You wouldn't be making the Dean's List, that's for sure.

it has the highest compliance list of all the other self-regulated media rating systems. that 80% success doesn't seem like much, but when you compare it to little kids buying R-Rated movies, getting access into R-Rated movies, and buying music, not to mention the fact that it's children that kept South Park and Family Guy on the aire for as long as its taken for them to be staples, I gotta say, the game industry does a pretty good job.

You can't get 100% compliance, and really, I don't know if I'd want to even live in a world where that were possible. To error is human.

Altorin:

JDKJ:

TheDoctor455:
Frankly, if the law were better written, and reinforced ESRB's ratings system with penalties for those who violate its standards, there wouldn't be much wrong with the law. As it stands though, CA's law would replace ESRB's relatively comprehensive system of ratings and descriptors with a binary "are you 18 or not" system.

One of the main reasons that I suspect that the compliance rates are stuck at 80% is because the ESRB ratings don't have much enforceable legislation backing them up. If there were a system set up similar to say... the film industry... there wouldn't be much wrong with the concept, but having looked over how the law was argued in the Supreme Court's transcript... CA's law was at best poorly written with good intentions in mind, and at worst, written to deliberately harm the game industry and ban as many games as possible.

Not say that California's law is any kind of worthy substitute, but I'm never entirely convinced by arguments that point to an industry's own self-regulation. It's not as if they don't have an obvious conflict of interest. And some of them have what can be charitably described as a spotty track record. State bar associations and attorneys leaps to mind. And the MPAA is, as the acronym suggests, an association of and for the motion picture industry first and foremost, not the consumers of motion pictures. Which isn't to say that the combined efforts of the publishers, the ESRB, and the retailers isn't getting the job done. Just to say that there's very little reason for me to assume on face value that they are. And a 20% error rate isn't all that impressive. If you were a school student, that'd earn you a B- grade (just a slim pubic hair away from a C+). You wouldn't be making the Dean's List, that's for sure.

it has the highest compliance list of all the other self-regulated media rating systems. that 80% success doesn't seem like much, but when you compare it to little kids buying R-Rated movies, getting access into R-Rated movies, and buying music, not to mention the fact that it's children that kept South Park and Family Guy on the aire for as long as its taken for them to be staples, I gotta say, the game industry does a pretty good job.

You can't get 100% compliance, and really, I don't know if I'd want to even live in a world where that were possible. To error is human.

And crack addiction is probably more benign than meth addiction. But that alone probably ain't a good reason to support legalizing crack.

JDKJ:

And crack addiction is probably more benign than meth addiction. But that alone probably ain't a good reason to support legalizing crack.

Even if you implement laws around this, enforcement still won't reach 100%. So, following that logic, we should just outlaw the sale of violent games altogether, because SOME kids would still get their hands on them. Seriously, be realistic here. If you're going to say that nothing short of 100% is acceptable, then you've made the entire discussion pointless.

I haven't read every post in this thread, but the ones I have read have gotten a lot of stuff wrong. This law is a state law that makes it illegal to sell "deviantly violent" games to minors. The challenge is that restricting how minors spend their money is a violation of the First Amendment. Furthermore, there isn't a very coherent definition of what qualifies as a deviantly violent game, and instead CA's argument is that juries will be able to decide whether or not a game would be covered by this law. The only game that everyone agrees is covered is Postal 2. The law itself has some major exceptions like any game with scientific, artistic, or other merits to counter the violence wouldn't be covered. Some of the Justices asked if things like the game's plot could contribute to this merit exception, and CA said it would. Also the law only covers game violence against people not animals or aliens; I'm not sure how it'd treat zombies.
Personally, I think this law mostly would apply to fighting games exactly like Mortal Kombat because those games focus mostly on violence and have very little else while a game like GTA is brutal in many respects could potentially find an exception depending on the jury forced to make that decision. All in all, I think the law is very poorly drafted because of both its vagueness and its overbreadth. I'm not sure that a sufficiently narrow law could be drafted that wouldn't chill the industry and cause games like Fallout or Mass Effect to start disappearing.

hitheremynameisbob:

JDKJ:

And crack addiction is probably more benign than meth addiction. But that alone probably ain't a good reason to support legalizing crack.

