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Video Games Not Protected Form of Speech 482

Posted by Hemos
from the looking-for-more-information dept.
E-Rock writes "Video Games are lumped with child porn as unprotected forms of speech. "A federal judge said local governments can limit children's access to violent or sexually explicit video games, saying games are not constitutionally protected forms of speech." Story with limited details at Nando."
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Video Games Not Protected Form of Speech

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, now that virtual child porn IS legal, what about virtual video games?
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:25PM (#3410834) Homepage
    In other news, MegaGameCorp announced today that their planned Christmas 2002 release of "Child Porn: The First Person Shooter" will be delayed indefinitely...
  • by SplendidIsolatn (468434) <splendidisolatn@ya h o o.com> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:26PM (#3410848)
    I know at my local stores, if you want to buy a 'M'ature game, you have to show ID if you appear under 17. There are games which, quite frankly, aren't appropriate for that crowd. It's just the same as buying adult magazines and stuff--they won't let you in/let you buy if you're not of age. What's the big deal here?
    • The big deal is that this is just another step towards making it illegal to produce certain games at all.
  • by sniepre (517796) <sniepre@gmail.com> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:27PM (#3410855) Homepage
    I hate seeing when a judge feels he has to play daddy for the civilians..... Guess what? The children under 17 already HAVE parents, and its THEIR jobs to see to the monitoring of their video games and television and reading habits. If the child *didn't* have parents to watch over them, i can assure you that most likely the child is seeing far worse things in their life than GTA3.

    Yes, our government is supposed to protect us, its citizens.. But everyone i talk to agrees with me that micromanagement in a corporate environment sucks, isnt this just micromanagement from the government into a family unit?
    • by Anixamander (448308) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:39PM (#3410983) Journal
      While I tend to think the judge ruled on the wrong grounds on this one, I personally have no problem with limiting the access of video games to minors. Everyone likes to trot out the argument that it is the parents' responsibility, but that only works to a certain degree. A parent cannot, and should not, be around their child 100% of the time. There should be times when the child can be with their friends without parental supervision. And when that happens, I see no problem if the parent gets a little assistance from retailers who won't sell overly violent video games, or porn, or beer or cigarettes to their children. The movie rating system seems to work well, and there is no reason the video game ratings should not work the same way. And just as with a movie, if the parent wants their child to be exposed to the video games, they can buy it for them. This is not an issue of asking retailers to do the parenting. It may be a little bit of assistance, but I see no reason why this is patently wrong.
      • by sniepre (517796) <sniepre@gmail.com> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:47PM (#3411066) Homepage
        "A parent cannot, and should not, be around their child 100% of the time. There should be times when the child can be with their friends without parental supervision."

        My only thought at this point is, who should set the rules on what is acceptable and unacceptable for a developing child to see? I'm not talking about ages 8-12 or whatever.. but mid to late teens... are growing constantly at that age...

        Sometimes, letting them discover some parts of the real world is necessary. You and I both know what a gun can do, and I think it can sometimes backfire keeping a devloping teen locked away from being able to experience certain elements of the real world.

        Surely, a parent would tell their children what is right, and what is wrong. So, after the child was raised properly with the knowledge of right and wrong, if they desire to go learn of the *real world* i dont think there should be a magic cut off at 17-18 when they are then declared arbitrarily to be "mature enough" to be exposed to it all at once.

        Its just a part of growing up, IMHO.
        • Good point you raise about the cutoff age. Many people are not even *close* to being mature enough to drive a car at 16 (or 30, in some cases). Other kids are perfectly responsible at 16 and should be allowed to drive.
        • My only thought at this point is, who should set the rules on what is acceptable and unacceptable for a developing child to see?

          Parents. Of course, they can't do that if they're being undermined by greedy retailers. If, as a parent, I want my child to play GTA, I can go to the store with them to buy it. No one is keeping kids from playing games, just from buying them.

      • by Bagheera (71311) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @04:27PM (#3411418) Homepage Journal
        I have to ask "are you a parent?"

        We agreee that the judge botched the ruling, and I agree completely that I don't need to be, nor should I be, around my kid 24x7 to make sure she stays out of trouble, but it's not the government's place to do my job for me.

        The point here, as others have mentioned, is one of micromanagement. If I don't want my kid playing violent video games (or smoking, or watching R-Rated movies), I tell her not to and, if I've done my job as a parent, she won't. Same goes for drugs, pr0n, teen sex, etc. Yes, there are some cases (ethanol, cigarettes) where there are proven harmful consequences where I don't mind their intervention, but there is no proof whatsoever that video games are going to hurt anything but the kid's thumb muscles.

