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NY Videogame Bill Undermines ESRB 70

Posted by Zonk
from the save-us-from-the-awful-pokeymans dept.
GamePolitics is reporting that a bill introduced just four days ago in New York's senate will soon become the law of the land. Written by Rep. Andrew Lanza, the bill's goals are extremely vague. Aiming to 'crack down on video game violence', the bill will 'establish the Advisory Council on Interactive Media and Youth Violence to review the [ESRB] rating system and its effectiveness, and recommend additional steps that can be taken to curb children's access and exposure to such adult-only material.' Unsurprisingly after drawing on public fear and a lack of education to ram through useless legislation, Lanza isn't above some gloating. "Speaking in support of his bill, Sen. Lanza apparently couldn't resist drawing on the shock value of controversial amateur game V-Tech Rampage (which he mistakenly refers to as V-Tech Massacre), even though his legislation would have no effect at all on this non-industry, non-retail, non-rated, non-professional Flash game: The recent release of 'V-Tech Massacre,' a sick game which exploits the Virginia Tech University tragedy, is a painful reminder of the culture of violence which has severe consequences on our youth and society ..." Along with Best Buy's decision to include CMA ratings on videogames, this would seem to be another harsh blow to the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
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NY Videogame Bill Undermines ESRB

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  • Whatever the rating (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sciros (986030) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:16PM (#19226677) Journal
    If I think my kid will like it (and it won't make him dumber), I'll buy it. If I'm responsible enough to raise a kid in the first place, let's hope I have the brains to decide what games are "appropriate" for him myself. Ratings are for the parents who want a rebellious streak in their kids down the road.
    • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
      Like alcohol and cigarettes, if you give your kid a video game, movie, book, or CD that the government deems harmful, you'll lose your kid.

      Right now, movies, music, and games are rated by commercial entities. Their ratings are suggestions from one private group to another. Once the government starts rating games, the ratings become law.

      There are a few ways to stop this. One is to ensure that Child Protective Services investigates every possible case of a child playing a "M" rated game. Or whatever their
      • by amuro98 (461673)
        "Like alcohol and cigarettes, if you give your kid a video game, movie, book, or CD that the government deems harmful, you'll lose your kid."

        So, when do we start seeing federal agents waiting by McDonald's, ready to arrest anyone who brings his kid in for a Happy Meal?

        Seriously though, how is this bill going to get by the 1st ammendment?

        According to the bill, all games would have to have enforced ratings. The V-tech game has no rating, therefore all online games would have to be rated, but then, why not th
        • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
          >>So, when do we start seeing federal agents waiting by McDonald's, ready to arrest anyone who brings his kid in for a Happy Meal?

          If you feel it needs to be addressed, then bring it up in City Council meeting. That's how most laws are proposed. If you really want to make an impact, start a parents' group who will become the "enforcers" once the bill passes. Make sure to request funding and such and you can make a good living off of it.

          >>Seriously though, how is this bill going to get by the 1
          • by amuro98 (461673)
            In some parts of the world, what is considered "normal" activities for children would end up having the parents arrested for child abuse/neglect.

            For instance:

            In Japan it is not unusual for children of mixed sex to bathe together, or even hop in the tub with mom or dad or other relatives.

            In many parts of Europe, it's not unusual for children to have a small amount of wine with dinner on special ocassions.

            Either of these would have social workers pounding down the doors so they can "rescue" the children from
            • You forgot to mention the reprehensible practice of grading caseworkers based on 'child saves' which just means removing a child from his/her parents. There are some cities where bonuses are awarded per case and some where they are awarded quarterly and some where they are just quota-ed and not given bonuses at all. Such utter crap and totally the wrong model to use.
        • by Lt.Hawkins (17467)
          First amendment limits what the Congress can do. Bill of rights doesn't apply to States, unless the state has a similar document.

          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.
          • First amendment limits what the Congress can do. Bill of rights doesn't apply to States, unless the state has a similar document.

