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Censorship The Courts United States Games

Supreme Court Hears Violent Video Game Case Tomorrow 342

SkinnyGuy writes that with the Supreme Court set to hear arguments tomorrow for California's controversial law aimed at keeping violent games away from minors, support for gamers and the games industry is coming from all corners. Writing for PCMag, Lance Ulanoff says the decision should rest in parents' hands: "If I have real concerns, it's up to me to argue it out with my son and take away the games or not buy them for him when he asks." Game developer Daniel Greenberg wants to know "how government bureaucrats are supposed to divine the artistic value that a video game has for a 17-year-old," adding that he's "disheartened and a little perplexed to see [his] art and passion lumped in with cigarettes and booze." The expectation within the legal community is that the statute should be found unconstitutional, and the Atlantic's Garrett Epps points out the irony of Gov. Schwarzenegger's involvement with the legislation.
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Supreme Court Hears Violent Video Game Case Tomorrow

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  • by magsol ( 1406749 ) on Monday November 01, 2010 @06:33PM (#34095798) Journal
    There's a noticeable trend: as the graphics in video games have become "more realistic" over the last decade, homicide rates among 14-25 year-olds (arguably the most potent age demographic in the gaming industry) has dropped over the last decade.

    No, correlation does not imply causation, nor would that make in this particular case. Furthermore, homicides can't be construed as an end-all, be-all indicator of any culturally-induced violent behavior. But saying that kids who play Counterstrike and then leave their house with their dad's shotgun and blow holes in their neighbors' heads were inspired to do so from playing video games is ludicrous.

    Video games may nudge already-unstable mental states of individuals in a certain direction, but it's nothing that a certain environment wouldn't have done on its own anyway. They don't turn "normal" human beings into mindless rampaging murderers.
  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Monday November 01, 2010 @06:43PM (#34095900) Journal

    That's legal everywhere (or at least as far as I know) - there is no Law saying that your movie has to be rated, you can choose to go and have your movie unrated if you want - but certain theatrical companies may not want to air your film, or they'll give it their own rating. Basically, when someone says you can't see an R rated movie - its the company policy, not law. No body of the government is responsible for upholding that law.

    This being said - its the same way video games are right now. Places like Gamestop are not legally binded to uphold the ESRB ratings system, it's just their company policy to do so.

    Now other things, like cigarettes and alchohol, ARE bound by law. This court case is about making video games part of those groups - where distributors can be held accountable for selling video games to people younger than the rating system allows, like selling or giving cigarettes to under-aged smokers.

    Right now - if a kid wanted a video game and he did not meet the requirements he could ask his parents to buy it for him, that way they know what he's purchasing and they can check the ESRB rating and look at the box and all that nice stuff. Basically the law being proposed would take that out of the equation - as in the reseller or parent can be liable for letting them acquire that game, just like if your parents were to buy you smokes or if the 711 let you buy smokes underaged.

    Now - thats the way it is where I am - in other places of the states, perhaps no company is imposing any restrictions based on the ESRB ratings. If thats the case, I can see where the people are coming from - but they should be lobbying their distributors to impose the restrictions, not the Government.

  • Ya know what? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 01, 2010 @07:17PM (#34096258)
    If it means that more developers put focus on solid gameplay over graphics and realism, you won't hear me complain. I hate to say it, but it's true.
  • Re:Parenting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 01, 2010 @07:20PM (#34096302) Journal

    I'm sure the nanny types would have a fit but I let my boys play games like DOOM when they were 12 with NO worries. Why? Because I sat down with them and showed them how it worked instead of using the machine as a baby sitter, that's why. I showed them how to edit DOOM wads, and how the changes they made were reflected on the screen. I showed them how the characters may act like they were 'reacting" to them, but it was all a script that could be easily changed. By doing so I showed them the truth behind the magic curtain, and therefor didn't worry about them confusing anything on the screen with IRL. of course it made for some funny "cursing" by my oldest, things like "Who designed this game? Look at all the tearing! And could they rehash the textures any more? And what about the AI, DUCK YOU DUMMY!"

    Now the oldest has just started pre-med and the youngest is deciding whether to go into graphic arts or become a chef. Neither has EVER raised a hand in anger to anyone else, in fact the local pastor just recently told me "I wanted to let you know what a fine young man you have in your oldest. I went to ask him about some volunteer work and watched as he went out of his way to make sure nobody in the cafeteria had to eat alone for felt left out. He is gonna make a great doctor and probably a leader in the community" which made me feel great. In the end it comes down to simply doing the right thing and caring about your kids, instead of using tech as baby sitters. You can't baby proof the world, nor can the government be "big mommy" to the nation's kids.