        The movie ratings are, in many respects, a farce. The whole concept of strictly "age dependent" ratings is inane. Yes, it's convenient and there is some justification for it (statistical averages) but there is no mystical transition in head space when someone turns 17,18,21 that makes them suddenly able to understand things they couldn't understand the day before - or take responsibility for same.

        All the ordnance does is put additional burdens on retailers with no real benefit to the people it's trying to protect. THAT is what is patently wrong about it.

        • Yes, there are some cases (ethanol, cigarettes) where there are proven harmful consequences where I don't mind their intervention, but there is no proof whatsoever that video games are going to hurt anything but the kid's thumb muscles.

          Yikes. I feel like flailing my arms and shouting, "danger!" There is indeed a huge amount of evidence that violence in media -- music, games, movies, and books -- influences people. Hell, the entire advertising industry is built upon the idea that media can influence people.

          I suspect you're saying what you're saying because either you personally are unaware of any evidence, or you're perfectly aware of it and reject it as hogwash. But psychologists going back to 1864 (I think, that number is off the top of my head) have documented something called the "werther's effect" which nowadays is called social proof. Wether was a writer (or the main character of a book, again, this is off the top of my head). Anyway, the main character of this moving, well-written book eventually killed himself. The book was immensely popular, and soon a wave of similar suicides began to sweep across multiple countries. By 1866, the book was banned by entire continents. Since that time, this has been studied to death -- they've studied accidents where everyone drove by without offering assistance, video games, rock music, laugh tracks, advertising, movies, you name it. It all ties in to social proof, which states: the more a person identifies with the environment, the more likely the person is to be influenced by it.

          So your normal, healthy, well-adjusted slashdotter (cough) is NOT going to identify with pac man and start eating ghosts. Nor will he/she identify with doom and start shooting up everything in sight. But a young angry white boy who sees a lifelike portrayal of young angry white boys is going to be influenced. A middle-aged Asian dad who interacts with a game or movie or people who are also middle-aged, Asian, and fathers, will be influenced. There are a lot of reasons for this, and you can use Google to get some really great, really boring papers and essays about the research in this area. But the bottom line is realistic portrayals of anything will influence people of similar background.

    • Although I'm not a censorship kind of guy you have to look at your argument. If they HAVE parents AND those parents agree that it is acceptable for them to play say GTA3 or Carmageddon or any other 1 of a 100 games then that parent will buy/rent the game for that minor anyway.

      It's not legal for a minor to buy pornographic magazines but as far as I know there is nothing stopping that minor's father/mother from buying it for them for them to have in their own home.

      So yes, there should be a reconsideration on what does and does not fall under protected speech but the Parental argument just as easily swings the other way
  • by Mantrid (250133) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:27PM (#3410858) Journal
    The original law that was to be simply limited underage children:

    "The ordinance, passed in 2000, would require children under 17 to have parental consent before they can buy violent or sexually explicit video games or play similar arcade games. "
    (from the article)

    I don't see anything wrong with this; it's the same way with movies in many places.

    The problem is, of course, that once video games aren't protected as free speech, that they can start cracking down on whatever they feel like cracking down on.

    Better protect your copies of GTA3!
    • Again, movies are not prohibited to minors by law, only theaters have that policy.
    • by VValdo (10446) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:47PM (#3411075)
      As I understand it, the restriction on 17 and under going into an R-rated film is not a "law" passed by government but rather an agreement within the entertainment industry to self-police itself.

      Specifically, the MPAA rates the film (their methodology is as controversial as the ratings system in general) and the exhibitors (that is, the movie theaters) agree to restrict ticket sales in accordance with the MPAA ratings.

      The MPAA ratings are also used to determine when advertisements for movies are permitted-- that's why you don't see ads for R-rated movies during hours when kids are watching TV. Or at least that's the idea-- there was a scandal about a year ago where a lot of R-rated films was being advertised to children on TV.

      Apparently, the film company's defense was that ad-purchasing time packages did not match the resolution of the MPAA ratings system-- so there was no way to buy advertising time in slots that exactly matched the demographics of the ratings. (And I'm sure the fact that most theaters weren't checking IDs made the spillover ok too)

      I think (but I'm not sure) that blockbuster and other video rental places also check IDs just as theaters do. But I wonder if they care about video games... anyone know?

