Can We Force Senators To Play Grand Theft Auto In Its Entirety Before They Introduce Stupid Laws About Video Games?

from the just-a-suggestion dept

Well, it looks like Jack Thompson's favorite piece of legislation is back in play. Senator Sam Brownback has introduced legislation that would require those who rate video games to play all video games "in their entirety" before coming up with a rating for the game. This is, obviously, a reaction to the whole "Hot Coffee" fiasco, where players could modify a game that had blatant (advertised and on the warning label) violence and carjacking. And what was this awful modification? It allowed the cartoon character in the game to engage in consensual sex. Yes, the carjacking, killing, violence and mayhem were perfectly fine... but a very well hidden modification that would show the characters having sex? Well, that's just too far! Of course, what's amusing about this is that it's clear that whoever wrote the law doesn't understand how games like Grand Theft Auto work. You can't play it in its entirety. The game is just an open world. It doesn't end. You can just keep playing. So, we have a modest proposal for Senator Brownback or any other politician who wants to offer up similarly pointless legislation: you cannot offer such legislation up to Congress without first playing the video games you're worried about "in their entirety" yourself. Deal?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 6:45am

    Video games

    Most video games people get all up in arms about are meant for teenagers or adults to be playing, but they put the famous tag line "think about the kids"! Shame on you parents! If you let your young children play Grand Theft Auto then maybe social services should give you a visit.

    I like the idea of Senators and Congressman playing games in their entirety. We wouldn't see them around capitol hill for days, maybe weeks! Right on!

    Oh and here's a little quote about the stupidity of people that say video games cause violence and problems:

    "Who says video games affect our children? If that were true, we'd all be sitting in dark rooms, popping pills, and listening to repetitive music."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:02am


    I like the idea of Senators and Congressman playing games in their entirety. We wouldn't see them around capitol hill for days, maybe weeks! Right on!

    Considering that Congress rarely does a full five day work week anyway (remember there are members that have to travel to meet in DC) that may not be such a good idea.

    I personally think that trying to make a new law for violent games is just a soap box politicians stand on for election time. It would seem that the best course of action is to actually enforce the requiremnt to sell games to the actualy age group they are rated for.

    If a game is rated Teen then only let kids 13 and up buy it. If it's Mature then ask for ID to stop anyone below 17. And for AO ask for ID to stop anyone under 18.

    A sales rep sales an AO title to a 14 year old, repremand him/her where it hurts like say...taking a fine from their paycheck. It happens again, fire him/her and repremand the store manager the same way. It happens again, its time to hire a new store manager.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Mike4, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:06am

    Play GTA in its entirety

    I have to disagree, Mike - You can play GTA and get to 100%, at which point the game is complete. Considering how long that would take someone, I don't think they could enforce this, though. You could, however, require playing the game for a certain time period before giving it a rating, but shouldn't their be other factors? I have no clue how a game gets its rating, but shouldn't the game designer have some input? I doubt Rockstar would fight to get their games an E rating.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:08am

    Re:

    Good point. With all the hype I almost forgot we had laws on video game ratings.

    But, correct me if I'm wrong, I thought it was more a general guideline than strictly enforced. I'm not sure there are any monetary penalties for selling a Mature game to a minor. If there aren't, maybe they need to make the current laws work instead of drumming up new ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    MadJo (profile), Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:09am

    Re: Video games

    Most of us would jump on turtles, and throw fireballs at each other. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Mr. Mynor, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:23am

    missing the point?

    While the issues of the proposed legislation with respect to censorship are certainly debatable, I think alot of people are missing the point entirely... They are not suggesting that legislators should spend their time playing these games, which would be an obvious waste of their time and the taxpayers' money.

    What they are proposing is that the ratings board takes the time to play the entire game to make sure nothing ojectionable slips past unnoticed. This is akin to the procedure of the movie ratings board, who do not assign a rating to a movie until they view the final cut of the film in its entirety.

    In reality, while you can cry parental responsibility all day long, unless the parents have an effective and reliable system to base their decisions on then realisticly they cannot be held responsible for allowing their children to play games with inappropriate content. Parents simply do not have the time to sit down and play every hot game on the market or even to spend any significant amount of time investigating each game their kids want to get their hands on.