            Actually it very much does apply to the states, or try explaining how all those other anti-violent game laws were overturned in the courts because they were found unconstitutional in regards to the 1st amendment.
    • "Ratings are for the parents who want a rebellious streak in their kids down the road."

      No, ratings are a tool to help you decide what is okay for your child. The ESRB ratings don't tell you how to raise your child (and neither will I).

  • I'm glad he agrees (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tbannist (230135) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:18PM (#19226729)
    I'm glad Lanza agrees that exploting the Virginia Tech shootings for profit is sick and wrong. Now if only he'd quit being a hypocrite.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by PixelScuba (686633)
      The best part is, I had never even heard of the game 'V-Tech' until she brought it up. I looked it up and wasted a few minutes until I had to go to work. Thanks Senator Lanza for recommending 'V-Tech Rampage'.
      • Thanks Senator Lanza for recommending 'V-Tech Rampage'.
        Thats 'V-Tech *super-gore ultimate ninja massacre*' - get it right people!
    • Correct me if I'm wrong (I've never heard of the game before today, and my brief inquiries were thwarted primarily by the fact that the makers website has apparently been taken down) but isn't the game free in a similar fashion as the Columbine game?

      Personally I don't like games like this V-Tech Rampage but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's sick and wrong, more like it bothers me but I'm sure some people will play it for reasons that are perfectly acceptable (i.e. 'How Could Someone Do Something Like This
      • "some people will play it for reasons that are perfectly acceptable (i.e. 'How Could Someone Do Something Like This?')"

        That makes no sense.. if they are thinking that then they're not going to go and watch a simulation of it. I would possibly play it to see if it's a good game, which I doubt (flash games are usually a heap of sh!t, though not always). I just think it's in very bad taste though, so I'm probably not even going to look it up..
        • by Trails (629752)

          I just think it's in very bad taste though
          I think you've hit the nail on the head here. To paraphrase Larry Flint "The government shouldn't legislate good taste".
  • One, I live in the Great White North, and therefore don't have to deal with this crap.
    Two, I recently turned 18, and can now buy AO games no problem.
    And three, I have the common sense to think about the content of the games I buy, and not rely on someone else to think for me. Though I think that last one might count as a big miracle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Daniel_Staal (609844)
      Ratings, if done well, mean that you have better information on what content is in games and can therefore use your common sense better. I have no objections to that use of ratings: As a consumer's guide to help people know what is in each game, so they can make their own choices.

      Unfortunately, that's not how ratings are often used and 'sold'.
  • Undermine? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:30PM (#19226941)
    Does it really undermine anything? TFS states that it will create an advisory board whose explicit purpose is to examine the ESRB system and recommend ways to help make it work.

    Of course, the above is really naive. The goal will be to undermine the ESRB anyway. There's no reason why this new entity can't just go:

    1. ESRB sucks. We know because we thought of the children.
    2. We're making the NYESRB. It will go up to 11.
    3. It will be government controlled. Because we know best, and if you disagree you are a terrorist.
    4. Meeting over.
    5. ??? (let's do lunch for the next 2 years while pretending to work)
    6. Profit! (let's milk the taxpayers, and, oh, NYESRB will have rating application fees even higher than the ESRB has now)
    • by RingDev (879105)
      Heck, you can skip 1-4 and you'll get the same thing. This is just another example of a politician using FUD to create jobs for his cronies in Washington (or New York as this case may be). You could sit down with a small group and hash out ideas and come to some kind of rough conclusion in under 1 work week, write up a formal report in maybe a week or two, and wrap it up with a presentation to the state senate. Instead, it will take this group 2 years, numerous trips to tropical/tourist locals (to inspect o
    • Re:Undermine? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Miraba (846588) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:00PM (#19227571) Journal
      It undermines the First Amendment with the following:

