Games on Trial

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hitheremynameisbob:

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.

It clearly isn't universally applied if if you can't "shout fire" in public, as this is simply creating the potential for short term rather than long term harm to others. As for obscenity, that is also tyranny of the majority and censorship, and an incredibly clear-cut case of it. This is the same censorship, just different justifications for it. I think it's far more obscene to allow Nazi's to run around preaching their crap than it is to have naked woman running around in a video game, but the censorship of both is simply the difference in values between our two countries. The U.S. is deeply religious, Canada is deeply anti-racist. "I may not agree with a thing that you say, but I will defend to the death you're right to say it." Apparently this doesn't apply to the great societal harm of nudity. In Calgary, we had white supremacists running around, and there was wide-spread condemnation of it. They weren't stopped by the law, and were in fact loaded onto buses and evacuated from downtown away from anti-racist protesters.

FFS HOW MANY TIMES?... IT LIES WITH THE PARENTS DAMNIT!

It shouldn't be held to the responsibility of the distributors of certain forms of games, movies and other media who buys their merchandise. It's just not possible to police right and it's not fair on the rest of us to restrict it entirely.

A responsible parent will watch what their kids play and watch and will end up better off.

An unresponsiveness parent will not give a shit and end up in shit for their carelessness.

Not broken... Simple.

I like how the Californian representative sounds like such a weasel.

But seriously, listening to the oral argument gives me faith in the people handling the case. They're keeping their minds open and heavily scrutinising the case. Hopefully they'll see sense- based on its vagueness, or simply on its lack of any significant base.

thepyrethatburns:

JDKJ:

thepyrethatburns:

internetzealot1:
It scares me that even one of the justices on the Supreme Court would side with this law.

While I realize that this was a New York Supreme Court Justice, this story pretty much sums up the state of the U.S. legal system.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20021342-504083.html

So, no. It isn't all that surprising anymore.

How so does it sum up the state of the U.S. legal system? You might have missed the all important fact that "and their parents" can also be sued was what the Justice decided. This reflects nothing more than the age-old legal concept of vicarious liability (i.e., a parent can be sued along with a child for the harms caused by the child even if the parent was nowhere around when the harm occurred). Despite the obvious spinning of the facts so that it reads as if the children are the ones primarily being sued, the more meaningful subject of the suit are the children's parents (the ones who I have to assume are in the position, unlike the children, to actually pay any monetary damages which may be awarded to the plaintiff). If you take the time to search for similar decisions among those of any Anglo-Saxon-based civil law system, including that of the UK's, I'll bet you'll easily find a number of similar decisions. This decision is neither unique nor peculiar and hardly serves as some sort of negative commentary on the state of the U.S. legal system.

It's generally a good rule of thumb to believe half of what you hear and nothing that you read in the news.

What I think is a much better commentary on the state of the U.S. legal system is the fact that the second the California Governor signed the law into effect, a lawsuit seeking to block it was filed and, by all accounts, looks as if it will succeed in shooting down what by any stretch of the imagination is nothing more than a foolish attempt at censorship. Say what you want to about the Americans, but you can't say that there isn't a vocal contingent of them who just happen to think that the right of free speech is an important right and who will go to any lengths to protect that right against government interference. For better or worse, many of them also feel that way about the right to own a gun.

No. I didn't.

I also didn't miss the part that CBS got the story wrong and that the woman died three months (not weeks) later. I also didn't miss the part that the woman died from unrelated issues according to her doctors. I didn't miss the part about the judge applying an artificial standard of "reasonable prudence" to a four-year-old. I didn't miss the fact that the judge concluded that the mother had no active role in the incident but he is still alowing the estate to sue her anyway.. I didn't miss the fact that, while it is true that this is being used as an avenue to sue the parents, the children will still be taken to court and have their lives turned upside down at an age where they'll need booster seats just to reach the witness microphone. I also didn't miss the part that CBS decided to expose 4-year-olds to media scrutiny by naming names.

I also didn't miss the part that, despite all this, the judge is letting the lawsuit proceed despite it being a completely groundless suit. By itself, it doesn't serve as a negative commentary on the U.S. legal system. The fact that this type of thing is increasingly the norm and is not "unique or peculiar" does serve as a negative commentary on the U.S. legal system.

Why, if the reportage is so unsound and unethical, are you even sharing it? As commentary on the sorry state of news reportage?

Why is "reasonable prudence" an artificial standard when negligence is defined at law as "the failure to use that degree of care that an ordinary person of reasonable prudence would use under the circumstances?"

Why shouldn't the court allow the mother to be sued despite having no active role in the incident when the law, by the well-established principle of vicarious liability, routinely and sensibly allows for such suit? If a parent leaves their child without any adult supervision to engage in conduct that likely will result in harm to others, why shouldn't that parent be sued along with their child?

Why do you think a four year-old will be called to the witness stand and placed before the microphone when it is well-established at law that a four year-old is too young to appreciate the oath and therefore can't give sworn testimony?

Why shouldn't a court allow cases to proceed if it determines that the legal standards for early dismissal of "failure to state a claim" or "summary judgment" have not been satisfied and regardless of whether or not you are of the opinion that a case is "completely groundless?" And if, in the absence of either of those standards being met and putting aside your opinion of the merits, why would a universal refusal to allow early dismissal be any sort of negative commentary on the U.S. legal system? Isn't the preference of the U.S. legal system, as reflected in its procedural and evidence rules, not to dismiss cases early in the litigation process but, rather, to give plaintiffs a full and fair opportunity to make their case, if they have a case to make at all, and only to dismiss the plaintiff's case once it becomes abundantly clear that they have no case to make a positive commentary on that system?

I'm sorry, but I'm just not seeing where you're trying to go.