      W
      • I think (but I'm not sure) that blockbuster and other video rental places also check IDs just as theaters do. But I wonder if they care about video games... anyone know?
        My experience is that Blockbuster has never asked me for ID when renting an R rated movie, regardless of their official policy. Also, when I finally asked for a Blockbuster card so I wouldn't have to mooch it off the parents every time I wanted to rent a film, one of the questions on the new card form filled out by the parent is whether the card owner would be able to rent R rated movies. It seems like this is a very intelligent way to control the content that minors see. Don't have the government move in on my viewing rights, thats my parents' job. As far as video games, i've bought a long list of "M" mature rated video games that is basically the "Parental Advisory" sticker for games without an adult. Stig.
      • As I understand it, the restriction on 17 and under going into an R-rated film is not a "law" passed by government but rather an agreement within the entertainment industry to
        self-police itself.


        I don't think the original poster meant to imply that the movie ratings system is mandated by law, but simply that we (as a society) in general do not have a problem with some restrictions on what media children have easy access to, the most prominent example being movie ratings, and thus most people (or at least the poster) do not object to some restrictions on what computer games children can buy.

        (Although many within the federal government make it clear they feel movie ratings should be more heavily mandated and it's also readily appearant that if the industry did not police themselves, the government would enforce their own standards.)
  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:28PM (#3410872)
    They go too far.

    We as Americans must demand unrestricted access to virtual crack hos getting blown up. Our Fore Fathers would be proud if they knew that little Jane and Jimmy American had the constitutionally protected right to mass gibs.

  • by seldolivaw (179178) <me@seldo . c om> on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:28PM (#3410874) Homepage
    If (at least in some states) source code is free speech [advogato.org], and games are just the result of that code, I don't see how this is going to hold up under appeal. IANAL (obviously).
    • Yeah, and there's a lot of source code that I wouldn't want my kid to see either...
    • The code is only part of the finished game. Sexually explicit parts of films can be removed to make them TV-safe, and it seems to me that this would be the same case. The objective is not to supress the code but the explicit parts of the game if those parts cannot easily be removed, the game as a whole must be supressed. If an entire movie is one big fuck-fest and five minutes of plot, its not getting shown on the public airwaves because the explicit content can't be removed and as a consequence the nonexplicit parts aren't shown either. (IANAL)
  • Bogus (Score:2, Interesting)

    by genkael (102983)
    This is just another example of how the US government is taking away basic freedoms from their citizens. At this point in our history, the average US citizen (naturalized or otherwise) have fewer freedoms and rights then under the British government prior to the Revolutionary War. We have more taxes, no real representation in Congress since the Senators and Representatives are bought and paid for by big bussiness. We can't bear arms in most cites, stories in the press are censored, our homes can be searched without a warrent under very weak excuses from the police, the state takes over federal control on a number of issues including gun control. It's only a matter of time before we can't cross the street without breaking the law.
    • Amen, brother! 'Course it's like the boiled frog. And the reason it keeps getting worse is because the people are not educated. People don't know their own country's history anymore. I'd bet most people think the cause of the Revolutionary War was those pesky Americans throwing tea overboard.

      • Wait, I thought that Starbucks invented all heated beverages,and they didn't exist back in 1900 when we declared independence from Canada, now did they?

        There goes your theory, Mr. Smartypants!
      • People don't know their own country's history anymore. I'd bet most people think the cause of the Revolutionary War was those pesky Americans throwing tea overboard.

        The first generation schooled by the government is taught a full curriculum.

        The second is taught a watered-down curriculum to make things easier for more kids to pass, since by now the graduation is meaningful to employers, and we want everyone to be employable.

        The third is taught by the undereducated second, and so begins to think in terms of self-esteem and participation and such, rather than actual knowledge or ability. It's a downward spiral from there.

        The best defense against idiocy: home school your children.

    • Your taxes went up with the Progressives, with the New Dealers, and the Great Society supporters, not due to corporatists, as all three groups explicitly wanted large-scale redistribution of the wealth.

      Corporations also don't give a damn about what arms you carry, unless they're in that business.

      You want to blame somebody? Blame everybody who refuses to follow political news, who fails to apply rational thought to issues, and who fails to vote, let alone partake in politics in any other way.
  • by Mr. Neutron (3115) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:29PM (#3410884) Homepage Journal
    In most places in the U.S., if you are under 17, you can't get into R-rated movies without an adult. If you are under 18, you can't buy a porn mag.

