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The ESRB Bites Back 60

Posted by Zonk
from the snap-grr dept.
Next Generation has an interview with ESRB president Patricia Vance, who is not taking the criticism of the Board lying down. From the article: "There are people who just don't believe in self regulation. They don't believe that an industry can regulate itself, even though there are plenty of examples of successful regulatory bodies out there, including the film business."
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The ESRB Bites Back

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  • Because parents have the right to make up their own minds about what's appropriate for their kids.

    Jack Thompson would say that the kids who got shot at Columbine weren't raised by shit parents, the kids who did the shooting were.

    Hillary Clinton would say it takes a village to raise a child.

    Do parents really have the right to decide what is appropriate for their kids? Is it ok if they decide alcohol consumption, drug use, pornography or physical abuse are appropriate? Where's the line between what is "up
    • Do parents really have the right to decide what is appropriate for their kids? Is it ok if they decide alcohol consumption, drug use, pornography or physical abuse are appropriate? Where's the line between what is "up to parents" and what is prohibited by society for all children?

      Yes, all of this is up to the parents, which is why any adult (society consider only adults to be parents) can buy those things and offer them to its child. The sale of those articles to minors is restricted, but what parents offer

      • Yeah, I think the next presidental election is going to be very interesting. The number one issue in the US is bad parenting. If your kid kills my kid it's your fault right? The parents in today's society want their government to protect them from other parents. Those of us who don't have kids are just caught up in the whirlwind.
    • and jack thompson is a twat so what of it?

      the kids who shot up columbine did it because they were fucked up kids not because they played video games. if violent video games caused kids to be killers there would be a rise in homicide rates among young teens at school, but there is no such rise linkable to the invention and wide-spread appeal of video games
      • and jack thompson is a twat so what of it?

        He has more impact on the Hill than you do, that's what.
        • because rap music and rock and roll are illegal now? shit i must have missed it jack thompson is as much a joke in D.C. as he is to the rest of us

        • He has more impact on the Hill than you do, that's what.

          And that impact is in jeopardy. As you know, The National Institute on Media and the Family has distanced themselves [livejournal.com] from Jack Thompson.

          When he also attempted to attack Penny Arcade, readers sided with the Comic Strip instantly because of their much more professional persona (because they tactically controlled their use of profanity and insults much more than you-know-who.) The general reply was a suprising quantity of letters citing very specific

    • Jack Thompson would say that the kids who got shot at Columbine weren't raised by shit parents, the kids who did the shooting were.

      These are the kids who they say trained on Doom, right?

      Doom [imdb.com] (the game) was released in 1993.
      The ESRB [esrb.org] was founded in 1994.

      Columbine happened in 1999, but has it been determined whether Harris (18) or Klebold (17) acquired the game, if he bought it, it was bought for him by a parent, or if it was pirated?

      Until that is determined, I don't want to hear anything about ESRB self-regul
      • No-one argues that the kids who shot up Columbine were fucked up, and that their parents were responsible for raising such fucked up kids. Violent video games were just one contributing factor in the creation of these little monsters. What parents are calling for in the US is government regulation to ensure kids get "raised right". They want kids who get raised with an attitude that violence is ok in society to be taken away from their parents. They want this to protect their children. I'm not saying i
        • They want kids who get raised with an attitude that violence is ok in society to be taken away from their parents.

          I was just under the impression that they didn't want any sort of violent anything produced. Ever.

          A child raised (raised meaning 'brought up by their parents') to believe that violence is ok, and then being taken away from said parents is worlds apart from 'stopping video game makers from creating a video game with any sort of violence'. I'm all for the first one; if a parent can't raise their

          • No, they don't. They want the games kept out of the hands of children. They don't give a shit about whether or not adults want to play the games. But like everything in our society, parents fuck it up. The number of people in our society who are actually qualified to raise children is minimal. Generally that's not a big deal, as a fucked up kid is more of an annoyance than a burden on society, but when kids start killing other kids, the parents of the slain want the parents of the killers to be held re
            • I'll agree with you there. If a parent is raising a bad kid, then by all means, take the kid away. But you don't do that by using blackmail and litigation and lobbying to basically stigmatize an entire industry. Which is what Jack Thompson and his ilk or doing.

              You are right. They don't give a shit whether or not adults want to play the games; they feel that the games are an affront to their god, and should not be created, period, end of story.

              A parent raising a kid the wrong way, and developers making viol

              • they feel that the games are an affront to their god, and should not be created, period, end of story.

                Where do you get this stuff from?

                or the jocks that made their lives living hell,

                That was my initial reaction, but it's the easy way out. They didn't just kill jocks, they killed anyone they could.
                • Where do you get this stuff from?

