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Censorship Entertainment Games

California Legislature Passes Violent Game Bill 218

Posted by Zonk
from the no-love dept.
404Ender writes "In a move similar to the passage of a law designed to restrict the sale of violent video games to children in Illinois, California is now awaiting only the signature of Governor Schwarzenegger before a similar bill becomes a law. Does this action signal the start of a disturbing trend of the restriction of First Amendment rights? How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?"
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California Legislature Passes Violent Game Bill

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  • by Rayonic (462789) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:26PM (#13527868) Homepage Journal
    So only children can buy violent games in Illinois? Neat.
  • by gameboyhippo (827141) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:28PM (#13527882) Journal
    Adults will still have rights to play games. It's about protecting the children. I think there is an implied right for parents to protect their kids and if a State wants to reinforce this, then they should.
    • by Retroneous (879615) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @06:37PM (#13528268) Homepage
      Absolutely agreed there. Everybody's crying about a loss of some sort of right, and there's no right going missing anywhere. The government is simply "protecting" kids from stopping them buying violent video games, the same way it stops them from buying adult movies.

      In other words, stop being so damned critical, just because the big, bad government made a new law that doesn't actually affect any of us, unless we're 12.
      • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@nOspam.infamous.net> on Sunday September 11, 2005 @03:42PM (#13533092) Homepage
        The government is simply "protecting" kids from stopping them buying violent video games...

        That's the job of parents. Don't want your kid buying certain games? Great. Don't give 'em the money to do so, and tell 'em they're grounded if they do. Hey, you could even take the game console away if theybring in verbotten games.

        Having the state threated to lock people in cages seems a much poorer remedy.

      • In other words, stop being so damned critical, just because the big, bad government made a new law that doesn't actually affect any of us, unless we're 12.

        This is Slashdot, right?
    • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @02:36PM (#13532762) Homepage
      If you don't want your children to play such games don't let them do so. They are your children. You control them.

      If I had any children I might want to permit them to play such games. You would deny me the right to decide what is best for my children, just because you are too lazy or inept to control yours.

      Such laws do not affect only children. They make selling the restricted items much more difficult and risky, thus increasing cost and decreasing availability.
      • Why can't I protect my kid from your kid? Your kid is playing a harmful game that desensitizes him to killing. He pulls the trigger in the videogame (unlike a movie). Thus he is desensitized faster. Why does my kid have to be murdered by your child?

        Just because you want to sit on your hands and treat him like a knowledgable adult, doesn't mean that you have the right to make other people suffer at your ignorance. Ever hear the saying, "If only I knew then what I know now." That's what it's about. G

        • " Why can't I protect my kid from your kid? Your kid is playing a harmful game that desensitizes him to killing. He pulls the trigger in the videogame (unlike a movie). Thus he is desensitized faster. Why does my kid have to be murdered by your child?"

          Your kid watches TV that desensitizes him to violence everyday, but where is MY re-course when your kid goes and kills my kid (who got his frustrations out online in a game of CS)?
  • California? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Caiwyn (120510) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:29PM (#13527888)
    Wow, not what I'd expect from California... it will be interesting to see how that goes now that the gay marriage bill has been vetoed in the name of public opinion. The populace continues to surprise.
    • Wow, not what I'd expect from California... it will be interesting to see how that goes now that the gay marriage bill has been vetoed in the name of public opinion. The populace continues to surprise.

      That's because all of the intelligent people in California have sold their homes to people stupid enough to pay obscene prices and have moved the hell out of there before the whole state implodes upon itself.
    • Re:California? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Guppy06 (410832)
      Considering that "the public" is never asked for their opinion beyond "Republican or Democrat?" I don't see how you can pin this one on them so easily.

      Also, I find it amusing that a governor elected by a plurality believes he's more connected to public opinion than any legislative body.
      • Considering that "the public" is never asked for their opinion beyond "Republican or Democrat?" I don't see how you can pin this one on them so easily.

