Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Videogames

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Jordi:

Charli:

Jordi:
So, does this mean that a 10-year-old can now go out and buy Duke Nukem or any other R rated game?

Not if a store itself wants to get sued no. This was to try and prevent it at a more invasive (drug dealing if you ask me) level, if you were caught re-selling it to a minor for example you would get fined.

The ratings are now still in the same bandwagon as movies.
If it's got a sticker with a rating on it, it's recommended to stick to it but in the end it is entirely up to the discretion of the user/users guardian as it should be.

The long term effect it would have had on the video game industry would have been overly catastrophic.

I'm not an American citizen, so I don't know anything about this. But how can a store get sued if it's doing something that is not illegal?

I am not an American either but I was a game store employee, and I kept regular tabs on the policies of our American counterparts. This is making it so the government is not imposing of the decisions the buyer makes after purchase (Either 18+ or 16+) It is up to the board of ratings and the store policies to keep to their integrity, which if a parent finds out it cannot rely on the store to keep that boundary in place anymore would be extremely bad for business. In GAME the government can impose a fine, not BAFTA or the store itself, though we enforce the policy anyway so it doesn't get that far (99% of the time). The countries outside of the U.S. do not punish on the personal level either, only the stores will get prosecuted for the sale.

To be honest I think this whole argument probably cost more money than it was worth.

thank god! now i guess there's only one thing left to say...
SUCK IT CALIFORNIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
but in all seriousness, its about time that video games stopped getting the chewed end of the pencil. this can be a first step to a world where we cant blame our problems on something we don't like.

666Chaos:

Treblaine:
This isn't just important for America, this is important for video games acceptance all over the world.

I really wish you guys would stop being so bloody arrogant that you actually think this was going to have an effect on anybody but the US.

America represents a huge portion of the worldwide market, and games are built with that in mind. If there were hugely restrictive laws on violent games, far less violent games would be made, which would affect everyone.

hue

Jordi:
So, does this mean that a 10-year-old can now go out and buy Duke Nukem or any other R rated game?

No, it just means that that the Halo 3 Copy your mother bought for you in your place when you were 16 doesnt send you and the gamestop employee for a 10 year visit with Bubba.

Thank you for this supreme court. Maybe there is hope for us yet.

666Chaos:

Treblaine:
This isn't just important for America, this is important for video games acceptance all over the world.

I really wish you guys would stop being so bloody arrogant that you actually think this was going to have an effect on anybody but the US.

The US is home to many, many video game developers and is a gigantic market. If vaguely described "violent" games were relegated to the status of pornography, you don't think the industry would be forced to change to avoid losing money or legal action?

America matters.

mikey7339:
I am so glad for this and that the system worked they way it is supposed to for a change. Is this the end of all this nonsense that has been thrown at video games for the past twenty years?

I wish, but I think we all know it's not :/

Sweet. Now if Canada could get on this, I'd be a happy platypus.

And as a bonus, I can still enjoy all of Arnie's films, safe in the knowledge that they do not star the man who would go on to destroy the video game industry.

I'm soooo happy because "The system" works!(When it agrees with me, otherwise it's just a bunch of old know-nothing geezers)

SteelStallion:
I don't fully understand the case, could someone explain to me what's wrong here?

I mean, they're voting for a law that prohibits the sale of adult rated games to minors. Isn't that how movies work as well? What's the issue here?

Sorry I'm not American so I don't really get it, just curious lol.

I suppose a lot of people from outside the US might not get it.

In the USA we have a right to freedom of speech/expression. Where a lot of other countries that claim to have high degrees of freedom have laws that are vaguely similar, in general most countries do not take it to the point that we do. It's one of the founding principles of our nation and way of life. I've found that a lot of people don't understand why people from the US will go off on the lack of freedom in other countries and this is one.

At any rate, the basic issue is that the goverment can't regular speech or expression, period. If the goverment gains the abillity to actively enforce age limits on a form of speech this violates one of the central freedoms of a US citizen. A voluntary rating system (basically a guideline) is one thing, a govermentally enforced rating system that allows the goverment to fine or imprison people for violations is something else entirely.