    Why is that *any* different from restricting minors' access to certain video games? If society is going to allow freedom of expression in the content of games, it also has the responsibility of protecting vulnerable children from potentially harmful content. With freedom comes responsibility.

    Parents, at home, they can let their kids play whatever games they want, or watch whatever movies, or look at whatever magazines. But in public space, there is a certain generally accepted level of protection for children that applies to all of these.
    • Well, for starters, the movie age limit is a self-imposed restriction by the film companies/movie theatres themselves.

      Used to be, local censorship boards would cut objectionable material out of the films before they would be allowed in theatres. Producers, understandably, didn't like this, so they inforced their own ratings system to keep the boards out.

      So, this is different than movie theatres. However, the sale/rental of porn is limited by laws to adults. In that way, this is similar.

      -Brett
    • n most places in the U.S., if you are under 17, you can't get into R-rated movies without an adult.

      That's not by law, though. Movie theaters are recommended by the ratings board not to allow minors into the movie, and most theaters comply because they are afraid of the liability if they were sued by angry parents.

      The ratings board is more of a lawsuit protection policy than it is a legal standards board...
    • While there are laws regarding pornography, there are no laws regarding R-rated movies. Theaters restrict minors from viewing R-rated movies without a parent or guardian present voluntarily, not under threat of legal action.
    • Parents, at home, they can let their kids play whatever games they want, or watch whatever movies, or look at whatever magazines. But in public space, there is a certain generally accepted level of protection for children that applies to all of these.

      Until your kid tells someone else they watched naked people doing weird stuff on the tv at home and child protective services comes along, slapping you with child endangerment. Doesn't even have to be that clear cut, CPS was called on a divorced friend of mine. Her kid saw pornos at daddy's house and came home with a filthy mouth. CPS came, inspected *THE MOTHER's* house, told her if she didn't shape up they'd take the kid away. Her house is impeccable. They then went to daddy's house. She called him ahead of time and warned him, but he didn't bother to put the videos away. They made him throw away the videos and secure all the weapons he had lying around, but he only got a slap on the wrist.

    • But what about the child who was taught well by his parents, and is responsible enough to handle such elements in a public setting? Should he be policed just as the kids who lacked that essential component of their socialization? I don't think so.

      Bottom line - I don't want the government trying to act as a parent. That's why we have parents.
  • Simple question (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Darth Maul (19860)
    Why can't parents, and not the government, keep their children from violent and explicit games? And why can't we have a few more judges that have some common sense?

    Every day you see more and more proof that the left is gaining more and more ground in this country. Things like this where government protection seems to be the only solution, so we slowly learn to accept more and more governmental control.

    Yeah, I know, T(H)GSB, but oh well. This is important to me.
    • Re:Simple question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by prizog (42097)
      Um. "the left"? I don't think it's censorship is a uniquely left-wing (or uniquely right-wing) phenomenon. Sure, lots of Democrats support these laws, but plenty of Republicans do too. And it's been a long time since the Democrats have represented the left anyway.
      • I think Darth Maul is trying to say it's the left that promotes freedom of expression for violent/sexual/"inappropriate" media (in all forms) and thus the conservative government has to pass laws and make rulings like this to protect us all.

        Or something. Obviously, his brain is wired differently than mine, but I don't think he was trying to suggest it was the left that was behind this ruling.
    • Re:Simple question (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Elwood P Dowd (16933)
      The left? The left used to be all about personal freedoms. Remember hippies?

      Besides, conservatives need to divorce the religious right before they can claim that they stand for personal freedoms at all.
  • Limbaugh said he reviewed four different video games and found "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech. The court finds that video games have more in common with board games and sports than they do with motion pictures."

    Wow! Four games and he's got the whole thing figured out? Imagine if someone claimed they had read four books and understood the complete posibility of literary expression. How did this guy graduate from high school, much less law school?

    -BlackFoliage

  • Leisure Suit Larry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smack_attack (171144) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:30PM (#3410899) Homepage
    What about games that are porn? Am I the only person who actually enjoyed playing this series? It was risque, witty and very entertaining. Amazing that something so forward thinking hasn't been bothered to be duplicated with current game technology.
  • I guess I may be denser than some, but what is the news here?

    We have a LOCAL LAW (important part) that states that children We have a judge that says that the law is OK.