    This seems to be a perfectly legitimate and necessary step to take to ensure that children are not playing games which expose them to inappropriate subjectmatter, but by itself it will not fix the problem. Ultimately the retailers must be held responsible, because otherwise there are no incentives in place for them to withhold these games from people who are not of the appropriate age. when the competing incentives are the additional profit generated from additional sales vs. a few angry parents, it should not be particularly surprising which has more weight in a capitalist society. Retailers must be accountable before any regulation will be effective.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Argonel, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:24am

    Re: Play GTA in its entirety

    I haven't seen a single convincing argument that the ratings games are given a wrong. OK, so the "Hot Coffee" might have pushed GTA from an M to an AO, but it wasn't accessable without outside intervention. As far as I can tell the ESRB is doing at least as good of job rating games and the MPAA is of rating movies. The ESRB is also more consistent and open about their ratings process which helps bot hthe publishers and the customers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Paul, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:28am

    Re: Play GTA in its entirety

    Even then the game wouldn't be "completed", as mods wouldn't be covered by the play session - e.g. if GTA had been played to 100% before rating, the Hot Coffee stuff wouldn't have been found, the game would have been released with an M rating and the controversy would still have happened..

    So, yes, another pointless attempt to legistlate something they don't understand....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:33am

    Re: missing the point?

    Yes it just to much for a parent to understand that 'M' is mature and a 12 year old probably shouldn't be playing it. Your argument would be valid if there weren't a ratings system in place.

    Ever worked in a store that sold video games? Mommy buys Johnny the game even with the knowledge it is rated 'M' almost every time. I can't count the number of times I told the parent this is rated Teen or Mature and the response is almost always the same: "It is what he wants"

    In this case the name should have given it away, Grand Theft Auto, the name of the game is a felony. Do you think with a name like that it is about a plumber fighting ducks with turtle shells?

    BTW, once my son says he wants a game the first thing I, yep I as it is my responsibility, is look what the game is about, and what people are saying about it. It is my responsibility.

    Parents should have the time to learn before giving it to the child or is should not be given.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Kyle, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:33am

    i got an idea!

    parents watch over they're kids? and educate/advise them on their own? o wait, thats crazy talk....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Stinking Kevin, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:36am

    Re: TheDock22's comment

    There are no laws in the United States that enforce content-based restrictions on the distribution of video games. In other words, almost all retailers have age-appropriateness policies in place, but these policies are private -- none are criminally enforceable.

    Why? Because restricting games based on a judgment of the appropriateness of the content would be an unquestionable violation of the First Amendment's protection of "free expression." Furthermore, this would effectively transfer authority for making all legally binding decisions about age-appropriateness from "the people" (you and your elected representatives) to a private organization based in NYC and funded by the biggest game publishers in the industry (the ESRB).

    This is why essentially every anti-game law to date has been overturned, and why Brownback's is guaranteed to be overturned as well, if it ever passes in the first place.

    Worst off all, most of these Reps and Senators understand Constitutional law far better than I do, and they make these anti-game proposals knowing full well they'll never stand up in court. Even if people aren't upset about the First Amendment violation, I wish they'd get upset about being pandered to and played for fools.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Egat, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:37am

    Re: Video games

    "Who says video games affect our children? If that were true, we'd all be sitting in dark rooms, popping pills, and listening to repetitive music."

    So what you're saying is that ravers are around because of video games?

    (pick a better quote, that one actually doesn't mean what you think it means)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    SPR, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:47am

    More Laws

    Our idiot legislators think they have to produce more laws to show they are doing something. If a lawmaker really wanted to make a name for themselves that would find favor with the masses they would work on eliminating many of the needless laws that exist. Also, they need to quit trying to legislate common sense. If someone wants to do something stupid, maybe Darwinism needs to be allowed to operate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:52am

    Re: Re: Video games

    That quote is a joke. Egat, do you agree that video games affect our minds and influence us to do things, like become ravers? That's what you sound like you mean.

    If you can't see the humor in the quote and you take it at face value, you missed the point entirely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: TheDock22's comment

    Thanks for clearing that up for me. Makes sense too about infringement on the 1st amendment as well.

    So I guess the solution is, there is no solution? We can't force parents to abide by the laws, we can't force stores to sell games to right ages based on fines, and we can't trump up new laws to get rid of these games, again from 1st amendment rights.

    No wonder this is a harder issue to figure out than everyone thinks. No easy answers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: TheDock22's comment

    Wow you mean you guys don't have any laws pertaining to age restriction of games, videos etc?

