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Truth in Ratings Act Reintroduced 302

Posted by samzenpus
from the think-of-the-children dept.
dropgoal writes "Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas (and GOP presidential candidate) has reintroduced the Truth in Ratings Act. Like the previous version that failed to pass last year, Sen. Brownback's bill would make the FTC responsible for overseeing the video game ratings system and possibly result in a unified ratings system for games, movies, and TV. The ESRB would also have to review all game footage before issuing a rating. Currently, the ESRB hands out ratings after viewing a reel with representative content prepared by the developers. Sen. Brownback thinks that's not enough. 'Video game reviewers should be required to review the entire content of a game to ensure the accuracy of the rating. The current video game ratings system is not as accurate as it could be because reviewers do not see the full content of games and do not even play the games they rate', he said."
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Truth in Ratings Act Reintroduced

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  • by js92647 (917218) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:46PM (#18020330)
    I'd like to see more fair ratings on game review sites. Sites like gamespot are long biased and comment well on games if the developer/publisher provides them with everything they want.

    A bit off topic :\
    • the Far Side cartoon, where the 'rents are looking at the help wanted ads, with a kid playing games in the background, and all the ads are looking for experienced gamers? Seems that's what will be needed to implement this, if he wants the raters to play the games and see the entire game.
  • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:49PM (#18020336) Homepage Journal

    Video game reviewers should be required to review the entire content of a game to ensure the accuracy of the rating.
    How would this work in cases of games that literally take 365 days to complete, such as Animal Crossing, or procedural content that has well over 4.2 billion combinations, such as Spore?
    • by yincrash (854885) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:51PM (#18020352)
      It wouldn't work. The senator either knows this and does it to boost his popularity among game haters, or has no idea what he's doing.
      • by omeomi (675045) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:30AM (#18020546) Homepage
        He's just doing it so when the presidential race gets more momentum, he can say that he introduced legislation to "protect the children"...The degree to which his legislation is stupid is completely irrelevant.
      • He's a politician so I'd be leaning towards the latter.
      • I think that Senator Brownback doesn't know what he's really suggesting here but is still trying to boost his popularity among people who dislike most modern videogames. I mean, his hometown (outside DC) is about ten to fifteen miles from the nearest real grocery store--and I do mean the entire town.
    • Simple (Score:4, Funny)

      by mfh (56) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:12AM (#18020470) Homepage Journal
      By reviewing the games for as long as possible, this lengthens the time it takes for new games to make it to market. Therefore, everyone gets so bored with video games, we just give up and join the Republican party, and a church group -- instead. Or at least that's the plan.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NonSequor (230139)
      Well unless the wording of the bill explicitly says that they have to play through all conceivable states of the game I wouldn't worry about that. If you put 100 hours into a game like Spore or Animal Crossing you can more or less safely assume that any additional game play will be more or less the same.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:31AM (#18020552)
        Obviously you missed out on the final, graphic sex scene in Animal Crossing. Now, I'm no furry, but that stuff was awesome!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vengeance_au (318990)
        Although that logically makes sense, I'm not sure how 100 hours of gameplay is any different to a video of gameplay - as long as all functional areas of the game are shown. This bill is calling to play through the games - not just a representative section. The real issue is that no matter how much gameplay occurs (1, 100 or n-1 hours) issues such as the "hot coffee mod" where the player had to download a patch to get access to the content, and there was absolutely NO way of accessing the content without the
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by toejam316 (1000986)
      Look, They may as well slap a R18 Sexual Content and Violence on it, because lets face it, someone, somewhere, is going to work out how to make a walking penis with testicle feet. They may as well just get around to that fact now. Saves time, ya see?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by KDR_11k (778916)
      Dunno but Animal Crossing got rated in Germany which does require going through all content in a game. I think they just demand a testing build that allows easier access to such content. If the test build and final build differ in content the rating is revoked (see e.g. Far Cry).
    • by Jekler (626699) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @03:02AM (#18021190)

      I agree. In the current generation of games, it's seldom possible to "review the entire content of a game". There's hardcore gamers who go through games multiple times and don't even see all the content for years because of subplots they didn't know how to activate, or some obscure combination of factors that unlocks other content. And what about patches that dramatically alter the game's content? Do we need a ratings panel to review every patch for every game?

