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New Bill Would Restrict Sale of Video Games to Minors 650

Posted by timothy
from the hey-they-can't-vote-right dept.
RobinH writes: "According to this article at MSN, "A bill introduced in Congress last week would make it a federal crime to sell or rent violent video games to minors," and it "would apply to games that feature decapitation, amputation, killing of humans with lethal weapons or through hand-to-hand combat, rape, car-jackings, aggravated assault and other violent felonies." We know that sometimes kids who are never exposed to alcohol until they are 19 or 21 can go way overboard the first time... is there a possibility of the same thing happening with violent video games?" Here's CNN's story as well.
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New Bill Would Restrict Sale of Video Games to Minors

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  • by drudd (43032) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:07PM (#3479269)
    So does a video game which allows you to dope-slap your congressman count as violent or as political activism?

    Doug
  • Lethality. (Score:3, Funny)

    by saintlupus (227599) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:07PM (#3479273) Homepage
    killing of humans with lethal weapons

    Good, so that Quake-engined game where I bludgeon people to death with safety goggles and old Smith Corona typewriters can still sell over the counter to the local toddlers, then.

    Super.

    --saint
  • by jroos (205868) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:09PM (#3479284) Homepage
    I've found myself going overboard on things that are new to me all the time. It might be a new game that I spend 12 hours playing the first day or spending all day driving around a new car.

    The problem is when people go overboard on things where someone gets hurt. I don't agree with anyone that says a violent video game leads to real life violent action.
  • by mr.albino (522374) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:10PM (#3479287) Homepage Journal
    i play grand theft auto 3 quite often and i don't go around car-jacking and murdering old women with louisville sluggers. i've played violent videogames since i was 10. i am 15 now. i've never commited a crime or some sort of outrageous violent act. some of these congressmen need to focus on more important issues than this, like how we are losing our rights and are fighting a pointless war.
    • Amen!

      The issue at hand here is NOT the video games. Seeing violence other places could cause it too. There are MANY things that could be blamed for violence. The REAL problem, is that (some) parents are not teaching their children the difference between TV/Video Games and Real Life (tm). Along with that, knowing the difference between right and wrong is something that these violent people seem to be lacking.

      Its just that video games are the unfortunate victim of blame for violence, much the same way cell phones are blamed for causing accidents. Irresponsibility on the USER'S BEHALF of either of these is what causes the problems they're blamed for - not the game/phone itself.

      Congress really should get their heads out of their a$$es and realize that video games really aren't the problem - lack of common sense is. And you can't legislate that.

      P.S. I've played violent video games since Doom, and I've never committed any violent crimes (actually, no crimes period). So they're obviously NOT the problem. My friends have too, and they're just the same way I am. (BTW, I'm only 16 now. So it is very much an issue with parents, IMNSHO)
    • I'm 15 years too, and altough I don't live in the USA, it must be like hell over there. I know kids of my age who are beeing treated like an 5 year old (imho), like: "don't play that game, it's too violent" and "no don't play that game, it contains nasty words", those thing make kids (and eventually adults) people with absolutely zero understanding of the real world(TM).

      Puh-lease, it's not the game that makes people crazy, it's their own stupid self, it is because some people just aren't educated well, have an IQ of an chimpansee, haven't got right upbringing, beeing teesed, those problems are important and lead too way more deaths, crimes etc.. than computer games.

      [offtopic]
      btw gta is kewl, it's even humorous.
  • Related story (Score:2, Informative)

    by EyesWideOpen (198253)
    There's a related story here [slashdot.org] which mentions a Salon article about a Missouri judge who overruled a request for dismissal of an ordinance that would require kids under 17 to have parental consent before buying violent or sexually explicit video games.
  • It is funny how much of an impact a simple 2d game named Grand Theft Auto can have on the world.

    Derek
    • actually i think this is all a kneejerk reaction to all of the press that grand theft auto 3 has been getting. GTA3 is 3d, looks pretty realistic, and has some seriously brutal violence. and it's fun too.
      • Right.....

        But of course it wouldn't have been possible without the popularity of the first 2. And, even back when it was 2d only, it still got a lot of heat about the amount of violence it contained.

        Derek
  • good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:12PM (#3479307) Homepage Journal
    Thats right, good.
    Newer games are becoming more graphic then ever, and there is too much. Anybody who has raised a child knows this. The question is "whats too much for a particular child?" well, the government can't tell on a child to child basis, but parents can. As long as parent get the option to allow there children to play those games, its a non-problem.
    • Re:good. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Stonehand (71085)
      Note that the bill merely says

      "Whoever sells at retail or rents, or attempts to sell at retail or rent, to a minor any video game that depicts --"

      (decapitation, killing, carjacking, et al)

      It doesn't say "realistically" depict. Nor does it even say "graphically" depict; it's a valid statement to say that "Zork depicts a fantasy world" or that "Zork depicts the possibility of gruesome death at the claws of monsters lurking in the dark".

      An aggressive, if stupid, DA could twist the law into banning, say, "Axis and Allies" (PC edition only, not board game, as only PC and video games are covered) because it's all about war and killing...
      • Re:good. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:45PM (#3479681)
        > It doesn't say "realistically" depict. Nor does it even say "graphically" depict; it's a valid statement to say that "Zork depicts a fantasy world" or that "Zork depicts the possibility of gruesome death at the claws of monsters lurking in the dark".
        >
        > An aggressive, if stupid, DA could twist the law into banning, [ ... ]

        You left out the other possibility: Corrupt.

        What better way to make sure your competitor's game never gets to market than to tip off the DA in some ultraconservative town in East Buttfuck, Montana, and have your competitor's company bogged down in standards/litigation/reviews for six months?