    These must be the same people that say that certain movie titles are not appropriate for children So again ... I fail to see what the problem is here.

  • HEMOS: A federal judge said local governments can limit children's access to violent or sexually explicit video games

    I'm not American so forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't children's access to violent or sexually explicit videos/books/sex shows/whore houses already limited over there as in the rest of the world and further more isn't this regarded as a good thing?
  • The state, local and federal governments already restrict children's access to other forms of entertainment - movies with an 'R' or 'NC-17' rating, for example (please save all rants about the MPAA for another discussion).

    What those who might protest are forgetting is that until someone reaches the age of majority in the US, his/her rights - particularly "Constitutional" rights - are severely limited. Most rights that children have are those given to them by their parents.

  • Limbaugh said the county has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and emotional health of its children and assisting parents as guardians of their children's well-being.

    If the county has the time and manpower to help parents "protect the physical and emotional health" of their children by worrying about what video games they play then the county needs to have it's budget cut. Most counties can't keep the potholes in their streets filled or balance their budgets and yet these guys want to help folks raise their kids... nope, sorry guys, I don't think so!
  • by Computer! (412422)
    How is this any different than restricting access to other forms of entertainment based on age?

    Movies, music, magazines, etc. have been suffering the same way for years. This is not a troll: I am all for age-restriction of content. If I want my kids to see something, they'll see it, because I'll buy it and give it to them. Otherwise, I prefer that inappropriate speech be a little harder for them to access.

  • Limiting access to minors is one thing, while protecting free speach is other. It is very diferent, if you say that videogames are not protected by the freedom of speach, then one could censor a videogame, base in the fact that it has porn or violence. Censorship means that you can get the game even thougth you an adult.

    If you limit the access of some videogames to children, would be just like a playboy magazine or alcoholic drinks, that can only be sold to an adult. One could argue that this is also bad, but it is certainly better then the above option. And if you are a father that don't agree with this, you can aways buy the game for your kid.

    The article seem to indicate that this is case for this law.
  • I guess I don't understand the reason why this was in front of a US judge to begin with; we are talking about restricting access of questionable material to children, not adults. If this is the case, then I really don't understand. These are children; they are supposed to have restricted access to violence and nudity. The video game group that filed this suit should be ashamed of themselves. The ordinance didn't ban the questionable video games, just limited access to them. I have to agree that it is a shame that we expect the law/government to pick where parents are failing, but this is the corner we have painted ourselves into....
  • by brogdon (65526) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:34PM (#3410941) Homepage
    Usually when something even remotely 1st Ammendment-related gets posted on slashdot, it's pretty obvious which way we, the masses, are supposed to feel (usually righteously idignant, which is fun).

    On this one I'm not so sure though. Are we supposed to think that video games are a legitimate form of self-expression? Because that seems like a bit of a stretch for me. I don't ever recall seeing a video game that was seriously being used to get a point across in artistic or political fashion (Okay, maybe the one where you were a Palestinian fighting Jews with rocks, but that's still only one).

    I don't know how to feel on this, which makes me uneasy. Where's JonKatz? If he'd attach a little rant here somewhere I could just take the opposite position and feel fine with myself.
    • I don't ever recall seeing a video game that was seriously being used to get a point across in artistic or political fashion
      They probably said the same thing about film, many decades ago. Then stuff like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington came out.
    • On this one I'm not so sure though. Are we supposed to think that video games are a legitimate form of self-expression? Because that seems like a bit of a stretch for me. I don't ever recall seeing a video game that was seriously being used to get a point across in artistic or political fashion

      I would contend that you haven't played the right games. Even if you are mostly correct, that doesn't mean video games aren't a form of free speech. And on the other side of the coin, there's a lot of constitutionally protected speech out there that's completely worthless [nsync.com].

      To counter your assertion, I give you Xenogears [gamespot.com]. While the game's backstory is arguably heavy-handed, no one can argue that it doesn't speak out on a lot of issues. Xenogears (and many other RPGs like it) are speech, and deserve as much protection as movies, books, and music. Their interactive element (and the fact that many people in government don't know a damn thing about them) shouldn't disqualify them from the same protections other media enjoy.
    • I agree. I think what we consider "free SPEECH" has to have it's limits... otherwise terrorists flying airliners into buildings to prove a point will someday be considered protected speech.

