Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Politicians Wising up on Game Legislation?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the we-can-only-hope dept.

The Courts 66

Blackjack writes "Ars Technica looks at recent failures to pass laws regulating the sales of violent video games. They ask whether politicians are finally wising up to First Amendment issues and the costs associated with lawsuits resulting from the laws. Recent attempts to pass video game legislation in Mississippi, Utah, and Indiana have either failed or been put on indefinite hold. 'Now, state lawmakers are more cognizant of the constitutionality issues at stake. The judicial landscape is littered with the charred husks of laws passed by Illinois, Washington, Michigan, California, Louisiana, and others. All of them tried in some way or another to regulate the sale of violent video games to children, and all of them were struck down on First Amendment grounds.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I don't get it??? (3, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125106)

I consider my home brewed beer to be an artistic expression of brewing abilities. Does this mean I can sell it to minors and be covered under the first amendment?

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

Jbcarpen (883850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125142)

No, but you can tell them how to make their own. (I think, IANAL)

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

AndyG314 (760442) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125888)

I don't see why you couldn't. If you are 18 you can serve alchahol, so you could probbly work at a brewery making beer. (I also ANAL).

Re:I don't get it??? (4, Insightful)

Zephyros (966835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125180)

Beer is a product. I won't argue that good beer can indeed be considered an art form, but not in the same way that media (books, music, movies, games) are. Beer expresses hops, malts, etc. Media can express ideas, and that's what the first amendment protects.

Re:I don't get it??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18125482)

"Media can express ideas, and that's what the first amendment protects."

Even in this case, how is it a direct violation of the first amendment to impose standard fines for stores selling to minors?

1. Minors can still obtain the product through a guardian.
2. The product itself is not restricted from production.

First ammendment allows artistic expression but it does not ensure you profit from that expression. Nor does it generally force other people to support your idea financially (i.e. stores pulling products from the shelves has nothing to do with the first ammendment). Does the crazy man on the street claim his rights are abused because no publisher will touch his manifesto? (Well, I suppose if he is crazy he might...)

And don't give me the "Chilling effect" response...

Re:I don't get it??? (2, Insightful)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125874)

The first problem is that most of these laws have totally ignored the rating system currently in place. They use vaguely defined terms that could be interpretted in a variety of ways. It could actually result in T games being considered too inappropriate and result in stores being fined for selling a game that was rated to the purchasers level anyway.

Another problem is that even if they do not ignore the ratings system, most judges are still going to argue that you are preventing the expression of ideas. Stores may stop selling certains games in state because it becomes too difficult to control the sell of games. This is, of course, more likely with stores where video games are not their primary business. I wouldn't be surprised if a few judges also see the self-regulated movie industry and say, "They can do it, and so can video game retailers."

There is also this confusing idea that since the law, "only protects the children", then it is fair game. First, it is not the job of the federal government or states to raise your children. Second, kids have as much right to free expression and to open ideas as the 40 yr old. Does this mean your kid should see every R-rated movie or play M or AO rated games? No, but it also means they should be allowed to explore them with proper PARENTAL supervision, not GOVERNMENTAL supervision.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I won't use any "chilling effect" and I even avoid the "slippery slope," but at least my argument isn't an Ignoratio elenchi. (God, I love some of these terms.)

Re:I don't get it??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18127382)

"The first problem is that most of these laws have totally ignored the rating system currently in place. They use vaguely defined terms that could be interpretted in a variety of ways. It could actually result in T games being considered too inappropriate and result in stores being fined for selling a game that was rated to the purchasers level anyway."

Again, you miss my point and set up a straw-man argument of a game "accidentally being rated T".
You miss the overall point that semi-controlling distribution does not automatically make this a free speech issue. They could restrict sale of games no matter what rating to only adults and it still wouldn't be different. Would it be smart? No. Is it a free-speech violation? No.

"Another problem is that even if they do not ignore the ratings system, most judges are still going to argue that you are preventing the expression of ideas."

No. Have you heard of obscenity laws? Especially ones that relate only to the sale of objects. Most judges object when there is a law saying the object can't be created -- that isn't the case here!

"First, it is not the job of the federal government or states to raise your children. Second, kids have as much right to free expression and to open ideas as the 40 yr old. Does this mean your kid should see every R-rated movie or play M or AO rated games? No, but it also means they should be allowed to explore them with proper PARENTAL supervision, not GOVERNMENTAL supervision."