      S 614. No person, partnership, or corporation shall sell or rent or attempt to sell or rent at retail a video game in contravention of the rating affixed thereto.
      *slow clap* Congratulations, New York. You're about to waste money on a law that will be struck down as unconstitutional (most recent casualty: Illinois taxpayers are out $510,000).
      • by grumbel (592662)
        How is this different then selling porn to minors, which, unless I am mistaken, is illegal in the USA.
        • by penp (1072374)
          Or cigarettes, or alcohol. It's the same damn thing.
          • Or Orwell's 1984, or condoms, or steak knives, or spray paint, or crowbars, or chocolate covered peanut butter cups, or Eminem, or skateboards, or Red Bull, or Ozzy Ozbourne, or the Bible, or the Matrix, or bikinis and thongs, or pork rinds, or Paris Hilton, or hockey sticks, or scissors, or gold chains, or Orwell's Animal Farm, or makeup, or chainsaws, or...

            There's a lot of things that can 'harm' a child. But narrow-minded authoritarians who manipulate the system for their own gain are by far the worst.
        • by Miraba (846588)
          Well, here's the test of whether something is "harmful to minors" (Ginsberg v. New York):

          "Harmful to minors" means that quality of any description or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse, when it:

          (i) predominantly appeals to the prurient, shameful or morbid interest of minors, and

          (ii) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors, and

          (iii) is utterly w

        • In the USA no other medium has its ratings enforced by law. Movie ratings are enforced by the movie industry just like videogame ratings. TO single out videogames there would have to be a mountain of evidence that exposure to them is bad for children. No such mountain exists. Therefore this is nothing more than fear mongering and doing things so politicians can say, "See? I care about families!"
  • "Speaking in support of his bill, Sen. Lanza apparently couldn't resist drawing on the shock value of controversial amateur game V-Tech Rampage (which he mistakenly refers to as V-Tech Massacre)" I doubt it's a mistake - massacre has more of a ring to it that rampage. Especially when appealing to fear.
  • CMA? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Jaysyn (203771)
    What do the County Music Awards have to do with video games?
    • by Carnildo (712617)

      Are you part of this kakistocracy?


      Kakistocracy? It seems more like the advanced version, a kakistodemocracy.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:56PM (#19227497) Homepage
    What possible control could the publishers and raters have over Target, BestBuy, Wal-Mart, etc.? Stores like those represent the real weak link here. They're the ones that allow an unsupervised pre-teen to buy a sex and violence-heavy game like God of War I/II. Why aren't local vice squads going after them on obscenity charges?

    Oh, right, because if the vice squads used existing laws the government might be a functional organization rather than a platform for personal success for scumbag politicians.
    • Or maybe it's because selling said games to kids is not illegal.
    • by Rycross (836649)
      I don't know about your Wal-Mart, but the ones I've been to have carded for M-rated games. In fact, I had a friend who worked in electronics at one, and complained about how annoying it was to have mothers of children (13 years old and less in many cases) bitch him out because he couldn't sell Grand Theft Auto to their children. Yes, seriously.
      • by Bios_Hakr (68586)
        This is a sign of any new store policy. Stop accepting returns for opened software; get bitched out. Demand zip codes for internal marketing purposes; get bitched out. Stop selling guns without a waiting period; get bitched out. Demand SSN, address, phone numbers on checks; get bitched out.

        Retailers need to stop being such babies. I sell games to kids because if I don't i get yelled at. What a fucking pathetic excuse. A woman yelling has nothing to do with your job. As soon as she gets pissy, tell h
      • I once worked in retail for that big company that censors movies themselves. I was a cashier there, I would have teenage looking kids in groups coming to my register and one would try to buy cigarettes or chewing tobacco. I would ask for ID from all of them and they would say "Hey I am buying this [product] for myself not them. So why do they have to show ID?" Arrgghhhh. A few times of explaining to their feeble minds why I am required to card entire groups if only one is making a purchase of that kin
      • by amuro98 (461673)
        I've heard of stores (not just Walmart) having policies like this, and inevitably they all dropped it after having the same thing happen with angry parents yelling at the clerks.

        Personally, I've never seen a store do this, nor have I seen a movie theater actually enforcing the movie ratings. Last R movie I went to see had the theater about half full of 13-16 year olds...