      Now before I get flamed (and modded) to death about that one, let me say, though, that I am against government regulation of games. Like another poster here said, we already have similar entities called PARENTS to do that.

      Straying a little offtopic here, but you ask a very interesting question in the subject. But I have to wonder why you feel it's so important that we all are, as you asked, for or against this and other issues.

      While we are undoubtedly part of a community here at Slashdot, I don't post under the false pretense that we should all agree (just look at some of the posts I've had modded down) on the issues that are presented to us.

      A better way to present your side of the argument (which I believe is 100% correct, but suspect many here will disagree with you) would be to just come out and say "this is what I think, and here's why" instead of "does the collective agree with me on this?"

  • the Pong Channel [slashdot.org] will have to come with child-lockout capabilities.
  • Since the Supreme Court refused to hear Indianapolis's appeal on their video game law, where a lower court said that video games did fall under the First Amendment, how does Judge Limbaugh think he has a leg to stand on?
  • I have to say, I'm baffled.

    Since the origins of this country, Free Speech has been one of our most treasured amendments. Over the course of the years, we have seen these non-alienable rights slowly eroded by the politics of the times. Sadly, what is lost cannot always be regained. The Prohibition was the exception that proved the rule.

    But are we now crossing the final line? Who is to say what the difference is between a console game and a web-based game? From there, a short leap from web game to web news site (anything come to mind?), and from that point it isn't hard to imagine the end of what was once the only Free Press in the civilized world.

    In the past we have learned to treasure even that speech which is most offensive, including pornography, slander, Nazism, lynchings, and shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

    I wonder if this ruling will be remembered in times to come as the beginning of the proverbial end.

    • In the past we have learned to treasure even that speech which is most offensive, including pornography, slander, Nazism, lynchings, and shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.


      Nazism is the only thing you listed that IS protected speech.

      Slander, speech that presents a clear and present danger to the US, and speech that endangers the public safty are all illegal forms of speech.

      these have been set forth by cheif Justice Marshall. the 1st cheif justice of the United States.

      so giving away national secrets is not protected speech, elling fire in a crouded theater is not protected speech, and telling a lie about a person to people in a credible mannor (ie not satire)that damages their reputation (like saying a person rapes little boys when you know he does not) is not protected speech.
  • The ordinance, passed in 2000, would require children under 17 to have parental consent before they can buy violent or sexually explicit video games or play similar arcade games. The council has suspended implementation of the ordinance until July 1.

    Hmmm... doesn't say anything about limiting what you can depict, nor about limiting sales, nor about what you can do with it... It just says minors can't purchase it without concent. Now where have we seen that before?

    Cigarettes?
    Alcohol?
    Firearms?
    Porn videos?

    Ok, so Little Johnny has to get his big brother to buy a copy of GTA4 (now with force-feedback hookers!)... annoying, but not any kind of threat to freedom that hasn't already been accepted for years.

    Make up your minds people. Either children are NOT treated differently, in which case they can do all the bad things adults can do, but also have to pay all the penalties we do... or they ARE, in which case they get "protected" from things "we" think are "bad".
  • by Steveftoth (78419) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:37PM (#3410968) Homepage
    ---Begin Quote
    Limbaugh said he reviewed four different video games and found "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech. The court finds that video games have more in common with board games and sports than they do with motion pictures."
    ---End quote

    This guy didn't try and play and of the final fantasy games. All those games push a fairly similar agenda of machine == bad and protect the earth. Or MGS, if you don't think that killing is wrong after playing MGS, then you didn't watch the cut scenes ( that games lives in contridiction, because it preaches that violence and killing are wrong, but the only way to beat it is to be involved with killing people ).

    If he was only playing MK4, SFXXXSuperCapcomMarvelFighterTurboMegaAlphaSpecial Edition aand racing games then yeah, I can see his point. But even shoot em up games like Time Crisis or Slient Scope have anti-terrorist agendas. Just like many (crappy) HollyWood movies.

    I feel that most games released today resemble the HollyWood schlock rather then the artistic projects that get produced. More like Scorpion King rather then say Pi. For every artistic game like MYST, there are a hundred shoot-em-up death game 2000 knock offs.

    The guy only saw 4 games, I bet that if you showed certain movies to a judge who had never seen movies before you could get the same verdict, that movies have no artistic merit as well.
  • Movies and fictional novels are protected forms of speech. I have played computer games that have affected me deeply.

    Deus Ex is an example of what I consider a game with a message.

