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Games Entertainment

Government Pressure on ESRB 519

Alex Blonski writes "There is new CNN coverage on the recent pressure the government is putting on the ESRB to crack down on mature-rated titles, after the Grand Theft Auto Debacle. ESRB President Patricia Vance says that 'It is very important for people to realize that this game is rated " for mature,' Vance said. 'This game is not a game that was rated for children. Regardless of what if anything was modified, it's a game that the ESRB has made as clear as it can that it was not intended for anyone under the age of 17.'"
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Government Pressure on ESRB

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:10PM (#13104683)
    From TFA:
    And these games are having a real, detrimental inpact on young minds, Baca said -- "In a video game, you're actually pursuing and simulating a person. You're under hypnosis. You're a person that is dramatizing, that is living the example of what is going on."
    OK, who else is sick of this shit? Hands?
    If a child decides to emulate the antics of a character in a video game, it is not the game's fault...it is the fault of the child's parents who have failed to instruct the child in the fundamental differences between fantasy and reality. They are the ones who should and must be held accountable for the misdeeds of their progeny.
    When parents use their televisions and consoles as nanny and babysitter, they shouldn't be too surprised when their children begin using them as role models.
    • by fkamogee ( 619579 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:14PM (#13104732)
      How about, for starters, parents pay attention to what their kids are playing? Check the damn label. You don't let them go to NC-17 movies, do you? The ESRB cannot be held responsible for your lack of parenting.
      • by BewireNomali ( 618969 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:55PM (#13105180)
        there are both sides to this. just because you as a parent pay attention to the games your child plays doesn't mean your neighbor does. your kid and theirs happen to be friends, and he has every game on earth. your kid will be playing that game.

        that's what it meant to be a kid, you wanted to do the very thing your parents said you were too young to do.

        which is to say that... this isn't a problem where you can point a finger in one direction and solve it.

        Re: NC-17 movies. it's not that you don't let your kids go to NC-17 movies, it's that the movie theater won't let them in. In other words, the point that I'm trying to make is that raising children is inherently social, not isolationist. So when something goes wrong, you can point at a number of places in the pipeline and find fault.

        I'm really lucky, because my 9 year old nephew only likes (what I find) boring RPGs where you walk around and talk and level up all day. I play games sometimes, and I like the violent ones. I'd be lying if I said they didn't change me, that I don't feel like I have a better understanding of how to kill, because I do.

        maybe in a future world, like next year, all consoles will be thin clients... all games will be server side, and biometrics will determine what tier of games are available to you and/or your kids.
        • > Re: NC-17 movies. it's not that you don't let your kids go to NC-17 movies, it's that the movie theater won't let them in

          The kids, or the movies? I think it's the latter.

          The government is pursuing a backdoor ban. See kids, lying, stealing, and killing is okay, but BREASTS ARE BAD.

          This country is filled to the brim with morons. Morons with power.

          • Yeah - I've thought the morals in the US are completely screwed up for a long time... Since when is nudity and sex this horribly bad thing? OK, rape is bad, but so is killing. Nudity and sex are not equal to rape or killing in any way, since both are essentially violence.

            If they seriously think that they are preventing kids from seeing porn, they are seriously misguided, as kids will view it one way or another if they want to... maybe it's the Internet, maybe it's late nite Showtime, maybe it's stealing
        • If your kid does bad things when s/he goes to the neighbor's house, don't let him go to that neighbor's house.

          Talk to the neighbor. Tell him "Hey, what you do with your kid is up to you, but I don't want MY kid playing this game. Can you help me out?"

          Abdicating responsibility by just saying "These games shouldn't be available to ANYBODY" is unacceptable.
      • You don't let them go to NC-17 movies, do you?

        A better movie rating analogy would probably be R, not NC-17.

        You don't let them go to R movies, do you?
        (And the answer may very well be `yes, you do.' And you may very well let them play `M' rated games.)

        Still, it's really something when you've got a game with lots of violence, and it gets a `Mature' rating (which seems appropriate) but when people find that there's a sex scene in there, one that you cannot even find by accident, politicians st

    • I blame the parents for buying the game and allowing them to play it in the first place. Its a fantacy game for people like me who want to have a little fun and break the law without doing it in real life. Kids play it and think its the real word, thus they go out and shoot people thinking they can get away with it like they did in the game. Parents really need to start parenting, and not the government doing group parenting for everyone just because some parents don't.
      • by KamaDragon ( 819925 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:24PM (#13104826) Homepage
        Kids play it and think its the real word, thus they go out and shoot people thinking they can get away with it like they did in the game.

        I don't believe that for a second. I grew up playing games, so did my friends. We're not violent killers. We're not dumb enough to think that shooting someone is okay just because we did it in a game.