      Games like GTA, The Elder Scrolls series, and other dynamic world games would be virtually impossible to review without there being hundreds of ratings reviewers who collaborate to systematically make different choices than each other. And then there are player mods to consider. Games like Half-Life become an entirely different beast once a few mods start getting popular.

      I think the biggest problem for the idea will be the games we see that become completely dynamic, where all game world content is generated differently every single time. It's like asking someone to play through entire content of Dungeons and Dragons (the tabletop game). Make sure you visit every city, plane, run every adventure module, etc. That shouldn't take any more than 6000 years.

      I can imagine the good ol' senator shitting a brick after hearing how it's done. "What do you mean they can just make this crap up as they go along? It's not fair! I want it rated!"

    • by VJ42 (860241)
      Here in the UK\Europe Spore and Animal crossing would get a rating from PEGI [pegi.info] (The Pan-European Game Information) which is the game industries self regulatory body, and not legally binding.

      Most computer games are exempt from BBFC [bbfc.co.uk]British Board of Film Classification, which regulates Cinema and Films here in the UK. According to their FAQ:

      Under the Video Recordings Act, most video games are exempt from BBFC classification. However, they may lose this exemption - and therefore require a formal BBFC classification - if they depict, to any significant extent, gross violence against humans or animals, human sexual activity, human urinary or excretory functions or genital organs, or techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences. In the early days of video games, the quality of graphics was so low that, even when 'human' or 'animal' characters were depicted, they were unlikely to be realistic enough to be covered by the Act. However, the increasing sophistication of computer graphics means that nowadays a number of games require classification, usually because they contain violence against realistic human figures. In some cases, games may also need to be submitted to the BBFC because they contain non-interactive video elements (eg trailers or film clips) that do not enjoy the same exemption as interactive games.

      So the latest GTA game will get an 18 rating and as with films cannot be legally sold to under 18s. Their statistics page [bbfc.co.uk] shows that last year (2006) they rated 298 work

  • by Soporific (595477) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:49PM (#18020338)
    Good old Sam has solved all the other problems we are having today and ratings are last remaining vestiges of a cruel world...

    ~S
  • The full content? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dotslashdot (694478)
    If the FTC or whomever must review the ENTIRE content of a video game, does that mean every possible combination of levels/characters/interactions? How long would that take? How would the FTC even know if they've covered all the levels? They would have to rely on the gamemakers. Yet that is exactly what Brownback claims is the problem with the current system: the gamemakers providing a sampling of the content. This is an unworkable and self-defeating proposal. But if they need a game screener...
    • by rm999 (775449)
      "If the FTC or whomever must review the ENTIRE content of a video game, does that mean every possible combination of levels/characters/interactions?"

      Funny, that was my first thought too. Then I remembered they aren't testing the game for bugs, they are just looking for anything offensive. Generally, a cursory run through a game will give a pretty good indication of the rating. In the very rare cases where a developer is stupid enough to put something *hidden* into the game that will ruin its rating, a simpl
      • by omeomi (675045)
        I am not claiming this is airtight, but it's still "better" than the current system.

        I don't see how...the outcry over "hidden" adult content in a game is based mostly around that Hot Coffee thing, which required players to actually download a patch from the internet to see it. Since the internet is already full of plenty of adult content, I don't see how this is a problem. Not to mention that the game (GTA) was already rated M...

        The current system works just fine. It's just a victim of politicians wh
        • by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:52AM (#18020658) Journal
          I don't see how this is a problem. Not to mention that the game (GTA) was already rated M...

          Rated M, what does that mean? Does it mean that you have to 18 yrs or older to buy the game? Nope. Does it mean you have to have your parents with you to buy the game? Nope. It means nothing at all. It's voluntarily rated M as a warning to parents who may be buying the game for their preacher's kid, nothing more. There is no legal binding behind it. All this guy wants to do is to place a standardized rating system on video games so that the technically illiterate can understand it.