Even if you implement laws around this, enforcement still won't reach 100%. So, following that logic, we should just outlaw the sale of violent games altogether, because SOME kids would still get their hands on them. Seriously, be realistic here. If you're going to say that nothing short of 100% is acceptable, then you've made the entire discussion pointless.

I'm not at all saying that less than 100% compliance is unacceptable. What I am saying (and I'll admit I wasn't being as clear as possible) is that California's law is a dumb idea as written and rewriting it so as to tie it to the ESRB's rating system doesn't make it any less dumb. And as a matter of law, to do so is illegal. A wholly private regulatory scheme can't be legislatively given the force of public law. That's unconstitutional.

idiot445:
I haven't read every post in this thread, but the ones I have read have gotten a lot of stuff wrong. This law is a state law that makes it illegal to sell "deviantly violent" games to minors. The challenge is that restricting how minors spend their money is a violation of the First Amendment. Furthermore, there isn't a very coherent definition of what qualifies as a deviantly violent game, and instead CA's argument is that juries will be able to decide whether or not a game would be covered by this law. The only game that everyone agrees is covered is Postal 2. The law itself has some major exceptions like any game with scientific, artistic, or other merits to counter the violence wouldn't be covered. Some of the Justices asked if things like the game's plot could contribute to this merit exception, and CA said it would. Also the law only covers game violence against people not animals or aliens; I'm not sure how it'd treat zombies.
Personally, I think this law mostly would apply to fighting games exactly like Mortal Kombat because those games focus mostly on violence and have very little else while a game like GTA is brutal in many respects could potentially find an exception depending on the jury forced to make that decision. All in all, I think the law is very poorly drafted because of both its vagueness and its overbreadth. I'm not sure that a sufficiently narrow law could be drafted that wouldn't chill the industry and cause games like Fallout or Mass Effect to start disappearing.

Petitioner dropped their ball completely with that "we can let a jury decide" nonsense. That's precisely the sort of effect that the prohibition against "vague" legislation seeks to avoid.

But Respondent didn't do too much better with that "has a plot, must have artistic value" argument, either. If that was truly the test, then nothing with anything that could be said to be a "plot" would ever fail.

And I'd imagine that a law could be drafted so as to overcome considerations of "vagueness." Simply play through all the games you suspect that you'll want to be captured by the law, note the instances and content of their deviant violence, include language of the sort "the term 'deviant violence' as used herein is defined as . . .," then explicitly describe all the instances of deviant violence of which the play through informed. Voila!

And I don't think the First Amendment's much of an obstacle -- certainly not an insurmountable one -- to restricting how minors spend their money. They can't buy pornography or gain admission to the booty-shake club.

Could someone please clarify this for me.

So this law basically makes it illegal to sell M rated games to minors? The thought behind that is really not that bad is it? The M is there for a reason, nobody is arguing against that right?

Am I getting it right when I say that people are afraid of what will happen when there can be legal repercussions of accidentally selling the wrong game to the wrong person? Wouldn't that just result in stricter store policies? How is it going to affect the industry in a bad way?

edit: and why are people talking about censoring? Does restricting sales classify as censoring or is there something here that I missed?

JDKJ:

Father Time:

mjc0961:

Father Time:

Jhereg42:

AC10:
How about if a parent doesn't want their kid to play a game they tell them they can't?

That would be responsible.

The problem is that this law is writen to "protect" parents that do not review what their children ask for. The parents that walk into Game stop with scribbled christmas lists and ask for games without understanding the ratings system or even looking at the ESRB designations.

The CA law only affects kids who walk into gamestop and ask to buy games. If a parent buys violent games for their kids it's still legal.

No it doesn't. If it passes, given time parents won't be able to walk into GameStop and buy the game for their kids because GameStop won't stock the game. Neither will Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and so on.

That makes no sense.