I didnt really read ALL of the comments here so if i am making a point or comment that has already been made than I appologize. Has anyone ever seen the film The People VS. Larry Flynt? I hadnt until recently but long story short its based on a true story about larry flynt who is the hugh heffner of hustler magazine who goes to the supreme court over a tasteless satire cartoon. Anyways its a First Amendment case in which larry Flynt won which made me feel a little more secure about this whole silly california/video game first amendment case because it has to protect freedom of speech/expression NOT taste. The best line in the movie was after Larry one he says to the media "If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it'll protect all of you -- 'cause I'm the worst," Lets all hope that statement holds true.

concietedgrl:
I didnt really read ALL of the comments here so if i am making a point or comment that has already been made than I appologize. Has anyone ever seen the film The People VS. Larry Flynt? I hadnt until recently but long story short its based on a true story about larry flynt who is the hugh heffner of hustler magazine who goes to the supreme court over a tasteless satire cartoon. Anyways its a First Amendment case in which larry Flynt won which made me feel a little more secure about this whole silly california/video game first amendment case because it has to protect freedom of speech/expression NOT taste. The best line in the movie was after Larry one he says to the media "If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it'll protect all of you -- 'cause I'm the worst," Lets all hope that statement holds true.

"The People vs. Larry Flynt" should be viewed by all if for no other reason than it stars Woody Harrelson, an unabashed pot smoker, opposite Courtney Love, an unabashed crack smoker. Ya gotta love it!

I dont mind people limiting violent games 2 adults but i have 2 problems with this law.

A)Vague: How do you define ultraviolent? Watch Saw 4 or 5 and then play Gta4. which one is more violent, more unaccectable? i get wanting 2 restrict kids from violence and sex, but how do yu define it? will it set guidelines for each age? and will differnt courts be allowed 2 make different ruling on the same game?

B)Unlike a movie theater, where a ticket is usually a free pass, i have 2 actually obtain the violent game if i want 2 play it and veiw the content i shouldnt. this reqiures me 2 either: get it from a freind or buy it from a retailer who has a clause, and therefore, employees, saying they wont sell certain games 2 certain people. on top of those hindrances, parents are the only peoople the law should giving the power 2 prevent there kids from violent content.
For Example, when Gta4 came out walmart wouldnt sell it 2 me. my parents bought it for me with my money. however if i want 2 see a violent movie and im old enough 2 be dropped off but not old enough 2 purchase a ticket, I can( and have) simply bought a ticket for a different movie and then gone 2 see the violent one.

I geuss the real question is why Video games when movies,the internet, and books, Including the bible, are just as violent if not more so but thre protected?
And,for the record, I dont think any medium of entertainment should be censored more than the current laws. they seem 2 work fine 2 me.

Good to see that the sensible people getting upset about what actually matters. The western world rapes and pillages countries for oil, manipulate goverments for their ideological and financial gain support free trade zones to stimulate their own economy. But someone taken away their rather average video games. Oh no!

Censorships just a lazy way to avoid educating people.

The Atomic Lamp:
Good to see that the sensible people getting upset about what actually matters. The western world rapes and pillages countries for oil, manipulate goverments for their ideological and financial gain support free trade zones to stimulate their own economy. But someone taken away their rather average video games. Oh no!

Ironic, I think, that you don't hesitate to voice your opinions while at the same time attempting to minimize the issue of free speech. That's a neater trick than riding a unicycle while juggling three bowling pins. Bravo!

JDKJ:

The Atomic Lamp:
Good to see that the sensible people getting upset about what actually matters. The western world rapes and pillages countries for oil, manipulate goverments for their ideological and financial gain support free trade zones to stimulate their own economy. But someone taken away their rather average video games. Oh no!

Ironic, I think, that you don't hesitate to voice your opinions while at the same time attempting to minimize the issue of free speech. That's a neater trick than riding a unicycle while juggling three bowling pins. Bravo!

Commenting on the apathy and sefl-involved nature of a generation or culture is arguably more important than all the things I suggested as it leads to the problems I suggested.

The Atomic Lamp:

JDKJ:

The Atomic Lamp:
Good to see that the sensible people getting upset about what actually matters. The western world rapes and pillages countries for oil, manipulate goverments for their ideological and financial gain support free trade zones to stimulate their own economy. But someone taken away their rather average video games. Oh no!

Ironic, I think, that you don't hesitate to voice your opinions while at the same time attempting to minimize the issue of free speech. That's a neater trick than riding a unicycle while juggling three bowling pins. Bravo!

Commenting on the apathy and sefl-involved nature of a generation or culture is arguably more important than all the things I suggested as it leads to the problems I suggested.

Feel free to comment on the apathy and self-absorption of whoever all you'd like. But, in so doing, to take an issue of censorship and then try to twist it into nothing more than "someone tak[ing] away . . . rather average video games" may not be the best way for you to win converts. You certainly didn't win me over to your position. Rather, my first response was to conclude that you're more than a little bit of an idiot.

I normally consider myself a centrist when it comes to politics in America. I try to avoid buying into either side's propaganda, and usually find little reason to support any of the major candidates. However, what is really pissing me off is how politicians on both sides are starting to try and restrict our freedom under the guise of "for our own safety." I think it's pathetic that politicians think they need to monitor what people are allowed to eat. It's like they think we're cattle who will just gorge ourselves til we explode.

What turns children into violent mass-murderers isn't violent media. It may give them ideas, but what turns children into mass-murderers is living in a stressful hateful situation during their childhood and having no recourse. Either ignored or abused by their parents, tormented in PUBLIC schools, or just altogether having a rotten childhood. Not saying that all people who have this kinda childhood won't be able to overcome it, but this is what contributes to school shootings. Watching violent media just glorifies violence and gives them an idea on how to act out against their sad situation. Is it really that hard for people to understand this? I feel like it would be the first thing that came to my mind when there was a school shooting, not "I wonder if he did it, because he played Doom."

