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Censorship Government United States Games Politics Your Rights Online

72% of US Adults Support Violent-Game Ban For Minors 478

SpuriousLogic writes with an excerpt from GameSpot: "The US Supreme Court won't start hearing arguments over California's law banning game sales to minors until November 2. However, the ruling in the court of popular opinion is already in, according to a new poll. This week, parent watchdog group Common Sense Media released the results of a survey it commissioned on children's access to violent games. Conducted by polling firm Zogby International, the survey asked 2,100 adults whether they would support a law that 'prohibits minors from purchasing ultra-violent or sexually violent video games without parental consent.' Of those surveyed, some 72 percent said they would approve such a law. Common Sense Media CEO and founder James Steyer, whose nonprofit organization is lobbying for game-restriction legislation in many states, hailed the poll's findings. 'We hope the [state] attorneys general will take a look at these poll results and that they'll side with families over protecting the profits of the video game industry.'"
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72% of US Adults Support Violent-Game Ban For Minors

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  • by bertoelcon ( 1557907 ) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:10AM (#33585116)
    I have had to show an ID to get M rated games from stores here in Texas, does California not already do that?
  • by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:21AM (#33585222)
    I saw the loaded question and still agree
  • by Defenestrar ( 1773808 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:32AM (#33585314)

    War (legal ultraviolence) is a lot different from rape (illegal sexual violence). It's bad enough to combine separate questions (loaded enough), but the article doesn't even summarize the fundamental aspects of a statistical study!

    There's also the fact that 2,100 people is a very small number to base any sort of national (or even state) law and policy on. What are the survey demographics? What are the statistically significant differences of opinion based on group? What is the study's power to detect (a significant difference 80% of the time)? Was the survey terminology defined to the participants, or if not - were there survey questions to obtain the participants' definitions of the terms?

    X% of adults agree to outlaw pictures of "kittens, hamsters, and child porn" 100-X% of adults have been put on the child molestation watch list.

    Now I'm going to have to look up the original survey because of bad survey reporting. It's possible that the survey was done well and the reporter dumbed it down, but it's also entirely possible that the survey ignored experimental design and statistical considerations - but in that case the reporter should have publicly ripped the survey to shreds. If a reporter can't understand statistical analysis they have no business reporting survey results!

  • by AltairDusk ( 1757788 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:35AM (#33585340)
    I have little hope that will help anything considering I've seen a woman in EB with her 8 year old (my estimation) in tow complaining to the clerk how violent and horrible some of the games they sell are. 15 minutes later (after 10 minutes of pestering from her son) she was buying the kid Grand Theft Auto.
  • by Chmcginn ( 201645 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:39AM (#33586064) Journal

    But who gets to classify 'ultraviolent' vs. 'violent' vs. 'comic violence'? If it's an industry body, then there's the same kinds of conflict of interest that leads to independent films getting 'worse' ratings than big studio releases. And the last thing we need is an Australia-style government run ratings board.

    The obvious solution is to prevent children under 18 from buying any media at all. That way it's a content neutral restriction, and all the responsibility for what kids are playing, reading, or watching falls on the parent.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:02AM (#33586392) Journal

    Nonsense. It's easier to lobby a single entity than to lobby ~100,000 different stores. And before you go off about "my right to buy a violent game or porn video", I'm sorry but non-adults don't have rights. They are wards of their parents who make the decision of what to buy or not buy.

  • by StuartHankins ( 1020819 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:16AM (#33586576)
    I usually consider myself very much against the government telling me how to do anything. However, I think in this case I'd agree with preventing a minor from purchasing the product. That allows a minor who really wants an adult product to have a parent purchase it for them -- it's not "illegal" to own, it just stops kids from purchasing potentially harmful things. It goes along with the policy of not allowing children to purchase beer, cigarettes, adult magazines or toys, certain weapons, etc.

    Why would I change my mind for this when I consider myself a libertarian? I think the harm these games can do to the children is irreparable -- not that it happens in every case. I'm old enough now to see how different my kids behave when compared with other kids who were reared on lots of sugar and violent TV / games. Some of the other kids frankly scare me.
  • by cawpin ( 875453 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:08AM (#33587356)

    That is completely and utter bullshit. There have been a FEW, counted on one hand, cases of dealers selling firearms illegally. Most of the cases that were brought up in "studies" were thrown out do to illegal tactics used by the ATF. Mayor Bloomberg in New York was also breaking the law with his cronies going over state lines to try and illegally purchase firearms. He said they were able to purchase guns at 3 neighboring states. The only problem was, they had to break the law to do so. They provided false information to the dealer. The FBI and ATF both told him to cease operation of these "stings" or he would go to prison.

    Buying a firearm at a gun show is no different than buying one at a store. You have to fill out the same paperwork and go through the same background check.
  • by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross.quirkz@com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:04PM (#33588404) Homepage
    I can't really bring myself to be too upset by this. The movie ratings system isn't perfect, but it certainly doesn't bother me much, and this sounds similar, on the surface at least. Everyone agrees the parents ought to be ultimately responsible. This (sounds like, if I'm reading it right) a shift from an automatic whitelist with the option of parents to blacklist, to an automatic blacklist, with the option for parents to whitelist. Not sure that's a huge difference, except for the parents who prefer more control.