    You already restrict free expression according to age - you don't get much more expressive in a society than voting, and I don't see too many 12 year olds lining up to vote

    Possibly what is required is a board to classify material like this based on content, and laws to restrict sale of content to minors etc

    We have this and it just basically helps parents make informed decisions, plus I am safe in the knowledge that my kid can go to town on his own and not buy 18 videos etc

    I admit that as a parent I DO allow my kids to access certain age restricted content (this itself is NOT against the law in the home) but, since it says 18 or similar on the box I ask a few more questions or play the gamevideo myself first. I asked about GTA2 in the shop because of this, and decided that it was just a bit too far for my youngest right now but fine for our 15year old - its actually an 18 but I think thats over the top

    Perhaps requiring games manufacturers to come up with detailed storyboards of the the missions etc would be more sensible in a game like GTA. Or just requiring them to inform of all possible outcomes or levels in a game relating to whatever it is they are bothered about sex, nudity, violence etc etc

    On the whole some sort of enforced rating system would I think be a good thing and at least reduce the ability of JT and his posse of bitches in the senate to whine on

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Dan, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:07am

    Penny Arcade had a great comic about this fool.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    SmartAssWizKid, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:12am

    Re: Video games

    That quote makes no sense at all. Who is the quote from? You? Your an idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    tige, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    real life violence

    I wonder what rating a game would have where you rip apart fetuses and half born babies with medical instruments?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Beefcake, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:30am

    Re: missing the point?

    "Parents simply do not have the time to sit down and play every hot game on the market or even to spend any significant amount of time investigating each game their kids want to get their hands on."

    Your hollow commitment to the act of raising your kids aside:

    1. The game is titled Grand Theft Auto.
    2. It's rated M for Mature

    That should be enough to tip you off. Since you seem have better things to do than raise your kids (such as acting as an non-appointed spokesman for "parents"), that's too damn bad for them. I resist your camp's efforts to get the government to raise mine for me too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Duh, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:43am

    Ratings must be reliable. In order to provide that reliability, game makers must assume some legal responsibility for the content they create. Playing every video game in its entirety for the purposes of rating them is not a practical approach for anyone.

    Here is a genuine idea:

    If a content provider knowingly or unknowingly includes content of a questionable nature without disclosing it to the persons rating its content. In the event that the content surpasses its rating. They should get their pants sued off...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Harmon Wood, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:45am

    I first saw this on a shirt back in 1996

    "Who says video games affect our children? If that were true, we'd all be sitting in dark rooms, popping pills, and listening to repetitive music."

    Let me help clear up the very simple point to this quote.

    Who here, has played Pacman?

    Now, how many of you are running around in dark rooms, popping yellow pills, listening to repetitive music, thinking ghost are chasing them?

    *note*: the "quote" used is more like a paraphrase of the original.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:47am

    Comments and quotes, oh my!

    I've seen Mr. TheDock22's quote on a T-shirt at Spencer's novelty store, and I don't think it means what he thinks it means. Inconceivable! It's a tongue-in-cheek reference to Pac-man and the stereotypical techno/raver crowd. It actually goes against the grain of his arguement-- and isn't the wittiest thing I've read on a T-shirt to begin with.

    I would imagine that we should go to the source for all of this nonsense: The game makers. Just have them put what can be found in the game-- maybe even standarize it so they can just check it off-- Violence? Check. Realistc blood and gore? Check. Sex? Check.

    Then, all blame is placed on the company should some unknown or unspecified unlockable content be found. Fines, firings-- fantastic.

    Just the way I see it-- since no one would really be able to play GTA from start to 'finish', but you can bet it the people who coded it know what's in it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:52am

    Re: I first saw this on a shirt back in 1996

    My bad, I try to be funny on a forum where seriousness rules. I just thought it was a funny saying.

    Oh and whoever said Mr. TheDock22, you are a sexist pig.
    I'm a Miss...try asking before throwing those stereotypes around.

    Also, I didn't know the quote was on a t-shirt, I saw it somewhere else on the internet. But I really want that t-shirt now!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 8:56am

    Re: missing the point?

    Comparing watching a moving to playing a game is not a fair comparison. With a movie there is always a clear end and a path to get there. With a game sometimes it's hard to know if it's over. Also, depending on what you do in a game will determine what you see sometimes. For example, the whole Hot Coffee things wasn't something that everyone saw. You had to do something very specific in order to see the scene. So even if the ratings board playes the games for hours you still can't guarantee that they will see everything. Obviously before GTA was rated no one had seen Hot Coffee but it was there.

    Also, I am a parent and a gamer. And when ever I buy my daughter a new game I play it with her. So I know what kind of content it in it. As a parent you have to try to know what is going on. If you make your kids play video games in the living room where you can see it then you have an idea what is going on. As we all know violent video games are ususally violent the entire time. As a parent you wouldn't have to watch too much of it to know if it isn't appropriate for your child.

    I do agree that we need to abide by the rating system in place. If I buy a game rated M someone should ask for ID. I would get carded for cigs and beer so why not games? Why rate them at all if no one is going to do anything with the rating. Or are the ratings supposed to just be informational?