          And it's not just the outcry over the Hot Coffee thing, but GTA in general. The object of the game is to carjack as many people as possible. Bonus points for beating up whores and ripping them off!??! It's not just the Hot Coffee that is the problem, it's the whole damn game and games like it. Ever play Postal 2? You piss on people, cut their heads off with shovels, douse them with gasoline and throw lit matches on them... and so on. How about Duke Nukem 3D ("Shake it, Baby!")? These games need a rating so that any 5 year-old off the street can't just walk into any GameStop and pick up GTA New Orleans-Mardis Gras.

          It's not that I think all games should be Disney approved, but a rating system can actually free programmers to make whatever game they want. The can make "Sam and Max go the Red Light District" because the second a parent complains, all they have to say is, "Hey lady, you have to be 18 or over to buy this game. You saw the rating, why did you buy it for your kid? Do you buy them Playboy too? Then why did you buy them a game that says in plain letters that it is an X-rated game, right there on the label?" Right now, Sam and Max--Red Light will not be made because they'd get too much heat. Allow an X rating and it's on!
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by omeomi (675045)
            Rated M, what does that mean? Does it mean that you have to 18 yrs or older to buy the game? Nope.

            Who cares...Most places do enforce ratings, and anybody old enough to get themselves to a game store and buy a game for $50 or so is probably old enough to play an M rated game. If they're not, then their parents should be paying more attention to them. It's not my problem if their parents don't care enough to filter what gets into their hands.

            It's voluntarily rated M as a warning to parents who may be
          • by Sneftel (15416) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:12AM (#18020744)
            Rated M, what does that mean? Does it mean that you have to 18 yrs or older to buy the game? Nope. Does it mean you have to have your parents with you to buy the game? Nope. It means nothing at all. It's voluntarily rated M as a warning to parents who may be buying the game for their preacher's kid, nothing more. There is no legal binding behind it.
            Perhaps you should review the legal status of movie ratings in the US.
          • Rated M, what does that mean? Does it mean that you have to 18 yrs or older to buy the game?

            I'll just point out that movies are handled the exact same way. It's voluntary, with the exception of X rated stuff.

          • Everything you just outlined already is part of the rating system. The new (and never to be approved) legislation wants to meddle with it and assign the responsibilities to the FTC. Adding nothing and simply adding more bureaucracy. These types of games tend to be infantile teenager fodder. Getting up in arms about it gives them more credit then they are due. GTA and it's ilk serve a niche, teens who thing "adult" means swearing and violence and further FTC interferance merely backs that up. Just as every t
        • by mark-t (151149)
          While the Hot Coffee content did require a patch to the software to view, it is still a fact that the content was actually included with the game the whole time. The patch did not add any content to the game, it merely enabled something that was already there, but masked away by the programmers. If the HC patch had itself provided actual additional content added to the game by installing it that was not present beforehand, it would be a very different issue indeed.
          • by aussie_a (778472)
            I see absolutely no difference.
          • Well I guess that depends on what you consider the hot coffee scene.

            If you are talking about two naked characters having sex on screen then yes it did require additional content. If you are talking about dry humping between a full clothed man and a partially modeled woman (they didn't even finish texturing her) then yeah that was on the disk and could be accessed with a running memory hacking program
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      If the FTC or whomever must review the ENTIRE content of a video game, does that mean every possible combination of levels/characters/interactions?

      I doubt it. What I expect to see is the product manager and maybe a programmer or QA tech go to their ratings meeting with the FTC. These two sit in a room with a few FTC reps and they ask questions about the game. Then they say, "OK, show me everything". The QA tester or programmer runs through each of the levels and shows all the cut scenes. Of course, the
      • Hot Coffee wasn't an easter egg (I'm defining an easter egg as something intentionally put in by the designers for players to find). It was something they were thinking of adding to the game but decided not to and it was accidentally left on the disk. It is impossible to access it without altering the actual code of the game.
      • I look forward to the demonstrations of all monsters, all raids, and all quests, conducted by all classes and races and permutations of classes and races, in World of Warcraft.
    • by mauthbaux (652274) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:44AM (#18020612) Homepage
      Easiest way to review the content: ignore context.