        You're talking about California, where everything down to the brunch menu at the Governor's Mansion is decided by ballot measure?

    • The populace continues to surprise.

      The legislature is largely to blame not the populace. The California legislature is largely out of control, it has been so for many years, it's nearly impossible to vote out an incumbant.
  • by DreadPiratePizz (803402) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:36PM (#13527926)
    Just how does a measure like this restrict free speech? Kids are no longer allowed to purchase violent video games, yet this does not make the sale or manufacture of such games illegal.

    Furthermore, I don't see what harm can come of this law. All it will do is make sure a parent checks out the games they buy their children. Sure kids might still be able to get such games, but it's better than no law at all.
    • by alvinrod (889928) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:51PM (#13528020)
      I have to agree with you here. This can only really be a positive thing for the industry as a whole. Perhaps if 14 year olds aren't playing Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto, people will get off the backs of the industry. There will still probably be groups that like to complain about the content of video games, but at least the industry will be able to say, "Obviously this is not content for young children and there are laws preventing them from buying this game. So the only way the could acquire it is through a parent buying it or an adult purchasing it for them. I think you should take some innitiative as a parent and make sure that you don't buy them violent video games or that you should keep an eye on what they're playing in case someone else has purchased it for them."

      I think there's plenty of room in the market for video games featuring more adult oriented content. Video games aren't just for children any more, and at some point (if not already) the number of adult gamers will surpass the number of children gamers. These people need more contend than Mickey's Counting Adventure.

      To those who would suggest banning games or at least violent, aldult-oriented games I would like to point out that there are similar movies that are made, books written. Not to mention pornography, alcohol, and cigarettes. Some of these obviously aren't for small children, but the society has somehow managed to survive even though these "evils" are widely available. People usually don't go around giving their kids beer, cigarettes, and violent movies, so why should games be any different?

      Preventing minors from buying certain games might cut into the sales figures a little, but let's face it, if a minor really wants to play that game, they'll get a hold of it somehow. Much the same way that minors get beer, smokes, porn, or just about anything else they really want like illegal drugs.

      Such a law is really a step forward, but like many other laws to protect minors from certain things, it won't be completely effective. The only real way to stop people from having access to content that might not be appropriate for them is to make sure that content is not produced. However, if you think that I'm going to give up GTA and other M rated games just so the 1% of the popultion that thinks such things are absolutely evil can be satisfied, then you have another thing coming.

      I'm willing to meet these people half-way and agree with them that not all games are appropriate for children or should be able to be purchased by these children. However, they should also meet the rest of the world half way and realize that we have the freedom to produce and buy such things. Until then, there will always be some sort of a squable over "objectionable content" in video games.

    • Well it does restrict to a certain extent the rights of parents .If i want my Hypothetical children to buy Violent computer games , then that should be my right as a hypothetical parent to decided.
      Laws enforcing the right way to parent your children are a restriction .

      Sure you could still go buy it for your child , but you are now not allowed to let your child have the responsibility to choose based on your parenting.

      Who else has the right to say what is suitable for your child .
      • If I had a mod point for you, I would give it. This is bizarre logic, but it makes sense once you wrap your head around it. I'm going to use this argument from now on, if you don't mind.
        • Thank you ; I would have no problem with anyone using my argument .
          At first it does seem a bit bizarre , but i do like to stay strong my views about personal freedoms .
          I may not think it is the best idea to let your children have access to some games when they are rather young , but it is not my place to decide .

          Let people decide based on their own experiences , the knowledge they have of the development of their children. Advice and discussion is always welcome : it's restrictions that I have a problem w
      • I'm not even going to step in to agree or disagree, I'm just going to point out that there is already a precident on saying what is unsuitable for your hypothetical child/teenager: they can't buy porn, even if you as a parent decide that it's acceptable for them to do so. Alcohol too, although that's in a different league I guess - still could be argued as a matter of whether the teenager is responsible enough or not though.