Then it's still not an issue of free speech; it's some other right that is being stepped on.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Don't you get it? No one is prohibiting the speech in the first place. Restricting distribution does not equal restricting speech. The Ammendment is talking about the CREATION of the speech in the first place; NOT the distribution / sale of said speech.

Again, I ask you, if I write a book and no bookstore will carry it are my free speech rights limited?
No.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18127926)

Again, I ask you, if I write a book and no bookstore will carry it are my free speech rights limited?

If no bookstore will carry it because they decided that don't like the content, then no, obviously your free speech rights were not limited, because you have no right to force bookstores to carry your book. No rights were infringed by stores not selling OJ Simpson's book.

If no bookstore will carry it (despite the fact that it's a popular book) because the government passed a law saying that maybe they'll be charged with a crime, then the government has stepped over the line.

Re:I don't get it??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18128094)

"If no bookstore will carry it (despite the fact that it's a popular book) because the government passed a law saying that maybe they'll be charged with a crime, then the government has stepped over the line."

But what line is that? That is my point, not whether it is right or wrong! In the video game case it is not really a free speech line, because the object still exists and is still produce-able and distributable in the original form. Add to that in many of the laws it is only a fine and only applies to a limited segment of the population.

All I'm asking is that people understand what they are saying when they say "free speech".

Re:I don't get it??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18128692)

"All I'm asking is that people understand what they are saying when they say "free speech"."

That's a lot to ask when your strategy in trying to help them consists of "Nope, that's not it! Nope, that's not it either! Nope nope nope!"

Re:I don't get it??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132290)

I'm with the other guy, as far as I can tell, your position is that the government can do whatever the hell they want to a guy, including nailing their mouth shut if they say something they don't like, cutting their hands off when they start writing, and cutting their heads off when they start waving their stumps around in semaphore, because after all, the guy can still communicate with an Ouija Board so his free speech rights have obviously not been infringed.

What part of "Congress shall make no law" do you not understand? It's not "Congress shall make laws that only infringe a little" or "Congress shall make no law except to save the children". It's not even "Congress shall make no law unless it's a good idea" which a number of supreme court decisions have decided should hold in cases such as gag orders and the like. If you insist that by regulating their market away, the government is not infringing on the developer's rights because they are simply keeping people from buying it, then I suggest that holding a plastic bag over your head isn't murdering you, it's simply regulating the airflow to your lungs.

Re:I don't get it??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18135386)

Again, you argue with a argument that isn't the argument! Ignore what the fuck the STORE does. A store is a private business, and can do pretty much whatever they deem to be good business. What is happening here is GOVERNMENT interference saying what can be sold to whom. So free speech is limited. My argument before was not a straw man either. I am not saying a game was "accidentally rated T", I am saying the system ignores ratings, and in many cases what might be a 'T' to most civilized people might rate as an 'M' to people in much more conservative states. The fact is the laws ignore these systems and assign arbitrary wording.

Let us look at a few examples...First the Illinois law, which as stated by the judge who axed that law, "the statute allows a game to be regulated based on one scene without regard to the value of the game as a whole." This is obviously bad law. Taking a single scene out of a movie or a single page out of a piece of literature does not constitute the literature as a whole, and the law in this case was written to basically hold video games to a higher standard and ignore their "artistic value." BTW, the same judge said, "Such a sweeping regulation on speech--even sexually explicit speech--is unconstitutional even if aimed at protecting minors."

The California law was aimed at games that allow you to "virtually inflict serious injury upon images of humans or characters with substantially human characteristics in a manner which is especially heinous, cruel or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim." First, what are "substantially human characteristics" and whose definition of "heinous, cruel, or depraved" are we using?

Don't you get it? No one is prohibiting the speech in the first place. Restricting distribution does not equal restricting speech. The Ammendment is talking about the CREATION of the speech in the first place; NOT the distribution / sale of said speech.
You are kidding right? Speech is distributed. You forget the part about the freedom of the press, which is essentially what is being extended to protect other media. You clearly are violating free speech if you are inhibiting individuals from legally distributing their speech, whether it be a pamphlet, a book, a movie, or a video game. By preventing distribution, the government is literally infringing upon free speech. Now, please provide an example that is not an ignoratio elenchi, and maybe this conversation can continue...