For starters those companies all ready don't sell M games to minors (or at least gamestop doesn't) as their company policy, even though it's legal to sell them those games.

And besides Wal mart and Target all ready stock things that are illegal to sell to minors. Alcohol and cigarettes.

But, of course, those store policies are driven more by external pressures and corporate image concerns more than anything else. I'd imagine that if they ever lost their minds and decided to sell M-rated games to whomever wanted to buy them and argued that there's no law against them doing so, then a horde of white, middle-class, middle-aged, suburban mothers would descend upon their annual shareholder meetings in a convoy of minivans and quickly make them regret that decision. Otherwise, and as long as to do so showed a profit at the bottom line, they'd be selling M-rated games to kids hand over fist.

I think Australia has gotten it (mostly) right, with the exemption that we need an R18+ for games. MA games should NOT be sold to 10 year olds, its common sense. IF the child is mature enough then the parent or adault guardian can buy it on their behalf, the law is for the majority and in general kids are not even meant to play Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto or Killzone 2. While yes games are freedom of speach like the rest, all media should be rated and only sold to those that fit in the age category. Rating something and banning it is a different matter, and I'm against banning stuff/censorship.
Abit of common sense that says that a kid is not allow to buy a game or movie made for adaults would be nice in the states for a change.

VondeVon:
I don't understand why there's such a big fuss. Can't they just say that games with 'obscene violence' are R-rated (Or whatever the American equivalent is) and can only be purchased by adults upon presentation of a driver's license or proof of age card? It works for cigarettes and alcohol. No major restructuring would be necessary on anyone's behalf.

What am I missing?

Precisely, it wouldn't effect games sales much, unless EA and Ubisoft are admitting their trying to sell violent games made for 15+ to 10 year olds? Fact is that it's making the game store follow the ratings that already exist.

Jhereg42:

AC10:
How about if a parent doesn't want their kid to play a game they tell them they can't?

That would be responsible.

The problem is that this law is writen to "protect" parents that do not review what their children ask for. The parents that walk into Game stop with scribbled christmas lists and ask for games without understanding the ratings system or even looking at the ESRB designations.

As a parent who is an avid fan of the medium, I make it a point to keep my copies of M rated games put away and play them when my child is asleep. When he is around and he wants to play with his dad, I let him play drums on Lego Rock Band or we play some more rated E games. To me, it's common sense. To most of those who were born just 5 years before me, it's a mystery.

We have to accept that it is those people, around age 40 to 60, that are in charge of the country at the moment. Those people, who would never even look at the true experience behind a solid M rated game like Mass Effect or Bioshock, are just more prone to seeing a story about a game like Postal or Rape Lay and make sweeping generalizations because that is what ignorance breeds.

Even if we loose, in 5 to 10 years when a more informed generation comes to power these restrictions can be changed. It's just a matter of having people who actually care in the right place.

You sir are absolutely right, couldn't have put it better myself

Littaly:
Could someone please clarify this for me.

So this law basically makes it illegal to sell M rated games to minors? The thought behind that is really not that bad is it? The M is there for a reason, nobody is arguing against that right?

Am I getting it right when I say that people are afraid of what will happen when there can be legal repercussions of accidentally selling the wrong game to the wrong person? Wouldn't that just result in stricter store policies? How is it going to affect the industry in a bad way?

edit: and why are people talking about censoring? Does restricting sales classify as censoring or is there something here that I missed?

The fear is that, essentially, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop et al. would simply remove M rated games from the shelves. rather than risk getting fined. Considering that a) brick-and-mortar retailers probably sell the highest proportion of console games, and b) the next rating down from an M (PEGI equivalent: 18+) is a T (PEGI equivalent: 12+). This would pretty much mean that party games take over a FPSes as the "default" genre within six months, rather than in the next console generation.

There's also Americans on this forum that think that you either have Freedom Of Speech or you're in 1984 territory, no middle ground. It's the sort of argument the Tea Party would make, frankly.

Also, for those who are wondering, the game mentioned by the judges is Postal 2, a game released seven years ago exclusively on PCs (all OSes too!), which is a format which will probably be entirely unaffected by this law thanks to the magic of digital distribution.