        This whole epidemic is just lousy parenting. People needed someone to blame after Columbine, and it was so easy to claim that it wasn't *my* fault for being a lousy parent, it was those *games*. Politicians jumped on the bandwagon because it absolved parents from all responsibility. That makes the parents feel good, so the parents keep voting for the politicians. It it totally backwards.

        The real problem is that people are having kids because they think they're supposed to. They don't understand what being a parent is or what kind of responsibility they have, and so you get kids who are out of control. So blame everyone but yourself. When it comes down to it, some people are just messed up in the head, too.

        "For some things, there is no solution. For everything else, there's parenting."

        • Yeah, I did over dramatize it a bit, but I was just trying to get across that it is not the game, but the bad parents out there. Even though I did kind of make it sound like the game warps every kids mind, but it does do it to some. Those kids are like 9 years old usually, so its the young minds that end up getting warped.
          • Hah! I was playing Wolf3D when I was 7. I have yet to go around shooting people that seem to be made of Lego(r) bricks, and I'm not about to start.
          • ...so its the young minds that end up getting warped.

            Utter BS. I, having played video games since I was in diapers, never had any trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality! Ditto for movies and tv. Give kids some credit.

            My parents used movies and tv and videogames as ways to demonstrate good behavior. I learned early on that there was "movie language" and actions that were appropriate in a fiction setting were not appropriate in the real world! This isn't rocket science, distinguishing fact from fictio
      • Kids play it and think its the real word, thus they go out and shoot people thinking they can get away with it like they did in the game.

        You speak like its epidimic, I believe there is one case of a kid claiming his shooting spree was influenced by GTA.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Explain something to me: How did you copy and paste a line from the article and have "impact" become "inpact"?
    • I'm sick of this entire attitude that people aren't responsible for their actions. This extends beyond this video game BS. If there's anything you don't want to take responsibility for, call a big drug company and they'll push your "condition" into the diagnostic manual. Let's just clarify this real quick. The devil did NOT make you do it.
    • I'm not going to be one to join the "blame the parents" crowd. I think if someone is 17 then what they see in GTA is not going to cause any real damage.

      The main problem is that politicians love to try and "fix" a popular issue by jumping on the media bandwagon. This happens with absolutely everything that gets wide media attention. I'm beginning to believe that they purposefully promote a misunderstanding of the issue in order to make it sound as bad as possible to get themselves political points. Thes
    • by netruner ( 588721 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:31PM (#13104915)
      [Raises Hand]

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the game in question already rated "M" and still needed modification to produce the behavior in question?

      I have to wonder how much hubub there would be if someone wrote a patch that put a similar "easter egg" into Word. Face it, this game has always had a bulls-eye on it as far as the self-rightous are concerned (just as Doom before it). This incident was just the most convienient excuse to attack it.

      Frankly, I'm just sick of the self-rightous political nonsense assumption that it's ok to tell the rest of us what is "ok" and what's not. This used to be primarily the domain of the "right", but it seems to be spreading like a nasty rash.
      • by endus ( 698588 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:57PM (#13105206)
        "This used to be primarily the domain of the "right"" I agree with your post but disagree with this statement. The left has *always* been on some "think of the children" garbage whereas the right used to have a respect for things like freedom of speech and personal responsibility. I suppose the difference is academic at this point because now all of our politicians, left and right, want to have a hand in forcing their morals on you, but I do think it's an important distinction that conservatism is supposed to respect market forces and personal responsibility, not foisting Christian morals on other people.
        • The left wants to force socialist morals on you, and the right wants to force Puritan morals on you.

          The left's paternalism is based on utopian egalitarianism, the right's is based on fear of roasting in hell at the hands of an angry god.

          The left tends toward believing itself the force of progress, while the right prefers the "good old days".

          Frankly, I find both distasteful, but the right's jowl-wagging bluster and bigotry toward non-puritans has chased me away and quite firmly left of center.
    • When the rating system became a requirement for the video game industry, everyone seemed to think that the system used for the motion picture industry would be adequate. However, the video game makers could not accept that because it would have been a major hit to their bottom line. So they put a few dollars into the legislative vending machine and out popped a pretty ambiguous rating system.

      Instead of an "R" rating, we have "M" for mature. Of course, every parent would like to think that their child is
      • by alphaseven ( 540122 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @02:57PM (#13105910)
        When the rating system became a requirement for the video game industry, everyone seemed to think that the system used for the motion picture industry would be adequate. However, the video game makers could not accept that because it would have been a major hit to their bottom line.

        It's the MPAA's fault. Terms like "R rated" are trademarked by the MPAA and they won't let anyone else use them, they've even sent cease and desist letters to fan fiction writers [nytimes.com] not to use those terms.