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 6 years ago | (#18134640)

Why don't they just pass something giving a small tax break to retailers who regulate themselves on sale of M and AO rated games to minors (many of whom probably already do? (I don't know, last time I bought a really violent game as a minor was Mortal Kombat and that's what started this whole mess)

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

CrashPoint (564165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126016)

Even in this case, how is it a direct violation of the first amendment to impose standard fines for stores selling to minors?

1. Minors can still obtain the product through a guardian.
2. The product itself is not restricted from production.

It's a violation because the state has no compelling interest in regulating what games Junior plays. The right, responsibility, and ability to do that belong solely to the kid's parents.

First ammendment allows artistic expression but it does not ensure you profit from that expression. Nor does it generally force other people to support your idea financially

That's irrelevant, as nobody is making such a claim.

And don't give me the "Chilling effect" response...

Why not? It has been accepted as valid in court, and your preemptive attempt to exclude it from the discussion provides no reason why it shouldn't continue to be.

Re:I don't get it??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18127144)

"It's a violation because the state has no compelling interest in regulating what games Junior plays. The right, responsibility, and ability to do that belong solely to the kid's parents."

Then it's still not a violation of free speech, it's a violation of some other right.

"That's irrelevant, as nobody is making such a claim."

You must be new to the world of business.

"Why not? It has been accepted as valid in court, and your preemptive attempt to exclude it from the discussion provides no reason why it shouldn't continue to be."

Anything can be accepted as valid in court, but it's ultimately case-dependent.
The only claim for harm here is money; the only penalty is loss of income. That's not what chilling effects claims are about. The criterion was that the law have a "deterrent effect" on freedom of expression. That doesn't exist here.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131436)

"The only claim for harm here is money; the only penalty is loss of income. That's not what chilling effects claims are about. The criterion was that the law have a "deterrent effect" on freedom of expression. That doesn't exist here."

This is not just a question of just loss of revenue it is legally narrowing the audience for m rated games.

Publishers must have their company's best interests in mind (by law if it is publicly traded). So when development houses come with ideas for M rated games there is an undue scrutiny put on it by the publishers. Then if it gets past the publishers there is extra scrutiny put on it by retailers on weather or not they want to carry a game with extra legal baggage attached to it.

Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301, 85 S.Ct. 1493 (1965). That case invalidated a Federal law that required postal patrons receiving "communist political propaganda" to specifically authorize the delivery of each such piece of mail, and my personal favorite example of chilling effect.

This is one that was ruled as unconstitutional because it added the extra layer of confirmation on the recipients' part. It didn't stop the author from publishing or the consumers from getting the product in anyway, it just stated that recipients' must confirm that they actually want the product.
The case at hand in Lamont v. Postmaster General didn't have a direct impact on the publications of "communist political propaganda". They could still publish anything they wanted. It had a deterrent effect on the people who receive the material.

So if we look at what laws like these are proposing to do to games, we see that it is much more drastic then just asking for a confirmation. These proposed laws are legally limiting the distribution of a product from certain audiences all together. Legally limiting the audience that can play a game, the distribution of the game, and the effects that that will have on the industry is very much having a "deterrent effect" publishers and retailers thus infringing on the freedom of speech for developers.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126624)

And don't give me the "Chilling effect" response...

Why not? Do you think that having the government retroactively decide that you've broken the law after the fact is a good way to run a country?

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

harl (84412) | more than 7 years ago | (#18127114)

The first amendment applies to minors. Why do you feel it doesn't?

Re:I don't get it??? (2, Insightful)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125236)

I consider my home brewed beer to be an artistic expression of brewing abilities. Does this mean I can sell it to minors and be covered under the first amendment?

Minors can't buy any beer from any brewer. If only your beer was specifically regulated due to its artistic content, you might have a point.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125452)

Minors can buy refreshing beverages from many vendors. This guy's refreshing beverage is specifically regulated due to its artistic content. This art form is called 'alcohol'.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18128256)

Eh. Really it's just about drug legislation.

Sensibly, our government distinguishes between controlled substances and "controlled" ideas, so while it can be ruled that a hazardous physical substance can be restricted in terms of sale, it does not rule that a "hazardous" idea can be withheld because withheld ideas can become a method of control for the state and the constitution has a lot of safeguards against that sort of thing.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125468)

Alcohol content vs. artistic content. There's a difference.

