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The Courts Games

Supreme Court To Rule On State Video Game Regulation 278

Posted by Soulskill
from the incrementing-scalia's-frag-count dept.
DJRumpy sends in this quote from an AP report:"The Supreme Court will decide whether free speech rights are more important than helping parents keep violent material away from children. The justices agreed Monday to consider reinstating California's ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, a law the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco threw out last year on grounds that it violated minors' constitutional rights. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the law in 2005, said he was pleased the high court would review the appeals court decision. He said, 'We have a responsibility to our kids and our communities to protect against the effects of games that depict ultra-violent actions, just as we already do with movies.'" SCOTUSblog has a more thorough legal description of the case.
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Supreme Court To Rule On State Video Game Regulation

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  • by 0racle (667029) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:00PM (#31989004)
    Parents have a responsibility to be parents and raise their children as they see fit. I do not.
  • by SlappyMcInty (688145) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:01PM (#31989032)
    The kids' parents have the responsibility. Get your big government nose out of my business.
  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:01PM (#31989034) Homepage Journal

    The video game industry puts ratings right on the cover. I don't want the goverment to tell me how to raise my kids.

    We let the movie and music industries self-regulate. Why should video games be any different?

  • by Myji Humoz (1535565) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:03PM (#31989058)
    We surely wouldn't want to expose the children to any media influences that glorify violence and fighting, now would we?
  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:04PM (#31989070)

    The kids' parents have the responsibility. Get your big government nose out of my business.

    That's the point of the bill. To make sure that the purchase is parentally responsible. This bill isn't in YOUR business unless you're in the business of selling R-rated materials to minors without parental consent.

  • by Millennium (2451) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:04PM (#31989074) Homepage

    This. It would be nice to see the courts regard kids subject to "media influence" as prima facie evidence of parental neglect, but that would mean actually holding someone to their responsibilities, and we can't have that, now, can we?

  • by neochubbz (937091) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:10PM (#31989128) Homepage

    The problem with comparing this to movies is that MPAA Rating system isn't law, merely a voluntary policy (Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Association_of_America_film_rating_system [wikipedia.org]) Stores that refuse to sell/rent R-Rated Movies/M-Rated games to minors are well within their rights; stores are free to conduct their business as they wish. However, on that same note, stores can also choose to sell these movies/games to whoever they want.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:11PM (#31989148)

    Actually...It is!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:12PM (#31989162)

    Yes, correct. So we should also eliminate the laws that prevent 7-11 from selling them cigarettes, porno mags, and alcohol. It's the parents' responsibility to keep them from getting their hands on stuff like that.

    Believe it or not, society existed before laws against minors consuming alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and viewing pornographic material. I have no problem with someone below the age of 18 enjoying any of those things if they can prove that they are of sound mind to understand:

    a. the implications of using said items
    b. the short and long term effects of said items

    In reality, we all know what prohibition does. Teens still smoke. Teens still drink alcohol. Teens still look at porn. The only differences is, in our world, they are doing it away from the safety and guidance of adults.

    Now, I'm not saying that there should be a free pass for anyone to consume these currently prohibited substances... I'm just saying that our current approach clearly isn't working.

    Give it some thought.

  • Re:Agreed. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ProdigyPuNk (614140) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:14PM (#31989188) Journal
    In the end it doesn't matter whether there are effects or not. So long as the masses believe that violent video games caused Columbine etcetc, this argument will always exist - and unfortunately will prevail a lot of the time. Good parenting > nanny state.
  • by zero_out (1705074) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:20PM (#31989264)
    But parents can't be aware of what their children are doing 100% of the time. It's a LOT easier to control distribution at the point of sale, rather than at the point of consumption. If a parent tells their kid they are not allowed to purchase or play a certain game, can that parent ensure that their 15-year-old kid won't still buy that game when said parent tells their kid "yes, you may go to the mall with your friends"? 1,000 parents, enforcing a self-ban on violent games for their 1,500 kids isn't nearly as effective as 100 retailers being banned from selling them to those kids. If the parents want their kids to have access to those games, then they can still buy GTA 9 for Johnny's birthday.
  • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:23PM (#31989310)

    First of all, I doubt there is any evidence that companies on the whole are selling "R"-rated (ignoring the fact that there is no such rating) games to minors. Secondly, if the parent doesn't object to, say, their 16 year old buying an M-rated game why should it be the State of California's business to tell them they can't?