        Like I said, not condemning or condoning, just saying that this is not the first tim
      • The way you express your belief that violent games are suitable for children is by letting them play the games. How the games were acquired doesn't really enter into it. If you want your children to play violent games, get involved with their lives long enough to figure out what games they want and go with them to buy them.
      • RFID implants would solve this. You could program what your child is allowed to do into the chip in his or her hand and then stores could be required to adhere to that. Honestly, that's the only way your solution would work.

        The reason? Ok, let's say I don't want my kids playing violent video games, which is probably a fair thing to say of the majority of parents in the US, given who they voted into Office (the "moral" candidate). There are 8 hours a day during which I have absolutely zero control over m
      • "Sure you could still go buy it for your child , but you are now not allowed to let your child have the responsibility to choose based on your parenting."

        What really rubs me the wrong way about it was that I was 16 when I had my first car and my first job. My dad trusted me with the car. I earned that trust. He didn't have a problem with me playing Mortal Kombat, either. Why? I was a good kid. (i.e. I never got into fights or anything like that.)

        I had the means to get the game, I even had the trust of
      • As interesting as this argument is, it's a bit of a stretch to call this scenario a restriction on free speech. A restriction on "free parenting" (whatever that means), perhaps, but not free speech.

      • Your rights aren't being restricted, you're being inconvenienced because you have a different parenting opinion than a lot of people. At a certain point, societies are about shared values that have to be protected if the society is going to work. If you really have a different opinion, you just have to personally assert this fact, rather than stores just letting kids buy violent video games, alcohol or pornography.

        I don't think this is a rights issue. Being in the minority always has disadvantages associate
    • Agreed. That, and it's really nothing new. There have always been classes of speech [google.com] to which children are not privy. I'm sure plenty of states have similar restrictions on the sale of R-rated movies to children. And the Supreme Court has ruled that children leave their free speech at the door when they go to school.

      Frankly, I can respect that. I think it's fair for parents to be allowed a chance to at least try to restrict their children's access to certain kinds of information.

      (Though I gotta admit, th
    • "Just how does a measure like this restrict free speech? Kids are no longer allowed to purchase violent video games, yet this does not make the sale or manufacture of such games illegal."

      People who say this law restricts free speech are on the right track, but citing the wrong reason.

      The law is wrong because it is yet another restriction on free enterprise - the right of free human beings to buy and sell their own property. The sale of a videogame is a contract between the seller, the buyer, and the buyer's
    • I agree that it doesn't seem so bad. However, being the sort that doesn't like to involve the government where it's unnecessary, I'd prefer to see stores take it upon themselves to create/enforce stricter policies about selling rated-M games to minors.

      If GameStop/Bestbuy/etc. would require that you be over 18 to buy it, and further issue a warning at purchase (like a statement from the cashier or even a sticker on the box), then these laws wouldn't be necessary.

  • by BaronSprite (651436) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:39PM (#13527951) Homepage
    I don't know about you but I fail to see any violations. This is in place to prevent the sales of M+ video games to minors. It's the same as restricting them in R rated movies. If a kid really wants a violent video game then I guess they are just going to have to prove to their parents they are mature enough to have it and the parents will buy it for them. Atleast in a perfect world.
  • by SpottedKuh (855161) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:43PM (#13527973)

    ...would have been to simply enforce the "AO" rating given out by the ESRB. Why invent your own sticker and everything?

    I mean, it's already enforced that children in the US cannot enter a movie rated NC-17 (no one 17 or under is admitted). Why not simply implement a similar rule that children 17 or under cannot buy AO games?

    Beyond that, obviously, it's up to the parents to show a little responsibility, and maybe learn what the different ESRB ratings [esrb.org] mean. Then, they can supervise what games their kids are buying, and make informed choices as to whether or not to allow it.