That said, if you were just over the legal limit (0.5%, typically) and could show legitimate artistic reason for having slightly more alcohol... then maybe... but probably not.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125782)

Dont you mean 0.05%? 0.5% is extremely lethal [wikipedia.org] . Most people will pass out long before 0.3% BAC, luckily. I guess you'll need a friend to inject the rest.. or possibly an IV drip.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

aborchers (471342) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125890)

I believe the parent is referring to the alcohol content of the beverage, not of the blood of the consumer.

Re:I don't get it??? (3, Funny)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126186)

Sorry, I just got out of a meeting [slashdot.org]

Re:I don't get it??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18125418)

Well, I consider a swift kick to your pants to be an artistic expression of my combat abilities, but I'm probably not going to get it covered under the First Amendment any time soon.

Re:I don't get it??? (2, Insightful)

ChaosWeevil (1004221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18127404)

"The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." --Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

No, because I don't read, listen, or interpret.... (3, Insightful)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125666)

...you beer. The primary use of beer is to consume as in, drink, the product. It is not an idea or thought that is passed through a written, or visual media. Thus, your "free speech" rights do not apply to this product.

No, you can't sell homebew at all. (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125984)

The law is pretty clear about that. If you are 21 years or older you can brew 100 gallons for personal use. If there is more than one adult in the household you can brew up to 200 gallons. Under no circumstances can you sell your brew without a license. Thank you, President Carter.

Re:No, you can't sell homebew at all. (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126048)

That's 100 or 200 gallons per year.

Re:No, you can't sell homebew at all. (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152858)

I actually just read an article on this a couple of weeks ago. My wife bought me a Mr Beer for Christmas. :)

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126532)

Well dose you beer pass the Miller test?

Wait, no it doesn't even apply because beer can not convey a message and be considered speech.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

Zephyros (966835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18128372)

Well dose you beer pass the Miller test?
I would hope so. It's not like that particular brand of beer sets the bar very high...

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 7 years ago | (#18128324)

grumbles, undoing trollmod.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18129664)

The analogy is flawed. Videogames are a medium like film, music, or television. These laws seek to single out an entire medium for regulation. To do so there would need to be a mountain of evidence suggesting that this medium has negative side effects. There is no such mountain.

Beer which contains alcohol has been shown to have negative side effects if taken in large amounts. (I'm not sure the legal status of so-called non-alcohol beer)

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 6 years ago | (#18134344)

To make your arguement more precise, I suggest you split TV into Broadcast and Cable, as they are effectively entirely different media when it comes to legal regulations. Broadcast is subject to more control than cable and yet there are some possibly fair arguements for regulating the two differently. This doesn't invalidate your more general point.

      Which raises another question - Why (aside from the cable vrs broadcast example) are there such different standards for the various media? Why not use a G, PG, PG 13, R, and X code for video games, or a single TV seal of approval? If one medium has a standard originally based on age 12 (film's PG rating), and another only has one presumably based on age 13 (The video game industry's T for Teen rating), then isn't the system saying in effect that some things are inherently a little more dangerous in a video game than those very same things would be for films?

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 6 years ago | (#18135454)

The G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 ratings are trademarks of the MPAA. THey won't share with anyone or if they did I'm sure they would want to charge an arm and a leg. A few years ago Marvel comics pulled out of the Comics Code Authority and started rating their comics themselves. They originally used G, PG and R but the MPAA sued (or they threatened to sue, I can't remember) so Marvel had to make up their own ratings.

Incidentally the reason the MPAA got rid of X and tried to introduce NC-17 was partially because of the stigma of "X" but also because they didn't have a trademark on using X for a rating which is why we have porn claiming "XXX" ratings and the like (which really don't mean anything).