Delusibeta:

Littaly:
Could someone please clarify this for me.

So this law basically makes it illegal to sell M rated games to minors? The thought behind that is really not th...

The fear is that, essentially, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop et al. would simply remove M rated games from the shelves. rather than risk getting fined. Considering that a) brick-and-mortar retailers probably sell the highest proportion of console games, and b) the next rating down from an M (PEGI equivalent: 18+) is a T (PEGI equivalent: 12+). This would pretty much mean that party games take over a FPSes as the "default" genre within six months, rather than in the next console generation.

Ah, thanks for the answer. Still, isn't that kind of assuming things will end in a worst case scenario? Is there anything apart from speculations that point towards retailers taking M rated games off the shelves? They already have a policy against selling M rated games to minors right? So what's gonna change? If they weren't selling violent games to children in the first place, it's not like they're gonna make less money once the law passes, if the only thing that changes is the consequences of failing to enforce the policy, isn't it just as reasonable to assume they will put more pressure on employees as resorting to take the games off the shelves?

Also, doesn't the ESRB have an equivalent to the PEGI 16+?

Delusibeta:

Littaly:
Could someone please clarify this for me.

So this law basically makes it illegal to sell M rated games to minors? The thought behind that is really not that bad is it? The M is there for a reason, nobody is arguing against that right?

Am I getting it right when I say that people are afraid of what will happen when there can be legal repercussions of accidentally selling the wrong game to the wrong person? Wouldn't that just result in stricter store policies? How is it going to affect the industry in a bad way?

edit: and why are people talking about censoring? Does restricting sales classify as censoring or is there something here that I missed?

The fear is that, essentially, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop et al. would simply remove M rated games from the shelves. rather than risk getting fined. Considering that a) brick-and-mortar retailers probably sell the highest proportion of console games, and b) the next rating down from an M (PEGI equivalent: 18+) is a T (PEGI equivalent: 12+). This would pretty much mean that party games take over a FPSes as the "default" genre within six months, rather than in the next console generation.

There's also Americans on this forum that think that you either have Freedom Of Speech or you're in 1984 territory, no middle ground. It's the sort of argument the Tea Party would make, frankly.

Also, for those who are wondering, the game mentioned by the judges is Postal 2, a game released seven years ago exclusively on PCs (all OSes too!), which is a format which will probably be entirely unaffected by this law thanks to the magic of digital distribution.

Its illegal to sell games to minors in Australia, yet target, K-Mart, Mayers, JB Hifi and many other stores sell games. They just dont sell them to minors, which is the point.

This is serious business, but i have make this comment.
I mean it's quite pointless, but still.
On the front page, the advertisement has the writing "Schwarzenegger vs. ema".
"Ema" means "mother" in my language. Which made the sentence funny, though only for a second.
That is all.

You forgot the bit that stated that this covers only violence against humans. As stated in the ArsTechnica coverage of this news:

And then there was this surreal exchange:

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Would a video game that portrayed a Vulcan, as opposed to a human being, maimed and tortured, would that be covered by the act?

MR. MORAZZINI: No, it wouldn't, Your Honor, because the act is only directed towards the range of options that are able to be inflicted on a human being.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: So if the video producer says this is not a human being, it's an android computer simulated person, then all they have to do is put a little artificial feature on the creature and they could sell the video game?

MR. MORAZZINI: Under the act, yes, because California's concern-I think this is one of the reasons that sex and violence are so similar-these are base 12 physical acts we are talking about, Justice Sotomayor. So limiting, narrowing our law here in California, there in California to violence-violent depictions against human beings.

So let's say we have the image of a person being brutally raped in a game. That could lead to huge fines if the game was sold to a minor in California. Slap pointy ears on the character and call it an Elf? Fair game.

So yeah, we can get all the "obscene violence" we want, game makers should just come up with justifications why that guy who got disemboweled a few seconds ago is a sufficiently human-looking robot (complete with arterial spray and splattered intestines) and not an actual human.