  • Re:Agreed. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:25PM (#31989340) Journal

    The problem is yet again the state is having to take over for piss poor parents, who don't teach their kids shit and use the x360 and PC as a babysitter. I let my kids play violent games if they wanted, and I never worried about it. Why? Because I taught them the difference between reality and video games, that's why! I sat them down with editors and showed them how game worlds were created, how by editing a WAD file you could add your own pictures to DOOM, how scripts decided the in game actions, etc. By the time I was done the boys knew what what going on from the time they clicked the icon until they hit exit.

    Of course the side effect of that was listening to my rather unique "cursing" of the games like "You call this a level? There is tearing everywhere! And who designed this AI? I'm standing right in front of them and they aren't even attempting to dodge! DUCK YOU DUMMY!"

    I believe it ultimately comes down to the parents to teach values and install responsibility in the child. Considering the fact that the oldest is getting ready to start medical school in the fall in the hopes of becoming one of those doctors without borders, and the youngest shall be most likely joining him in college a couple of years later to be a graphics artist, I think I did alright. But picking them up from their friend's houses I can state they are FAR from the norm, with waaaay too many kids living in homes where the parents don't interact with the child if they can help it, and the TV/game console/PC being the defacto babysitter.

    Blame it on both parents having to work now, too many fathers not bothering to stay with the families, whatever, but more of my boy's friends were being raised by the machines than weren't. Too many parents just aren't bothering to even see or hell, even care what their kids are doing as long as it ain't bugging them. Sad and pathetic, but all too true.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:28PM (#31989390) Journal

    Way off. It's the parents responsibility to be parents when the kids obtain the stuff. Smart people realize no law is going to stop what people consider a civil disobedience at best.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:34PM (#31989486) Journal

    Parents SHOULD be aware of what their children are doing 100% of the time. When I was growing up, I didn't go anywhere without letting my parents know. Even when I'd sneak out at night, I was sure to leave a note, because I knew my mother would call the cops if I was missing. That note would detail where and who I was with, and what time I expected to return. This was enough to satiate my parents.

    When my parents let my older brother play GTA2, but not me, it felt quite unfair, but my brother is 4 years older than me. When I came of what they deemed a proper age, they went and purchased UT2K4 for my birthday and I was happy to have their blessing, rather than trying to sneak-play a violent game. I knew there would be hell to pay if I was caught playing a game I wasn't allowed.

    It's really not that difficult. You keep the entertainment in a public room in the house, computers, TV's, etc. Then you tell them what they can and can't do. Then you punish them if they break the rules.

    Putting a restriction at the point of sale is about as effective as stopping kids from downloading music. The whole issue is a parenting problem, and it wasn't a problem over a decade ago, so why are we proposing a new fix?

  • The kids' parents have the responsibility. Get your big government nose out of my business.

    That's the point of the bill. To make sure that the purchase is parentally responsible. This bill isn't in YOUR business unless you're in the business of selling R-rated materials to minors without parental consent.

    No, that's not the point of the bill. The point of the bill is that the Gov't knows better than the parent what is or is not appropriate for their child. And that leads to the point of the GPP - as a citizen they don't want a say in how your or anyone else raises their child; they want to leave it to the child's parent and their parent alone.

    Now granted, there is some communal responsibility for everyone to help ensure parents raise their child right; but they community need not stamp all over the rights of the parent and/or child to do so; and bills like these (among others) are doing just that. What you may think irresponsible another may have a purpose behind teaching, or just a desire for the freedom to not do so. Some of us cherish the freedom to do as we please more than anything else.

    Exceptions where community/government should step in mind you would be things like child sex/enslavement/etc issues; but that's goes far beyond a parent's right over the child.

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:41PM (#31989592)

    Ideally, parents would know what their children are doing 24/7, and be able to determine for themselves what is appropriate for their children.

    Actually, no. You need an exit strategy better than, yesterday was your 18th b-day so good luck today in the wild free world.