        This doesn't happen in Hollyweird with movies (except on rare occasions) because the Content Cartel has agreed that NC-17 movies don't get sold. So everyone makes R at most.

        Likewise with RIAA - good God, we almost had Tipper "Explicit Lyrics must be banned" Gore as First Lady. *shudder* - but there's a cartel there that limits what gets out.

        The game development community hasn't had time to form cartels and lobby groups to the extent that the dinosaur industries have, and as a result, we've got the current situation - they're a sitting duck for crap like this law.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "New Bill Would Restrict Sale of Video Games to
    Minors"

    I think adults should be allowed to buy video games if they want to.
  • some stores (like Kmart, WalMart, and I think Blockbuster) already such policies. It's similar to movies that are rated PG-13 (must be age 13 or with parent), R (age 17 or 13+ with parent), and NC-17 (no one under 17).

    Also, responislbe parents are out there. I used to work for Kmart in high school, and have had parents returning the Mortal Kombat III they purchased for their 7 year olds. Likewise people would ask if game blah was too violent for their kid. I'd just point them to the display about the ESRB ratings.
    • Big difference... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rufusdufus (450462) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:21PM (#3479431)
      A store having a policy about video game sales to minors and federal law are very different in character. You don't go to prison when you break Kmart policies.

      Yes, it is a big deal. A law that would restrict video game purchases to minors would likely destroy the industry. The video game market is largely supported by teenagers.

      • ok so what......I am a parent so I can tell you I do not want my child going out and buying somthing I disaproove. this law does nothing wrong. remember, the onl folks that matter in this nation are voters.

        children have restricted rights becasue Parents have control over them.

        besides, if my kid knows a guy who is old enough to buy it for him, he can still skirt around the laws.

        this is not saying that it is illegal for a minor to posess a violent game, it is saying that it can not be sold to him/her.
      • You don't go to prison when you break Kmart policies.
        you dont go to jail, the merchant gets fined. clearly you failed to read the article.

        A law that would restrict video game purchases to minors would likely destroy the industry
        well, the movie industry has had such laws imposed on them for many years. are they falling apart under these laws? answer: no.

        also, most games out there arent going to be subjected to the law, as they dont have certain forms of violence, etc. The ones being restricted are those that are rated M already.

  • by tps12 (105590) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:12PM (#3479316) Homepage Journal
    I know every slasheep's autoresponse to this is "I want my GTA", but I'm going to risk my karma in order to speak my mind...please have patience, and try to give this argument some credit.

    First, we have to recognize exactly what this bill would do. It would quite simply regulate the ability of youngsters to obtain video games that contain the kind of thing we already don't let them observe in movies or talk about in public. That is, it doesn't take away any rights.

    Further, contrary to popular belief, the First Amendment does not give carte blanche permission for all speech. For example, Article 3 clearly gives Congress the power to limit speech "as is Deemed Apt for the Preservation of a Free and Fair Societie." This has been interpreted by the Wallace court as permitting such devious acts as shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater illegal, and under the Grommet Doctrine has allowed threats against the President's life and other disruptive speech to be further limited. Those who use the First Amendment out of context to support hurtful speech are just that: hurtful, to America.

    Lastly, recall that the Constitution does not grant the right of "Personhood" to minors (those under 18). Technically, they fall under the same category ("non-free Chattel") as slaves once did.

    In conclusion, let's please think about this objectively; this legislation would not give up any of our current rights, and in protecting our children from corruption would actually serve to protect our rights for generations to come.

    • "In conclusion, let's please think about this objectively; this legislation would not give up any of our current rights, and in protecting our children from corruption would actually serve to protect our rights for generations to come. "

      The problem isn't about our rights, it's about conservative over-reaction. 'We think games bad' is turning into 'law says games be good'. There is simply no proof that this really needs to be done. This kind of behvaiour 50 years ago would have resulted in a similar law on Rock and Roll music. Do you really think Rock and Roll turned kids into hoodlums?

      What happens when this law gets passed? What's the next one going to be? Cell phone ban without the need to prove that they're really harmful? Maybe they'll stop showing Law and Order because it gives children ideas about how to commit crimes.

      Sorry, I don't want to live in a world where the people passing the laws think that children should be seen and not heard.
      • by Bastian (66383) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:45PM (#3479677)
        I agree that limiting stuff on TV too far is going overboard, and we need to recognize that there is a trade-off between enabling parents to shelter children from things they deem to be a bad influence and denying children the ability to be exposed to things that are necessary to develop a mature understanding of the world.

        I say enabling parents to shelter their children from bad influence because that is all this law does. There is nothing saying that kids can't get their parents to go out and rent or buy these games for them. Just as parents are free let their kids watch Terminator 2 as they deem fit, parents would still be able to buy their children a copy of GTA 3. I realize that some parents take things too far, but we need to realize that children have varying levels of maturity, and what is appropriate for one kid is not necessarily appropriate for another. Unfortunately, the best way to take this into account is to leave the decision up to the kids, which is clearly an imperfect solution considering the dogmatic, self aggrandizing idiocy that all too many adults seem to think passes as raising children. I don't think there's really a better way, though.

        This law isn't saying that kids shouldn't be allowed to play some video games. It's saying that kids should have supervision in some areas. As long as the law is made with that in mind, I don't think it's a bad thing. It's the mindset that children need to be sheltered that scares me - in the same way that we need to be exposed to pathogens to develop a healthy immune system, I think kids need to be exposed to the harsher side of life in order to learn how to deal with it. It's just that we still need to take care of them to some extent.
    • If I recall, the regulation you refer to in your first point is self-regulation. The movie industry does this on their own. We don't actually have any rules or laws (as far as I know) about what they "talk about in public."