    Just my two cents...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Erik, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:07am

    Finished It

    Actually you can finish Grand Theft Auto. I did it several weeks ago (finally) and look at me, I haven't gone on any killing sprees or carjacking sprees or anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Scott, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:07am

    I played this through to the end. My main issue with the game was when I left the building that the mod could be played in. Though I didn't have the mod installed when I played, when I left the building I was wearing a gimp suit and carrying a duoble dick. I thought this was extremely inappropraiate on any level.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: I first saw this on a shirt back in 1996

    In the english language, when a gender is unknown, it is acceptable to use the male gender. Be that as it may, I don't care your gender, which would be a major (although not the only) reason I didn't ask your gender.

    The argument still stands that your quote went more or less against your point.

    I also don't think that sexist means what you think it means. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Xenohacker@hotmail.com, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:07am

    Duh

    Like I said... if a content provider knowingly or unknowingly includes content of a questionable nature without disclosing it to the persons rating its content. In the event that the content surpasses its rating. They should get their pants sued off...

    The people who made the game know exactly what is in it. I can't see many other arguments that make sense... until the day parents have to play their kids video games in their entirety to claim they are parenting their children properly...

    I often laugh at the obvious short-sightedness of legislators though... this law was obviously written by a bone head otherwise he must be volunteering to be the official Video Game Rating Agency of America... I bet this senator likes to get high and sit and play video games all day... HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Stinking Kevin, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:12am

    Re: 15
    As for the "solution," I think maybe we should do a better job of defining the "problem" first. What exactly are we trying to solve? Is it simply that parents want to have control over the media their children consume? I think we already have many different solutions to that problem, and none of them violate anyone else's rights to free expression.

    To be honest, I think a lot of politicians use "video game violence" the same way they use "terrorism" -- as a vaguely defined bogeyman to keep the populace scared, and to give the politician an opportunity to look like he's acting as a protector.

    Re: 16
    The fact that many lawmakers are attempting to restrict free expression based on age-appropriateness is secondary -- the main point is that (slander, libel, and undue endangerment aside) they cannot restrict free expression based any reason at all. Free expression protection applies to all citizens, including game publishers, game retailers, and game buyers.

    It is true that minors can't vote, and it is interesting to me that you consider this an age-based restriction on free expression. But, for the purpose of this discussion at least, children in the U.S. don't really have full rights as citizens. Perhaps we could make it illegal for minors to possess cash or make any purchases at all, but we still couldn't single out video games (or any other forms of media) just because of their expressive content.

    ESRB, PEGI, ELSPA, and even NIMF provide standardized content guidelines for parents. I do not see how making these guidelines legally enforceable would make them any more effective in the home. You say you yourself violate these guidelines at times, even though I believe they are legally enforceable in your country. You also say you are glad your minor child cannot go purchase a copy of an adult-rated game, but even if he could, where would he play it? On the console you bought him (with the parental controls you never turned on)? I'm guessing that whether there's a law or not, you are a good enough parent to monitor what goes on in your own household.

    We already have a organization in the U.S. that views storyboard-like information and mission descriptions provided by the game publisher, and then notes all controversial material in a standardized way. This is exactly how the ESRB operates, and it is a far more effective method than anything like the plan that Brownback is proposing.

    It may seem foreign to most Europeans, but Freedom of Speech is a cornerstone of American politics and ideology. If we were to make an exception for video games, it would be like saying that games are not a valid form of free expression. Or worse, it would open the door for governmental censorship of other forms of expression, like movies, music, books, and even journalism.

    In any case, laws that restrict free expression in media are exactly what JT has been demanding for the last 20 years. I doubt that giving in to him now is going quiet him down. We're not going to re-write our whole Constitution, and undo 200 years of precedent, just because some misinformed grandma in New Jersey thinks that PS2 is going to turn her grandson into a psychopath. At least I hope to God we're not....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:17am

    I let my 8 year old daughter play any game including GTA and Scarface but being a kid she would rather play Viva Pinata. I don't really see what the big deal is about GTA and other M games they are fun and it is not real.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:27am

    Yeah - good point...

    Why is violence more acceptable than Sex?

    Of the two - most people will likely have sex in their life... Carjacking, Shooting people - well, most likely - not most.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Kyros, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:28am

    Parents..