    Your plan is reasonably appropriate during the early toddler years. An utter disaster in the teenage years. The goal is to gradually slack off on the fascism while raising the kids to have good judgment... If they have good judgment they simply don't need the laws.

    Furthermore, if they don't have good judgment, a ban on trendy enemy of the people "X" will simply result in them finding another equally effective way to ruin their lives.

    Either way the laws are quite ineffective. You either end up with a society where the moral majority clowns hate the average 19 year old for thoughtcrimes, or you end up with 19 year olds whom hate the moral majority clowns for being SS guards. A great law if you want to do the old fashioned "divide and conqueror" against the american people, not so good for everyone else of course. But I suppose, never let morality stand in the way of a good profit...

  • Re:Wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Psmylie (169236) * on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:42PM (#31989624) Homepage

    The world also does not owe you whatever you consider to be a "safe" place to raise your kids. What this law is (and laws like it) is a hamfisted attempt to remove the burrs and rough edges from society in an attempt to make a sweet and fluffy world in which to raise their kids. Also, you state that society needs rules. How many of those rules are actual laws, and how many are social contracts that aren't backed up by law? What I mean by that is that no law is needed for this, just like no law is needed to prevent kids from getting into R rated movies without a parent/guardian. This is something that can/should be worked out with parents and the stores that sell games. It does not and should never be made into a law, not in the US.

  • Re:Wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:55PM (#31989864)

    PARENTS have a responsibility

    Exactly! We need, like, a law that requires the parents to buy the game for the kid so the parent can decide... oh, wait...

  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:58PM (#31989934)
    "you certainly can't know or prevent them from buying an R-rated game or seeing an R-rated movie. Hence, the retailer should probably enforce it."

    ABSOLUTELY NOT! It is not the job of retailers to prevent kids from getting into trouble. Being a good parent does NOT mean knowing where your kids are 100% of the time. Being a good parent means teaching your kids how to handle the responsibility of being able to go buy that video game without permission.

    We live in a society now where everyone thinks kids should be monitored 100% of the time and yet people still complain about helicopter parents. MAKE UP YOUR FUCKING MINDS, PEOPLE! Kids should have some degree of freedom. Parenting is making sure your kids know how to handle that freedom. The ultimate purpose is that they know how to handle the freedom they receive when they turn 18.
  • by hldn (1085833) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:03PM (#31990046) Homepage

    If the parent doesn't object to, say, their 14 year old driving a car, drinking alcohol, or smoking a cigarette, or seeing an R-rated movie, why should it be the State of California's business to tell them they can't?

    i'm not sure about smoking tobacco, but a parent can allow their kids to drink alcohol and drive (preferably not at the time time) at home on private property (in most states.) lumping an R-rated movie in with that is lol, but unbelievably parents can also allow their kids to see those too!1~!

    it shouldn't the government's business and it isn't. this type of legislation should NEVER go through, because it's my job as a parent to decide what movies/games my children have access to, not the government and certainly not some faceless ratings organization.

  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:20PM (#31990346) Homepage Journal

    It's a LOT easier to control distribution at the point of sale, rather than at the point of consumption.

    Some parents don't want their kids eating sugary snacks. So, should we pass a law making it illegal for grocery stores to sell candy to anyone under 18 without parental permission?

    Some parents don't want their kids learning about evolution, either. Should we pass another law making it illegal for bookstores to sell science textbooks to anyone under 18 without parental permission?

    You can't possibly expect retailers to enforce parents' house rules. That's the parents' job. It's not impossible to stay on top of what your kids are doing, it's just a lot of work. If you're not prepared for that responsibility, then maybe you're not ready to have kids.

    If the parents want their kids to have access to those games, then they can still buy GTA 9 for Johnny's birthday.

    Why should those parents have to waste their time in order to not restrict their kids from doing something? Shouldn't it be the responsibility of the parents who do want to restrict their kids' behavior to enforce that restriction?

  • by zero_out (1705074) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:28PM (#31990478)

    Some parents don't want their kids eating sugary snacks. So, should we pass a law making it illegal for grocery stores to sell candy to anyone under 18 without parental permission?