      As for the second argument, it is true that yelling fire in a crowded theater is illegal, but that poses an immediate, direct and undeniable thread of harm from a panicced mob. Remember that even the speech of the KKK has been protected, as crazy and disruptive as it is. So free speech is pretty close to Carte Blanche.

      As for your last point, I would simply be curious about where this comes from. I have never heard this, and would be curious as to where the constitution distinguishes minors as "non-free Chattel"

    • Movie ratings are not regulated by the federal government, they are maintained by the movie industry. So you statement about 'simply' regulating the kinds of things in movies is misconcieved.

      Federal laws that limit the actions of private citizens in their own homes is anathma to the basic ideas of freedom America was founded upon. We do not need bureaucrats doing our parenting for us.
    • This has been interpreted by the Wallace court as permitting such devious acts as shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater illegal, and under the Grommet Doctrine has allowed threats against the President's life and other disruptive speech to be further limited.
      So Wallace and Grommit are making decisions for the country. Great.

      When do I get my convertable sidecar/biplane?

      Smashing rebuttle, Grommit.
      GMFTatsujin
    • Actually I think that the majority of slashdot is of the opinion that the current "lack of rights" of minors is already too much, and if anything minors should be given more rights (since we already burdened them with more responsibility) not vice versa.

      Furthermore it is patently false that disallowing porn, gore, and obscenity for children prevents the corruption that their immaginations can create anyways (though don't worry, America is working hard on removing immagination too)
    • by gillbates (106458) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:43PM (#3479658) Homepage Journal
      The problem with this bill is that it is a feel-good-for-the-naive type of legislation that does little more than frustrate the efforts of teenagers who want to do something other than vandalize property, commit crimes, do drugs, and the like. Video games have kept kids from getting into real trouble since their inception. The problem is not with violent video games, but violent people!

      This legislation does nothing to address the reasons why teens commit crimes - boredom, lust, drug use, child abuse, etc... The root cause of violence is not seeing violence, but the perception of being wronged. Anyone who perceives that they are being wronged is prone to violence, and this bill does nothing to address this. I think that this will only contribute to actual teen violence, as it reduces the incentive to play video games (because so few non-violent games are fun to play), and instead provides the bored teen with another excuse to commit crimes.

      Granted, there will be bad video games made. But at some point, we will have to trust the judgement and personal responsibility of those who are now teenagers; we should teach teens responsibility before they start to make life and death decisions (like driving, drinking, etc...) The only way to teach someone responsibility is to give them responsibility, and this bill actively undermines the efforts of parents to get their kids to take responsibility for their choices by removing the possibility of choice in the first place. I cannot see how this bill will reduce violence or promote personal responsibility.

  • by Kasreyn (233624) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:12PM (#3479318) Homepage
    I promise you, during my high school years I played at least TEN TIMES as much DOOM as the Columbine shooters. I lived and breathed DOOM. It was my way to vent aggression.

    Most people who know me find me peaceful to a fault. Gandhi is one of my heroes. I've never been in a fight. I've never punched anyone. I don't own a weapon (well, I have a pocket-knife...).

    The Columbine shooting was a combination of nutty kids and adults who left guns within their fucking reach. It had nothing to do with videogames. But of course, videogames are easier for a Congresscritter to attack. It makes them look good at re-election time, and the gun lobby is much stronger and stupider (for the LAST TIME idiots, we don't want to take away your guns, we just want to keep them out of the hands of kids!).

    Besides, no one ever got re-elected telling Americans they're bad parents.

    -Kasreyn
    • as for a de-stressor... Q3 or the others (UT with a chaos sniperrifle and 100 rounds comes to mind)

      nothing beats a regular ole Q3 tournament with 12 bots all set for nightmare and you find a nice spot to camp and create a "guts fountain".. Ahhh!

      after only 5 minutes playing like that you are completely de-stressed, (eye's twicthing and fingers shaking... but de-stressed about the people you have to deal with...:-)
    • "The Columbine shooting was a combination of nutty kids and adults who left guns within their fucking reach"

      My memory is a little fuzzy on this topic, but I did get to read why they thought DOOM/Duke Nukem (it was one of those games...) was to blame. One of the shooters left a journal that described in detail how he thought the event should go down. He used a Doom/Duke reference (which reminded me more of the Matrix than this game...) to illustrate how he wanted it to go down. He wanted it to look like a scene in a movie.

      The reason he referred to the game was that it provided a visual he needed to illustrate his idea. There was no hint in what I read (not all of it was made public, btw...) that his playing the game inspired him to go shoot up the school. His desire to do that was more about not having any friends than anything else.

      No no... some politicians collecting votes out there twisted it into a 'the video game made him do it' story. Afterall, games are the easy scapegoat because they haven't been around that long.

      My point is that there was a lot of anti-game crap going on after Columbine that was all based on a biased interpretation of events. That is exactly the problem with this law. They're taking a right away, but with no solid reason why not to do it. At least with alcohol, it's obvious that it's addictive and dangerous.
  • This will just cause an underground ring to develop for video games. You could even start having games, or mods for games, being developped by people that are only released in an underground.
    In the PC world, Warez would become a larger, more dominante form of pirating software. People might start developping kits to copy console games, just like credit card readers are being sold in the 2600 magazine.

    If this bill passes, it might create an even bigger problem.
  • Effective? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Matt2000 (29624) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:13PM (#3479328) Homepage

    The worst part about all this legislation is that the people that write it think it's going to be effective, then they go back to sleep and think they've done something about violence in schools.