    • When parents use their televisions and consoles as nanny and babysitter, they shouldn't be too surprised when their children begin using them as role models.

      When parents use their televisions and consoles as nany and babysitter they also tend to use the Government as head of the household which is just wrong.

      Putting pressure on the Government for more invasive control is not only wrong it is not what this country was founded on... Yet, each and every day, more and more people want to do less and less pa
    • Slashdotters share their experiences: http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/01/11/ 1611253&tid=133 [slashdot.org]

      Now, I'm not saying blaming games for real-life problems is any sort of a solution, but let's quit denying that games have an impact on our lives. Responsibility begins and ends with users of the games and parents of young children.
    • by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:42PM (#13105028) Homepage Journal
      If a child decides to emulate the antics of a character in a video game, it is not the game's fault...

      Most of childhood play revolves around such fantasy, look at the games that children play. "House" - emulating their own parents. "War" - emulating generals. "Cops and robbers" - emulating criminals and law enforcement. "Cowboys and Indians" - emulating ... well, cowboys and Indians. When you introduce toys, it's just a new level. My girlfriend's son recently got a toy lightsabre from his uncle, and he runs around whacking my dog with it and chattering about the Force. He's emulating a Jedi. When he plays with actions figures, he gives them lines and moves them around - it's only different from a video game in that he uses a bit more imagination and there's on controller. Transformers, GI Joes, Batman, Pokemon, almost all of childhood play is emulation. It's called "playing pretend" and it's one of the most common forms of self-entertainment among children. And frankly, I think it's far healthier than rotting in front of a television set watching cartoons.

      When does "playing pretend" go to far? When Mom says so, not when Uncle Sam says so. It's called individual liberty, and individual responsibility. It's called Enlightement liberalism.

      • When does "playing pretend" go to far? When Mom says so, not when Uncle Sam says so. It's called individual liberty, and individual responsibility. It's called Enlightement liberalism.

        Yes and no. Sometimes, mommy is an idiot, or a flake, and Uncle Sam would be a better judge of what's right for little Johhny. The problem, of course, is that most of the time, Uncle Sam is also an alcoholic with a penchant for violent outbursts.

        Sometimes, the line should be drawn well before Mom says so. In this instanc
        • Sometimes, mommy is an idiot, or a flake, and

          I'd say "often", that's the case, even when Mommy is college-educated. But that's because it's easy for me to apply my morality to somebody else and proclaim that if that kid's mother doesn't do (blank) then she must be some kind of idiot.

          Uncle Sam would be a better judge of what's right for little Johhny. The problem, of course, is that most of the time, Uncle Sam is also an alcoholic with a penchant for violent outbursts.

          Exactly. Uncle Sam's Child-Re

    • You know, I used to just hear this crap from parents who were too lazy/selfish to dedicate their time to actually raising their ill-begat loin spawn that threatened to shoot the school. Now it's gone too far when we've got self-proclaimed experts on these games' effects on children telling us:

      You're under hypnosis.

      You would think that these people are getting kickbacks from the game industry to convince us that games have some unbreakable and mystical spell that irrevocably alters neuro-chemical ac

    • "Devils? Oh no! They're worshipping SATAN!"

      I dislike it when such people fail to realize that the majority of people are capable of telling the difference between what is real and what is not. Regardless of whether you're a psycho in a video game, you still know that murder is wrong and you'd be punished severly for it. Anyone who cannot tell the difference between a video game and real life needs professional help.

  • by TPIRman ( 142895 ) * on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:11PM (#13104699)
    From TFA: Critics say the board's guidance is toothless and does little to help parents trying to protect impressionable children from questionable content.

    It's like clockwork. After "Won't somebody please think of the children!" comes "Won't somebody please think of the parents!" After all, kids can't vote, so it's important that the demagoguery focus on the most politically valuable "victims."

    My question is, what do the parents want? Of course the ratings are toothless. They're just a guide. The "Mature" rating tells parents that a game labeled "M" is considered by the ESRB to be potentially inappropriate for people under 17. The ESRB is basically saying: "If you're in doubt, and your kid is under 17, don't allow this game in your home." If a parent is really in conniptions over video-game sex, violence, whatever, then they only need to exert minimal effort to convert their fears into action.

    For parents that care to be more nuanced and/or involved, there are strategy guides in every game store that present the content of games in great detail. And there's also gamefaqs.com, which is free and convenient. Parents don't have to be gamers to avoid being totally oblivious. Now, I certainly don't expect every parent to be this savvy from the get-go. But the parents who claim to give a shit could educate themselves with what I think is a reasonable amount of time and effort.

    But no, let's legislate the fuck out of the video-game industry because Hillary Clinton is running for president.

    • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:24PM (#13104833) Homepage Journal

      If the ESRB has already rated a game as Mature, what is it these rabid parent groups expect everyone else to do? It is up to the parents to ensure their children aren't buying these games. It is up to the parents to ensure their relatives aren't giving these games as gifts. It is up to the parents to ensure their children's friends aren't bringing the games over to play.

      It is not society's responsibility to censor such content just in case some parents are too lazy or inept to keep an eye on their own kids.

    • Interestingly, you don't see people complaining that children can buy/rent r-rated movies. Those ratings are "toothless" as well. So long as they're not buying porn, kids can go out and buy/rent whatever DVDs they'd like. Why do they not have problems with this?

      The ratings there are GOOD ENOUGH. It's the parents that need to improve.
  • by Bazuul ( 561189 ) * on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:11PM (#13104701)
    According to the article itself, the "unlocked nude sex scene" only applies to the PC version of GTA. That means that any kiddies that get exposed to it must first find and download the mod off the internet, then apply it to the game. If the child can/will do this, then he is already being potentially exposed to all the pornography on the internet. In other words, whats the difference between downloading and applying this mod and just downloading porn off the internet? Ratings are meaningless when children have unfettered access to the internet. It all comes back to parental oversight. Government is not a substitute for parenting.
    • by TPIRman ( 142895 ) * on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:19PM (#13104771)
      I think you are spot-on. I just wanted to add that the article is wrong, and the sex scene is apparently present in the PS2 GTA [kotaku.com] as well. This doesn't change your point at all, since you still have to get the cheat codes off the net (and have a device with which to input them, so it's even more cumbersome). Just wanted to clarify the facts of the matter.
    • Unfortunately, a large portion of Americans would stop reading your post at "unlocked nude sex scene". Some would read your post and twist your argument around, saying their claims are "proven" since you equate the game with pornography.

      They're only interested in forcing their own morality onto you - regardless of whether you are a child or adult. This particular game is really just an excuse.
    • Government is not a substitute for parenting.

      ...nor tv, movies, or video games. Hell even school isn't a subsitute. Parenting can only come from one place and that is the child's parents (or legal guardians depending on the case). I agree with you wholeheartedly and it just digusts me that the parents are so detached/lazy/ignorant/whatever that taking time out of their lives to spend time with their kids/taking steps to protect their kids as they see fit (restricting cable/internet/etc) is such a burd
  • Isn't it funny.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PaxTech ( 103481 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:13PM (#13104723) Homepage
    I find it quite telling that when GTA only allowed you to pay for sex and then murder the prostitute in cold blood to get your money back, it was commented on but there was no big push to governmentally censor games.

    But now that you can actually see yourself engaging in consensual sex with your in-game girlfriend, we need to "protect the children".

    Doesn't this seem a little backwards? Apparently violence and murder is completely fine, but a little sex and the pols all go batshit.
    • I find it quite telling that when GTA only allowed you to pay for sex and then murder the prostitute in cold blood to get your money back, it was commented on but there was no big push to governmentally censor games.

      Build a straw man argument, knock it down, and people somehow think you proved your point.

      What planet do you live on? There has been PLENTY of effort to censor games like GTA in recent years. We had US presidential candidates speaking about the game during the 2000 & 2004 elections. Joe L
      • because the sex scene is the primary point of debate over the rating. Prior to the patch, children could only violently murder people. After the patch, they could see a nipple. Apparently, the latter will do more harm to people than the former. Think of all the babies who have been mentally scared from having their eyes open while breast feeding.
    • I'll just point out that when you are with a prostitute, you just see the car shaking. In the minigame, you are basically watching low-rez porn (you see the actual acts). While they would still get in trouble, I don't think it would have been as bad if it was only showing the bed jumping up and down.
      • Re:Isn't it funny.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by PaxTech ( 103481 )
        My point is that when you shoot said prostitute in the head, she dies, and falls to the ground in a pool of blood, i.e. you see the actual acts.

        So apparently committing and seeing the details of cold-blooded murder will cause a bit of a ruckus, but no serious attempt at censorship. Committing and seeing consensual sex however, will force the government to step in.

        These priorities seem more than a little fucked up. By that rationale if Justin Timberlake had punched Janet Jackson in the face at halftime o
    • No, had it been included with the game to start with everything would have been fine. Here is the problems.
      1) Group A screams and raves about GTA
      2) Government states that it is already rated M so there is nothing they can do about it.
      3) Group A learns that the game can be changed slightly and gets it into their head that the rating should have been AO
      4) Ratings board states that game would have still been an M
      5) Group A promply ignored this information and continues ranting because thats what they wanted to
    • Reminds me of playing Counter-Strike. There are tons of servers with the gore turned way up, so a headshot results in the bastard's aorta spouting blood all over the place.