    Some parents don't want their kids learning about evolution, either. Should we pass another law making it illegal for bookstores to sell science textbooks to anyone under 18 without parental permission?

    Now we're getting to straw-man territory. Science hasn't shown conclusively whether violent games affect the mental, emotional, or behavioral development of kids. Candy, however, is pretty harmless. Kids buying candy to eat won't lead to obesity. It's the junk food, fatty meals, etc., that parents supply their children.

  • by EMG at MU (1194965) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:47PM (#31990804)

    It's about limiting it to as small an amount as possible, to ensure that as many kids grow up to be productive members of society as possible.

    I'm glad you brought this up. My original post was going to mention that at 15 I had access to almost anything I wanted to get my hands on. However, I (in my own opinion of course) am a productive member of society.

    How did this happen? My parents thought me that drinking too much is bad, smoking too much is going to get me cancer, driving drunk is going to get me killed ect... So, when presented with drugs and alcohol I knew moderation and control. When all my friends were puking their guts out because they had no experience drinking, I was enjoying myself responsibly.

    You know that saying: Catch a man a fish, feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.
    Well, I think that if you watch your kid and stop him/her from doing something stupid, their safe for that day. But when you teach your kid not to be a pisshead, you are protecting them for life.

  • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:52PM (#31990918)

    Really? You just mentioned "M-rated" moments later. That is the rating! The problem is that the ESRB doesn't have the manpower to thoroughly rate a game entirely accurately, nor does anyone take the rating seriously enough to impose any actual limitations on it.

    So do you or Ahhnold actually have any evidence of widespread selling of M-rated games to minors? I seriously doubt it.

    If the parent doesn't object to, say, their 14 year old driving a car, drinking alcohol, or smoking a cigarette, or seeing an R-rated movie, why should it be the State of California's business to tell them they can't?

    Yes, the State of California should have no business telling a parent that they can't let their kids, smoke, drink and see R-rated movies. The driving part is different as unlike the previous 3, an young teenage, an age where one is most prone to unsafe driving, can cause harm to others while the first three don't. But if the kid is say on a farm and doing nothing but driving a truck or tractor around on an isolate plot of land, yes the State of California should again have no say. Unless a parent is willfully and/or maliciously putting their minor kid's healthy or safety at harm (such as physical/sexual abuse, intentionally starving the kid, etc) then the wishes of the parents should be respected.

    It's funny that people like you have such panic attacks over these things and yet kids were still growing up just fine before we had laws banning them from drinking and smoking.

  • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:57PM (#31991000)

    And the Law has been created to stop minors from smoking, drinking.

    Yeah, those laws are so great. What they do is just instead of kids smoking or drinking in the open where it can be monitored by others to make sure they are doing it responsibly, they just do it in private and do it to excess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:20PM (#31991380)

    Parent 1: "This disc doesn't work, I'd like to exchange it for another copy of the same game."
    Parent 2 (or friend if single parent): "I'd like to return this unopened game."

    Retailer: Okay, I see we marked your original receipt as having already exchanged this title.

    Your plan is GENIUS.

  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Monday April 26, 2010 @07:32PM (#31991580) Homepage Journal

    It's a proven medical fact that the parts of the human brain which control executive, long-term, decision making, are not fully developed until around 20 years of age.

    The human brain is always developing. A 30 year old will look back bewildered at decisions he made at age 20. Ten years later, he'll shake his head at decisions he made when he was 30. Ten years after that... you get the idea.

    There is no age when a person becomes "done" and has all their faculties. Their decision making changes throughout their life as they gain knowledge and experience.

    Furthermore, using the developing brain as an excuse to take away minors' agency is nothing but a weak rationalization for ageism. The important question is not "when is someone 'fully developed'?", but rather "when is someone developed enough?" Much like a computer with no floating-point unit can still do floating-point math, a brain which is still developing can make rational decisions.

    Generally, when adults complain about minors' decision making, what they're really criticizing is the outcome, not the process: you see somebody coming to a different decision than you want them to, so you blame their supposed inability to make decisions. But generally this reflects a difference in priorities and goals, not a difference in the decision-making process.