    How many kids 16 and under actually buy the video games they play themselves? I bet they don't buy more than 1 in 4, and so this legislation would just force kids to pirate that one title they would buy.

    Why don't we try to control the source of the real violence, real guns, instead of going after these false demons like video games that don't have a powerful lobby to protect them.
  • It is my job to be the parent of my kids, not the Government's. I want to be the one to choose what my kids can and cannot play.

    I know damned good and well that I won't be able to prevent my kids from drinking or smoking or watching Beavis and Butthead. But I do know that while they're in my supervision, they'll behave. The way I see it, if they go out and experiment a little, that's fine. It's called curiosity. If my kid is 10 years old and watches a porno with his friend that stole it from his dad, oh well. That stuff happens all the time. Yet kids somehow still manage to be normal.

    If I decide a game is too violent for my kids, then I'll make sure that they're not allowed to in my house. If they still manage to play it at a friend's house anyway, I may frown on that, but at least I know that because of me their exposure is still limited. The benefitting factor is that some of their need to see this game is satisfied, and it's not a big issue.

    But what if the Gov't bans the sale of games to minors? That decision places a lot of weight on me that I don't need. On top of that, I don't approve of that decision! What if I write a note saying "Please let my child by this game anyway?" Will the retailer accept it? I doubt it. The law sounds like it's going to be too absolute to allow for things like their parents okaying it.

    Let me parent my kids, don't make the decisions for me. If you feel the decision must be made for me, you better convince me that there's a problem that you're really fixing. There is 0 proof that video games have a negative impact on the health or behaviour of a child. Only speculation.
    • Just go buy your kid the game if you think it's o.k.

      What's the big deal?

      Like the movies. You want to take them to a PG 17 movie when they are 6 - go ahead.

      Wanna get your 13 year old liquored up - go buy some beer and let 'em drink at home. No problem.

      Your argument makes no sense.

      "That decision places a lot of weight on me that I don't need"

      What weight is that? Getting off your ass and going w/your kid to buy a video game?

      This doesn't stop you from parenting your kid, it stops kids from parenting themselves.

      .
    • But what if the Gov't bans the sale of games to minors? That decision places a lot of weight on me that I don't need.

      What kind of weight does such a bill place on you? Are we talking about the fact that you have to go out and buy the game yourself?

      Let me parent my kids, don't make the decisions for me.

      So should we do away with any law that pertains to a minor? This would mean not only can those under 18 go to any movie they wish or buy any video game they want (neither of which do I have that much of a problem with), but they would also be able to buy weapons, cigarettes, alcohol, drive cars, not attend any school, etc. Will you be responsible for any actions taken by your child under such lenient laws?

      You probably are a good parent, and therefore you can see the problems that such a situation would present. If you think that this bill means the government is taking your place as a parent, you're way off.
  • We know that sometimes kids who are never exposed to alcohol until they are 19 or 21 can go way overboard the first time... is there a possibility of the same thing happening with violent video games?

    And some kids get so into drink by the time they're 15 that if they don't get into re-hab they end up dead. Try to at least come close to a rational argument.

    TWW

    • And some that get into the EtOH by the time they're 15 actually know how to drink responsibly once they can legally. Think about it from both angles. All this law will do is punish kids that buy the games and, to the horror of moms and psychiatrists everywhere, lead a normal life.
  • by bahtama (252146) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:15PM (#3479346) Homepage
    I got an idea for a law that will solve alot of these problems. It is called the "You Must Spend Time With Your Kids and Teach Them Right From Wrong." bill.

    The problem is the people who don't know right from wrong and don't know the difference between the REAL world (and not the one trademarked by MTV) and computer games, rap lyrics, tv or (insert scapegoat here)

  • They already have ratings on games. Why doesn't the game industry just follow through with what they currently have in place and follow similar rules that movie theaters do? If the game is rated M then you must be 17 or with a parent to purchase it. I don't really see why we need to make selling games some sort of federal crime. Will they now start doing undercover sting operations at your local EB?
  • There are a lot more things in the world to waste my tax dollars on than making an age limit on video games. It's stupid i'm sorry.

    So no vids featuring decapitation eh? I guess there should be a law against any comic created by Todd McFarland (Spawn) or H.R. Giger (Aliens) as well, hell while we're at it let's shit down on anime too. There's lots of violent scenes in those too.

    About the only thing i'm against kids seeing in a video game is hentai tentacle rape scenes or stadium size pulsating vagina's. Maybe it's the catholic guilt coming out in me, I dunno.

    My point is, there is a lot more things in this world we need to keep checks on, video games certainly do not fall into this.
  • army recruiting, and half of basic training is going to have to be remdial.

    Next thing you know they're actually going to be *arresting* 6 year olds playing "cops and robbers" for pointing their finger and someone and saying, " Bang!"

    Oh, wait. . .

    KFG
  • It's clear that what our society really is looking for is a reclassification of children. Instead of considering them to be human, let's classify them as something else until they are 18. That way we can take away all their human rights. They aren't human, so how can they have human rights?

    If they aren't human, we can search their lockers at school. They can't buy anything because they can't enter into a contract. They are human, so they can't be considered competent to make their own decisions about anything at all.

    So, if children aren't human, why the shit do so many people care about them playing a few video games?

    Gak. Idiots.
  • by Fjord (99230) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:16PM (#3479371) Homepage Journal
    decapitation, amputation, killing of humans with lethal weapons or through hand-to-hand combat, rape, car-jackings, aggravated assault and other violent felonies

    Admit it, you just lifted this from an ad for Grand Theft Auto 3.
  • ... it covers eight kinds of explicit in-game depictions, including scenes of:
    • decapitation and dismemberment,
    • murder,
    • car jackings,
    • illegal drug use,
    • rape,
    • prostitution,
    • assault and other violent crimes.
    There's no reason kids *shouldn't* get parental permission before buying video games involving the above material.