      You say, "Holy shit, lookit the blood!" and some admin chastises you for swearing. Seriously, they claim it's for the children! I can't believe some think words are more offensive than graphic, violent imagery. I've gotten kicked from a number of servers for pointing this out.

    • It devalues sex as a commodity and puts the woman's sexuality into her own control. In this context, killing the prostitute is not only acceptable, it's preferable. The prostitute is doing something wrong (taking control of her own sex), and gets punished. It's a morality play.
  • by OlivierB ( 709839 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:14PM (#13104729)
    ..and have no idea what is going on here's the dirty video [from.free.fr]
  • I don't know about some parents, but if I was a dad and my kid asked me to pony up $50 bucks for a video game, I'm sure as hell going to find out what its about. Plus most stores have the "M" games on lock down, anybody under 17 can't even buy them. This means a lot of these kids are getting adults that should know better to buy it for them. But as they say, money talks, bull**** walks, and these games are racking in the dough like crazy, more than what some blockbusters make.
  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:15PM (#13104747)
    I just have to say that I would've voted for Clinton if she made a run for President before she had diarrhea of the mouth and brought up this unrelated shit. She made a completely wrong (as we all know), completely uneducated statement, and based on factually *wrong* information called for a revamp of the whole system. That was a bad move on her part if she was expecting any of the geek vote. We all know what game mods are, and they've been around since the early days of computer gaming. Her statement was ignorant, and irresponsbile.
    • by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:24PM (#13104830)
      Hillary is just another modern American liberal. The contrast between that and a classic liberal is that a classic liberal wants everyone to have the same rights and liberties, while a modern liberal wants to decide for you which rights you should and shouldn't have, with an emphasis on being hypocritical.

      Modern conservatives also want to decide for you which rights you should and shouldn't have, but they make their selections using different criteria. Conservatives shoot for traditional moral values, whereas liberals shoot for progressive think-of-the-children moral values. They're both wrong, and the classic liberals and libertarians (lowercase ell) have it mostly right. Your rights and liberties are yours to choose, as long as they don't actually and directly harm those around you.

      Classic examples: Legalize marijuana, but make it illegal as hell to drive while intoxicated by marijuana because it's the intoxicated driving that directly injures other people, not the actual intoxication. Or let me own whatever gun I want, but punish me severely if I shoot someone with it other than in legally justified defense of myself, my property, or others. The list goes on, but just these two work to show that modern conservatives and modern liberals are guilty of the same hypocritical, self-important decision-making about which liberties you and I should have.
      • Fascinating (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @02:17PM (#13105407) Homepage
        It never ceases to fascinate me the way that "liberal" is a word whose definition is created and defined by absolutely everyone except whoever the liberals themselves are supposed to be. Ever notice that? Practically no one ever stands up and says "I am a liberal, because I believe this". We just get people going "you are a liberal, because you believe [blah]". The word is starting to be like "commie" or "nazi"; it isn't a political category, it's an insult.

        Also fascinating that Bob Dole [durland.com] and George W. Bush [riaa.com] are apparently "modern liberals". Who knew?

        Why not choose some less ambiguous terms to describe Hilary Clinton, like "socially conservative"? Or why not just ditch the idiotic "liberal/conservative" dichonomy altogether, stop playing shell games with words that may or may not mean the same thing to different people, and discuss things in terms that actually describe what is going on? Here, I'll give you an example:

        Hillary Clinton supports media censorship and is not worthy of anyone's support. If anyone looks at this in terms of "she's just lost my vote", then this means they weren't paying attention 10 years ago, because she's always been like this.
  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:19PM (#13104774) Journal
    This is such classic "Think of the Children" fever hysteria. And there is a simple solution. Some enterprising game hacker needs to release a mod for the Left Behind Trivia Game [leftbehindgames.com] that causes it to display explicit hardcore porn photos.

    Either the crazy censors will go much too far and try to ban all video games, or maybe just maybe they will realize that THERE IS NO WAY FOR A COMPANY TO CONTROL WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO TO/WITH THEIR PRODUCTS.
    • It's not a mod... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Otto ( 17870 )
      Well... Not as such, anyway. The "mod" is re-enabling stuff that was left in the game but just sorta edited out.

      That is, they originally programmed the Hot Coffee stuff in there in the first place, then added code later to cause it to skip that bit. The "mod" just makes it not skip that bit.

      How do we know this? Because there are codes for the PS2 version (using a Game Shark or whatever the equivalent is) to do the same basic thing: re-enable these hidden mini-games.