                  Go read some of Jack's diatribe against the video game industry. If you listen to him, he's on a mission personally given to him by his god to go erradicate all the sinners in the video game industry. He's just the pointman and most vocal one of them, but from reading interviews with the rest of the anti-Video-Games people, it's pretty much the same sentiment: They are personally appalled at what these games are, so these games should not exist. It's not 'they shouldn't be

                  • Man, just about everything taken from those interviews has been discredited. The whole "Trenchcoat Mafia" thing was wrong. The whole "Marlin Manson" thing was wrong. The anti-depressant warning issued by the FDA was wrong. As for being tormented by jocks, duh, that's what jocks are for. It's a fucked up part of US highschool society, but it's been that way for decades.
    • There are already laws in a number of states in regards to alcohol consumption, drugs use, viewing of pornography and physical abuse. It seems a line is already being drawn, doesnt it? Not, of course, that *having* the laws means they will be applied all the time, or even that it makes a big difference in someones behavior in every case just because it's illegal.

      I looked at porn when I was a kid, i have an aversion to drugs and excessive amounts of alcohol, and would probbly never hurt anyone unless they

    • yes. That is WHY they are the parents. It's in their job description.
  • Showing the movie ratings as an example of successful self regulation probably isn't the best argument to give a guy who blamed an R rated film (Basketball Diaries) for the murderous behavior of a 14 year old murderer.
  • You can hide content in a game, you can't hide footage on a reel.
    • Unless you get someone to mod it, and then someone(rockstar) screams HAX!!! and then goes"Oh yea, we WERE working on that..." And then were all fucked.
    • Ya know how they made Quentin Tarantino put a filter over the sword fighting scenes in Kill Bill? If he had refused he would not have received an R rating and couldn't show it in cinemas. If someone was to use a color restoration algorithm to restore those scenes to their bloody glory, and distribute them over the internet I think that would be pretty similar to "unlocking" hidden content in a video game.

      Suppose Buena Vista Home Entertainment were to get wind of this and, instead of immediately sicking th
    • There was actually a disney movie(cant remember the name) that someone managed to tamper with and add porngographic content into, which shipped. The hidden content was displayed in the backgroung only very briefly during one of the scenes.
  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Tuesday November 01, 2005 @08:31PM (#13928429)
    Part of the problem seems to be that sales are pretty much unregulated, so any kid can go into a shop and buy anything.

    The game creation industry might do everything right, put warnings on the labels and carefully ensure that their game doesn't exceed the rating they want to put on it, but if the sales staff at the local shop hand out copies of Doom III to ten-year-olds, then the rating system is completely in vain.

    There should be a crackdown on the sales of games to minors too young to meet the rating age requirements. Enforcing that system at the point of sale would do a lot to help strengthen the image of the gaming industry.

    Also, a strong rating system at point of sale means that if little Timmy goes off the rails because he played Quake 47 too much, then the parents can be asked who bought the game for him. If he can't have bought it, then...

    And the content creation industry itself could do a lot to avoid being targeted. The hidden content revealed by the Hot Coffee mod was a truly stupid thing to do in many ways. If it's not part of the game, don't ship the content. Shipping sexual content in a video game, even hidden away and requiring a mod to uncover, will raise an army of parents screaming "think of the children" faster than Jack Thompson claims harassment when someone criticises him.

    The industry has an image that it needs to protect. A bad image means that at some point it will be regulated from outside. If you don't mind that so much, imagine Hilary Clinton and Jack Thompson appointing a board to regulate game content. That's a worst-case scenario, but it's all about public perception.
    • I don't believe sales to minors is the problem. Where are these kids getting the 60, 70, 80 dollars to buy a video game anyways?

      When I was 12 I sure as fuck didn't have $80 to blow on a game whenever it suited my fancy.

      And frankly, after I my department store [Zellers, like Walmart only Canadian, less evil, etc] aapron to sell towels and home electronic bullshit I think I was old enough to play GTA [though the cool GTAs were not out yet at that time...].

      I encountered more grief from parents yelling about s
      • Tom, I don't give 12 year olds any money. For some reason parents tend to get a little nervous when I hang around the schoolyard, giving money to kids.

        You missed my point. I know that video games aren't nearly as harmful as they're portrayed, but the image they have is pretty poor outside of gamers themselves. Making the industry *look* better is important right now, even if the changes are only cosmetic. The "think of the children" lobby is pretty strong, and antagonising them will only hurt the game indus
        • This goes through cycles though. The kids who are being deprived of cool shit will turn into adults seeking coolshit then they will open it up for their kids. What do you think the 60s were about? :-)

          The basics of it is that video games represent our frustrations. So many things in life are annoying "just because". You get income tax, then the bank dabs on it to deposit [e.g. teller fees] then you buy things and pay tax, then you have to tip the fucking waiter [where's my tip when I write a line of code
    • You know, I might be fine with local and state government (hell, maybe even the feds) passing a law that would fine stores for selling M-rated games to kids. The problem I have is that "they" want to decide what is "bad".