The irony of it all is that a man who got rich and famous from being the protagonist in violent media is now arguing for censorship of it.

What sticks out to me is the comment that has been made that Obama is "the first nerd president". Interestingly, his two Supreme Court Nominees appear to be "the first nerd Justices". Kagan seems intimately familiarly with Mortal Kombat. And Sotomayor is going off about Human violence versus Vulcan violence. Nerds.

Honestly, having two nerds on the court should at least help this case get a fair hearing.

I am so proud to be an American.

Baron von Awesome:
Either ignored or abused by their parents, tormented in PUBLIC schools, or just altogether having a rotten childhood.

One can also be tormented in private schools.

Baron von Awesome:
I normally consider myself a centrist when it comes to politics in America. I try to avoid buying into either side's propaganda, and usually find little reason to support any of the major candidates. However, what is really pissing me off is how politicians on both sides are starting to try and restrict our freedom under the guise of "for our own safety." I think it's pathetic that politicians think they need to monitor what people are allowed to eat. It's like they think we're cattle who will just gorge ourselves til we explode.

What turns children into violent mass-murderers isn't violent media. It may give them ideas, but what turns children into mass-murderers is living in a stressful hateful situation during their childhood and having no recourse. Either ignored or abused by their parents, tormented in PUBLIC schools, or just altogether having a rotten childhood. Not saying that all people who have this kinda childhood won't be able to overcome it, but this is what contributes to school shootings. Watching violent media just glorifies violence and gives them an idea on how to act out against their sad situation. Is it really that hard for people to understand this? I feel like it would be the first thing that came to my mind when there was a school shooting, not "I wonder if he did it, because he played Doom."

The irony of it all is that a man who got rich and famous from being the protagonist in violent media is now arguing for censorship of it.

I gotta say that the repeated attempts to cast the Governator as the leading force behind California's law is, in all fairness, inaccurate. The real force behind the law and its leading proponent in Senator Leland Yee. True, Arnie did sign the law into effect once it passed the Legislature and his name does appear in the case's title (as it would for any Governor in all cases brought by the State of California) but beyond that, he hasn't said too much of anything either way about Yee's law. I suspect that he doesn't especially care about this issue.

I find it interesting that the justices against the law were more specific in referring to video games, whereas those against offered nebulous critiques (which were startlingly imaginative in their violence).

What's that Jimmy you want? Gears of War 2? Hmm...whats that number on it...ah screw reading the rating and why it has that rating, here you go!

I'm more surprised this even needs to be argued, don't buy the game for your kid if you dont want him playing it, simple as that, works pretty well in England.

Lonan:

It clearly isn't universally applied if if you can't "shout fire" in public, as this is simply creating the potential for short term rather than long term harm to others. As for obscenity, that is also tyranny of the majority and censorship, and an incredibly clear-cut case of it. This is the same censorship, just different justifications for it. I think it's far more obscene to allow Nazi's to run around preaching their crap than it is to have naked woman running around in a video game, but the censorship of both is simply the difference in values between our two countries. The U.S. is deeply religious, Canada is deeply anti-racist. "I may not agree with a thing that you say, but I will defend to the death you're right to say it." Apparently this doesn't apply to the great societal harm of nudity. In Calgary, we had white supremacists running around, and there was wide-spread condemnation of it. They weren't stopped by the law, and were in fact loaded onto buses and evacuated from downtown away from anti-racist protesters.

When did I ever say the US was perfect? I would have thought my position on the obscenity rules would be clear, given that I obviously oppose this law, and it is the obscenity rules that California is trying to use to get the law's repeal overturned. I think the obscenity rules should be done away with just as I think Canada should do away with the ambiguity in its guarantee to free speech. The "shouting fire" restriction is a different matter, though - the key difference here being that in this case you are deliberately using your words to inflict harm on others in a criminal capacity. You can be a racist in public and not cause physical harm to someone: that's the difference here. The restriction against inciting a panic is there to prevent people from infringing upon the right of another person to their own safety and well-being, which means restricting it falls well under the purview of the government. Hurting someone's feelings, though, is not justification to restrict speech. Neither is the claimed "long-term" prevention of violence against those who hateful speech is targeted at, because the violence and discrimination that they might be subjected to are already prohibited by law, making the censorship redundant.

So yeah, get rid of them both, is what I say. There's no excuse for any country to make exceptions on this matter.

RicoADF:

One word, Michael Akiston (however you spell his name). Bloody stoping R18+ in Australia, why I outta....
But the point is that regulation of ALL media is needed, not censorship, but regulation. As in 10 year olds shouldn't be allowed to buy GTA4 from the store anymore then SAW III etc. You can't blame the parents all the time if the kids go behind their back and buy the item and hide it, by regulating it then it gives the power to the parent to decide if their child is ready and mature enough to watch/play/read/listen to whatever media tital they want. Right now the kids can buy it without the parents say so in the USA.
It wouldn't effect whats on the shelves at all, if the stores are already upholding the ratings then theres no difference, if their not then the law is clearly needed.
And I'm against censorship 100%, however this isn't censoring free speech from the public, its stopping kids from seeing things they shouldn't since their not ready, no different to alcohol etc, theres an age at which it's appropriate.