      Just hand the guys a giant text file of all the game dialog so they can scan it for profanity and racy phrases. Then do a long and tedious slideshow of all the wireframe models and their associated skins. Seeing as they only seem to care about nudity and gross obscenities, this should work just fine.
  • How? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob54321 (911744) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @11:52PM (#18020370)
    How are they going to see footage of everything that can happen in a game? I assume that they are not just talking about cut scenes.

    I think the main problem is that the company supplies the footage to be reviewed. How many marketing/PR guys do you think that goes through before it reaches the censors. Perhaps it would be better for a group of independent game players to generate a representative reel of footage. I will be the first volunteer to take that job. On second though - imagine all the crap you would need to play!
  • patches (Score:2, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436)
    what about content patches, are they going to view those as well? this idea is stupid, as is the man proposing it.
  • by Warbringer87 (969664) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:02AM (#18020420)
    The developer sends footage of the worst/extreme content in the game, and fills out some paperwork. They are assigned a rating (developer can resubmit or appeal). Then...when the game is 100% complete ready to go to the shelves, ESRB gets another copy, and plays a bit... and if there is anything more extreme in that final game than there was in the footage (ie, topless chicks, more gore) the developer has some penalties slapped in their face. Its a good process, and it works pretty damn well, and it is certainly better than this pos "Truth in Ratings" act. Whether you agree with the whole GTA/Oblivion issues is besides the point. Nothing is foolproof, but if the worst we've gotten is anatomically correct nipples and disabled content, I think they're doing a damn good job.
  • Aaaargh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Captain Sarcastic (109765) * on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:03AM (#18020440)
    This is yet another stupid idea from someone who is trying to impress potential voters in an upcoming presidential campaign.

    I'll bet that if you asked him after injecting him with Sodium Pentothal, the illustrious senator would admit that he doesn't expect that the bill will have a snowball's chance in hell of passing.
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:07AM (#18020450) Homepage Journal

    What ever happened to the party of "less government interference?"

    That's right, I remember now. It was the Unholy Alliance that did in the fiscally-conservative, small-government Republicans. Now the Republicans seem to be the party of fiscally-unrestrained big government. I find it rather humorous that during the Bush Years the FCC has steadfastly held to its notion that the free market will provide us all with speedy, cheap broadband and all kinds of broadcast diversity, yet one tit shows up on the Super Bowl and suddenly the FCC stirs into action. The FTC is an entity often decried for its meddlesome consumer protection activities, but throw up the hue and cry of "think of the children!" and suddenly the FTC is a useful government agency.

    It seems the party now stands for individual freedom to make money, government money to spend money, and meddlesome interference into matters of so-called morality. Perhaps the theory is that if you can't make government work more efficiently, you may as well try to make it an extension of the church.

    • by koreth (409849) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:31AM (#18020550)
      Nah, you just missed the footnote. It's the party of "less government interference*" (* unless people are doing something we don't like).

      Oddly, so is the Democratic Party.

      At the end of the day, strident "liberals" and "conservatives" have exactly the same political philosophy: the government should get its nose out of the business of people who are doing things I approve of, but spare no expense stopping people from doing things that make me feel uneasy.

      • Beautiful (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:51AM (#18020648) Homepage Journal

        the government should get its nose out of the business of people who are doing things I approve of, but spare no expense stopping people from doing things that make me feel uneasy.

        Nicely put.

        Political parties are the problem. Hamilton was adamantly opposed to them, even when one was forming around him in opposition to the Jeffersonians. Perhaps he was on to something. Line up behind a party, and you have to do a lot less thinking for yourself. But of course, how are you going to stop people from organizing into political parties? It is human nature to form into groups, for better and for worse.