I really would be much easier if a game in the USA could be rated "R" but unless the MPAA suddenly becomes overcome with generosity, it isn't going to happen.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140966)

You're pretty close, but the 'trademarks' are actually closer to design patents on an exact image, that is a particular typeface, fitted in a rectangle of similar line weight (The X was originally fitted in a circle instead), and shown in either black on white or white on black. This doesn't keep anyone from doing either of two things - setting their ratings at the same ages as the MPAA's, or having the same number of them (or both). It doesn't keep them from using the same terminology, i.e. "For General audiences" or "Parential Guidance advised".
      DC simply stopped using the comics code authority seal on some of its comics years before Marvel, with no problems, just as anyone could legally release a picture with no rating applied today (legally, but not practically, as most theatres would refuse to carry it, and it would be near impossible to find a distributer). Marvel supposedly made the mistake of using the exact paste up illos clipped from motion picture trailers for a time on cover art. It's apparently still legal to refer to a comic as being the equivalent of a PG or R rated film, both in review and in advertising, but I'm not sure how, for example a chart comparing rating systems would stand legally if the MPAA wanted to push the issue.
          You're also right that XXX has no legal meaning. An X is normally presumed to mean 18 and up, and so NC-17 is sort of like the difference between PG and PG-13. The first NC-17 film was a biography of Henry Miller, and would have been hard to market with an X. It didn't really work well with the new rating either. I'd say NC-17 was an attempt to do a favor for a popular director, just like PG-13 was created to keep Steven Spielburg happy.
          Right now, no MPAA studio would try to produce an X for financial reasons, but AFAIK it's not really gotten rid of. It's just that sexually charged pictures that aren't formula XXX don't stand a chance of making their costs back, and violent horror that exceeds R is marketable with no rating attached as home video, just so long as the theatre cut manages an R.

Re:I don't get it??? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18155368)

I"m not sure on the legal reasons on the ratings, however, i am a comic book nerd. DC still used the comics code authority for their manistream superhero comics like Superman and Batman when Marvel pulled out. DC does still put the seal on those books. They don't submit WIldstorm, Vertigo or many other comics to the comics code authority though.

I am relieved (3, Interesting)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125324)

Yet still disturbed that some politicians haven't given up.

Maybe politicians are figuring out that you need evidence to prove their points. Too bad there is none even slightly credible.

Another thing I've noticed... Since when has the Constitution been a "barrier" for these politicians? one of the links in the Article lead to another article (truth in ratings act) that said this:

"should it manage to emerge from Congress as a law, the First Amendment may prove too big a barrier for it to overcome."
"Barrier", in my mind, is something that obstructs or impedes, and in this situation, it obstructs "progress" in making a Government-controlled Ratings board.

I'm so glad I have these politicians that care for me and my children, because I'll be damned if I have to see what my child is buying and to read the ESRB sticker on the front of the box.

Re:I am relieved (3, Informative)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125502)

Since when has the Constitution been a "barrier" for these politicians?

Since forever. Barrier is the correct terminology. The Bill of Rights is designed to protect the people from the government. Our founding fathers understood that need.

Re:I am relieved (3, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125518)

Maybe politicians are figuring out that you need evidence to prove their points.
What politicians need, if they want to pass a feel-good law like this, is a law that passes First Amendment muster. It can be based on a theory of Evil Fairies penetrating the minds of unsuspecting young teens and corrupting their precious bodily fluids, and it'll hold up, as long as it passes First Amendment muster, and all other relevant criteria. No amount of scientific studies demonstrating the evils of video games will help with that, because we have no criteria about laws being scientifically sound. (For better or worse, probably mostly better, but that's a separate argument.)

You are confusing your desires with reality.

Re:I am relieved (1)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126238)

There actually is some evidence that video games either cause violence or potentially could. For example, studies that show that witnessing violence makes one more violent. [psychiatryonline.org] I can't recall the location, but another study found that merely seeing a picture of a gun made one prone to violence. The problem for politicians (or maybe not, which would be worse) is that such studies would by their logic make the case for general restriction of the media rather than video games in particular. Additionally, it has been found that participation in organized sports has a high correlation with violent activities, and I would bet it would be an even higher correlation than with video games and violence. Yet I don't believe we will see any politician voting for a ban on basketball.

I don't doubt that video games COULD cause violence, there seems to be evidence that a lot of things do and it would be weird if video games would be one of the few things that didn't. The argument that video games make kids into little killing machines, that's a different kind of claim altogether. There is no such study, doing one would be completely unethical.

Re:I am relieved (2, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126488)

The argument that video games make kids into little killing machines, that's a different kind of claim altogether. There is no such study, doing one would be completely unethical.