    • yes, but my guess is that they don't want to apply this to the AO games, its the M games (GTA et al...) that they're gonna throw this on. there are very few games that get an AO. The major chains don't even carry them. Usually if a game's gonna get that rating, they'll just bypass the ESRB anyway.
    • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @02:41AM (#13530139)
      Perhaps a More Efficient Way...would have been to simply enforce the "AO" rating given out by the ESRB. Why invent your own sticker and everything?

      Going from memory of a G4TV interview with Yee, all he claimed to be pushing for was to make it legally punishable for a store to sell a game to someone outside the ESRB's label.

      That's not actually any different to a child not being allowed to buy porn, cigarettes or alcohol and those stores that sell them anyway risking getting fined.

      Now, the way the ESRB makes it sound, it sounds as if Yee is creating a blanket law that bans games without sensible consideration of content. My guess is this may well be much like the gun lobby protesting gun safes or trigger locks - they really don't have a problem with them themselves but they don't want to conceed this issue only to start down a slippery slope. Similarly, I'm guessing the ESRB don't want laws passed forcing stores to abide by the ESRB's own ratings - because that gets legislators thinking they can create other laws - potentially ones that push the ESRB out of its role.

      I mean, it's already enforced that children in the US cannot enter a movie rated NC-17 (no one 17 or under is admitted).

      Effectively, yes. Legally, no.

      If I recall correctly, the movie industry faced almost exactly the same issue the games industry is facing. So they instituted their own body and got theaters to agree to it. By acting promptly, they forestalled any actual laws.

      It's a common misconception but R, NC-17, etc. aren't legal terms. They are a voluntary code followed by theaters to keep the government off their backs. A theater could quite openly sell NC-17 tickets to ten year olds and there's nothing the authorities could do (save maybe a charge of contributing to the corruption of a minor).

      The problem the games industry has is that, whereas most theaters apply the rating system as though it was law, about 30% of major stores and about 80% of independent stores (again, quoting the G4 interview) ignore the law. Those numbers are large enough that the games industry is shooting itself in the foot. If they'd stop whining and start applying the ESRB suggestions as strongly as the MPAA suggestions, the problem would go away - or would have done had they acted sooner and not waited until it's critical.
  • by Ieshan (409693) <ieshan@@@gmail...com> on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:50PM (#13528014) Homepage Journal
    I mean, Schwartennegger has never made any violent media in his days.

    Even Those from his last movie. [amazon.com]
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:57PM (#13528053)

    In a move similar to the passage of a law designed to restrict the sale of violent video games to children in Illinois, California is now awaiting only the signature of Governor Schwarzenegger before a similar bill becomes a law.

    Wouldn't it have been much clearer to simply write "California is about to pass a bill restricting the sale of violent video games to children?"

    How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?

    Get one of your parents to buy it for you.

    Seriously, everybody harps on about parents taking more responsibility, but as soon as a law that is intended to help them do this is passed, people forget about that. The only people who are prevented from playing violent video games by this law are children whose parents do not want them to play violent video games. That seems perfectly reasonable to me.

  • Seems Fair. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Walker_Boh_Druid (864617) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @06:11PM (#13528130)
    There is already the ratings on games, there might as well be a law enforcing it. If I were to live in California, I might feel differently, as I'm a teenager myself, but I don't see any problems with this. Restricting minors to this is a good thing, as for every mature minor, you get 3 that are very influenced by what the see around them, and are pretty immature. What we really need to sort is why in this society it is bad for a child to see something that occurs naturally, and is necessary for reproduction is, but it is okay for them to see people getting shot, blown-up, and cut to pieces.
  • Rights and Efficacy aside; trying to curb people's behavior never worked and it never will work.

    Whether or not you outlaw drugs, guns, alcohol, or video games... or set an age requirement; if a person wants to engage in any of those behaviors, they will. Especially if it is something trivial like playing video games.

    Furthermore, from personal experience, I have always managed to get into an R movie, even if i had to buy a ticket for a PG13. As easy as that was... buying a video game will require much le

  • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @06:22PM (#13528193) Homepage
    Inflamatory rhetoric aside, this seems like an OK bill. Basically, it is saying that certain types of media can't be sold to kids without parental permission. This is consistent with movies and other forms of entertainment.