      This isn't stuff added by the hack, it'
    • Or better yet. You can sneak a playboy into a church. Then go to the media about how your son found a play boy in church. Those no good bible thumping smut peddlers!!!!!
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:19PM (#13104779) Homepage Journal
    Why 17 and not 18, or 21? Deciding by committee for every child in the US is stupid. They should use a system that lists the 'level' of sex, violence, dirty language or whatever and let parents choose appropriately for their own fears.
    • Why 17 and not 18, or 21? Deciding by committee for every child in the US is stupid. They should use a system that lists the 'level' of sex, violence, dirty language or whatever and let parents choose appropriately for their own fears.

      Why is this moderated as a troll? You moderators need to wake up and learn to read past line 1 before rating something. This post makes a very valid point about how the ratings seem to indicate specific age tolerances relate to content appropriateness.
    • Because then parents would be expected to understand the emotional maturity of their child rather than just knowing its age.

      Part of the reason ages are applied is so that (in theory) children can't get access to those kinds of games without an adult present.
  • by sc0ttyb ( 833038 ) * on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:21PM (#13104798)
    This videogame violence/sex/adult-oriented business has gotten incredibly stale.

    It's really quite simple. This game was rated M, for mature players 17 and older. I'd like to talk to the parents of under-17 children playing GTA. I mean, COME ON. The name of the game is GRAND THEFT AUTO. It has a big ol' M on the front of the box. Who in their right mind thinks this is made for kids?

    Parents are ultimately responsible (and held accountable!) for what their children do and are exposed to until the age of 18, at which point they become personally accountable. That's part of being a good parent. Read the ratings and use them in your purchasing decisions. Keep up on what your child is into and does with his/her time. BE A FUCKING PARENT, for God's sake!

    If little Timmy played GTA at a friend's house, bitch to their parents about the game and then explain to your child why they shouldn't be playing Mature-rated games. You have the ultimate say-so in what your child does, so use that to RAISE THEM!

    The way I see it, this is a complete and total non-issue. The ratings are there, broken down into the actual reasons why the game got that rating. Use them. End of story.

    • Simple solution: next parent who tries to blame their kid's killing spree on M-rated video games gets hauled in by the FBI for criminal negligence causing death, for putting the material in their kid's hands. It doesn't matter whether or not the kid was actually effected by the game - it's enough that the parent *believed* that the game would turn their child into a serial killer, and let it happen anyways.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:31PM (#13104907) Homepage
    I am apalled at Microsoft for their blatent disregard of our children. Apparently, it is possible to enter in a special code into a search engine, and get Internet Explorer to display lude pictures. This is outrageous!

    I was also informed that other Microsoft products have similar problems. Outlook has a built-in feature for detecting pornographic emails and filing them into a separate folder called "junk." The product even comes with a built-in list of keywords to help the search!

    I think we need the government to step in and regulate this stuff.
  • by polaris20 ( 893532 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:34PM (#13104935)
    Parent my children for me, for I cannot do it myself. Protect my children from my laziness and unwillingness to do the 5 minutes of Google research it takes to find out the contents of a game rated M. While you're at it, let's get rid of R rated movies. I know, it has the R rating on there, but somehow my kids are going to see it. After all, I don't keep track of their whereabouts, nor take an active role in their daily lives. Also, get rid of profane music. Tipper was right; the kids will still get their hands on it, and it'll scar my little babies even more than my completely incompetent parenting skills.
  • But a good dose of government oversight is exactly what is needed, says Rep. Joe Baca, D-California. He has been trying for three years to get legislation passed that would require the FTC to determine if the video game industry's labeling practices are unfair or deceptive.

    The ESRB is finding itself under the scrutiny of political strife. I commend the ESRB President on her steadfastness and willingness to state "don't hold your breath".

    The ESRB was developed by congress, however it is not a governme
  • by Solr_Flare ( 844465 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:36PM (#13104961)
    Really, this issue is getting tiresome. It isn't just parents, it is the ratings system and the developers too.

    Yes, absolutely, it is the parents above all else who should be aware of what their children are playing and have them play things they feel are appropriate for their age.

    But, the game industry is *not* helping them. And why should they as long as they can get away with it since they make that much more money because of it. The problems are:

    - Games are not always properly rated
    - Ratings are confusing(why not use the same system as the movie industry?)
    - Stores don't enforce ratings, ever.
    - Stores don't even advise on ratings hardly ever.
    - There are so many games out there all jumbled together, for older parents who are not gamers themselves, its pretty much impossible to tell one thing from another.

    Games need to be rated better, the ratings displayed much more prominently, and ratings checked with each sale. This isn't something hard to do and the game industry could do it without a problem, no government intervention needed. The problem is they aren't.

    Developers are a problem too. I mean come on, Rockstar was an idiot with this whole sex game thing. They obviously didn't include it in the normal game because they felt it was too much. They should have never left that content in the game. And, if they are bound and determined to make an "adult" game, they need to stop being so half way about it and just make an adult content game.