When it comes to things like adult movies, it's important to understand that the US has a system of obscenity laws. For something to be illegal it has to be declared obscene and without any redeeming merit. Each individual work has to be reviewed seperatly and judged on it's own merits, you can't for example put a blanket ban on all movies showing people having sex. In the US "Pornography" is illegal by definition, HOWEVER despite the use of the term most of what we call "Porn" is actually defended as "art films" and gets by through so much of it being produced that it's impossible to review and approve or ban every individual work. In short we call it porn, but in a legal sense it's not considered to be porn.

The "X" rating is not enforced govermentally, but by private ratings systems like the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) or similar groups. Similar to how the ESRB rates video games. The danger of violating a rating is being fined by that organization, despite it having no govermental authority. The basic idea is that these organizations are considered credible enough to the general person that having their rating/stamp means something, and losing that can actually hurt a business. Not to mention such organizations working with the movie producers themselves, a theater or a chain of theaters bucks the system, and then they will find nobody willing to rent them the films for people to see. Playing by these rules also makes it far less likely that a given "adult art film" is going to be brought up for review, since few people looking at the rating who would be offended are going to go and see it and become offended. This also means minors are generally kept out of the theaters because abiding by the system is better than bucking it.

The whole case here revolves pretty much around a govermental power grab, the US goverment has been trying to get the citizen's rights to free speech away from us for a long time, and bring it more in line with what people from other countries might expect. Attacking video games this way is an attempt to establish precedent, because once it's deemed okay for the goverment to rate and enforce the ratings of video games, it becomes progressively easier to apply that to other forms of media.

The system we have works, but the goverment wants more power (like it always does) and the whole "think of the children" aspect of this thing is just an excuse to try and justify opening the door for tighter regulation on speech. You'll notice this is an integral point to the whole arguement in the Supreme Court documents, and the goverment specifically being prohibited from having that kind of power is one of the big reasons why the law was not upheld.

You might remember things like the whole "video nasties" thing in the UK through the 1980s. It was eventually overturned, there, and we had similar hype here in the US (though it never came to that kind of a list/ban). The USA is pretty much set up to prevent the goverment from doing that kind of thing. Cases like that are also one of the reasons why Americans "arrogantly" talk about the lack of freedom in other countries.

Score one for the good guys!

7-2 very nice. Story on the radio yesterday made it sound like they were much closer in the vote. Nice try California.

One of the more interesting aspects of the ruling was how it critiqued Justice Breyer's dissent, wherein it was discussed that simply because there is a gap in compliance (as there would always be, whether compliance is voluntary or due to government coercion).

9 JUSTICE BREYER concludes that the remaining gap is compelling because, according to the FTC's report, some "20% of those under 17 arestill able to buy M-rated games." Post, at 18 (citing FTC Report 28). But some gap in compliance is unavoidable. The sale of alcohol to minors, for example, has long been illegal, but a 2005 study suggests that about 18% of retailers still sell alcohol to those under the drinking age. Brief for State of Rhode Island et al. as Amici Curiae 18. Even if the sale of violent video games to minors could be deterred further by increasing regulation, the government does not have a compelling interest in each marginal percentage point by which its goals are advanced.

This point is rather reassuring to me, as it seems the court is inclined to putting a clamp down on excessive government intrusion into private affairs.

666Chaos:
I really wish you guys would stop being so bloody arrogant that you actually think this was going to have an effect on anybody but the US.

It would. Significantly.

It's the exact opposite of Germany. Germany has strict laws on content, and because of this, many games are simply not sold there. Many developers, especially smaller ones, will not go out of their way to make special versions of their games for Germany, because it's a small market. German gamers either have to import those games (with the dubious legality that goes with that), or go without.

But most developers are located in the US right now, and the US is also the largest market for most non-US developers. If there are restrictions on content in the US, that's going to change the content that developers make, and that's going to change what the entire world has access to. Sure, some smaller or more niche developers would cater to other locales (like they do for Japan now), but I guarantee that EA and Activision wouldn't be making different versions of the same game content for non-US consumers. Hell, they barely bother to translate most of their games.

The laws and regulations of other nations can have a lot of effects on people even outside their borders. This wasn't even a national law, but a law or regulation in California (the largest commercial market in the US) will impact our entire country in this exact same way.

(Whoops, wrong thread. Please delete)

hue

How does no one else see this as a bad thing? Just imagine more Duke Nukem Forevers. Now the mindless, sophomoric humor and violence-sells appeal that is obviously geared at children can more efficiently target those children.