    • What ever happened to the party of "less government interference?"
      Fiscal conservatives and small government types have always been the black sheep in the Republican party. Reagan was not typical of the party.
      • Fiscal conservatives and small government types have always been the black sheep in the Republican party.

        I always thought Reagan was essentially a "return to the roots" of Republicanism, a sort of clearing the decks after decades of Democrats leading the show with the continuation of New Deal policies under other names. To me Reagan's cleverest stroke was to turn the Republicans into the party of strong military defense, but I assumed his harangues against big government were just a more skillfully deli

        • by Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @02:03AM (#18020978) Homepage Journal
          The Republicans were not the party of strong military defense before Reagan because Nixon had to promise to get our troops out of Vietnam to get elected, at least the first time. (The troops left Vietnam approx. when he left office, or maybe a lil' later.)
          Before WWII, Republicans were both socially and fiscally conservative for the most part, and more the latter. Teddy Roosevelt was actually a social radical, but he left the Republican party around 1912 or so. Coolidge and Hoover left the invisible hand alone for the most part. (What party was Smoot and Hawley in, and are protectionist tariffs fiscally conservative or fiscally radical?)
          After 1960, Kennedy effectively made the Democratic Party the party of civil rights. Southerners started switching parties from Democrat to Republican around then, and they made the Republican Party socially conservative. I'm not sure who was the first Republican to be fiscally radical: maybe Reagan, but it could've been as early as Nixon. I mean, foreign military quagmires and wiretapping weren't much cheaper then than they are now.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ucblockhead (63650)
            That's not true. In 1900, the Republicans were socially *liberal* and fiscally conservative. (According to the standards of the day, of course.) In 1900, nearly all African-Americans were Republicans because in 1900, it was the Republicans who were the civil rights party. Roosevelt wasn't by any means a "radical". He was right in line with his party on social issues, and a moderate on fiscal issues. (i.e. willing to negotiate with unions and pass worker-protection legislation, unlike his party cohorts
        • There is the pre-FDR Republican party, and the post-FDR Republican party. They're almost two different parties. The Republicans of the early 20th century were small government advocates, but the latter half of the century gave way to establishmentarian "country club" Republicans. You occasionally saw a throwback like Goldwater or Reagan, but for the most part recent Republican leadership has been unashamedly in favor of large powerful government.

          Unfortunately, I don't see any small government types in the c
    • by RexRhino (769423)
      Once government started consuming more than 50% of the GDP, government has more money to spend than all other economic entities in the United States, and then some. The government spends more than every man, women, child, illegal alien, tourist, buisness, corporation, church, charity, etc, combined. For every dollar anyone spends for any reason, the government spends a dollar and some change.

      Big government *IS* big buisness. Government is the only consumer worth a damn anymore. Call it socialism, or state c
    • by randomaxe (673239) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @02:16AM (#18021036)
      yet one tit shows up on the Super Bowl

      That's "Mr. Timberlake" to you, buddy.
  • by khchung (462899) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:11AM (#18020468) Journal
    To all posts that ask how this law is going to work, about generated content, etc, etc.

    I have learned that nowadays, the main reason that law-makers introduces new laws is to boost their own popularity. It doesn't matter if the law cannot work, is impractical, will be struck down in courts, etc. It only matters that the (1) it grabs the headline thus putting his name on the news and (2) it showed people that he has "taken a stance" against something.

    Just think about it, is it a surprise that people who are elected based on a popularity contest do things to boost their own popularity?

    If you want to stop this law from passing, don't waste your time telling people it is not workable. Stuck at the heart of the matter and go tell games companies how much money it will wastes them, and tell people how many jobs such money could have created instead, or how much dividends would it costs the stock holders of those game companies.

    Turn the law into an unpopular proposition and it will be dead.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kaenneth (82978)
      I think that falls under, the "The behavior that is rewarded, is the behavior that occurs" rule.