    The government is going to end up getting involved in this unless the industry gets their act together. It is amazing how much of a free pass the game industry has gotten so far actually compared to music and movies. They have been given ample opportunities to just do what they promised: "Self enforce a ratings system". And while I don't want government intervention any more than anyone else, its going to happen and soon if things don't change.
    • by kyndig ( 579355 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @02:26PM (#13105486) Homepage
      And while your at it, go ahead and let the government ensure that reporters must release sources of information for "the good of the public".

      And today, we form the Galactic Empire..

      This is a democratic society, built upon the ideals and beliefs that the government works "for" the people, "by" the people; NOT "sanction" the people. For that, go with an Imperalistic government (move to China)

      Games are not always properly rated
      Video games are also sometimes rated too strictly. Movies are sometimes incorrectly rated, as are books. The end result: The concerned parent will research the content prior to exposing their children. I say again the concerned parent will research the content prior to exposing their children to it.

      - Ratings are confusing(why not use the same system as the movie industry?)
      Because we are rating Video Games, not movies. The ESRB ratings are available for full review in many online stores, websites, and storefront retailers to describe the system.

      - Stores don't enforce ratings, ever.
      Oh you are just so wrong here with this statement. Folks, most stores will not sell a video game unless it is ESRB rated. Those stores that _do_ sell non ESRB rated video games are fly by night storefronts, selling fly by night video games. Every respectable video game company has ESRB ratings as part of their publishing standards.

      - Stores don't even advise on ratings hardly ever.
      Stores also don't tell me to read the Surgeon General's warning on a pack of smokes before I purchase them. They don't tell me to read the side effects of medicine before I purchase it. And they definately don't tell me to review the ingredients of multi-syllable words on my can of processed pairs before eating them. Why then are you recommending that stores, of all things, enforce the reading of a rating system for video games?

      - There are so many games out there all jumbled together, for older parents who are not gamers themselves, its pretty much impossible to tell one thing from another.
      Good thing the gaming companies keep their focus on the young adult audience then. The nerve of them though; to focus on a targetted audience and leave a group out. But then again, perhaps they havn't. Maybe they make software games that have practical purposes as well. Dunno


  • Fix the AO rating. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:39PM (#13104992) Homepage
    I think the AO (Adults Only) rating is part of the problem here. Because of what the AO rating is usually used for (basically porn), games all try to squeeze into M (Mature); much like you see movies trying to get an R rating but going as far as they can.

    Why? Because no one sells AO games. Block Buster, Circuit City, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, GameStop, etc don't sell AO games (as far as I know). Just like most theaters don't show NC17 movies.

    So games that should be Adults Only like the GTA games (let your kids play them if you want, but it should be your decision since you'd have to buy it) don't get the rating because they wouldn't sell many places (GTA is large enough that it would probably get an exception, but think about other games like Manhunt or State of Emergency (which I think is MUCH worse than GTA)).

    I think the solution is a new ratings classification. Either P (Pornographic), or X (eXplicit). Sex games go under those. Extremely violent wont-someone-think-of-the-children games would go under AO (which stores could sell without having to sell pornographic games) and then this problem would be closer to being fixed. You must be 18+ to buy an AO game (get legal enforcement behind that like the 17 or older rule for R movies).

    Now, I realize that enforcement for R movies isn't perfect (and often VERY shoddy). And I'm only talking about GTA with the violence and "minimal" sex (before Hot Coffee). With the Hot Coffee content in there, my opinion would be it should go under P or X. Without it, AO. Whether you agree with my views or not, that's my theory; and I think it would at least help.

    On a side note: what is wrong with Rockstar? Surely SOMEONE must have thought it would be a good idea to REMOVE THAT UNUSED CONTENT off the discs? That would have solved all this. The only reason I can think of for it to be left on there is either 1) they were going to use it later or 2) they wanted it to be found. They hung themselves on this one (over-reactions not withstanding).

  • The Army (Score:5, Insightful)

    by potpie ( 706881 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:39PM (#13104993) Journal
    As long as you can be drafted at 18 and shipped off to a foreign country to shoot strangers, I think you can handle a videogame with an M rating.
    • Wow, already modded down for redundant within I beleive 5 minutes. Strange that I can't find the words "draft" or "army" anywhere else on this page or in TFA. Boy do I love moderators.

      I would say this is offtopic, but in my view, the topic of this thread has now been changed.
  • Or worse... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dasdrewid ( 653176 )

    What about the theatre?

    Baca said -- "In a video game, you're actually pursuing and simulating a person. You're under hypnosis. You're a person that is dramatizing, that is living the example of what is going on.