    Parents should be aware of what their kids are doing.

    • OK, then maybe they should ASK and perhaps keep an EYE on their kids?
      "Who's yo daddy?"
      "Uh, same as yours. Uncle Sam."
    • No part of this bill will make parents so responsible that they know what their kids are doing. Believe it or not, no law could ever do this, and it's insane to expect the government to even consider such a thing.

      Regardless, kids should not need permission to purchase or play these games. Kids should be raised to understand the difference between right and wrong and how to determine that themselves. With those two very basic things, they'll be able to handle any violent games/movies/music that comes along the way without damage.
  • by BRock97 (17460) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:17PM (#3479382) Homepage
    Your article leaves out one important piece of info, the rental cannot occur without parental consent. In my opinion, this changes things considerably. Something people don't seem to recognize is that video games have become a lot more "real" in just the last five years. Real to the point that a person can get their health back by having sex with a prostitute. Beyond the fact that I think this is one of the most innovative ways to get life back, I wouldn't want my friend's three year old to see that. If it is good enough for movies, it is good enough for modern games...
    • Your article leaves out one important piece of info, the rental cannot occur without parental consent.

      But such "parental consent" already exists. It's called money!

      A kid has no source of income other than the money his parent gives him (since one cannot really work legally until at 16). If a parent is providing money to a kid, then I, for one, would hope that the use of that money is already being monitored by the parent.

      As for a kid who has a job, requiring parental consent is obsurd because if the person is competent enough to earn money, then he should be competent enough to spend that money too.

      The reality is a law like this will not help parents as parents who already care about what their kids are playing already are monitoring what they play. Let's remember, most video games bought for kids are purchased by the parents (since kids can't really drive in a car to the local video game store).

      What this does do though is put a crutch in the purchasing ability of a very important demograph (16-18) for the video game industry since it makes it significantly harder for these individuals to purchase a video game (not because they need parental permission, but what 16-18 year old wants to go shopping with their parents).

      This is a political move to appease the Christian-right while also delivering a congressional-sized F.U. to the technology industry which congress just seems so keen on screwing now-a-days (I dunno, maybe geeks are attractive or something).

      I personally don't play video games but I really hate to see congress abuse their powers like this.
  • by Xzzy (111297)
    > We know that sometimes kids [...] can go way
    > overboard the first time... is there a possibility
    > of the same thing happening with violent video
    > games?

    Not really. All you have to do is look at the past 20 years to see this.

    When the NES (just as an easy example) released, did anyone who was age 18 suddenly self destruct, rotting themselves in front of the tv for days on end? When Doom came out, did 18 year olds suddenly stop dropping out of school because they spent their every waking moment shooting demons?

    These groups of people likely never had access to games before, much less violent games. Suddenly having them available had little to no impact on their ability to function in society.

    Self-destructing on games, alcohol, or drugs has little to do with the point at which they become available. Seems to me a lack of proper upbringing or being just plain stupid has a greater effect than anything else.
  • We know that sometimes kids who are never exposed to alcohol until they are 19 or 21 can go way overboard the first time...

    The FIRST time? I didn't go to college, but I live in Milwaukee, and I can tell you the people I see going overboard are obviously NOT first timers..

    I have a hard time with this one.. Sure, when I was 15, my best friend (Hey Omni!) and I beat Leisure Suit Larry 1 in a single night (causing jaws to drop at Egghead when we returned the game). But that was on an Apple II - not exactly the best graphics in the world.

    These days it's MUCH more realistic... I'm really on the fence.

    We have a ban on kids watching sex, why not kids watching killing?

    Is it really that you're losing somethnig you've always had (virtual killing -Ultima/Spy Hunter), or has something new come along that we maybe should restrict -REALISTIC virtual killing? What happens when VR is closer to the "Holodeck", and blood splatters you as you push your fingers through someone's eye sockets?

    • > We have a ban on kids watching sex, why not kids
      > watching killing?

      Countries in europe can have this situation flipped around. It's okay for children to see nudity (which, if the last time i was in europe was any indication, *isn't* simply showing a boob or two, there's definite sexual overtures), but violence and gore in gaming is a strict taboo. Some countries don't allow red blood, for example.

      Which could lead one to argue that it's impossible to say that the availability of either sex or violence has a harmful impact on children, because both europe and america has it's fair share of well-balanced, and totally screwed up, inhabitants.

      I'd suggest that it's more reliant on how good a job of parenting is going on.
      • Which could lead one to argue that it's impossible to say that the availability of either sex or violence has a harmful impact on children, because both europe and america has it's fair share of well- balanced, and totally screwed up, inhabitants.

        True, but what leads to what...

        Did the fact that I got Larry laid in one night, when I was 15, lead to me being a father of 3 at 26?

        Or was I predisposed at birth to be a sex-maniac? (Making me REALLY good at LSL?) :)

  • by RailGunner (554645)
    I can hear it now...

    "And after children are prohibited from buying games featuring all these vile actions, the next logical step is to prevent networks from airing the News until at least 9PM. It's for the children's own protection, they might not be able to handle the violence of the real world, so Government should protect them as much as possible."

    What a crock of sh*t.

    There is one entity and one entity only that should govern the lives of children in matters like these: PARENTS. It's entirely up to the parents to monitor what their kids are watching on TV or at the theater, or what games they are playing on any given console, or what games or websites they are seeing with their PC. And the "Parents are too busy" excuse doesn't hold water - it's all a matter of priority.