Child soldier all over africa could be used. A control group that gets just a regular upbringing, a test group that gets brain washing, physical abuse and violent video games, a test group that just get violent video games, and maybe a group that just gets the brain washing and abuse. I'm sure if mercenary corps get big enough they'd try it.

psychology is a very slim science. Large scale studies might have strong science behind them but far too often you have sample sizes of 1 and psychologists drawing conclusions from that. Those "case studies" are what make the rest of science think very lightly of psychology. I think this psychiatrists study seems better. psychiatrist tends to be closer to real science. But I'd like a few more studies before I'd change my mind about the effects of violence on people.

Re:I am relieved (1)

moloko_synthemesc (961937) | more than 7 years ago | (#18148400)

I read this somewhere:

If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of progress?

Laws in action, minus the laws (2, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125698)

The other day I went to Best Buy and picked up a game rated Mature. They asked for ID. I don't buy a whole lot of M games, but I was still taken back a little bit regarding this. I'm willing to wager a lot of retailers either have implemented or are implementing processes to check IDs.

It doesn't solve the problem when adults buy it and turn around and give it to a kid, but do we really need big huge scary laws with fines and jailtime for something the industry is already doing?

Re:Laws in action, minus the laws (3, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126162)

It doesn't solve the problem when adults buy it and turn around and give it to a kid
But it can sent that one last necessary jolt to the addled brain of Clueless Joe Sixpack, who is about to buy "Manhunt" for his eight-year-old because one time in his youth he played "Pac-Man" and that's what all video games are, right?

It seems stupid to anyone on /., but this is an accurate representation of the sort of braindead masses that overregulation or censorship would actually serve. If we can cause the necessary brain-attacks in these people by having the cashier gently suggest that the M-rated game a parent is about to buy their kid isn't happy friendly "Super Mario" stuff, in the accepted manner of other comparable age-restricted purchases like R-rated movie tickets, then the ultimate responsibility is once again reverted to the parent where it belongs, and said parent is hopefully forced to become educated enough to properly make the decision on what to buy their kids.

Re:Laws in action, minus the laws (2, Interesting)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126428)

When I worked at Blockbuster video, a significant number of people attempted to rent the Mature-rated N64 game "Conker's Bad Fur Day" for their child. Every single person thanked me and declined to rent it after I informed them of the content of the game. I think this supports your point that people need to be jabbed to kick in their parental responsibilities sometimes. I would hope that a law would be unnecessary. I would never have rented that game to a kid unless their parent approved it, law or otherwise.

On the other hand, one of my friends would let his little girl play Mortal Kombat, but he knows full well about the content. I disagree with him on that, but it's his kid, his home and his responsibility. And to be fair, his child is perfectly well adjusted, so who am I to say what's bad for one kid and not the other? But when it comes to actually selling or renting the game, I am going to make sure the parent is an informed parent.

Re:Laws in action, minus the laws (3, Funny)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18127262)

one of my friends would let his little girl play Mortal Kombat, but he knows full well about the content. I disagree with him on that, but it's his kid, his home and his responsibility. And to be fair, his child is perfectly well adjusted, so who am I to say what's bad for one kid and not the other?
I think I saw that girl the other day. She was standing over a little boy on a playground. Then a disembodied voice yelled out "FINISH HIM!" and she ripped the kid's spine out through his chest. After that she went and picked some daisies and rode away on a beach cruiser.

Few Gamestop Experiences: (3, Interesting)

Brigade (974884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18127214)

As an assistant manager at Gamestop over the holidays, I had a few experiences with this:

One time, a kid wanted an M game. After telling him he needed a parent to buy it, he rode his bike home. Dad drove him back up, and sent him in with his ID. Told him still no go. Kid left and got Dad out of the car (poor guy, looked dead tired). I apologized profusely for the hassle, but Dad was extremely understanding, and even thanked me for doing a proper job.

Another parent comes to mind that was shopping for her son. He wanted an M-rated game, and when I told Mom about it, she didn't understand what that meant. After the explanation, she 'got it' and told him to shop for other things.

Other parents have come in and allowed their kids to buy M-rated games based on content. One kid wanted God of War (Sex, Language, Violence, etc. etc.) and Mom said "No, find another game without sex or language." I think he found something WWE 2006, which if I remember correctly was only violent content, which she was OK with.