    I hope there will be more games like Deus Ex in the future. This is a new medium, and our legal system must recognize it. I'm not so worried about the speech that will be lost today, but I am worried about what video games will be like a decade from now.

    A decade from now we could have real art being created with video games. Think of the messages that creators could use video games to send. People would have the choice of playing state of the art, edgy games. And of course they would have the choice of playing crap -- just like in any medium.

    Or a decade from now we could have a giant conglomorate like Disney pushing out mediocracy on a traquilized public. Vanilla mediocracy without any ideas that hadn't been approved by a dozen focus groups and six lawyers.

    Paintings are protected speech. Sculpture is protected speech. Books are protected speech. Movies are protected speech. Games deserve the same. We will regret it later if the protection is not extended.
  • "... local governments can limit children's access... "

    Keywords: Limit, Children

    Because, you know, adults can buy child porn.

    Video games aren't leaving the realm of protected speech. They aren't banning them. They're saying children shouldn't have access to it, like porn, guns, alcohol, tobacco, and many other things 95%+ of America says children shouldn't have access to. And to be honest, I've played some games that I don't think children should play.
  • I think, at least from reading the majority of the posts here, that we may be missing the point. The point isn't that the judge didn't rule that games are a form of free speech, but that he did this in the case of children, and he made the statement to that effect. Granted, I am going to jump up and down, wail, and gnash my teeth at the thought of someone threatening my 1st amendment rights, but this is not what is going on here. RTFA, guys!!
    • Blankmange:

      We did RTFA. Especially the first and last last sentences:

      A federal judge said local governments can limit children's access to violent or sexually explicit video games, saying games are not constitutionally protected forms of speech.

      and:

      St. Louis County modeled its ordinance after one in Indianapolis. That ordinance has been invalidated by a federal appeals court in Chicago.

      What no one has mentioned (and maybe I just missed it) is that now, since we have two conflicting federal rulings, the Big Nine Goombas are going to have to decide on an official basis whether video games are free speech. I'd like to be a fly on the wall for that one!

  • this is such shite (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EddydaSquige (552178)
    the reason that child porn (as well as rape videos, snuff, etc) is illegal is because in order to produce them you have to cause physical or mental harm to another person. It's also the main reason that the virtual child porn law was ruled unconstitutional, the production of a virtual image requires the participation of no one so direct harm is caused.

    I'm not saying that children should be allowed to buy what ever they want. I think that there should be restrictions on what they can buy and that ultimately that decision lies with the parents. But to lump video games in with child porn is a travesty to those laws. IMHO this judges ruling lessens the laws regarding child porn. The immediate effect of this ruling doesn't bother me, but the specifics of why it was ruled the way it was, does.

  • ...seem to be asking "whats's the deal" or "what's the problem" or "why is this news"...

    A lot of people seem to have forgotten, or perhaps never learned, that at least half the stuff posted on /. as "stories" are just post-bait.

    Remember, kiddies, /. has no content without the posts you make.

    So quite often you'll see "news for nerds" that's nothing more than a cheap attempt to up the daily post count -- remember, it's the volume of posts that make /. valuable to the advertisers...

    t_t_b

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:48PM (#3411082)


    You can get the Judge's opinion here [uscourts.gov] (96k pdf).



  • but it still has regulations on it. how is this judge coming to the conclusion the video games with sexual content are not speech?
  • Arg. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MindStalker (22827)
    What really annoys me though, is that high court judges are supposed to avoid making rulings that can change the interpretation of the constitution. This ruling could have been made by simply saying that local community standards can be set on video games. But he decided to say they didn't get first amendment protection, and that they equate to child porn. This judges discision will probably get thrown out on a showing of bias.
  • choice bit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by startled (144833) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @03:49PM (#3411100)
    "Limbaugh said he reviewed four different video games and found 'no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech.'"

    Well, then, that's settled. I agree with the "four items, one judge" standard. Next up: books! Find four books, and a judge who thinks those four are devoid of substance, and I think we can all agree we can rightfully declare that at that point, books would become "non-speech".

    After books, of course, the next thing to lose its speech status should be speeches!
  • by bellers (254327)
    He is the brother of the more notorious Rush Limbaugh [rushlimbaugh.com].


    So dont be surprised that steve is issuing fascist rulings.

  • How little interaction can a game have before it becomes a movie?

    How much interaction can a movie have before it becomes a game? (dvd)

    Aren't movies free speech?

    What about screenplays?