    Sure, kids can get around those things, but if the fact that people break rules is a reason not to have rules, then we wouldn't have any rules at all.

    Now I do question the wording of the poll, and I question whether the group involved here would put forth reasonable ratings. And, were I a parent, I'd likely whitelist a lot games for my kids if I knew they could handle it, but I wouldn't really be ticked if my kids needed my active participation to pick up some of the more violent games.

  • uh?? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:44PM (#33589068)

    So, what implications does a state or federal law have on independently published or distributed games? Its one thing if mainstream publishers and retailers along with the ESRB establish their own policies which already work fine.

    But when the government says "this game is violent you can't sell it to minors"-who are they talking about? Do freeware game makers and hobbyists now need to watch their back lest our nanny state comes after them for "polluting the minds of our precious youth"?

  • by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:34PM (#33589858) Journal

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - while I don't have a problem with restricting access, I have a fundamental problem with this law unfairly targeting video games and not all media. In mass killings, the top influences were movies and music, not video games (movies were something like 2x more influential than video games, as well). In secret shopper surveys [ftc.gov], kids were more than twice as likely to be able to buy R and UR movies and explicit lyric CDs.

    The movie ratings system is voluntary just like the video game industry. One of the reasons for the push for the law was because "the movie industry polices itself," but that is fundamentally flawed - that is theaters only - retail is still voluntary, just like for retail video games. If arcades were still around and popular, this would be more akin to stopping kids from access to certain arcade games but still letting them buy the game at the store (if the store allowed).

    In the US, the video game rating system is actually stricter on sex/nudity than the movie industry - in fact, it is one of the most restrictive systems in the world, where frontal nudity is always an M and more than ~2 seconds of it is an AO. Violence is typically split into Teen vs M or AO by gore content.

    most stores self police already (see secret shopper link above) - in 2008, 80% of kids trying to buy M and AO video games were stopped - in 2000, that number was 17%. In a study, only 8% of kids try to buy games without parental consent, so of the 8% trying to get away with it, only 20% do.

    Retail stores sell unrated movies that have added sexual or violent content, but AFAIK, no video games are sold unrated from any major retailer.

    Video games have 1" ratings labels that must be on the lower left hand corner of the box. Movies have inconsistent size, location, and box requirements. CDs I believe also require explicit lyrics to be on the front of the disk (all of mine are, but I only have a few).

    So in conclusion, I don't have a problem with restricting sales to minors, but I have a huge problem with video games being the scapegoat. The problem is media in general and the continued perception of video games being like animation and for kids only, which the US seems to hang on to even though it is incorrect. I wonder how many of the same people with that perception went to see Avatar, which was basically one big cartoon marketed to adults...

  • by Transaction7 ( 1527003 ) <peterschamberlain@embarqmail.com> on Thursday September 16, 2010 @04:10AM (#33597294)
    Too much of our First Amendment jurisprudence dealing with commercial speech, advertising, and entertainment, has departed completely from the original intent of the Framers. When the Court included commercial nude lap dancing in the same protection as core political speech in 1981, things really started to go awry. Interestingly, most of these cases benefit not the poor disenfranchised little guy who might need protection but the wealthy and influential. One has to wonder how much that has to do with the Supreme Court granting First Amendment protection to “virtual” child pornography, for example. Whatever other protection the Constitution provides, or ought or ought not to provide, for sexual activity, for example, it simply isn’t “speech” or “press,’ nor is it a modern version thereof, hardly being a modern invention or innovation, so it does not fit within the text, intent, or framework of First Amendment jurisprudence, any more than the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment do. The logical place to put most sexual liberty would be under the Fourth Amendment, but you can’t fit a right of publicity or very public activities under that. Driving on a public street and running a red light is not protected by either amendment, either, contrary to some people who know better but argue that red light cameras which capture open activity on the public roads are somehow unconstitutional. If something that wouldn’t lead you or me to do something destructive, tortuous, or criminal, even if we listened to or watched it, reasonably arguably might be likely to cause, lead, or encourage a small minority of minors or other particularly susceptible people, not readily identifiable in advance, to do so, and these are commercial and don’t really have anything to do with ideas except exploitation of base tendencies and incitement, it would be entirely proper to uphold a law regulating this conduct that 72% of the people in our democracy within a republic favor. This has no positive value. Now one real practical legal and Constitutional problem with trying to reduce the amount of such pollution by legislation was aptly summed up by the late Justice Potter Stewart in his famous comment, “I may not be able to define it [pornography, in words], but I know it when I see it.” Why, however, do we require impossible perfection in the drafting of such laws when they might affect the profits of a very profitable industry targeting minors? Of course, unless you believe that not only all members of Congress but their legal staffs are ignorant idiots, you have to ask yourself why, so often, the bills touted as solving all the world’s ills always seem to wind up having either gaping loopholes or obvious defects the courts have already ruled rendered other laws, and would render any new ones, unconstitutional, unenforceable, and void. When I was in law school, our famous Dean liked to quote Will Rogers: “Whenever Congress tells a joke, it’s a law, and whenever they pass a law, it’s a joke.”

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"