You're playing with semantics here - regulation and censorship are one and the same. If you make it illegal for some people to buy something, that is by definition censorship. No ifs, ands, or buts. "Stopping kids from seeing things they shouldn't," as you say, is basically just putting it in a nicer way. The problem here is that you're using YOUR values to determine what "kids should see," when this is a matter left strictly to the parents and the kid him/herself in this country. By saying that someone else will decide what is okay for the kid to see, you're implementing censorship, pure and simple. Now, if you want to make the argument that censorship of all media is required, that's fine, but I'll still disagree, and so would the supreme court. The only reason they're trying it with games (and only games) is because they know they'll lose if they expand it any further (and in the case of at least movies there's already precedent that guarantees they'll lose).

I don't blame the parents at all - if kids want to game the system they'll always find a way, but you're still missing the crux of the argument here, which is that this is censorship no matter how you cut it, and I oppose it on that basis alone. You're also missing the point about why it may affect what is on the store shelves. Really, just read the article, it makes this very clear. Enforcement will not achieve 100% no matter what - now it's at about 80%. If a fine is added as a penalty for failing, this guarantees that retailers will have to pay it at some point. How much they'll have to pay I can't say, but it's irrelevant for now. Thus, they will have an incentive to not carry these games, which MAY translate into an actual refusal to carry them. Even if it doesn't, it will place some pressure on game developers to make less violent games because they'll be worried that at some point stores will stop selling them. That's why people are saying that it may lead to these games being removed from stores, and that even if it doesn't, it will certainly still serve as a censoring pressure on game developers, even if it's only a small one.

Something I have a mouthful to say about:
I see arguments to both sides... (Although, as per the number of arguments per side, my opinion is obvious)
- For the Californian side: To be fair, gamers are a sinister and macabre bunch... We do kind of revel in death and gratuitous violence from time to time (notable examples; Teabagging, playing manhunt, playing God of War, I'm sure some people enjoyed that scene with Andrew Ryan in Bioshock... you know the one)
- For the Californian side: Another noteworthy point that was brought up is the "special nature" of games, more specifically in its interactive nature as opposed to the non-interactive mediums which are protected by the 1st amendment. I will concede videogames are, in fact, open to much greater extents of imaginative leeway of violent release than its non-interactive counterparts. However, movies (and many, MANY books) often delve into the darkest recesses of human imagination. Authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King and Patrick Senecal (to name 3 of a very long list) often go into graphic, detailed and much more emotionally relatable (and empowering) depictions of violence (or even rape). When playing a game, the emotion one gets from performing an evil act is entirely subjective. Personally, I always play the "evil" side because it releases my anger or negative emotions onto pixel-based characters so I may later avoid unloading on real people. I have, however, two examples that demonstrate how one can "go too far" these games are Rapelay and MW2 (watch as I dextrously unravel the conundrum I just wrote myself in).
Rapelay is a disgusting example of rape glorification and I will simply put this one thing out there; it's Japanese Porn. While that does not excuse the game's content, let us be fair, the Japanese are a weird bunch when it comes to porn... Lolis, tentacles, train groping... they have a whole genre that delves into the more taboo elements of sexual intercourse (called Eroges) so if you want effective laws against weird porn, ban Japanese porn exclusively (not a heavy loss for westerners in the cultural sense).
COD Modern Warfare 2 only truly ever "goes too far" in the "No Russian Level" in which the player is asked to gun down civilians. This was, however, a deliberate attempt at going too far (somewhat akin to the psychological thriller Funny Games) which, at the moment of it's happening, makes most players get introspective and ask themselves where the fun in such violence is. Both the level and the quoted movie aim to break the fourth wall to call for a moment of personal analysis, begging the question "When did you stop being a hero? When did you become the sadistic evil of the story?" This level, does, however, offer a potentially troubled individual with the capacity to exercise his/her sadistic tendencies in a consequence-less setting.

Against the Californian law: To begin my arguments, I will point out that when using examples where a murder due to a videogame occurs, people aren't looking at the bigger picture. If someone commits murder after reading a book or watching a movie, people will logically assume that person was insane and thus fit for the asylum or prison he/she ends up in. When the situation includes a videogame, people suddenly go off on a tangent and blame games. That is where they lose credibility; a well-adjusted individual (IE most gamers out there who play Halo and yet have never really shot another human IRL) won't take away from a game a lesson like "killing is fun, I should try it" nor will he/she let the violence of the game seep into his/her real life actions.
Statistically, at least a few hundred thousand (maybe a million) people will play your average game. Again, statistically, on one hundred thousand people, at least one or two of them are bound to have a few marbles missing.

-Against the Californian law: The ESRB, a strongly thought of, well-rounded system, covers most of what this law is trying to accomplish. If parents don't want their child to play violent games, all they have to do is read the ESRB sign. But because most parents don't want to take the blame for their poor parenting aptitudes, they shift the blame on an outside source; videogames. The trick to the ESRB is that it works; it's the parents of the children in question who are unfit to raise a child (otherwise they would take some time to research what they are exposing their children to).