    Look, Parents need to take responsibility - like everyone has said, it has a big "M 18+" on it - and even if a parent did miss the big freaking bold letter, then it takes what? 20 seconds to log onto any game website and pull up a review that will give you a general idea of the content in it? Furthermore, you can take any game that doesn't have nudity and add it in, Oblivion, HL2(yes, it's possible, don't ask). And there have been games since Atari that had nudity in them, so, it's not like it's a new concept to have boobs in video games. Realistically, if your a concerned parent that wants to be careful of what your child sees while playing video games ("dun let him get scarred by t3h b00bies") then your going to spend sometime looking into a game before your child picks it up - your going to at least read the back of the box "...gang trouble, drugs and corruption....dealers and gangbangers....corrupt cops...homicide" (GTA San Andreas) Seriously...it's on the box, it's not like they hide it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Apennismightier, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:41am

    Will Wright Presents: Government

    If this idiotic law gets passed, maybe Will Wright can create a Sims type game called Government, where you have to run a government without making extremely bad decisions such as invading other countries without rock solid proof, arguing against stupid laws like oh say... not being able to cross the street while using an iPod because 2 schmucks got hit by a car and died because of it (thank you morons from NY), and dealing with other such stupid laws like passing pointless legislations on video games.

    When you aren't gov'in it up, you have to manage your side scandals, all while remembering to feed your sim pets and maybe even give your virtual politician a sex scandal... I mean love life...

    Get on the marketing EA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 10:17am

    Re:

    It is true that minors can't vote, and it is interesting to me that you consider this an age-based restriction on free expression. But, for the purpose of this discussion at least, children in the U.S. don't really have full rights as citizens

    To be honest I was just making a point with the voting thing - although I do think its pretty expressive. You state that children in the US don't have full rights - so why not just accept this is a similar restriction to others already in place?

    Or is it the game manufacturers rights which are being quashed as they can't excercise freedom of expression to children?

    If it is then this is an extremely hollow view of the right and bizarre. The US just locked up a teacher for 40years for accidentally showing porn to minors so presumably the idea that it is unacceptable to allow access to certain materials to minors is already in place in federal law? (otherwise the teacher would have just had to say she was being 'expressive')

    I realise an awful lot of US law is based on a piece of paper written by some well intentioned men a few hundred years ago, but face it they weren't perfect any more than we here and now are. It was intended to be interpretted, revised and added to and has been many times throughout your history

    You aren't the only country who believe in freedom of speech, we have Islamic preachers on the street of London openly preaching extreme hatred of the west, unless they step over into grounds of incitement they are allowed (and even protected by police). So yeah we get the idea of freedom of speech

    Point is selling video games to kids isn't it, it is limited censorship but not much else, and in truth no more harmful than existing censorships already in place

    If you already have the ESRB doing what you say, then all you need is a law stating it is not legal to sell certain materials to kids under a certain age and thats it - job done

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Mr. Mynor, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 10:46am

    A few additional comments

    First of all, enacting legislation which holds RETAILERS accountable is not a violation of first amendment rights. It simply ensures that there are consequences in the event that a retailer decides to sell inappropriate materials to underage children. If a parent wants to buy the game to give it to their child they still have every right to do so.

    Second, the main issue with evaluating games based on the storyboards is that they do not afford the same amount of detail, and small details which may be of importance in deciding the appropriate rating may be omitted.

    Third, the ratings system is not a supposed to replace a parents responsibility to monitor the media their child has access to, but it is supposed to alert them of situations which may require more investigation - Between all of the various obligations a working parent has, there is not a wealth of time to spend going over every game a child wants. This is not to say that parents should not monitor, it simply is an argument for why the ratings system needs to be accurate and reliable, so that parents know when extra effort ought to be made.

    In response to #31 - your 8 year old daughter may well have that preference, but preteen and adloescent boys often would opt for GTA because it is what older kids are playing or because other members of their peer group are glorifying it. Regardless of how you interpret the games, and of your ability to differentiate between what is rea and what is obviously fake, there is a wealth of authority in the realm of child psychology which says that due to the various stages of cognitive development, children of different ages vary in their capacity to make such distinctions. As such, the fact that an adult can handle such content is in no way a valid argument that a 10 year old child has the same capability. It is not simply that we feel children should remain naive about the various social ills of society, it is that children freaquently lack the ability to distinguish, on a logical and rational level, those behaviors which are socially acceptable and those which are not, and which behaviors should be emulated and which should not. You can raise your own child however you want to, but the argument that a child can judge such matters at the same level as an adult is a fiction.