    So I agree with you completely, well except for the "kicking their asses" part. I hate to break the news to ya, but after about 35 your reaction time just sucks ass compared to a teen. If you are gonna play with them you better make sure that age and treachery overcome youth and skill, because on skill alone they'll mop the floor with you.

  • Oh it gets better (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday November 01, 2010 @07:21PM (#34096308)

    Violent crime as a whole has been dropping fairly steadily for about 2-3 decades. Despite the "We are less safe," hysteria from the media we are actually more safe. Violent crime levels have trended downward. Not every year, not every place, but you look at the over all trend and it has been on a decline for a good bit. Well guess what? That neatly maps with the rise in videogame popularity. In 2-3 decades they went from things only geeks played to something everyone does. As their popularity has risen, crime has fallen.

    There you go! Clear correlation! Games cause crime to go down!

    Or course Steven Levitt has some pretty compelling evidence that legalized abortion was one of the major factors, not games, but then the kind of people who say "OMG games cause crime!" aren't in to good evidence.

  • by Neptunes_Trident ( 1452997 ) on Monday November 01, 2010 @07:30PM (#34096386)
    Video Games are a reflection of our STRUCTURED SOCIAL SYSTEM. Same with a child's behavior. It is a reflection of our SOCIAL STRUCTURE. And it is NOT the child fault, it is our own fault as adults. Here is a video about Bullying by a gentleman who holds degrees in History and Philosphy. []
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday November 01, 2010 @07:50PM (#34096564) Journal

    Somehow I can't imagine Scalia doing drug runs in GTA 4, but you never know.

    Oh how 'bout this? We'll stop playing violent video games when Clarence Thomas stops watching videos of white women having sex with donkeys? Maybe some of you are too young to remember Anita Hill's (corroborated) testimony, but this is a guy who's got a serious porn addiction, in addition to being a serial sexual harasser.

    The only reason he was confirmed by the Senate is because the Senate judiciary committee was an all-boys' club back then, and when a woman would bring sexual harassment charges, she was told "well, you must have been asking for it" (which is pretty much exactly what the Senators said to Anita Hill).

  • Which may or may not be related to any societal benefit. A rating system with 100% compliance which causes no decrease in violence can not be accurately described as successful.

    Wouldn't that be a reasonable indicator that whatever it is you are rating is quite possibly not the cause of the violence?

    Hypothesis: We have X% of violence in children because Y is unregulated by age-restriction ratings.
    Experiment: Regulate Y by age-restriction ratings.
    Result: We still have X% of violence.
    Conclusion: Hypothesis is rejected.

    Tentative interpretation: Y is not the (most significant) cause of violence in children. Further study along these lines recommended.

    If you don't automatically accept that violent video games lead to violent behavior, then a rating system with 100% compliance can be successful by simply allowing parents to have a reasonable, standardized assessment of whether or not the content of a game is age-appropriate for their child. It can also be argued to be successful, because it may show that access to violent content or not in games does not significantly correlate to violent behavior.

  • by codepigeon ( 1202896 ) on Monday November 01, 2010 @09:36PM (#34097252)
    I heard recent clips from the Supreme Court where they were asking questions about "texting". They didn't know if two people who texted at the same time would have their text's collide and be blocked. The people on the U.S. Supreme Court are decades behind technology.
  • by LongearedBat ( 1665481 ) on Monday November 01, 2010 @11:55PM (#34097914)

    Seriously, taking all your "trouble" kids, having them stick around after class, in the same room... it's a silly idea. That means when they go home from school, the only other people to talk to are other trouble kids. Does someone who yells at a teacher need to be sitting around the kid who got caught smoking?

    That's exactly the problem with prisons. I think we need to come up with a better system than prisons, that is still socially palatable.

  • Re:Ban Chess! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DanTheStone ( 1212500 ) on Tuesday November 02, 2010 @10:10AM (#34100376) []

    “A pernicious excitement to learn and play chess has spread all over the country, and numerous clubs for practicing this game have been formed in cities and villages. Why should we regret this? It may be asked. We answer, chess is a mere amusement of a very inferior character, which robs the mind of valuable time that might be devoted to nobler acquirements, while it affords no benefit whatever to the body. Chess has acquired a high reputation as being a means to discipline the mind, but persons engaged in sedentary occupations should never practice this cheerless game; they require out-door exercises—not this sort of mental gladiatorship.”

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982