-Against the Californian law: Nowadays, some games teach you fundamental lessons; the bad guy will always have it harder in the end. My examples for this are 2 games that few people would believe I would use; GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption.
Sure, both games make it abundantly fun to go on a pointless killing spree and allow you to ignore inhibitions and moral boundaries, but in the end, you do see a pattern evolve.
Go on a killing spree too long and you will die. You just will. GTA4 really teaches us this one, no one can tell me they always get away from a 4 or more star rating (once out of like 10 times, I may believe) without cheating. This also contrasts to the obvious fact that in real life, even if you are wearing the best bulletproof vest, a bullet will knock you cold (and hurt like hell). Red Dead Redemption, however, makes being a bad guy absurdly difficult to keep up. People no longer like you (as in real life), the cops chase you every time you wake up from sleep (to save the game, but in RL it's the same equivalent, you need to sleep) and you die most of the time in hails of gunfire by sudden attacks by a local sheriff.
The point being, any sane individual will see and understand that the game presents some elements that are different from reality, for the sake of fun. They will also understand the most basic lesson a child ever learns; Death is FINAL. So unlike the game, you only get to fail your GTA4 killing spree once.
- Against the Californian law: Children aren't stupid. This is where American censorship and I will never get along. First off, it is more acceptable to see murder in a game than it is to see sex (which speaks very little for American parenting skills). Secondly, children should be exposed to the word and concept of death early on. I remember, in my childhood, the animated series Dragonball, characters would often say something like "I'll send you to the next world" instead of simply stating "I'll kill you", I vividly remember knowing what death was and thinking that it would be better if they made it clear that they were fighting for a reason; for survival. Using the former statement only seemed to trivialize the threat from the bad guy. The point behind this digression being: If children understand early on the finality of death, they will begin any thought process with death as an inherently permanent state. Causing them to think at least a bit more on the value an individual life holds.
Secondly, sex, as well, should be brought up early on (not too early, granted...) in the sense that it is a perfectly natural, very pleasurable and often costly endeavour. I say this because, let us be honest, every guy noticed women's "attributes" earlier than puberty. But at that point in life, the pleasurable nature of sex is foreign and often isn't associated to being a costly endeavour. If children were told it feels good, only to be told that it will (in the case of girls) make you pregnant, (in the case of guys) will cost you half your worldly possessions or your arms and legs in alimony payments or (in the case of both sexes) possibly make you permanently and incurably sick, tie you down to someone you will later hate/ a child you never wanted or simply open you up to blackmail or some such. (To quote Dragon Age's Morrigan: In my experience, everyone pays for sex.) So if Americans want to get fussy about violence, they'll have to loosen up about sex (because without both, even a book or movie ends up being a bit shallow or just boring, a good story is born from adversity, adversity is born from sex or violence (or poverty, but that isn't a relatable problem to a country that lives in abundance, thus strikes no true chord with an American audience).
All in all, (although I'm probably preaching to deaf ears) violence isn't a problem unless you have a problem; justifiable violence should be encouraged if anything (self-defence-wise).
I have more... But this post is getting long...

JDKJ:

The Atomic Lamp:

JDKJ:

Ironic, I think, that you don't hesitate to voice your opinions while at the same time attempting to minimize the issue of free speech. That's a neater trick than riding a unicycle while juggling three bowling pins. Bravo!

Fair point on the average video game thing. I said it as more to do with my own issues with the unimaginative nature of current game developers and I retract it as it has nothing to do with this issue. However, while accept it is a freedom of speech issue I think the greater will come of this which is to shield children from being exposed to violence. I think adhereing stringently to hundred year old laws is a bit misguided and that every situation should be treated on its own merits.

Commenting on the apathy and sefl-involved nature of a generation or culture is arguably more important than all the things I suggested as it leads to the problems I suggested.

Feel free to comment on the apathy and self-absorption of whoever all you'd like. But, in so doing, to take an issue of censorship and then try to twist it into nothing more than "someone tak[ing] away . . . rather average video games" may not be the best way for you to win converts. You certainly didn't win me over to your position. Rather, my first response was to conclude that you're more than a little bit of an idiot.

Feel free to comment on the apathy and self-absorption of whoever all you'd like. But, in so doing, to take an issue of censorship and then try to twist it into nothing more than "someone tak[ing] away . . . rather average video games" may not be the best way for you to win converts. You certainly didn't win me over to your position. Rather, my first response was to conclude that you're more than a little bit of an idiot.[/quote][/quote]

Fair point on the average video game thing. I said it as more to do with my own issues with the unimaginative nature of current game developers and I retract it as it has nothing to do with this issue. However, while accept it is a freedom of speech issue I think the greater will come of this which is to shield children from being exposed to violence. I think adhereing stringently to hundred year old laws is a bit misguided and that every situation should be treated on its own merits.

Dreslough:

Baron von Awesome:
Either ignored or abused by their parents, tormented in PUBLIC schools, or just altogether having a rotten childhood.

One can also be tormented in private schools.

I totally agree, but the point of what I was saying was how even government controlled organizations designed for the well-being of children can lead to abuse.

JDKJ:

Baron von Awesome:
I normally consider myself a centrist when it comes to politics in America. I try to avoid buying into either side's propaganda, and usually find little reason to support any of the major candidates. However, what is really pissing me off is how politicians on both sides are starting to try and restrict our freedom under the guise of "for our own safety." I think it's pathetic that politicians think they need to monitor what people are allowed to eat. It's like they think we're cattle who will just gorge ourselves til we explode.

What turns children into violent mass-murderers isn't violent media. It may give them ideas, but what turns children into mass-murderers is living in a stressful hateful situation during their childhood and having no recourse. Either ignored or abused by their parents, tormented in PUBLIC schools, or just altogether having a rotten childhood. Not saying that all people who have this kinda childhood won't be able to overcome it, but this is what contributes to school shootings. Watching violent media just glorifies violence and gives them an idea on how to act out against their sad situation. Is it really that hard for people to understand this? I feel like it would be the first thing that came to my mind when there was a school shooting, not "I wonder if he did it, because he played Doom."

The irony of it all is that a man who got rich and famous from being the protagonist in violent media is now arguing for censorship of it.

I gotta say that the repeated attempts to cast the Governator as the leading force behind California's law is, in all fairness, inaccurate. The real force behind the law and its leading proponent in Senator Leland Yee. True, Arnie did sign the law into effect once it passed the Legislature and his name does appear in the case's title (as it would for any Governor in all cases brought by the State of California) but beyond that, he hasn't said too much of anything either way about Yee's law. I suspect that he doesn't especially care about this issue.