RicoADF:

JDKJ:

Father Time:

mjc0961:

Father Time:

Jhereg42:

AC10:
How about if a parent doesn't want their kid to play a game they tell them they can't?

That would be responsible.

The problem is that this law is writen to "protect" parents that do not review what their children ask for. The parents that walk into Game stop with scribbled christmas lists and ask for games without understanding the ratings system or even looking at the ESRB designations.

The CA law only affects kids who walk into gamestop and ask to buy games. If a parent buys violent games for their kids it's still legal.

No it doesn't. If it passes, given time parents won't be able to walk into GameStop and buy the game for their kids because GameStop won't stock the game. Neither will Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and so on.

That makes no sense.

For starters those companies all ready don't sell M games to minors (or at least gamestop doesn't) as their company policy, even though it's legal to sell them those games.

And besides Wal mart and Target all ready stock things that are illegal to sell to minors. Alcohol and cigarettes.

But, of course, those store policies are driven more by external pressures and corporate image concerns more than anything else. I'd imagine that if they ever lost their minds and decided to sell M-rated games to whomever wanted to buy them and argued that there's no law against them doing so, then a horde of white, middle-class, middle-aged, suburban mothers would descend upon their annual shareholder meetings in a convoy of minivans and quickly make them regret that decision. Otherwise, and as long as to do so showed a profit at the bottom line, they'd be selling M-rated games to kids hand over fist.

I think Australia has gotten it (mostly) right, with the exemption that we need an R18+ for games. MA games should NOT be sold to 10 year olds, its common sense. IF the child is mature enough then the parent or adault guardian can buy it on their behalf, the law is for the majority and in general kids are not even meant to play Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto or Killzone 2. While yes games are freedom of speach like the rest, all media should be rated and only sold to those that fit in the age category. Rating something and banning it is a different matter, and I'm against banning stuff/censorship.
Abit of common sense that says that a kid is not allow to buy a game or movie made for adaults would be nice in the states for a change.

VondeVon:
I don't understand why there's such a big fuss. Can't they just say that games with 'obscene violence' are R-rated (Or whatever the American equivalent is) and can only be purchased by adults upon presentation of a driver's license or proof of age card? It works for cigarettes and alcohol. No major restructuring would be necessary on anyone's behalf.

What am I missing?

Precisely, it wouldn't effect games sales much, unless EA and Ubisoft are admitting their trying to sell violent games made for 15+ to 10 year olds? Fact is that it's making the game store follow the ratings that already exist.

Common sense in the States? Ha! There's a much better chance of finding Amelia Earhart.

And the difference is the $1000 fine. If, for whatever reasons, California's Video Game Police decide to crawl up the asses of video game retailers and rigorously enforce the law (assuming it's upheld) by, for example, conducting sting operations, and the issuance of those $1000 fines become a common occurrence, then it's not beyond the realm of possibility that some retailers will call it a day and concentrate their energies on less problematic products.

Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, both parents of young children, also seemed to support California's position. Roberts seemed to be most concerned with protecting children from violence in general

Hmm, that's probably because it's the parents damned job to take care of their kids, not the governments.

Alito:
"We have here a new medium that cannot possibly have been envisioned at the time when the First Amendment was ratified. To say...because descriptions in a book of violence were not considered a category of speech that was appropriate for limitations at the time when the First Amendment was violated is entirely artificial."

You're only thinking of the violence in the games, think about what else the game industry has done for mankind. If you need me to I'll lead you out of the tunnel you're stuck in and too the light.

This case is seriously frightening, and we really need to stand up and remind the court that just because the medium is new, it doesn't mean it should be regulated.
They just need to look back to history and see that this has happened before, and they should just remind parents and states that parenting isn't their job.

Littaly:

Delusibeta:

Littaly:
Could someone please clarify this for me.

So this law basically makes it illegal to sell M rated games to minors? The thought behind that is really not th...