        I'd like it if the stores did try to enforce the ratings, but they better do it for everything - not just games. For instance, have you E
        • by Rycross (836649)
          As far as I know, the Wal-Mart still does it. I've also been carded at several GameStops.
        • Where I grew up, they would post cops at the doors to R-rated movies. I guess it varies by area.
        • by grumbel (592662)

          I've heard of stores (not just Walmart) having policies like this, and inevitably they all dropped it after having the same thing happen with angry parents yelling at the clerks.

          Maybe its just me, but angry parents yelling at the store clerks sounds perfectly fine to me, because its not the job of the clerk to do the parenting, thats what the parents are for. If a parent thinks a game is ok for their kids, while the ratings says something different, its the job of the parent to make the final decision, not

          • by amuro98 (461673)
            So, you're saying the store should have a policy to refuse sales of "M" games to unaccompanied minors, or that the store shouldn't even be involved with any sort of decision whatsoever?

            Personally, I think the stores should make an attempt to enforce the ESRB rating - and movie theaters should do the same thing. If it really IS ok for the kid to buy "M" games, have a parent go with him. Or, for stores like EBGames/Gamestop, which have membership/discount cards, do what video stores do - put the parent's de
    • by morari (1080535)
      [quote]They're the ones that allow an unsupervised pre-teen to buy a sex and violence-heavy game like God of War I/II.[/quote] And a lackluster portrayal of ancient mythology at that! I mean [i]geeze[/i], Titan Quest wasn't even as watered down... Historically speaking.
  • "Education should come from parents, not from package labels." Sadly, the reality is that parents are the ones pushing for this ever increasing government watchdog behavior because why should they be responsible for educating their kids about sex, cigarettes, violence, n+1 sql calls, and other such monstrosoties of society.
  • I for one would be much happier with a state enforced rating system then one that is enforced by cooperations alone, as is currently the case. The reason is not only that a state enforced could be more effective, since every retailer would have to obey to it, but a state enforced one would also end up being much more transparent and fair then a cooperation enforced one. With a cooperation enforced ones you basically have to follow the will of the big retailers and publishers, if they don't want you, they ca
    • Your shitting me right? Turning that kinda thing over to the government would get family groups involved with games they've never seen. A whole lobbying industry would spring up overnight in the interest of "protecting the children" oh dear god why won't someone just think of the fucking adults who just want to buy the games, and not deal with the bullshit? At least with the way it is the ESRB is fair unless the game companies have something hidden, or flat out forgot to take out (GTA:SA). Turning something
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by amuro98 (461673)
      You're obviously not thinking this through, or aren't living in America.

      There's a reason that every rating system for movies, games and TV are not - and CANNOT - be government run and it's written into the ammendments to the Constitution. Made #1, as it were...

      Also, what alternate dimension do you live in where government programs are actually more *effective* at anything, other than red tape and corruption?

      State-by-state rating system would be insane. So, instead of having to deal with just 1 organizatio
      • by grumbel (592662)

        You're obviously not thinking this through, or aren't living in America.

        I am living in germany and I am very happy with the state enforced rating system over here.

        The publisher can decide if they want to either live without WalMart, or make changes.

        What you don't understand is that missing out the big retails can mean the death of a game company. If ESRB decides to give your game an AO, you have lost and can do nothing against it, its after all "voluntary". However it is still de facto censorship, just b

        • by amuro98 (461673)
          The rating is voluntary, meaning you don't have to get your game rated by the ESRB.

          The fact that most retailers will only handle games with ratings is a separate issue.

          The ESRB's rating is not final. It is possible to get the rating changed, and in fact, the ESRB has changed its ratings on some games.

          Ignoring all that, it's still possible to sell games within the US without the ESRB, and without retailers.

          Now then, using the government to decide what's "OK" or not runs afoul of our first amendment. Basica
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:26PM (#19228011)
    Allright, keep kids away from violence. Best we keep them in front of the Teletubbies, Barney and other lalaland shows that shelter them from anything that could be a threat to their fragile little soul. Don't you dare to expose them to anything bad that could and probably will happen to them.