Yeah I can't really say I'm too knowledgeable about who is the leading force behind this. I just saw some references about the Governator in regards to the whole thing that might have been taken out of context. You're right he probably doesn't really care that much about the issue with bigger things like the economy/Prop 19/effects of recent elections to care about a video game censorship law.

Baron von Awesome:

JDKJ:

Baron von Awesome:
I normally consider myself a centrist when it comes to politics in America. I try to avoid buying into either side's propaganda, and usually find little reason to support any of the major candidates. However, what is really pissing me off is how politicians on both sides are starting to try and restrict our freedom under the guise of "for our own safety." I think it's pathetic that politicians think they need to monitor what people are allowed to eat. It's like they think we're cattle who will just gorge ourselves til we explode.

What turns children into violent mass-murderers isn't violent media. It may give them ideas, but what turns children into mass-murderers is living in a stressful hateful situation during their childhood and having no recourse. Either ignored or abused by their parents, tormented in PUBLIC schools, or just altogether having a rotten childhood. Not saying that all people who have this kinda childhood won't be able to overcome it, but this is what contributes to school shootings. Watching violent media just glorifies violence and gives them an idea on how to act out against their sad situation. Is it really that hard for people to understand this? I feel like it would be the first thing that came to my mind when there was a school shooting, not "I wonder if he did it, because he played Doom."

The irony of it all is that a man who got rich and famous from being the protagonist in violent media is now arguing for censorship of it.

I gotta say that the repeated attempts to cast the Governator as the leading force behind California's law is, in all fairness, inaccurate. The real force behind the law and its leading proponent in Senator Leland Yee. True, Arnie did sign the law into effect once it passed the Legislature and his name does appear in the case's title (as it would for any Governor in all cases brought by the State of California) but beyond that, he hasn't said too much of anything either way about Yee's law. I suspect that he doesn't especially care about this issue.

Yeah I can't really say I'm too knowledgeable about who is the leading force behind this. I just saw some references about the Governator in regards to the whole thing that might have been taken out of context. You're right he probably doesn't really care that much about the issue with bigger things like the economy/Prop 19/effects of recent elections to care about a video game censorship law.

No big deal. Just tryin' to keep the record accurate.

What he needs to care about is his inability to properly pronounce the State's name. Last time I checked, it wasn't called "Cauliflower."

It's more then just about selling video games.

1) Movies, TV, Books, and other forms of creative expression have no federal limitations so it would be an unfair move to single video games out.

2) California has a very influential effect on the other states. If this law passes, other states will seek to do the same or similar laws.

3) The law itself is poorly written. It's far to vague on what is described as unsuitable for minors. Simply referring to such games as having 'obscene violence.' The trouble with that loose definition is that what is defined as obscene? For that matter, if there is obscene violence, does that mean there is normal pleasant violence? On top of all this California doesn't care to define what is unsuitable violence. They say flat out it's up to the industry to figure that out. This means that under the law developers can be legally liable should a consumer find one of their games 'obscene' since the definition would be left to an individual's standards. Now to me this would make the industry all the more weary of what they put on the shelves since anyone in CA could take them to court over this vague law.

So this is a bigger deal then just selling games.

The bit that gets my attention most here is:

-

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. In response to Scalia's argument that there was no Constitutional tradition of regulating violent speech, Chief Justice Roberts responded, "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."

-

I don't think anyone else has mentioned this, but it mentions kids watching things like that. If you remove the whole "video game" bit from this, pretty much everything described there has happened in children's entertainment, with movies created by companies like Disney.

Movies like "The Goonies" and "Home Alone" have included a lot of violence, with people attacking kids, sometimes fairly successfully. In "The Goonies" they grab one kid and threaten to jam his arm into a blender. In "Home Alone" we have the protaganist threatened with torture, and actually see someone getting bludgeoned with a shovel. In movies like "Cloak and Dagger" we have kids getting beaten up and chlorophormed, and a scene where a kid's imaginary friend (his father) gets murdered, and another bit where your lead to believe his actual father dies in a flaming plane crash.

Potty humor is big with kids, and you've got numerous examples of kids in various movies going to the bathroom in inappropriate places, and finding ways to get other kids (or adults) to drink their Urine (lemonade!) and so on.

Now admittedly I can't think of any cases where someone has had all of those things happen to them in sequence in a kids movie, even in the endless streams of misfortune that hit the baddies in things like the "Home Alone" movies, though I'd imagine if viewed objectively there are definatly some slapstick moments that are just as bad in movies that pass as family friendly fare.

-

One of the problems I have with this case is that the people who are running defense on video games don't seem to be defending themselves competantly. Not to mention the fact that the Supreme Court Justices that are being reported as being pro-video games/free speech seem to actually be asking questions about what such a law would entail, rather than speaking against it. On some levels the questions seem to be more about how they would want to see it written to apply only to video games as an exception. Of course I'm a cynic.

The thing that gets me about this is that "Postal 2" is actually one of the easier games to defend on artistic merits, since the entire point of the game is a criticism of society. On a lot of levels it's very similar to the old Michael Douglas movie "Falling Down". The situations in the game are exagerrated to make a point, but it's noteworthy that you CAN complete that entire game without actually hurting anyone.

Oh sure, it's a game that parents should probably be keeping out of the hands of kids, but it's not the place of the goverment to perform that regulation. Certainly nobody should be facing criminal charges due to a parent's inabillity to do their job. Ultimatly the goverment is supposed to stay out of things like this entirely which is why we are protected by a constitutional right.

At any rate, the one unmitigated high point of this article is the bit about Mortal Kombat, that was the most direct pro-video game statement that I saw there, as some of the others can be considered pretty ambigious when viewed with enough cynicism.