The fear is that, essentially, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop et al. would simply remove M rated games from the shelves. rather than risk getting fined. Considering that a) brick-and-mortar retailers probably sell the highest proportion of console games, and b) the next rating down from an M (PEGI equivalent: 18+) is a T (PEGI equivalent: 12+). This would pretty much mean that party games take over a FPSes as the "default" genre within six months, rather than in the next console generation.

Ah, thanks for the answer. Still, isn't that kind of assuming things will end in a worst case scenario? Is there anything apart from speculations that point towards retailers taking M rated games off the shelves? They already have a policy against selling M rated games to minors right? So what's gonna change? If they weren't selling violent games to children in the first place, it's not like they're gonna make less money once the law passes, if the only thing that changes is the consequences of failing to enforce the policy, isn't it just as reasonable to assume they will put more pressure on employees as resorting to take the games off the shelves?

Also, doesn't the ESRB have an equivalent to the PEGI 16+?

Delusibeta:

Littaly:
Could someone please clarify this for me.

So this law basically makes it illegal to sell M rated games to minors? The thought behind that is really not that bad is it? The M is there for a reason, nobody is arguing against that right?

Am I getting it right when I say that people are afraid of what will happen when there can be legal repercussions of accidentally selling the wrong game to the wrong person? Wouldn't that just result in stricter store policies? How is it going to affect the industry in a bad way?

edit: and why are people talking about censoring? Does restricting sales classify as censoring or is there something here that I missed?

The fear is that, essentially, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop et al. would simply remove M rated games from the shelves. rather than risk getting fined. Considering that a) brick-and-mortar retailers probably sell the highest proportion of console games, and b) the next rating down from an M (PEGI equivalent: 18+) is a T (PEGI equivalent: 12+). This would pretty much mean that party games take over a FPSes as the "default" genre within six months, rather than in the next console generation.

There's also Americans on this forum that think that you either have Freedom Of Speech or you're in 1984 territory, no middle ground. It's the sort of argument the Tea Party would make, frankly.

Also, for those who are wondering, the game mentioned by the judges is Postal 2, a game released seven years ago exclusively on PCs (all OSes too!), which is a format which will probably be entirely unaffected by this law thanks to the magic of digital distribution.

Whether from the "Official Handbook of Tea Party Arguments" or not, as a matter of pure English language, to restrict access to speech, be it video games or "Lady Chatterley's Lover," is correctly called "censorship."

And, as a matter of American politics, the Tea Party idiots are, in theory, opposed to Big Government and its regulations and interventions. They'd supposedly be opposed to any law that effectively makes the government a nanny for children.

This law shouldn't exist, period. It's simply an attempt to wipe one's backside with the 1st amendment and ignore some of the greatest principals the country was founded on.

In the end of the day parents needs to take responsibility for what their children are buying. If your child asks for a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV, then it falls upon you, as the parent, to know what they're asking for.

Frankly, that's the easy part, the hard part is keeping a tab on what a child may buy on their own, or trade with friends for. Then it requires you to do that kind of homework on the fly. It also requires that the parent is willing to accept the fact that their child went and actively sought out this game. It's not anyone's fault but the kid's.

The fact is many parents today don't have inclination to take that kind of interest in their children. Trust me, I work in the education field and the sheer amount of apathy I see from parents is disturbing. They can't be bothered to keep sick children home, look at their work, return notes, or even take the smallest degree of interest in what their child does all day.

If this naturally extends to the games they give their children to play with then naturally they WANT someone else to decide what's right for them, and to make it someone else's fault that they didn't take an active enough interest in their child's life.

Littaly:
*snip*

It's speculation of the worst case, but considering that's a scenereo mentioned on the first page of this article, it's not an uncommon speculation. And no, the ESRB does not, as far as I know, have an equivilant to PEGI 16+. Yet. Of course, you can argue that M is the equivilant to 16+ and AO is equivilant to 18+, but considering AO is pretty much the same as if Germany refused a rating on it, it's a poor arguement.

Ironically, AO is also (currently) the only ESRB rating AFAIK that is legally binding. Hence the aforementioned worst case if California gets to legally bind the M rating as well.

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