    If, as a parent, you don't mind your kid playing GTA3 (or any other violent game), then that's your business, not mine, not the governments. And the flipside is true, if you don't want your kids playing a violent game, then don't let them. Pay attention to your kids lives, don't expect TV or any other activity to babysit or otherwise replace YOUR job.. which is to raise your kids to be responsible members of society.

    Yes, it's a big job, but maybe you should have thought about that before you went and had kids.

    Remember, if more Government is the answer, then it's time to re-evaluate the question.

  • In Germany, sales of violent games to minors (as well as advertising of any kind) is illegal already. After the tragedy of Erfurt there is now a strong push to outlaw them altogether.

    Do you believe in death after life?

  • So does this mean everyone should see that goat picture at a young age so they won't have a problem with it later? ;)
  • big deal.

    Parents STILL have the right to by the game for the kid if they feel it is ok to let the kid play it.

    so my 13 year old cannot go and get a copy of GTA3. I have no problem with him asking me first.

    this is actualy good for parents, as it will require all kids who want the game to talk to their parents about it, unless you have a buddie who has a brother old enough to buy it for you etc.....
  • ....at the same time...

    First off, the devils advocate bit : We have something similiar to this for movies, why not video games...

    Now critic bit : Why do you want to criminalize something as insanely simple as video game sales. If anything, mandate a rating system ( what the hell is wrong with the current rating system manufacturers voluntarily impose now anyway? ) .. Why in the fxck does the govt have to step in and target video games...

    And on another note, have you noticed how there isnt hardly any real tough legislation against selling profane cd's, or allowing access to R rated movies, to minors ? .. Could is possibly be because the video game industry isnt a 50 billion dollar lobby-happy entity like the RIAA or the MPAA ... but then again, i am preaching to the choir here at slashdot..

    &lttangent&gt
    we need to rally up normal folks (tm) who dont keep up with issues like these....

    somebody needs to organize a good portal to all sorts of different campaigns, causes, letter writing campaigns, etc related to issues we care about. And maybe even have resources like fliers and PDF's of brochures to hand to the normal folk.. sorry folks, but just firing off a letter to Senator CouldGiveAShitLessABoutYou from wont do it. We need to get _EVERYBODY_ involved
    &lt/tangent&gt
    • There is a big difference WRT the movie ratings: they are an industry standard, supported by players in the industry. It was done because the studios feared the government stepping in and adminstering their own ratings setup. The ESRB exists for video games. Not sure if anyone pays attention to them, but the system is there.

      In order to let the ESRB ratings work, the local sellers and rental places need to be afraid of having to keep up with government regulations. If they can self-police, they shouldn't need the legislation.

  • Okay, so the kid's not been able to play violent video games. Instead, he's been restricted to watching the mutilation, decapitation, rape, violence and miscellaneous other assorted felonies that are the mainstay of TV and movies. Hmm, this bill is going to make a lot of difference, I can tell.

    And how exactly do you "go overboard the first time" playing a violent video game? You'll suddenly decide killing is cool and go out and knife a load of people on the street?
  • Oh lord (Score:2, Troll)

    by CaseyB (1105)
    I can just feel the stupidity congealing around this topic.

    Look, they are just proposing that videogames be subject to the same rules that violent/sexual movies are ALREADY subject to. There's nothing unreasonable about this. They're not banning them, they're not preventing kids from playing them. They're just saying that kids have to get their parents to consent and buy the games for them.

    We know that sometimes kids who are never exposed to alcohol until they are 19 or 21 can go way overboard the first time... is there a possibility of the same thing happening with violent video games?

    That's the dumbest fucking thing I've ever read on slashdot. Period. There's not even a crazy way to interpret that statement so it makes sense in bizarro world.

    • Hogwash. Violent and sexual movies are not subject to any legal regulation, with the exception of outright pornography. It is a common misconception that it is against the law for a minor to attend an R-rated movie without an adult accompaniment. This is not the case. The MPAA rating system is an entirely voluntary system of self regulation by the movie industry- the government has nothing to do with it. Thus, this legislation would lump violent video games in the same category as explicit pornography, and would treat it more seriously than even the most violent movie.

      On the other hand, I tend to agree with you that, so long as this legislation exists only to empower parents, and not to supplant them with government regulation, I don't really see a serious problem.

  • I would love to see a legislative body pass a law that prevents them from telling the citizens how they should act and behave. Oh, wait. That has happened. But it has been so long ago I think most US politicians have forgotten what that law was. Just to remind them, its called "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES".

    Sometimes, I wish all legislators would do is screw interns. We would be much safer as a country that way.

  • I'm looking forward to seeing the discussion on this one. I'm a 35-year old longtime geek. I like this idea. I think between cable, satellite, video games, and the rest of the mass media assault, children have no childhood anymore. I'm of the opinion that children are not little adults and that while, indeed, many 15 year olds are fully mature, rational, ethical beings, many are not.

    That said, it has also been 20 years since I was 15, and I really don't know how I would have felt then.

    I think soceity has not only a right, but also an obligation to provide a healthy environment for the development of children into well-adjusted adults. To do so, we are forced to make some somewhat arbitrary decisions. We have the drinking age, the driving age, the age of majority. Why not similar limits on "toxic" media.

    Now here's the funny thing. I think violence should be limited, and certain exploitative kinds of pornography, but not all. I think children at the mature end should be allowed to see sexual meterial that depicts adult sexual relationships based on mutual love. I don't see how that would be unhealthy. A world with more passionate kisses and fewer gun battles would be a better world indeed.