All in all, of the (likely) dozens of M-rated ID/Get your Parents situations that I experienced, the only time I had even close to a confrontational parent encounter was one parent that asked why we didn't have chairs in the front of the store so tired folks could rest while the kids went nosing around. I told her about the ratings and how parents should shop WITH their kids, and a lot of parents did just that. She seemed stunned, having no idea what I was talking about.

Parents really are taking a much more active role, at least from my personal experience, and I am very reassured by it.

Re:Few Gamestop Experiences: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18128542)

Mom said "No, find another game without sex or language."
I don't think I've seen a game without language. I guess Pong only had a few numbers, no words or anything, maybe? But pretty much every game available today is full of language, from the moment the publisher's name appears on the screen right through to the final "game over". It is, after all, quite hard to convey any sort of instructions without language, let alone the kind of complex plot modern gamers expect - as any mime artist will be all too willing to admit.

Re:Few Gamestop Experiences: (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18129762)

I agree that to say "without language" is humorous. However, what is more humorous is that in rating movies R, the MPAA will frequently say that it is rated R for "pervasive use of language." I don't know about you, but I would be surprised if most Hollywood films didn't have a pervasive use of language.

Re:Few Gamestop Experiences: (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18129786)

You kids and your talkies!

Re:Laws in action, minus the laws (3, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126336)

It doesn't solve the problem when adults buy it and turn around and give it to a kid, but do we really need big huge scary laws with fines and jailtime for something the industry is already doing?


Is that actually a problem? TV has as much or more violence then GTA. Just watch greys anatomy or CSI. There is no way to gerentee young children are watching and there is actually little evidence that it actually harms the children. A troubled teen doesn't need doom to push him over the edge and a healthy teen will not be altered by violent games. Sex for the matter is the same. Porn won't turn a healthy teen into some degenerate. I find the nanny state mentality more harmful then the actual content in question.

Re:Laws in action, minus the laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18128420)

The last time I checked, CSI promoted the punishment of criminal acts, while GTA promoted the acts themselves. The problem isn't inherent in the violence itself, but how it is treated.

Violent games and violence. (4, Interesting)

Jbcarpen (883850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125826)

Many politicians seem to think that violent video games are the root of all that is wrong with the youth of this world today, yet they conveniently ignore the fact that correlation != causation. The real link between the two is that violent people (among others) will be attracted to games that allow them to act out their desires. For some people this is an outlet that allows them to release the violent urges that would otherwise be acted out in the real world. (I am one such person.) Others will find games to be an insufficient outlet and will then lash out at the world in general. Of course, since they were a gamer beforehand the games themselves end up taking the blame.

Different than movies? (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126382)

It's hard to see how games are different from movies in this respect. The movie studio isn't legally bound to submit its film for rating and the theater isn't legally bound to enforce the policy with respect to minors. I'm sure that they're subject to legal pressures, but that hasn't led to specific laws, if I understand correctly.

Re:Different than movies? (1)

GreyyGuy (91753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18127012)

Sure- the movies aren't legally required to have a rating. But none of the theater chains will show unrated films, and none of the larger retail chains will sell them. Despite the silliness of the "unrated" versions of the DVDs, which are almost always essentially the original film with a bit of stuff added into it. Since it is a different film that has not been submitted for a rating it is technically unrated, but the reality is that it would very likely get the same rating as the theatrical release. It isn't like they slip in a hardcore sex scene that wasn't in the movie before.

So legally you can still do it. You can also expect that no one will ever see the film.

Price of a rating? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18128628)

Sure- the movies aren't legally required to have a rating. But none of the theater chains will show unrated films, and none of the larger retail chains will sell them.

The film ratings body most recognized in the United States is CARA [filmratings.org] (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17). CARA is operated by [mpaa.org] MPAA, whose members are Sony, Disney, Time Warner, Universal, Fox, and Paramount, along with the National Association of Theater Owners. Does it cost more to have a motion picture produced for video rated by CARA if the motion picture is obviously family friendly but distributed by a company other than an MPAA member? Likewise, does it cost more to have a PC video game rated by ESRB if the film is distributed by a company other than an ESA member?

Re:Price of a rating? (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18129828)

i would imagine that the price of getting a film rated, if there even is one, would be less than a movie company would expect to make from, say, a dozen theaters. So I would guess that it would be better to risk having the most squeeky clean family friendly movie actually get a rating than to have a few theaters not run it because they could just run a Disney or Dreamworks or whatever CGI talking animal movie one more week and not have to even think about whether or not this unrated movie was going to get some busybody worked up and protesting them.