    That's why the collective experience of society has determined, over the millenia, that 18 and 21 years of age are the key ages for granting freedoms.

    Except it hasn't! Age restrictions vary from state to state, from country to country: for example, in the US we usually let people drive several years before they can drink, but in other countries it's often the other way around. In some places, the age of consent is 14; in some places, it's 19. If age restrictions were based on any sort of objective measurements, there would be a consensus by now.

  • by misexistentialist (1537887) on Monday April 26, 2010 @08:15PM (#31992244)
    Straw man? Schools are banning soda and candy. And states are instituting special taxes on them. It's true that a ban on sucrose is impractical, but the state can certainly regulate and tax until it might as well be banned, like tobacco.
  • by Xyrus (755017) on Monday April 26, 2010 @09:08PM (#31992874) Journal

    This hollow argument can be made against anything, and it's just as false in every single case?

    Think about it. How many teenage alcoholics are there? How many teenage drug abusers are? How many kids can still get into R rated movies, access porn, buy guns, or do any particular vice you can think off?

    In short, making something illegal DOES NOT MEAN you kids do not have access to it. There are always ways around prohibition of any sort, and the only thing making it illegal does it make it riskier to get it.

    No, you can't know 100% of the time 100% of what you are doing, but your being really fucking naive if you think adding yet another idiotic prohibition law to the books is going to really change anything. Instead of banning everything under the sun in the name of "protecting the children", how about being a parent for once. Have some frank discussions. Teach your kids about responsibilities and consequences.

    If a parent tells their kid they are not allowed to purchase or play a certain game, can that parent ensure that their 15-year-old kid won't still buy that game when said parent tells their kid "yes, you may go to the mall with your friends"?

    No they can't. But if you can't trust your kid, his friends, or the other parents that far THEN YOU SHOULDN'T LET YOUR KID GO TO THE FUCKING MALL WITH THEM. If you can't trust your kid that far, what makes you think you know what else your kid might be doing?

    ~X~

  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Monday April 26, 2010 @09:39PM (#31993230) Homepage
    The question is why is this law needed when there are no similar laws regulating the sale of films music books or comic books? There are existing pornography laws which would presumably already apply to any pornographic games -- which aren't widely available anyway. There's no substantial evidence that there is any need for this law. It is ineffective at best and reactionary at worst because it singles out videogames when there's no substantial evidence that there needs to be a law and since it is based on voluntary ratings manufacturers can just take the movie route and release "unrated" editions of games which would circumvent the law.
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Monday April 26, 2010 @09:45PM (#31993294) Homepage
    the title of your post asks "and this is different from r-rated movies, how?" the answer is that film ratings aren't enforced by laws. So why should videogame ratings be enforced that way?
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:26AM (#31995566)

    There is no "responsible" way of smoking.

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:37AM (#31995612)

    "Not only is it possible, it's the fundamental responsibility of parenting: know what's going on in your kid's life. If you can't do this, you have failed."

    Listen, bub. There's no parent on the planet who knows what their children are doing 100% of the time, so they must all be failures.

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @02:40AM (#31995624)

    Well, at least if you're going to ignore your father's input forever, I'm glad it was for something important like a movie.

  • by Rysc (136391) * <sorpigal@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @07:07AM (#31997096) Homepage Journal

    Yes there is: Smoke marijuana.

  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @09:15AM (#31998240) Homepage
    Gamepolitics has covered this extensively http://www.gamepolitics.com/category/topics/california?page=1 [gamepolitics.com] At the end of that article they link to a pdf of the judge's ruling.

    Similar laws have been passed and ruled unconstitutional in numerous places including Indianapolis, St. Louis, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. The NYTimes also has an article that includes some explanation http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/21/arts/television/21vide.html [nytimes.com]
  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @12:22PM (#32000942) Journal

    helping parents keep violent material away from children

    Maybe if they could be bothered to pay attention to what their kids are doing and paid more attention to what games they're buying for them, then we wouldn't need laws like this in the first place!?

    Maybe we should require people to get a parenting license before procreating.

    Perhaps so!

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @10:46AM (#32014670)
    You really are just a complete dumb shit, aren't you?

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