    Once, for theatre class, I had to play a character who "liked little girls. Girlfriend: You mean, little women? Me:No, little girls." I was "dramatizing, living the example" that was layed out in the script for me. I was training how to *be* that guy, who just so happened to have a penchant f

  • "They know very well that if it said "Adults Only" these would not be displayed at a Target, at a Wal-Mart or any of the other video game (retailers), because they wouldn't be sold," Baca said in an interview."

    I wonder if this is true. Since Wal-Mart's a business, and GTA games are one of the highest top selling games, would they not carry it because of an AO rating? I don't think so. It would take some sort of parent lobby group to do that (and then it would already be too late). 12-17 year olds wou

    • by nuggz ( 69912 )
      They will modify and censor CD's movies and magazines to make sure they fit their "family values".

      You're not likely to intimidate Walmart with threats.
  • by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @01:51PM (#13105120) Homepage Journal
    Give people information.
    Let them make their own decisions.

    This is the most fundamental principle of liberty.

    The information is a self-explanatory game ratings.

    The decision is whether or not to buy this or allow your child to play it.

    I know, I know. Precious Little Johnny (er.. Taylor or Tyler or Hayden or whatever the hell you people name your kids these days) leaves and goes over to his friend's house and plays GTA on little Mikey's (er... Connor or Tanner) computers, and he's out of your control. Well, it's your job as the parent to go meet Mikey's mother and find out if you can trust her to oversee your child for a few hours.

    My girlfriend's son came home the other day and bragged about how his aunt let him play a game that was rating "M". He wanted to throw it in Mom's face that he got to play one. That landed his ass banned from his Game Boy for about a week and then she didn't know what to do. "How do I get him to make good decisions?" I suggested that the KID be made to go talk to Aunt Ignorant and that HE explains to her that he's not allowed to play rated M games and that he should have told her the game was rating M, but he made a bad choice. The kid did it, Aunt Ignorant was horrified at her transgression, and said that it just never crossed her mind.

    I promise you that if it was a movie, Aunt Ignorant would have thought about it, but video games are "kid's stuff" to that generation, so it's not part of their decision-making to consider that the game could be inappropriate.

    Anyway, the point is that my old lady is responsible for her child and trying to teach him how to make good decisions by turning situations like this into learning opportunities for her son. And that's a hell of a lot better for a kid than having some paternal-minded windbag like Senator Clinton spending our tax money on investigating how in the world a video game that is intended and rated for adults ended up having adult-only content.

  • Don't get me wrong, I don't blame games for things people do. But the fact is that once a kid's 12 or so they're quite capable of going out and buying the games for themselves, and probably hiding them from their parents. I think it would make sense to say shops can't sell these games to anyone who looks underage without ID. Parents can buy them for their kids if they're willing to let them have them, if not the kids can probably get them anyway but we've done all that's reasonable, if the child's willing t
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @02:27PM (#13105492)
    Most of the posts here, presumably, will be of the "blame the parents" variety, many, I suspect, from children themselves.

    But, such attempts to exonerate game makers for playing to the purient interests of children. Sure, responsible parents ought to ensure that their kids don't buy or play any game they think is inappropriate. But, frankly, parents cannot accompany their kids on every trip to the mall and they certainly cannot stop their kids from playing any game they choose at a friend's home.

    The people who make and market games have as much responsibiility for the impact of their products as do the people who make and market heroin, tobacco, or assault weapons.

  • by hotspotbloc ( 767418 ) on Tuesday July 19, 2005 @04:17PM (#13106748) Homepage Journal
    The US Congress could really care less about this whole GTA:SA / "Hot Coffee" issue. They're using it to distract the American populous from and avoid dealing with the real and critical issues facing them:

    - a huge budget deficit

    - thousands of people without health insurance dying each year from treatable illnesses

    - a war in Iraq and Afghanistan that at this point looks like it has no end, killing thousands of US soldiers (both KIAs and other theater related deaths) and over 100k (by some counts) Iraqis

    - "Plan Columbia" that is pissing off most Columbians, causing everything from birth defects to cancer and destabilizing a good chunk of South America

    - Decent, full-time manufacturing jobs being replaced with poor paying, part-time service jobs (many with no health insurance)

    - the "War on Drugs" which costs over 60 billion USD each year with little to no results.

    - public schools that are crumbling right before their very eyes and the best they can do is "No Child Left Behind", which is a piss poor program that is grossly underfunded.

    Gay marriage yesterday, "Hot coffee" today, Bush's announcement of his SCOTUS replacement (which he'll make tonight) next week. It's all "bread and circus" to the US Congress. Most of them only care about their $158k to $203k USD paycheck and getting all the shit they can steal without getting caught.

    Fuck'em. They're doing it to you.

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