Now we can just expect more of that, because it's easier to do, and more sought after by a larger audience. The law that was in place was perfectly logical. The argument against it was, what, what Saturday morning cartoons were "violent"? Look at the most violent video game, and then at the most violent cartoons. There are dumb and irrational parents out there, ones that don't understand video games, they won't know what their eight year old is getting into with that Manhunt game.

Kids are the broadest target audience. Kids like mindless violence. Kids have their parents' income to get those games. Developers/Publishers want money. How does this not look like one to the worst things to happen to gaming?

Good job America's supreme court.The trick is embracing change in society instead of shunning it.
Also:
image

Wow, the supreme court opinions contain sections that are poetry to my ears!
This is a great part.

As for the argument that video games enable participation in the violent action, that seems to us more a matter of degree than of kind. As Judge Posner has observed, all literature is interactive. "[T]he better it is, the more interactive. Literature when it is successful draws the reader into the story, makes him identify with the characters, invites him to judge them and quarrel with them, to experience their joys and sufferings as the reader's own."

SteelStallion:
I don't fully understand the case, could someone explain to me what's wrong here?

I mean, they're voting for a law that prohibits the sale of adult rated games to minors. Isn't that how movies work as well? What's the issue here?

Sorry I'm not American so I don't really get it, just curious lol.

Essentially the rating systems in place are voluntary. A retailer CAN sell M rated games or R rated movies to minors, however the vast majority do not. If this law were passed it would have put video games into the same category as porn, tobacco, alcohol, and firearms. Now at first this doesn't seem a big deal. However, many retailers may then refuse to sell M rated games for fear of being punished for accidental (or intentional) sales to minors. This would then lead to developers not making them anymore, thus even adults would not have access to them.

Furthermore, if the Government could restrict games due to "violence" it would only be a matter of time before that category grew. It seems silly but even games like Mario are violent, and, could potentially be banned if the laws were expanded to include them.

666Chaos:

Treblaine:
This isn't just important for America, this is important for video games acceptance all over the world.

I really wish you guys would stop being so bloody arrogant that you actually think this was going to have an effect on anybody but the US.

I doubt it will have any affect on the laws of other countries, but for the game industry its a big deal - the US is one of the biggest markets for videogames in the world, you have to remember that most games are made with the bottom-line in mind.

If the US started filling the books with laws restricting videogame content it would affect the industry, just because most developers generally can't afford for their games to not sell in the US.

Jordi:
So, does this mean that a 10-year-old can now go out and buy Duke Nukem or any other R rated game?

Not really. Pretty much every store already has a policy of ID'ing people asking for these games in the first place. Which makes this lawsuit a douchebag move on California. Honestly this lawsuit has moved Cali from a "Decent" state to a bad one in my opinion.

Projo:
How does no one else see this as a bad thing? Just imagine more Duke Nukem Forevers. Now the mindless, sophomoric humor and violence-sells appeal that is obviously geared at children can more efficiently target those children.

Now we can just expect more of that, because it's easier to do, and more sought after by a larger audience. The law that was in place was perfectly logical. The argument against it was, what, what Saturday morning cartoons were "violent"? Look at the most violent video game, and then at the most violent cartoons. There are dumb and irrational parents out there, ones that don't understand video games, they won't know what their eight year old is getting into with that Manhunt game.

Kids are the broadest target audience. Kids like mindless violence. Kids have their parents' income to get those games. Developers/Publishers want money. How does this not look like one to the worst things to happen to gaming?

Sorry bro, you're wrong. There weren't laws at all in regards to video games. The stores CHOSE to not sell to minors, and will continue to do so. This judgement simply prohibits the government to regulate game content. Also, fuck if kids are the target audience. The majority of gamers are adults. Seriously think about it, mate.

shadowmagus:

fierydemise:
My thoughts from another thread
Heres the decision, I suggest you read that if you really want to get a sense of how good of a result this is. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/08-1448.pdf

Scalia's majority decision declares video games as non-unique with regards to regulation (at least with the current state of scholarly debate on the subject), that is you can't single out video games without hitting cartoons or movies. That is the absolute best result we could have hoped for. A nice takeaway from Scalia

Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas-and even social messages-through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player's interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.