      Rate video cards under a specific benchmark? result: the video cards are made to perform better under that benchmark, to the detriment of regular performance.
      Give money to poor people with kids? result: poor people have more kids, even though it just makes them poorer.
      • by aussie_a (778472)
        So obviously poor people with kids shouldn't be given anything to they can starve and die and we can do something about the earth's overpopulation problem.
  • Once someone thinks up an idea that produces another source of tax money, it'll be reintroduced over and over ad infinitum. It may fall out of favor once in a while, but you can bet that it's distant descendants will reappear to haunt us until the extinction of our civilization.

      Then, it will get reborn again. ;)

    SB

     
  • Hmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Psychotria (953670)
    Well, if they need employees to review the entire contents of games, I will volunteer for only $100 an hour
  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:27AM (#18020532) Homepage Journal
    First off, while the "cut scenes" of a game could be said to have "footage", the whole rest of the game (typically) have no such thing. Even if you checked every single character skin and setting, there would be no way to _know_ there wasn't an easter-egg or something.

    The fact of the matter is that "objectionable content" is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

    And what of "patches" and "mods"?

    Heck take some of the "dance moves" from WOW and line them up and you have simulated sex, at least within the limits within the minds of people who think that some of these other things were "objectionable".

    The Nanny State cannot hope to get closure over this, and trying to is just more waste of my taxpayer dollar.

    Note to you regulation-happy people out there: Your "precious bundle" is neither as fragile as you imagine, nor as important as you dream. Neither are you. If janet jackson's saggy boobie and the gyrations of a pair of 100 polygon figures are enough to undermine your sense of moral turpitude, then you are a mindless chode; and might I suggest that the world is much safer if you put an opaque polyethylene bag over your head. (But it only _really_ works if you cinch it snuggly. Assist your child before yourself.)

    Now if you can get truth in ratings for suckage, then we can talk.
  • by luckbat (450567) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:29AM (#18020540) Homepage
    I believe this pretty much covers [penny-arcade.com] how the bill is expected to work.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So finally, Duke Nukem Forever, really will be "forever."
  • Why does the Slashdot crowd care if games are assigned ratings? People always say that parents should be the ones to monitor their children not the government, or the games company, etc. But, parents need tools to be able to make these decisions.

    No, it won't be perfect. But, it will be accurate enough to allow people to make a purchasing decision.

    This isn't a censorship issue. To me, there is nothing wrong with assigning a rating to content so that you can make an informed purchase.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      What you seem to be forgetting is that a system for rating games is already in place, and for the most part that system works. The cases where it 'failed' involved users finding ways outside of the game itself to view 'objectionable' content, such as hacks and mods, which shouldn't count in the first place. It would be like blaming disney for the fact that Tyler Durden spliced in some frames from some porn films into their movies at a particular theater.
  • candidate (Score:3, Informative)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:54AM (#18020668) Homepage Journal
    Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas (and GOP presidential candidate)...

    The senator is not a GOP presidential candidate. He is a candidate for the GOP nomination. Big difference. Thank goodness he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting it. None of the current nomination seekers thrill me, but Brownback is near the bottom of the list.
  • by twigles (756194) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:01AM (#18020696)
    I read about this topic a lot on /., and I'm not quite sure why everyone is so emotionally charged about it. Ok, after R'ingTFA I agree that this bill may not be the right one due to the unfeasible requirement of the ESRB playing every minute of the game. Any remotely open-ended game would baffle these poor people and hold up releases for months. Also, the FTC makes me nervous after the Howard Stern treatment.

    But it seems like every attempt at improving the accuracy or consistency of ESRB ratings is met with derision and anger. Any attempt at *enforcing* those ratings is clubbed down as fascism. Why? The ratings exist because kids shouldn't beat a virtual hookers' brains out with a bat. I'm ok with that. I know they'll see the violence elsewhere, but so what? Do you permit anything through your firewall the moment your manager makes you toss up a stupid rule?

    I'm a social liberal, I live in West Hollywood, frequent the clubs, fall to the left on almost every issue, etc.. But this all or nothing approach is silly and stinks of NRA tactics. Yes, the NRA is effective, but I don't want to be like them. Reasonable adults compromise.

    I would like to compromise some and get these politicos off our backs before they do something truly draconian, like ban red blood, or any blood for that matter.