  • ...must have played lots of "Mailbox Baseball III: Pipe Bomb"
  • by teslatug (543527)
    Are they going to ban all violent game downloads too? Or maybe they'll require websites to obtain age verification before allowing downloads. How about p2p? I guess they'll have to ban all those programs too. What about those who make their own video games? Should they be arrested? This is where it's leading to and it's getting very scary [cnn.com] indeed.
  • This will do nothing. I'd wager that a vast majority of 12 to 17 year old gamers either get their games from relatives as gifts, or just warez 'em anyways.

    Why don't we just stick our young in big glass jars till they turn 18, anyways?

    Then they'll be old enough to draft, anyways...

  • I love this quote! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Steveftoth (78419) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:25PM (#3479474) Homepage
    --quote on from cnn article.
    "When kids play video games, they assume the identity of the characters in the games. ... Do you really want your kids assuming the role of a mass murderer or car jacker when you are away at work?"
    --quote off

    Right, so has this guy played with GI-Joes, Cops and robbers, played cowboys and indians, drew pictures of tanks or planes, or basically ever done what was considered 'normal' play time by parents before video games were invented.

    The only real difference between video games and real games is that video games are automated. Video games are like the ultimate babysitter, much better then the TV. I mean for the low low price of 50 dollars you can keep you children entertained for hundreds of hours ( sports, rpgs ). Even the crappiest of games can keep a child entertained for at least 5-10 hours, which is very economical. Cheaper then a REAL babysitter.

    Laws like this always remind me the the episode of the simpsons where Marge drops maggie off at the day care center, is about to leave with another parent and says "we should leave them alone". So the other parent goes, turns on the TV, and they leave. (1st season, the Dr. Marvin Monroe Episode)
  • I've played violent video games since I purchased a NES back in the day when they were king of the consoles. Since then, many variations of Doom, Wolf3d, Tribes, Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Unreal Tourney, and a bit of WW2OL for my sim-side. Am I plottng the death of people en masse? No, not really. Maybe I kill people daily on Counter-Strike. Maybe I enjoy killing them. Does this mean I want to go buy a tactical machine pistol in real life and go on a killing spree? No, it doesn't. I've not once had the urge to go on killing spree's thanks to violent video games. The killing spree thoughts come from just being around people in general, not from video games.
  • So any Christians who want to make a video game of the bible as a teaching tool, I guess their just shit out of luck, eh?
  • I'm glad I saw some intellegent criticism of this law in addition to the usual Slashdot Sheep saying that the government can't take away our rights.

    This law probably isn't a great idea. I mean, look how well it hasn't worked in the movie industry. I've been seeing R-rated movies, with parental consent but not always with a parent, since I was about 14. I've been carded once (on my 17th birthday, of all days).

    That said, my mom happened to be much more involved in her job as a parent than many these days. She decided I was mature enough to see certain movies before the MPAA thought I should. There were plenty of movies she felt were inappropriate for me at that age, and I respected that. I agree 120% that it SHOULD be a parent's job to make these decisions. The problem is that a lot of parents AREN'T taking responsibility to care what their kid sees.

    Is every kid who has lazy parents and therefore plays Doom or Wolfenstein or GTA is going to shoot up a school? Of course not. In fact, I would contend that I was a less agressive high-schooler because I took out agression playing violent video games. It makes me much more uncomfortable that Congress is trying to blame all of the problems in schools on the video game industry than that they're doing parents' jobs.

    Maybe if they got some teachers who knew how to teach and paid them a decent salary, we'd have educated kids. Oh no I must be a Democrat!
  • by cjpez (148000)
    We know that sometimes kids who are never exposed to alcohol until they are 19 or 21 can go way overboard the first time... is there a possibility of the same thing happening with violent video games?

    Sure. Everyone knows that before kids had access to violent video games practically every person grew up to be a homicidal maniac wielding whatever sharpened impliment he/she could find, butchering family members and strangers alike.

    Please.

  • Open Source games (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TornSheetMetal (411584) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:29PM (#3479522)
    The article doesn't mention how this would affect violent open source. Would it be a crime for me to write a GPL violent game and let anyone out there download it? Even if I wanted to comply with the law, it would make it almost impossible to develope an open source game over the net as I cannot verify the age of someone using a browser or ftp client.
  • ...then this sort of a step forward, but are we locking up shopkeepers who sell/rent R-rated movies, porno mags or CDs with naughty words in them to minors?
    If they can present some solid evidence that there's more than merely a perceived relationship between video games and violence in minors, then I've no problem with this bill. Otherwise, I'll be jaded and rhetorically ask if it's an election year and remind parents that if they're scared that their kids can't tell the difference between a video game and real life, they've got bigger problems than Doom III (coming soon) to worry about.
  • Me: Hey, I'm not THAT old kid!
    Kid: Yeah yeah, here's a cool hundred, I want , can you get it?
    Me: Sure thing dude

    Or they will do what many kinds do (have I heard ^_~), steal it from their parents. Ehm, I mean get an illegal copy on the internet.

    Kids can't handle alcohol. I rather have them die at my mouse in SoF2 or something.
  • The whole notion that pretend violance on TV or in computer games causes real violence. Dick Cavett once said "look at all the comedy on TV, does it cause comedy in the street"?

  • by sharkey (16670) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:34PM (#3479573)
    Peter Parker's uncle Ben would still be alive if that burglar hadn't played Grand Theft Auto on his PC. Parker wouldn't have seen his uncle die, and wouldn't have been introduced to murder, and the use of violence in the apprehension of criminals. He would be a Jolly Spider-Man, using light humor and his innate sensitivity to help legal-activity-challenged individuals address the roots of their problems, instead of just beating the sh*t out of them.