    What about books?

    What about oral stories?

    How about verbal instructions on how to polish my jackboots?

    I had better polish them now while I still can!

    It's getting awfully slippery.

  • They just changed access to games from an opt-out to an opt-in policy. That way, if the parents do nothing, their children will NOT have access to porn and violence, whence before they did.
    Parents can still consume porn and violence, and give it to their children. I don't see the big problem.
    And I thought we all agreed that opt-ins were a good thing.
  • I just saw this:

    Why can't parents, and not the government, keep their children from violent and explicit games?

    I agree. I'm a parent, but it's not always that easy. Let me explain why parents can't always keep children from violent and explicit games.

    About a year ago, I took my 5-year-old daughter to the local movie theater. In the lobby there was a row of games, including House of the Dead 2. The games in the theater lobby are situated so they face you as you stand in the lobby/concessions area. My daughter took notice of the game, ran over to it, grabbed the gun controller and stood there looking at the running demo of rotting zombies being shot and exploding gorily before her eyes. I rushed over to her and pulled her away, but obviously, I would have preferred she not have seen it.

    Now, before anyone assumes I'm some religious goody-two-shoes, I will assure you I love these kinds of games. I'm totally addicted and Quake and Quake 2 will always have a home on my hard drive. I own quite a few violent games but I keep them locked up and my daughter never sees them. I maintain that control. I see it as my duty as a responsible parent.

    These kinds of games, on clear public view in places where the public, including children, gather are a serious problem as it removed some measure of that control from me as a parent. I resent that. It pisses me off.

    I later called the corporate offices of Regal Cinemas and complained about this and got back a completely defiant attitude about how they had the right to put those games there and how much money those games brought in, and how nobody else compains about it, etc. etc. I pointed out that if a film contained those kinds of gory and violent images, they would be required by law to ensure than a minor has a parent or guardian with them before viewing the movie. This point went right over the guy's head.

    I even mentioned that perhaps they could situate the games so they aren't on clear view of the public, but I was told that it would make the games less appealing and make them less profitable. I then asked if they could turn off the demo mode and was given the same excuse.

    IMO, some legal control over video games is not going to hurt anyone, exactly the same way legal control over objectionable material in films is not going to hurt anyone. Quite the contrary. As long as we're controlling where it can be displayed and who can play it, not distating what the games makers can or cannot do.

    Let's not have some knee-jerk reaction to this. When corporate America can't see beyond its profits, then I have no problem with allowing the government to step in and teach them better.

    --Rick
  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Thursday April 25, 2002 @04:12PM (#3411280) Homepage

    Start with a book. Turn it into a choose your own adventure. Protected?

    Now make it a little more sophisticated; Something like "Grail Quest". It has the player keep track of things like inventory and health and armor, but is still a choose-your-own adventure. Protected?

    Okay, now lets take the SAME exact thing, but have a computer do the book keeping for the player. Protected?

    Now lets make it a little more sophisticated, but still wordy, like Zork. Protected?

    Replace wordy imagery with the occasional ASCII graphic. Protected?

    Give the user a map, like in Zork Zero (if I recall correctly). Protected?

    Use the map primarily, and the text secondarily, like in NetHack. Protected?

    Apply better graphics, like the graphic ports of NetHack. Protected?

    Give the user a first person perspective in the maze, Ultima Underworld or something like that. Protected?

    It is a SMOOTH continuum from books to games. I can take any game, and gradually transform it into a book, and any book and gradually transform it into a game.

    Give me any two expressions, one slightly more interactive than the other, and I can construct an expression in between.

  • "Limbaugh said he reviewed four different video games and found "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech. The court finds that video games have more in common with board games and sports than they do with motion pictures.""

    So let me get this straight; if a movie tells a story, or expresses and idea, it is protected speech, but if I make a video game based ON that movie, with the same plot, the same characters, the same locations, and the same themes, the only real difference being the additon interactivity, suddenly all premise of expression is lost?

    If I take a choose-your-own adventure book, convert it to a simple program, and the only thing lost is the paper and ink, I would essentially have any of the early video games. How is this not speech?

    And how is a board game not speech? Many board games are obviously designed entirely to express various ideas; ranging from promoting a drug-free lifestyle to acting out a war to teaching the traditions of judaism.

    This judge is obviously incompetent. His judgement has no chance of holding up in the supreme court. I only hope that the people of Saint Louis have the sense to get rid of him.

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