    The point is not that such games should not be released, or that parents should not be allowed to let their children play them, it is simply that the ability of minors to access such games without their parents consent should be strictly controlled.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Peter Fisher, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 10:58am

    I personally think this is a crock of shit. If this fag can find me someone who played GTA, modded so they could see the sex scene then was somehow worse off for it, then i'll take my hat off to him because A) anyone under 18 (i'm in the UK) shouldn't be playing it and if someone over 18 gets offended by pixelated sex scenes then they should just be put to death and that be the end of it and B) if somebody saw it, decided to go have sex and caught AIDS or something, then they're just a retard. There is no point in doing anything to games, hes just a sad fuck who likes to make life boring for people. Twat. The chances of someone playing GTA and then going on a hell bent drug fueled killing spree with an assault rifle are so low that its pointless even thinking about it. This tool needs to get a life and start making points about things that matter, like child abuse and the greenhouse effect. do something about the greenhouse effect then maybe your ancestors will be alive to moan about games. fag.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Stinking Kevin, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 11:20am

    IRT#35
    Hi again Enrico. Yes, it is the game manufacturer's rights that are being quashed as they can't exercise their freedom of expression in the market-at-large, to which everyone (including some children) has access.

    I didn't mean to imply that those outside the U.S. don't understand and value the general principle of "freedom of speech" -- very sorry if I did so! I only meant to say that those outside the U.S. may not fully grasp the importance of the First Amendment to us in particular, and of the precedents it has established, and of its perceived importance to our ability to treat everyone by the same rules.

    All I meant to say is that in the U.S., our common definition of (and greatest bastion for) free speech is the First Amendment, and this is something people from outside the country (such as yourself, it seems) might not fully grasp. It's not just a set of rules written on a piece of paper by some dead guys; It is a principle that has been refined and upheld countless times over hundreds of years. Laws don't exist in a vacuum, and we Americans don't have the benefit of thousands of years of history and tradition, so many of us value that 200-year-old piece of paper very highly.

    I don't want to confuse the issue any further, but pornography works under a different set of rules than mainstream games and movies. At least here in the U.S. The pornography publisher voluntarily classifies its publication as "unsuitable for minors," and no rating board is involved. It's essentially an tacit agreement to surrender First Amendment rights that ultimately benefits the publisher -- ie "I'll agree to restrict my distribution of this material to informed legal adults only, and therefore I cannot be held liable for any harm it might cause to anyone else."

    There are pornographic video games as well as magazines and movies, but they voluntarily classify themselves as porn and willfully abide the extra distribution restrictions. They are not presented as mainstream games and they not rated by the ESRB in the first place (just like pornographic movies are not rated by the MPAA). These porn games, and porn in general, have nothing to do with the legislation proposed by Brownback.

    Yes we already have the ESRB, but like every other rating system ever created, it ultimately relies on subjective opinions about appropriateness. These opinions may be widely held and highly useful, but they are still just opinions. Another important tenet of the First Amendment is that we cannot restrict one person's freedom of expression based solely on another person's subjective opinion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 11:20am

    Re:

    Your mastery of the english language and intellectual superiority is clearly evidenced by your eloquent response. Clearly the world would be a better place if, instead of being governed by people concerned with attempting to slow the moral degeneration of modern society like this "fag" (whose proposed legislation, while ill concieved, is not ill intentioned), we had more visionaries such as yourself in power who, though they might lack any respect for the opinions others, and be completely devoid of any ability to rationally or intelligently debate such issues, are more than willing to sling slur-laced insults and offer ill-concieved counter arguments without proposing any viable alternative viewpoint or solutions to the problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Aizo, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Beautiful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 12:38pm

    Age restricting video games

    To enact a law restricting sales based on age vs rating would require a federal organization to rate the games. Can we trust the government to rate these games fairly, without prejudice? How about keeping in line with what our morals are? Seems to me that they are trying way to hard to "protect the children", might make the ratings too high.

    As we all know the ESRB was NOT created by the government but the video game developers to help consumers to choose witch games are right for them and there children. Ether way, as #9 has already stated, parents will ignore any rating because its what there child wants.

    And as for this being about the hot coffee trick in GTA, Someone go look up "Leisure Suit Larry - Magna Cum Laude" and tell me what ratting it has. (M) It has full frontal nudity, sexual activities, and even a really bad hot dog reference. You only need a small mod to remove the censor bar (that doesnt censor vary well anyways.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 12:45pm

    I still don't get it

    IRT# 38

    Thats cool - sorry if I came across angry (i'm in the middle of some especially shitty repetitive work and its probably coming across...)

    I never realised the US porn age limit thing was voluntary - wierd, but OK I think I get it

    My point is that whilst free speech is absolutely vital, it too has its limits based on common sense (you just know I'm thinking theatres and fire!)