    The whole "2-inch sticker" seems a bit ridiculous, especially because it implies a new ratings system, a new ratings board, etc. But that's a pragmatic problem, not an ethical one. Both sides come out smelling like zealots here, with one side saying that it will destroy first amendment rights, and the other saying that videogames are as bad for you physically as smoking.

    I also don't necessarily agree with the findings of the bills, that "Even minors who do not commit acts of violence suffer psychological harm from prolonged exposure to violent video games." Taken literally, this is true of basically anything. It does go into some lovingly crafted detail [ca.gov] on what constitutes violence. I'll be amused to find out how the courts decide to interpret the requirement that a virtual victim must be conscious of the abuse at the time it is inflicted.
  • Seeing as there are no laws barring the sale of ultra violent movies, music CDs, books, magazines or any other violent materials to minors, i see no reason why there should be one for violent video games.

    Not only that but the courts including the Supreme Court have ruled that minors have First Amendment rights and that the only material that can be legally restricted to them is material that falls under the legal definition of "harmful to minors", and that the "harmful to minors" definition is an extension
    • I think people see a difference because acting out violence in video games might be different than passively watching them. Even then, many stores (around here, at least) restrict the sale of rated R movies. The problem is that it's a voluntary restriction, of course.
  • First Amendment? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HD Webdev (247266) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @06:33PM (#13528252) Homepage Journal
    Since when did the first amendment have anything at all to do with what types of products companies are allowed to supply to children?

    The proportion of alarmist articles that are getting through lately is completely rediculous. It's an embarrassment. Until lately, I used to promote this site quite a bit.

    Please, for the love of god, stop this nonsense.
  • uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gogo0 (877020) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @06:53PM (#13528347)
    How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?"

    Become 18 years of age?
    This is another non-issue being made into an issue on slashdot. Im surprised it wasnt posted in YRO...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You ASKED for this!
    ___________________________________________
    A vote against a Libertarian candidate is
    a vote to abolish the Constitution itself.
  • I think this is a great law myself. I mean, it's identical to the way R-rated movies are restricted. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this at all, why is everyone making a big deal about it?

    Generally, when the government sticks it's nose in video games, it's bad news. But this is one of the few good things they've done right.

    Since I'm over 18, this doesn't really affect me at all. So seriously, I don't care. If your under 18, I say to you, sorry, but we all have to go through it. I personally have

  • by tktk (540564) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @07:26PM (#13528520)
    When my (future) children want to play violent video games, they'll have to wait until it's their damn turn.

    I'm first.

    • I wonder if the moderators who scored this funny were working on the obvious level (We like video games and our kids will have to fight for time on the console), or on the meta-level, where it's funny that the poster believes he can win that fight, because his children are still in the future.
  • That they seek to impose a ratings system seperate from the ESRB system.

    If this law (and others like it) simply gave legal power to the ESRB system (i.e. restricted the purchase of M and AO games to adults or whatever), I would have no problems with it really.
    • ...because it means giving legal power to someone who is not supposed to have it. Suddenly the ESRB rating board, which is not accountable to the government or to congress, can dictate terms to the industry.
      Great way to create a new, out-of-control bureaucracy that will eventually grow into a moloch.
  • Explain this to me again - what's so bad about restricting the sale of adult video games to children? Unless you're not an adult yourself, you won't be affected by this, so... what's the big deal?
    • My big problem with this is that it's not saying that M rated games shouldn't be sold to minors, it's saying that "violent" video games can't be sold to minors. How do they define violent? ""Violent video game" means any video game or any copy of an electronic game that may be played using a portable electronic device or hand-held gaming device using a television or computer, that, taken as a whole, to the average person, applying contemporary statewide standards, appeals to minors' morbid interest in vi
  • ...on stupid parents who ignore ratings and buy unsuitable games for their young kids? Like maybe, hold said stupid parents liable when their kids shoot people and say "the violent games made me do it!" as an excuse?