-

At any rate, I'm not a lawyer, but if I had to be running defense against Postal, I'd take that whole sequence: Violence against a schoolgirl, someone being hit with a shovel, someone being lit on fire, and someone being urinated on... and then dig through some children's movies and check off each of those things as happening somewhere, and truthfully I think you could find more than one occurance of each thing with minimal effort. While I can't think of a situation where all of that happens in one scene, I think you could find (as I mentioned before) cases of that many bad/violent things happening in a single sequence.

Honestly, by the same arguement being made against Postal I really do think that by any objctive standard you'd have to ban movies like "The Goonies", "Gremlins", "Home Alone", "The Watcher In The Woods", and "Cloak and Dagger".

hitheremynameisbob:

RicoADF:

One word, Michael Akiston (however you spell his name). Bloody stoping R18+ in Australia, why I outta....
But the point is that regulation of ALL media is needed, not censorship, but regulation. As in 10 year olds shouldn't be allowed to buy GTA4 from the store anymore then SAW III etc. You can't blame the parents all the time if the kids go behind their back and buy the item and hide it, by regulating it then it gives the power to the parent to decide if their child is ready and mature enough to watch/play/read/listen to whatever media tital they want. Right now the kids can buy it without the parents say so in the USA.
It wouldn't effect whats on the shelves at all, if the stores are already upholding the ratings then theres no difference, if their not then the law is clearly needed.
And I'm against censorship 100%, however this isn't censoring free speech from the public, its stopping kids from seeing things they shouldn't since their not ready, no different to alcohol etc, theres an age at which it's appropriate.

You're playing with semantics here - regulation and censorship are one and the same. If you make it illegal for some people to buy something, that is by definition censorship. No ifs, ands, or buts. "Stopping kids from seeing things they shouldn't," as you say, is basically just putting it in a nicer way. The problem here is that you're using YOUR values to determine what "kids should see," when this is a matter left strictly to the parents and the kid him/herself in this country. By saying that someone else will decide what is okay for the kid to see, you're implementing censorship, pure and simple. Now, if you want to make the argument that censorship of all media is required, that's fine, but I'll still disagree, and so would the supreme court. The only reason they're trying it with games (and only games) is because they know they'll lose if they expand it any further (and in the case of at least movies there's already precedent that guarantees they'll lose).

I don't blame the parents at all - if kids want to game the system they'll always find a way, but you're still missing the crux of the argument here, which is that this is censorship no matter how you cut it, and I oppose it on that basis alone. You're also missing the point about why it may affect what is on the store shelves. Really, just read the article, it makes this very clear. Enforcement will not achieve 100% no matter what - now it's at about 80%. If a fine is added as a penalty for failing, this guarantees that retailers will have to pay it at some point. How much they'll have to pay I can't say, but it's irrelevant for now. Thus, they will have an incentive to not carry these games, which MAY translate into an actual refusal to carry them. Even if it doesn't, it will place some pressure on game developers to make less violent games because they'll be worried that at some point stores will stop selling them. That's why people are saying that it may lead to these games being removed from stores, and that even if it doesn't, it will certainly still serve as a censoring pressure on game developers, even if it's only a small one.

Stop thinking things as black and white. It wont lead games to being taken off the shelf or effect games made as those effected arnt meant to be sold to kids ANYWAY. Unless ur admitting that 5 year olds play GTA4
This isnt about stoping kids from PLAYING the game, its stoping them BUYING the game without parental consent. You know that group people keep saying need to control their kids, well this would allow them to do so by not letting the kids buy the game behind their parents backs. So unless you think its fine for 10 year olds to buy GTA4 and manhunt then you should have no problem with disalowing kids from purchasing the games, then it will be upto the parents to decide if they should.
Thats how it is in Australia and its perfect over here, we're just missing a R18+ rating for games, which is to do with the attorney generals office being slow old farts, not the ratings board failing.

RicoADF:

Stop thinking things as black and white. It wont lead games to being taken off the shelf or effect games made as those effected arnt meant to be sold to kids ANYWAY. Unless ur admitting that 5 year olds play GTA4
This isnt about stoping kids from PLAYING the game, its stoping them BUYING the game without parental consent. You know that group people keep saying need to control their kids, well this would allow them to do so by not letting the kids buy the game behind their parents backs. So unless you think its fine for 10 year olds to buy GTA4 and manhunt then you should have no problem with disalowing kids from purchasing the games, then it will be upto the parents to decide if they should.
Thats how it is in Australia and its perfect over here, we're just missing a R18+ rating for games, which is to do with the attorney generals office being slow old farts, not the ratings board failing.

If you're still not getting this, then I don't think you're really listening. Stores don't like getting fined. Do you get that? This isn't about the loss in profits from the people that aren't supposed to be buying the games in the first place. It's about the loss in profits from the fines that will be imposed on those businesses when people inevitably do break the rules. I can't say it any clearer than I already have. Yes, the stores are already trying, and doing a pretty good job at keeping their employees from selling these games to kids. That doesn't mean that they're 100% successful, though, and nothing they do can ensure that they reach that point. This includes legal repercussions. So no matter what, they will not stop 100% of the kids who try. Therefore, it's a guarantee that they will be fined at some point. The incentive is thus created for them to not want to sell violent games - they lose a pretty damned large chunk of money per violation. The amount they lose is mostly irrelevant - the fact remains that this is a loss that they cannot incur while selling non-restricted games, but that they CAN while selling the restricted ones. Therefore, they may lean on developers to provide them with more non-restricted games to sell, possibly by threatening to pull the restricted ones altogether. So even if they don't stop selling the restricted ones, they will still be putting at least some small amount of pressure on developers to make more non-restricted games, which is a form of indirect censorship, as the time, manpower, and money that is used to make those games is going to be used at the expense of other games that would have fallen into the restricted category.