    I too have the same qualms about limiting basic rights and realise there are times when a line just has to be drawn to prevent creep. However there are already enough precendents in US laws as I understand them relating to restrictions on the activities of minors, restrictions which if applied to an adult would be contrary to the constitution

    They are there because a minor is not an adult and society feels they need extra protection from outside influences, and in some cases themselves

    Hiding behind a 'mere' 200 years of history as a defense is also a little weak, American history is older than 200 years old (pre-republic) and its not like everyone landed on the rock then forgot everything they had ever experienced beforehand

    America as a republic is already a lot older than a lot of European countries (a fact we don't always like to be too well known) and most of the remainder have had enough revolutions and major rewrites to constitute any law over 200 years old being very old indeed

    You are right though - I don't understand the paralysing fear of ammending a law when it is clear to do so would benefit society. Not all changes start a rot, to use absolutist logic and argue otherwise is akin to the logic that says all pot smokers are going to become crack addicts and that everyone who drink an occasional beer will become an alcholic etc. Your average person like a government has checks and balances

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Mr Mynor, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 1:30pm

    Re: I still don't get it

    Mr. Suave makes an excellent point that many of these people who purport to be legally savy by decrying the alleged breach of the first amendment inevitably resulting from such an enactment would be well aware of if they really knew as much about the laws of this country as they would have everyone else believe.

    We are not talking about imparing the ability of these companies to produce games with mature themes and market said games to individuals who have reached the age of legal majority... THAT would be a violation of first amendment rights. If anything, legislation aimed at keeping such games out of the hands of children is consistent with the longstanding policy of protecting children which is inherent in the statutory and precedential law of this country. To illustrate, consider a few examples...

    Children are not allowed to enter into binging contractual agreements without judicial approval, and the same is also true of parents' rights to bind their children by signing exculpatory agreements releasing possible future claims of their children (with limited exceptions in some jurisdictions).

    Additionally, while children may enter into voidable contractual agreements, they are allowed to disaffirm such agreements at anytime prior to reaching the age of majority, or within a reasonable period after reaching the age of majority

    Children cannot own real property without court approval

    Children are not governed by the criminal codes or tried in criminal courts unless a legally recognizable reason exists why they should be tried as an adult.

    Children may not bring a lawsuit on their own behalf, and statutes of limitations on the claims of a child are tolled until they reach the age of majority.

    Children are not held to the same "reasonable person" standard of care in negligence suits, but are held to a standard based on their age and experience.

    These are just a few of the most prominent examples of the protections afforded to minors under this country's legal system. The same policy of protecting children because they cannot protect themselves which underlies these legal doctrines militates in favor of measures restricting their accesss to certain types of media. Children lack the judgment and ability to resist outside influences. If we are going to use that as justification for laws which exempt them from the rights and obligations which would impose liability on a normal adult, then those same considerations justify the enactment of statutory law precluding their access to information which has the manifest ability to negatively influence them of affect their judgement.

    Personally, unless you are under age, I don't understand why legislation of this nature would create any problem for you. It does not affect your rights, and, if anything protects, the rights of parents to control the sort of information their child is exposed to. If anyone has a legitimate argument why game designers should be allowed unlimited latitude in deciding who they market their games to regardless of the content of said games, I would love to hear it, but the first amendment argument is baseless... It is akin to arguing that because the second amendment provides us with the right to bear arms we should not restrict the sale of firearms to children.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 2:00pm

    Re: peter fisher... Who's the retard??

    just wondering if you could clarify your assertion that steming emissions of greenhouse gasses will bring someone's ancestors back to life to whine about games...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    AARON, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 2:41pm

    Bad idea.

    If we tell the Senators to play the game to 100% they'll say that they don't have the time. The responce from the ESRB would be "neither do we really", then *BAM* the Senators will create a new branch of government with plenty of time on their hands to delay and destroy video games "for the children."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re: missing the point?

    The argument is not that parents shouldn't have any responsibility, the argument is (1) that the ratings board should have a certain level of accountability and should be required to investigate the software on their own in arriving at their ratings rather than just taking the developer's word for it so the parents have an accurate guide showing them when further inquiry on their part is required, and (2) that retailers should be held legally accountable for selling the games to children below the appropriate age level.

    In response to your inquiry, I never had the privlege of working in a videogame store because I was busy completeing a competitive undergraduate program and law school, but I must say i am surprised that someone with an eye for invalid arguments such as yourself would respond with evidence that is wholly irrelevant, since nobody has contested whether a parent has the right to buy the games for their children. I suppose the point you are trying to make is that the ratings are ignored by unconcerned parents, and therefore the accuracy of such ratings should not matter to the parents that do care.

    You are correct that parents should have and should take the time to learn before giving games to their children. The point of the argument, however, was that the ratings board should be held to a high enough standard that things don't slip past unnoticed, resulting in an inaccurate rating.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Xanius, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 7:25pm

    The problem with making the ESRB play the full game and likening it to movie rating is that it takes 3 hours tops to watch a whole movie and it takes at the least 24 hours to play a game to 100%.