    Because IMHO that's what we really need: parents being held responsible for their piss-poor parenting.

    ~Philly
    • It's not that cut and dry - some people are mature enough at 14 to handle such a game, and some people wouldn't be able to handle it at 30. If I had a kid, and he was 14-15, and I felt he was mature enough to play GTA:SA, then I should be able to buy it for him, and not have somebody telling me "you shouldn't do that, he's not mature enough to handle it". What you're suggesting is just another step towards a nanny-state, where the government can tell parents how to raise their kids. People like you are the
  • I don't know about you, but I haven't bought a game in a store in a decade. They are just so much cheaper on eBay, especially if you wait a while after the release. Children, especially, would benefit from those lower prices; as it is, a single game takes a pretty big chunk of a kid's allowance.
  • Funny banner ad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 11, 2005 @02:08AM (#13530055)
    The best commentary on this ever...

    About 6 months ago, GameSpot or one of those sites ran a story about the push to get this law passed.. and on the right of the article was a banner ad featuring the ultra-violent first-person shooter, Terminator 3, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    If Ahnold signs a bill saying violence in games/movies begets violence in kids, he needs to go out back and lynch himself, because he's done more than any ten of us.
    • About 6 months ago, GameSpot or one of those sites ran a story about the push to get this law passed.. and on the right of the article was a banner ad featuring the ultra-violent first-person shooter, Terminator 3, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      If Ahnold signs a bill saying violence in games/movies begets violence in kids, he needs to go out back and lynch himself, because he's done more than any ten of us.

      Sorry, when did Schwarzenegger insist that the game he featured in should be available to mi

  • Game sales (Score:2, Insightful)

    by H0D_G (894033)
    I work in a toyworld store- In Australia, one of the most censorious countries in the world for video games(no 18+ rating) "I'd like a copy of Ultraviolent Megadeath please" "sure. is your mum or Dad here?" "sure" Mum comes over "He'd like a copy of Ultraviolent Megadeath" Point- a big sticker does nothing
  • by PhotoBoy (684898) on Sunday September 11, 2005 @12:26PM (#13532018)
    The Governator: As the duly appointed representative to California I feel it is my duty to ban the sale of violent videogames to minors. Now if you will excuse me I'll be back. I have to go and make another movie where I kill lots of people and sexually harass the women on the set.

    Someone with a brain: Isn't that being hypocritical Mr Schwarzenegger?

    The Governator: Don't insult me, I have never even looked at another man.
    • Hypocrisy is irrelevant when it comes to governmental policy. If (hypothetically) a legislature consisted entirely of convicted murderers, and they all voted to increase the minimum sentence for murder, that's hypocritical too, but that doesn't by itself make it the wrong thing to do.

      See also ad hominem to quoque [wikipedia.org].

  • Why would a killer robot from the future stand in the way of sales of violent videogames? It would never stand in the way [yahoo.com] of Californians doing what they want in their personal lives. It would never rely on activist judges to interfere with laws drawn by representatives of the people.
  • I for one want the sale of video games banned to all children. That way we can get over ourselves and make even more violent video games because hey, their only for adults right?

    I mean imagine if every video game didn't have to worry about ratings, we could get more bad lanaguage, more sex, more violence. It would be a utopia of gaming.
  • Have these legislators compared the damage to children from games featuring virtual violence, with the damage from games featuring actual violence? Where's the calls to prevent children from watching, or playing, football?
  • How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?

    I would have thought the answer was obvious. Blow the door off the State Assembly Hall and frag the hell out of everyone in there with your +4 Laser Pistol of Lordly Might.

  • What about violent books? I think a kid would get more messed up by reading some Stephen King novels than by playing a game with a naked woman in it.
  • Does anyone know if this law would make it illegal to let a minor play these games?

    The same way it is illegal to give a minor booze or porn?

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