    Then send them to schools where the local bully has the say, with teachers looking the other way 'cause that's not their problem, let them learn that way, first hand and hands-on experience is always better than some virtual world. And when they finally snap 'cause, well, nobody likes being the perpetual heel for the rest of the world, and they go on a killing spree in their school (ever wondered why it's always schools and not, say, Starbucks or McDonalds?), we blame video games again.

    Or... wait, how? Oh, right, it only means that the surveillance of our kids and that crack down on violence wasn't hard enough. Let's ban it! That's gonna solve it.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Then send them to schools where the local bully has the say, with teachers looking the other way 'cause that's not their problem

      ...or because they think you need a swift asskicking, because that's how it was in their day.

      Frankly I think that sending a child to public school is just one step away from child abuse, for a whole variety of reasons. Bullying is just a minor part. Public schools in America are incredibly poor educators of children, and are really just brainwashing clinics. It begins in the morn

      • Blah blah blah, more unfounded bashing of the public school system. The Public School system has its problems, obviously, but your posts notes none of them.

        I take exceptional offense to your comment "you must spend all your time with the slowest kids, bringing them up to speed, instead of the smartest kids, who could achieve more than everyone else in the class combined if only they were nurtured." Who the hell do you think you are who gets to determine that only the "smart kids" should get to learn... an
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          Who the hell do you think you are who gets to determine that only the "smart kids" should get to learn... and how are you going to determine who "they" are?

          You aren't. What you're going to do is spend if not equal time with students (insofar as they need it) then more time with the students who are bored because they're done with your stupid work, and you have two choices; they can learn more, or they can be disrupting the class. This problem didn't originate with the No Child Left Behind act; I was the sm

          • The problem is that the bored children don't get to learn more, but kept busy. More often than not by chores that are just as boring, feeling more like punishment than anything else. What you learn: Being smart gets you punished. Being dumb gets you attention.

            I have the sudden urge to watch Harrison Bergeron again.
        • Funny, adults with children rate public education highly, and people without children rate them poorly.

          That's mostly because the former have learned to love schools as a very convenient tool to get rid of their children at least for a while, while the latter can only draw from the experience they had themselves as kids.
      • by DRACO- (175113)
        Ditto on the not willing to reproduce on account that public schools in general are degrading to crap and I cant afford to put a child into some real schooling.

        Children are very much unbridled evil when left unsupervised simply because they can get away with a lot of things before they reach legal age in which any action they partake becomes their responsibility and their accountability, not someone else's. A lot of bad things children will do go unaccounted for and unpunished now. I can't completely prot
    • Boy, I'd love to see their faces after video games are completely banned, with things like school shootings still happening. Sadly, they'd probably just find a new scapegoat entertainment source.
      • Nope. Then the mafiaa jumps in and claims it's due to those games being spread illegally.

        But, again, the key question: Why is it school shootings? Why do kids go to their school to wreak havoc? Why not a single case of a Starbucks blown to pieces, or a fashion shop?
  • by Discordian_Eris (1010563) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:38PM (#19228215)
    I have mod points, but this needs to be said. Having the industry regulate itself is one thing. Having the government do it is some altogether different. What the NY bill does is nothing less than establish a board of censorship whose sole duty will be to essentially blacklist games in the state of NY. It makes no sense whatsoever for any honest legislator to introduce a bill like this when he damn well ought to know that it will be shot down in the federal court system as unconstitutional.
    • Even knowing that it will get shot down, it gets out because it gets said politician press/media coverage. IIRC there was some crap a few months back on Techdirt about a politician suggesting that school-books should be padded with kevlar "to stop bullets in case of a school shooting" - do you think that ever was meant to go through - all he wanted was the press coverage it got him? The only reason this *might* gain momentum is idiot soccer-moms who base decisions on rating alone ("A teletubbies game that's
  • by Zarxrax (652423)
    When I read "V-tech rampage", I thought it was talking about a game for this [vtechkids.com]. It would be pretty sad if they were harping on how violent those edutainment titles are.

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