      The California law, as far as I can tell, doesn't even tell me who "they" are. Nor does it clearly tell me how "they" will judge the content. Can I have "them" judge the content before I release the game? Or do I just release the game and hope that "they" don't find the violence too hard

  • People who claim the ratings are bad are a vocal, idiotic minority. Most of the time critics can't even get it through their fucking skulls that the games they find such a terrible influence on children are almost always rated 'M', and NEVER MEANT FOR CHILDREN IN THE FIRST PLACE. This is obvious to anyone who has made an even cursory examination of the facts, yet remains mysteriously absent from mainstream public debate. Usually pointing this out results in a shifting ground fallacy attack, then claiming th
    • Usually pointing this out results in a shifting ground fallacy attack, then claiming that these games are "advertised to kids". Uh, but we were talking about the ratings...

      The talk now is about criminalizing the sale of 'M' rated games to kids.

      That opens the door to a debate about the marketing of these games and the integrity of the ratings system, in much the same way as the design and placement of tobacco adds brings into question whether the industry is undercutting the warning labels printed on pack

    • Most of the time critics can't even get it through their fucking skulls that the games they find such a terrible influence on children are almost always rated 'M', and NEVER MEANT FOR CHILDREN IN THE FIRST PLACE.

      That is correct. However, the difference between the 'M' and 'T' ratings is generally considered to be the quantity of red pixels - this is the actual problem why the ESRB doesn't have a great reputation among players. As an example, compare Star Trek: Elite Forces to Operation Flashpoint. One

  • Figuring out how many piece puzzles, board games, etc, are appropriate for their child to play but can't for the life of them see that "M" rating on the copy of GTA they bought for their 12 year old?

    Blows my mind.
  • Question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ifwm (687373)
    If parents don't care enough to monitor their kids activities, and allow them to buy/play inappropriate games, how is it that these same parents can then scream bloody murder about said games?

    You don't get to have it both ways, mom. If your kid is playing an inappropriate game, ask yourself what you did to prevent it. It should be something better than "I expected the manufacturer..." if you want to have any credibility.

    The ESRB is trying to do something that parents are too lazy to do for themsleves. Wh
    • The ESRB is trying to do something that parents are too lazy to do for themsleves.

      At least be fair to the situation. When it is a movie, you (as a parent) can actually view the movie ahead of time if you wished. But the rating system on movies serves the purpose in this scenario of allowing the parents to make the decision based on the rating. Not because all parents are lazy.

      For a game, the expectation is somewhat the same. The issue is that most parents probably don't realize there is a rating on h
      • "But the rating system on movies serves the purpose in this scenario of allowing the parents to make the decision based on the rating. Not because all parents are lazy."

        Yeah, um, no. This is bullshit, and you know it.

        The current movie rating system is a group of individuals using their subjective opinions as a standard. It IS NOT IN ANY WAY a useful tool for measuring the content of a movie. The fact that you were fooled into thinking otherwise shows it does a damned good job of clouding the truth.

        As a p
    • This is the result, and an indication, of a socialist attitude prevalent throughout the world.

      Namely, the idea that "Other people are responsible for knowing what themes I do and do not approve of my child being exposed to, and for acting to enforce my will, even if it will cost everybody extra taxes to enforce the violent video games ban to minors."

      Another prevalent idea: "Other people are responsible for my actions, and for preventing me from being exposed to any games which might give me the idea of shoo
  • It seems like the middle ground would be the best solution here.

    Enforce the ratings as they are now. Not 17 yet? Then you can't buy GTA:SA without your parent/guardian there. If they decide you can handle it, they can buy it and give it to you (just like anything else). It's up to parents to decide what's right for their children.

    This goes for all retail outlets, and money isn't always an issue. My imaginary child might not have $50 to blow on a game all the time, but you can buy Manhunt used for $12. It's
  • Works for The Man, that is.

    If the names Enron, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing and Morgan Stanley don't mean anything to you, get over to Wikipedia and learn about self-regulation in action.

    Of course, if you live in California and have ever paid an energy bill, then you know a little something already about allowing capitalists to govern themselves.

    As for the ESRB: who could possibly take it seriously? It's just a PR front to hold off those who get queasy over the idea of children playing mass murder

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