Re:Different than movies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131672)

Technically speaking, that isn't true. The theater I go to midnight movies at runs unrated movies, including independent stuff and foreign films. They even show porn once in a while. That doesn't keep them from getting their first-run blockbuster reels, because the theater is also immensely popular (its a local chain with half a dozen or so locations). I'm lucky enough to live in a city with many filmmakers, movie geeks, college students, and generally laid back people who enjoy weird movies.

People from the city I was born in, 150 miles to the north, would have a fit if they saw many of the things they screen at this chain of theaters. Theaters there only show rated movies, and usually only new ones. This is what we call a "community standard."

If you make an unrated movie, there are most certainly audiences - perfectly legal, socially acceptable, and enthusiastic audiences - who will see it. You just won't have your movie in every theater in America. That's why the RIAA system is better than any law-based ratings system. If the MPAA ratings held legal force, those niche audiences wouldn't be allowed to exist.

Sentator Brownback (1)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126384)

I am still trying to get a hold of someone at Senator Brownback's office that can answer my questions about his new "Truth in Video Game Ratings" act. Everyone should feel free to give his office a call:
http://brownback.senate.gov/ [senate.gov]

Politicians only care about getting reelected. (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18126538)

Politicians will continue to push for stupid "thinkofthechildren" laws as long as it gets them free publicity and the approval of the slack-jawed drooling masses. This accomplishes their goal of getting their name in the spotlight so they have a better chance of getting reelected, which is the only thing any politician is ever really concerned about. What I'd like to see happen is for the news media to start spinning these stories in the direction of "Idiot politicians waste time creating laws that contradict the first amendment so you don't have to be actively involved in parenting" instead of the current "Hero politician tries to save your children from the evils in the world that you're too lazy and stupid to find out about" Perhaps enough negative press about politicians wasting time on video games when there are much more pressing matters in most areas to worry about could end this discussion.

Re:Politicians only care about getting reelected. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18128604)

While I don't doubt the validity of this augment, mass media coverage in a different light isn't going to fix this any more than it "fixed" the corrupt practices of politicians in the past.

Better solutions to this "problem" (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#18136506)

From the article:

Sen. Simpson, who describes herself as a strong First Amendment advocate as well as an "avid video gamer," said that she was troubled by her 8-year-old grandson's being able to purchase an M-rated game at an unnamed retailer.
Many disastrous undertakings are launched with the absolute best intentions in the world. After all, what is the harm in making sure that young children to not accidentally get their hands on games designed for more mature consumers? Doesn't that sound like a good thing? These legislators tend to fall into the trap of thinking that all of society's (supposed) ills can and should be cured by passing laws.

First and foremost, how exactly did an 8-year old child purchase a 50-dollar video game? I'm presuming that Mom or Dad bought it for them. Perhaps a more reasonable approach would be to appropriate money for a public awareness campaign, demonstrating to parents what the ESRB ratings mean and what to look for (although personally it still seems like a foolish waste of public money).

I'd much rather see consumers put pressure on stores to voluntarily enforce age-related purchasing restrictions. If a store declines to do this, then consumers have the option of attempting to persuade the business to do so via a PR campaign or a public boycott, or simply taking their business elsewhere. If enough of the public agrees with this position, then the persuasion will likely encourage a change in policy - all without government intervention. Many stores have already adopted this policy voluntarily.

I have no problem with stores setting their own rules, and I have no problem with individuals or groups putting pressure on stores to adopt a policy more to their liking. But getting the government involved is a step that has to be considered much more carefully. Just because one opposes government involvement in this matter doesn't mean that one thinks sales of mature video games to children is a good thing.

I sincerely hope... (1)

Drfruitloop (929566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18199336)

That none of this anti-violent game ligislation goes through. Violent games have actually helped me become a non-violent person, as I take all of my anger out on virtual people rather than real ones. They have also really helped my reflexes and my hand-eye coordination skills. Also, all of this about violent games is a phase. Before violent games, violent films were condemned for supposedly making people violent. If this legislation goes through it will be repealed after a few years as the politicians will realise that it is pointless.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?