    Isn't restricting access to these evil video games a small price to pay to see Spider-Man with a big, toothy grin on his mask?
  • as long as they also restrict the distribution of other forms of media, like books or movies that that feature decapitation, amputation, killing of humans with lethal weapons or through hand-to-hand combat, rape, car-jackings, aggravated assault and other violent felonies.


    Hey, doesn't the Bible feature almost all of these? (I don't specifically remember a car-jacking in the Bible, but I'm pretty sure the rest is there).

  • by termilitor (521442) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:36PM (#3479591) Homepage
    I live in a country where minors are legal to buy and drink alcohol. When I was 16, I used to get drunk at least twice a week, every week. I got to know the effects of alcohol *very well* at that age. I am 25 now, and I drink less than one glass of drink a week. I was exposed to alcohol at the age when it couldn't do too much harm to me (career, family, drink'n'drive), and I learned to cope with it.

    It's the same with video games: I used to be a video game addict when I was younger. I still like to play games, but I can stay away from them if I want.

    Take the games away from the kids, and you'll get a bunch of grown up people playing games.
  • A friend of mine who works for a Senator told me this:
    Many, many bills are introduced that the introducers have no intention of passing. They are used for only one purpose -- to show to their constituents and say "See? I tried to prevent another Columbine from happening".
    They know the bill is stupid. They also know it won't pass. But the attempt will look good at the next election.

    The moral of the story? Don't get your underwear all twisted over this.
  • by cybermage (112274) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:51PM (#3479736) Homepage Journal
    There are several things wrong with this bill: If enforced, sales of these games will be devistated; although the material is questionable in taste, other industries are allowed to show more realistic depictions to minors; and despite the seemingly obvious causation between seeing violence and the committing it, there is no proof of that.

    While this bill is intended to protect minors, the real effect will be to attack video game manufacturers: How much of a dent in game sales makes their production unprofitable? Place enough restrictions on the sale of a product and you've censored it out of existence.

    While computer animation is getting pretty realistic, it pales in comparison to real actors performing the same acts in movies and on television. Just this week, I've watched parents take young children (five years old) to see Jason X; but, even without parental supervision, many of the acts decribed in the bill can be seen in PG or PG-13 movies. Also, I've never seen ratings enforced at the rental counter. As far as television goes, the only comtrols are opt-in parental lock-outs. Imagine the confusion if parental controls were opt-out.

    While many groups want to believe that violence in children is caused by exposure to violent imagery, there simply isn't proof. Parenting through legislation is not what is meant by the concept of "it takes a village to raise a child." All adults who come in contact with children, especially parents, need to understand how their words and deeds influence the development of children. Many parents use media as babysitters and take kids to violent movies because it's cheaper than hiring a sitter. Until these parents own up to their responsibility, the only thing this bill will change is that parents will buy the game for their kids.

    Deciding what children see is a decision for parents, and restricting sales of these games will only amount to censoring them out of existence.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @04:58PM (#3479796) Homepage Journal
    If you watch a performance of Oedipus you will have sex with your mother and kill your father.

    If you watch a performance of Phaedra you will have sex with your step mother and kill yourself.

    If you watch a performance of Europa you will have sex with a cow.

    If you watch a performance of Orestes you will kill your mother with an axe after she kills your dad while he's having sex with his girlfriend in his bathtub. Then you will have sex with your sister and die miserably.

  • Government != Parent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bagheera (71311) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @05:30PM (#3480088) Homepage Journal
    This topic, and several related to it, has come up several times recently and responses frequently over-look one important thing. It is not the government's place to raise our kids. It is our job as parents - for those /.ers old enough to have little h@X0rz of their own - to raise our kids and teach them what's right and wrong.

    I'm yet to see and solid evidence that playing a video game that portrays violence will turn kids into murdering little monsters. Or any of the other 'FUD' the proponents of these laws like to toss out there.

    Did we push people off cliffs because we saw While-E-Coyote survive a 900 foot drop - several times an episode? Do we run people off the road because we played a lot of Carmageddon? Did Dungeons and Dragons turn its players into Satan Loving Sinners? Obviously not.

    Does Congress think kids are too stupid to tell the difference between a video game and real life?

    Do they think they are better suited to raise our kids than we are?


    Sorry. If I don't want my kid playing violent video games, I don't let her. It's not the government's place to get involved here. This isn't cigarettes or liquor that have well documented harmful side effects. These are fscking video games, that may not be entirely adorable, but aren't going to cause cancer or make kids go psycho.

    And no, I don't let my 11 year old play GTA3. but that is my decision, as her parent.
  • by Fizzlewhiff (256410) <jeffshannonNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @06:57PM (#3480787) Homepage
    killing of humans with lethal weapons

    What about magic missle? Can I cast magic missile at the humans?

    [Anytown, USA - 1981]

    DM: Your party is surrounded by brigands.

    Fizzlwhiff: What race are they?

    DM: Human.

    Fizzlewhiff: I cast magic missile at the first Brigand.

    DM: You already cast it at the darkness.

    Fizzlewhiff: Crikey! I did. Ok, I cast magic missile using my wand.

    DM: Your wand glows and shoots forth a fireball engulfing the brigand for 14 damage thus ending his life.

    [Game Store]
    Nothing happens

    [Anytown, USA - 2002]

    *click* *click* *click*

    "Your party is surrounded by Brigands"

    *click* *click*

    "You are out of mana"

    *click* *click* *click*

    "A brigand is hit for 18 damage. A brigand dies. Your wand is out of charges"

    [Video Game Store]
    "You have the right to remain silent..."


    Nuts!

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