Also interesting is how much of a bullet we dodged with regards to the Alito concurrence. Had Chief Justice Roberts wanted to throw his weight around that concurrence or something quite similar to it could have been the majority decision and that would have been almost as bad as a loss.

I enjoyed this part...

Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media.

Suck it Fox!

I know, right? I mean, we all could see that the "studies" were utter tripe, this ruling just makes it official. Am so happy right now.

hue

Atheist.:

Jordi:
So, does this mean that a 10-year-old can now go out and buy Duke Nukem or any other R rated game?

Not really. Pretty much every store already has a policy of ID'ing people asking for these games in the first place. Which makes this lawsuit a douchebag move on California. Honestly this lawsuit has moved Cali from a "Decent" state to a bad one in my opinion.

California hasn't been a 'Decent' state since Moonbeam Brown was Governor.

...wait for it...

The first time.

Wow. A 7-2 decision. I like that, it's quite decisive.

crotalidian:
Fantastic a great Step towards acceptance.

Do we know if their is an appeal planne dor do SCOTUS Rulings prevent Appeal?

There isn't anyone else to appeal to after the Supreme Court gives its ruling.

Huzzah! That is all.

I don't live in America but as I gamer I feel like this is a victory for gamers all around the world (except for those in Australia).

Lawz:
Ok, I'm from the UK where we have the BBFC rating system and most violent games can only be brought by people over 18, and I'm now really confused as to how it works in the US.

So it's not illegal for retailers to sell R rated games to anyone, but they have the choice to refuse the sale, right? So instead of your elected government being in control (by proxy, whatever) of what content children can access, some random at Gamestop is? Sounds pretty odd to me.

Our system seems to work fine. I was playing 18+ games when I was younger, as my parents would buy them for me. Essentially this means that parents have much more control over what there kids play/watch etc, which is surely the way it should be? Kids are not born rational and responsible, they have to learn it, and most of that comes from parents.

Sorry to use the go-to example, but look at the airport level in MW2. Personally I felt a little sick playing it, and was very impressed that a game could have that much of an impact on me, but I don't know if I would want to expose a kid to that. They have their entire adult lives to explore the darker parts of humanity, childhoods supposed to be about fun!

It seems to me that the majority of people think that babies pop out the womb fully formed rational human beings, they are not! They are blank slates affected by everything there senses take in, look at the Mozart Effect for example. Of course being exposed to violence at a young age has an effect on people, I don't claim to know how much, or really in what way, but that's because of the massive amount of conflicting research that I can't really be bothered to sift through, that's for someone else to decide, thankfully we have the BBFC.

I don't really know where this rant came from, but I hope I managed to make my point at least vaguely clear.

No no, the issue is that this law was not worded well at all. If it had been passed, games such as Final Fantasy or Rachet & Clank could have been ruled as being too "violent" or "deviant" for persons under the age of 18, and it's not simply putting more responsibility on parents, it's making retailers liable for anything they sell. As it stands now, a parent has no ground to stand on if they buy GTA IV for their child and later don't like their child playing said game. All they can do is take the game away from the child. But if this law were passed, the parent could take the retailer to court for letting their child get their hands on the game, and the crazy part would be that the parent would win the court battle, despite being fully consenting and buying the game in the first place.

The ESRB would end up being completely useless and game retailers would be too afraid of lawsuits to stock games that might end up being considered too "deviant", because everything would be defined by a law that is afraid of "corrupting children", because more often than not parents will buy an "M" rated game for their 13 year old child if it gets them to be quiet.

TL;DR: The problem isn't the law itself, it's how the law is worded and how it would end up being used. Keeping minors from accessing content that is too mature for them? I don't think anyone is against that. Letting the government decide when a child is mature enough for said mature content and what "mature content" actually means? No. That's a terrible step for the gaming industry.

A wild Allegation appears!!!
EMA uses Logic!
It's super effective!

Greg Tito:

The full decision, including the concurring and dissenting opinions, can be read here.

>.<

Why can't my computer read PDF's!?! I want to read this!

OT: Finally, we have taken away any legal arguments against us, and any other argument will have to contend with "the court that decides whether or not something is consitutional said video games are free speech."

I do wonder what all the pudints that did nothing but put us down are thinking...

Hurray, balloons and confetti everywhere.

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