    The ratings right now are optional, nobody forces movies and games to be rated. The game companies send them a copy and say hey, this is what we have. Here's the highlights of what we put in, play it a bit and tell us what if anything we need to take out to keep it below AO.

    Very few companies will stay with an AO rating because it kills sales. Parents see adult only and refuse to let anyone even a 17 yr old have it. but if it says T then they will give it to a bloody five year old and then sue someone when the kid sees blood.

    This entire thing needs to be taken care of by the parents, the government has its hands in too many things as it is. If we want the government to make everyone happy then let's turn the world in to a replica of the one in A Brave New World.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 4:01am

    Re: Duh

    > if a content provider knowingly
    > or unknowingly includes content
    > of a questionable nature without
    > disclosing it to the persons rating
    > its content. In the event that the
    > content surpasses its rating. They
    > should get their pants sued off

    So according to you undisclosed "questionable" content should give rise to legal liability. Well, what's the legal definition of "questionable"? Who decides? Because there are people out there who think that a depiction of a couple kissing is questionable. There are people out there who believe that depicting animals that talk and think like humans is questionable. Whose standards do we use to determine when someone's "pants should be sued off"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    ScytheNoire, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 8:41am

    ESRB is as corrupt as the MPAA

    ESRB is just like the MPAA. it's ratings board is made up of corporations that are major sellers. visit their site and see.

    the saddest thing though is that in the United States, violence is better than consenting sex. yup, shoot all the cops you want, chop off heads, kill children, do whatever you want. just don't show two adults having sex, even if cartoonish. that's just wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Re: missing the point?

    Wow, you think you are better than me because you "say" you were working on a law degree? Good for you, I know my place, forgive me your grace.

    Now piss off.

    The reality is there is a system in place, and parents should know the rating for every game their child has, end of story. The other reality is that it is almost entirely ignored. This means that parents are still going to be buying the games, which according to you will be stopped with mandatory age based sales.

    I hope I never have you as an attorney, but then again, you probably don't work for proles, too far beneath you. On the other hand, I wouldn't be to worried if you were on the other side of the table.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: missing the point?

    Hmmmm... Again, one might wonder where you are getting these things from. I never said anything which implied that I was better than you. I merely stated that I never had time to work at a retail establishment engaged in the sale of videogames because i was a bit preoccupied with college and law school. That was not meant to be a slight to anyone who does work in such a role, it was more driven at the fact that I deal with legislation on a daily basis and am familiar with the arguments both for and against this legislation and others like it, at least from the "legal" perspective.
    My point is that it should be entirely within the power of parents to choose to ignore this rule as to their own children. They have that right and it should not be taken away from them. My point is that it should not be tolerated for employees to ignore the ratings, be it because they assume the parents probably would do the same or for any other reason they might purport to have. The ratings should be accurate, and the ability of people below the age of 18 to purchase games which are deemed inappropriate for their age levels should be solely through their parents. That way, by operation of the rule alone parents will have to know the rating of every game their child has, or at least every game their child has which is not considered to be appropriate for his age level, because they will have had to buy it for them.

    You really shouldn't take things so personally...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Coaster, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 6:21pm

    Re: missing the point?

    Retailers can get a pretty hefty fine if they are caught selling games to people not old enough to buy them. Target employees are warned about set-up shoppers - kids who come in during a busy time of day and try to get a copy of something they aren't old enough to buy, while a cop or someone stands nearby and makes note of the whole thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 11:07pm

    IRT 52: Isn't that illegal? THe police trying to trick people into breaking the law is surely illegal.

    IRT 24: If he was being sexist, I am faily sure that he would have writtem *Ms* TheDock22. Just because you don't understand English properly doen't mean that we should have to follow all your feminist crap or waste our good time writing Mr./Mrs./Miss/Dr./Prof./Pte./Cpl./Sgt./Lt./Cpt./Mjr./Lt. Col./Col./Brig./Gen./... or him/her/neuter/hemaphrodite jsut to keep idiots like you happy.

    Just bribe the cashier ($2 or so) and "loose" the reciept if anyone asks where you got it from. If you cannot remember who sold it to you, they cannot be punished.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    garrett, Jun 6th, 2007 @ 7:15pm

    9 year olds playing mature games

    i am a 9 year old and i play grand theft auto which is kind of inappropreit for 9 year olds it does have blood,violince,and strong language,but no sexual themes so, if it is ok with parents then you can,but sometimes i don't agree with ESRB ratings and i also think there is some suggestive themes in grand theft auto liberty city. M rated games seem more adictive then E's and t's but i very much know that parents wouldn't let their child play A games!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This