As to why it may (and probably will) be different in the US from other countries, I already went over this. I know Michael Atkinson is a ****, and you guys in Australia have plenty of opposition to violent games, but you really have no idea how minor that is compared to the power of interest groups here. The US gives these organizations an absurd amount of input in the legislative process that they use to further their own agendas, and these are the groups behind these laws. But besides that, you're also ignoring the points about the US being a vastly larger target market, and the relative position of video games vs. other media here - I know you addressed this last one in the post before this, but your answer was just "censor everything," which as I've already explained, isn't an answer to me.

EDIT:
And you don't need to explain the purpose of the law. I get why some people think this is a good idea. You're right that parents can't always monitor their kids. But you need to keep in mind that the proposed "damage" that games do is done over a long period. It's not as though the second a kid plays manhunt they are irrevocably ruined. The sort of harm this law is seeking to prevent occurs over a period of years - if you fail to realize that your child is playing games that you don't approve of over that time period, then you really just aren't trying hard enough as a parent. Not to mention that it's still imposing the opinion of a jury (or other government-appointed body, some states will likely deviate from the jury model California proposes if this passes) on an issue that virtually all other precedent says is purely up to the store and the child themselves (the actual buying of the game), and then the parents once the game is at home. But regardless, the law is unnecessary even if you assume that adding government into that relationship is okay, because parents should be capable of monitoring their children at least on this basic level.

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.

I see, well that makes sense how old is this kid btw? I had my cousins over the other day my cousin is 13 and I left him play modern warfare 2.

We have a different rating system here in Ireland as far as i know it's rated at 16+ while in the states it's M for mature? I think... correct me if I'm wrong :)

He even own his own copy on his xbox (mines on pc) but it was bought for him by his Dad, while his Mum at the time didnt know about it. She found out evenually and flipped, but eventually relented and let him keep it. I was even playing call of duty 2 on the xbox with his younger sister who's 8 for a while.

While yes there is alot of violence in these games, it's a far cry from the sort that you find in manhunt. Manhunt is well hidden when they're in my house. As generally 'no you may not play this' will lead to QQ'ing of epic proportions. I dont have any problem letting them play shoot em ups, man hunt though is a little too sadistic and gory for me to feel comfortable having a child play it.

What do you reckon? Good/bad choice?

KiKiweaky:

I see, well that makes sense how old is this kid btw? I had my cousins over the other day my cousin is 13 and I left him play modern warfare 2.

We have a different rating system here in Ireland as far as i know it's rated at 16+ while in the states it's M for mature? I think... correct me if I'm wrong :)

He even own his own copy on his xbox (mines on pc) but it was bought for him by his Dad, while his Mum at the time didnt know about it. She found out evenually and flipped, but eventually relented and let him keep it. I was even playing call of duty 2 on the xbox with his younger sister who's 8 for a while.

While yes there is alot of violence in these games, it's a far cry from the sort that you find in manhunt. Manhunt is well hidden when they're in my house. As generally 'no you may not play this' will lead to QQ'ing of epic proportions. I dont have any problem letting them play shoot em ups, man hunt though is a little too sadistic and gory for me to feel comfortable having a child play it.

What do you reckon? Good/bad choice?

My son is 4, so quite a bit younger than the examples stated. At this age, the line as far as games he can be exposed to is a lot more clearly defined, so it makes my job a lot easier as a parent. He loves to play the x-box with his dad though. There is this "Dash of Destruction" free game released as an advert for Doritos that he loves because the dinosaur gets to chase the trucks. He likes to play drums (albeit badly) on Lego Rock Band, and he likes to play lego starwars and (strangely) an old PS2 NHL game I have. I'm thinking of introducing him to so classic Mario stuff soon.

As he grows up, it becomes my responsibility as a parent to set those further boundaries. Every child is different, and not all mature rated games are created equal. I would likely not have too much of a problem with say Assassin's Creed, Bioshock or even Mass Effect at age 14 (all rated Mature), but I would have an issue with The Witcher and GTA4 (same rating, obviously). My reason being that the statements the latter are trying to make get lost in the specticle created by some of the content. Both have a lot of value (I own both), but looking back at myself at age 14-16 I never would have been able to get to the meat of those games.

Then again, my frame of reference is very different than a lot of people here. My generation of M rated games were the likes of System Shock 2, Thief, and Deus Ex. Those were a far cry from the M rated games of today, and are games that I would gladly hand off to any of today's teenagers as classic examples of how mature themes should be handled. Today, I bet a lot of those would be evaluated as T rated games by the ESRB.

OP:
...people actively hitting schoolgirls over the head with a shovel so they'll beg for mercy, pour gasoline over them, and urinate on them...

What game does ^ happen in?

Hyperactiveman:
FFS HOW MANY TIMES?... IT LIES WITH THE PARENTS DAMNIT!

This.

Parents, control your kids. Teach them the differnce between a game and real life. People have been harming/killing eachother looooong before violent games were around. Anybody play cops and robbers as a kid? Wasn't that a violent game that was interactive?

Stop picking on the gaming community. Grow a pair and learn to be a better role model.

Also, I think it's hypocritical of Arnie to be bashing violent games seeing as how many violent movies hes been in. How many people has he shot on screen? Millions.

If I have kids and they do something violent, I'm going to start blaming Arnie and his movies. See how he likes it.

lvl9000_woot:

OP:
...people actively hitting schoolgirls over the head with a shovel so they'll beg for mercy, pour gasoline over them, and urinate on them...

What game does ^ happen in?

The one that's been mentioned only about a dozen times or more in previous posts which you obviously didn't bother reading: Postal 2.

Parenting?
In America?

What's that? We're too busy performing meaningless tasks and filing for divorce for parenting.
Better let the gov take care of it. I mean, it's only my child![/sarcasm]

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