    - Allow ESRB raters to choose the spots of the game they will examine. No auditor comes in and says, "show me what you think I should see." That's just dumb.
    - Fine stores whose clerks don't card for MA+ games. This isn't fascist, it's simply obeying the law.
    • Why do you believe these ratings should be enforced for games, and not for other forms of media (music, movies, books, magazines...)?

      There is just as much evidence of harm to children caused by exposure to these other forms. What's special about games?

      Finally, what part of "Congress shall make no law" is unclear to you and Sen. Brownback? The government is not supposed to be in the business of rating video games, any more than it's supposed to be in the business of reviewing Sunday sermons.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by twigles (756194)
        Why do you believe these ratings should be enforced for games, and not for other forms of media (music, movies, books, magazines...)?
        Huh? Since when can a kid get into a porno? Can a 12 year old buy Hustler? If the less extreme forms of these mediums are not enforced then that's a different issue. Actually, this entire point is a different issue, we're discussing games ratings here.

        There is just as much evidence of harm to children caused by exposure to these other forms. What's special about games
        • The government is supposed to be in the business of whatever the people tell it to be in the business of.

          The federal government of the United States is *supposed* to be in the business of a limited set of things that it was granted power over by the constitution. I guess that video games are relevant to "interstate commerce", in the same way that medical marijuana in California and growing wheat for personal use are, but...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joystickgenie (913297)
      But this all or nothing approach is silly and stinks of NRA tactics. Yes, the NRA is effective, but I don't want to be like them. Reasonable adults compromise. I would like to compromise some and get these politicos off our backs before they do something truly draconian, like ban red blood, or any blood for that matter.

      The ESRB was the compromise. It was created the first time the government came after video games. This was meeting them half way. If you keep moving back the line in the sand eventually you

    • by SQL Error (16383)
      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
    • by bigbigbison (104532) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:42AM (#18022668) Homepage
      In the USA no other medium has government enforced ratings. Laws against distributing pornography to minors are in regards to a genre not a medium and even in that situation there is no government enforced ratings for pornography (there are cases where things like comic books are said to be pornographic and often the case will revolve around whether or not the comic book actually is pornographic). To single out videogames would require an enormous amount of evidence that they were harmful to minors -- evidence which does not exist.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jtheletter (686279)
      Although many of the other people who responded to your post made excellent points, none of them addressed the following, so I will.

      Fine stores whose clerks don't card for MA+ games. This isn't fascist, it's simply obeying the law.

      What law?
  • ...Serious, Sam.
  • How about a truth in government bill?
  • Suggestion (Score:2, Interesting)

    by justinlee37 (993373)
    I'm all for a standardized system of rating games, but the problem is that games are just TOO LONG to view entirely. Lawmakers from older generations must not understand this. A movie can easily be viewed in entirety because it is only about 2 hours long -- a game can be upwards of 80 hours and beyond! A potential solution is to retain the system of viewing a developer-prepared reel, but to make this reel publicly available at the time it is sent to the ESRB. Also establish laws that hold the developers fi
  • What is not accurate about it. Blood, death, beheadings, dismemberment ok for teens and above. A gold game with a possible 15% of a nipple sighting if you pause at just the right time with a high def TV, rated XXX adult.
  • First off, I'm against any government-imposed rating system on the arts, be they paintings, movies, videogames or whatever.

    With that disclaimer out of the way, wouldn't it be sweet to be able to get a federal government job playing games and then rating them? I'd climb aboard that gravy train!
  • by loftling (574538) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @02:16AM (#18021038)
    I work at Three Rings Design, makers of Puzzle Pirates [puzzlepirates.com].

    The game is free to download, but we had a publisher and put out a box version with some extra goodies. The game was sent off to be rated and they came back with an "E" rating, to which we replied "Really? Even though there's a drinking game in there?" It's not a central part of Puzzle Pirates, but is easily found and playable at any Inn: pass out and miss a turn.

    They hadn't even noticed, but after our helpful idiocy they bumped us to "T".
    • by xtracto (837672)
      Drinking? War? Drugs?

      Do you have a problem with that...?

      Oh but watch out for Tits... OMG I said it!!!!!!!!!one!1

  • What's in a name? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eganloo (195345)
    Isn't it about time we had a Truth-in-Act-Names Act?
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @03:48AM (#18021372)
    I know I'm going to be ignored or down moderated, but can you lot think for one microsecond beyond your obsession with being allowed to watch anything at all that you want on your computers? There *is* a wider society out there and, no, I am not necessarily "thinking of the children".

    An issue that the US needs to address is that it has created a huge rod for its own back by providing vast outpourings of violent content. "24" is a good example. It is quite amazingly good propaganda for Islamic fundamentalists, because it portrays extreme violence as being appropriate in dealing with any perceived threat. How can you tell fundamentalists that beheading hostages is wrong when it is clearly behaviour approved of so long as it is by Americans? How can you persuade Iraqis that the US army doesn't spend its time torturing them when they can pass around professionally made videos showing that this is exactly how Americans behave when they want something? I am quite sure that Al-Queda recruiting and training camps spend more time showing their gullible trainees mainstream American material than their own videos because they can use it to "prove" that the US will go to any lengths at all to get what it wants.

    I think there is a case to be made that game producers should be required to document their content. It should not be necessary for reviewers to sit through games. Somewhere there are surely storyboards, scripts, and a system map. It should be possible to identify content against an agreed set of criteria and to identify risk areas ("Players can create anatomically detailed avatars."

    Please note this is not censorship. It merely applies the same level of disclosure to a game as applies to a book. Hiding extremely violent content in difficult to access levels of a game is not an excuse for not documenting content, even if that documentation is necessarily restricted in circulation

    The producers of a film and the publishers of a book make the entire content readily available for assessment. This has not prevented the circulation of either. I cannot see why the same standard of disclosure should not apply to games. I suspect that an issue in the response here is that some of the younger /. readers get kicks out of doing something which they think is a closed book to the adult world. I have news for them. Games are produced by corporations: you are not doing something counter-cultural, you are doing something that is ultimately for the benefit of midle aged suits. In the same way there is nothing rebellious about teenagers drinking whisky; you are just doing what the drink marketing people are trying to persuade you to do through carefully judged advertising.

  • If this bill somehow passes, I'm totally getting a job with the FTC to 'rate games' ... Can you imagine getting paid to play through entire games just to give the same rating they already get? It'll be an awesome job!
  • The courts have generally ruled that obscenity is determined at the local community level via the Miller Test [wikipedia.org]. The FCC only has the authority to regulate TV and radio by virtue of its control over airwaves. No federal body has the authority to define national obscenity regulations, because we are a nation of individual communities, and there can be no national standard defining what is obscene. Given this, would it even be constitutionally permitted for the federal government to mandate an obscenity rati
  • Boy, so much for my game, "Combanitorics!"
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:05AM (#18022814)
    I'm actually quite convinced that he knows his idea is bullcrap. At the very least he'll have advisors who would have told him so. If not, he's not really a fit presidental candidate.

    Also, the game industry is one you shouldn't piss off too much, it is a money maker. And I know at least one key company that does sponsor political campaigns. For both parties, just to cover the bases.

    I'm quite sure this whole ploy is just the usual political play with people's ignorance. He knows 2 things well:

    1. It's impossible to implement.
    2. Even if by some feat of luck it gets possible, court will shoot it down.
    3. Even if the courts don't care, neither will the gamers and still buy whatever they want.

    So, essentially, from a purely practical point of view, the whole idea is as useful as many other political ideas that are, if you take a step back and look at it from afar (after doing a little research), quite blatantly pointless.

    What sticks, though, is that he did "something" for our children. It's a bit like the war on terror or other problems without a solution that doesn't hurt. It doesn't matter if what you do works, as long as you do "something" you can't be held responsible for not addressing the problem. It might not work out, but hey, at least he tried!

    And for some reason in our political climate, a man is already a hero for trying. Talk 'bout apathy.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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