Another Legislator Hops On Board The 'Violent Video Game' Bandwagon; Introduces Redundant Labeling Bill

from the Rated-M-for-'Moronic' dept

Recent events have returned video games (especially "violent" ones) back to their normal position as convenient grandstand/whipping boy (or girl, you sexist)/political football. Vice President Joe Biden recently met with representatives of the video game industry to inform them that they were just as responsible as the NRA for recent tragic events, and even if not, they'd be mentioned frequently in the same headlines. (The NRA also placed the blame on video games -- quite possibly the only issue on which it saw eye-to-eye with Biden.) New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently declared the M-rated "Call of Duty" games were not welcome in his home, quite possibly because he has four children and it's an M-rated game. And President Obama has called for a thorough study of any possible connection between gun violence and video games to be performed by the CDC.

So, it is with feigned shock that I pass on the news that a politician has introduced a bill aimed at violent video games -- one that looks to "implement" stuff we already have, only with Uncle Sam in charge.
In the wake of President Barack Obama's announcement that the CDC would study the effects of violent video games and other media, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) has introduced bill H.R. 287, which would "require ratings label on video games" and "prohibit the sales and rentals of adult-rated video games to minors."
Ratings labels, eh? You mean like these handy things that have been slapped all over video games for the past 19 years?

Oh, and "prohibit the sales and rentals of adult-rated [?] video games to minors?" You mean the sort of thing that nearly every respectable retailer has been voluntarily doing for nearly as long?

I understand that politicians are generally allergic to terms like "voluntary" and "self-regulating" and are more partial to terms like "government oversight" and "mandatory" and "nanny state," especially when the prevailing winds favor doing a bit of "something" in response to tragedy. But to force a redundant system into use in order to enforce a standards system that has worked well for years is not only a self-serving, needless expansion of government power, it's just plain stupid.

Matheson's bill would make it mandatory for all games available for sale or rent to sport a rating label, something that nearly every commercially distributed game already features. (Many indie games distributed exclusively via download do not carry these labels, as they are rarely submitted to the ESRB.) Strangely, Matheson's bill relies on the ESRB to provide the rating, rather than turn it over to another agency.

(a) Conduct Prohibited- It shall be unlawful for any person to ship or otherwise distribute in interstate commerce, or to sell or rent, a video game that does not contain a rating label, in a clear and conspicuous location on the outside packaging of the video game, containing an age-based content rating determined by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
It also requires retailers to post rating information, as supplied by the ESRB. Again, most retailers already do this voluntarily. This goes beyond redundant and into some bizarre coattail-riding territory in which the government piggybacks its agenda onto an existing system and, presumably, rewards itself with raises and high-fives shortly thereafter.

The only difference between what exists now and Matheson's "bold" "vision" for the future is the weight of government enforcement.
It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or rent, or attempt to sell or rent--

(1) any video game containing a content rating of ‘Adults Only’ (as determined by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board) to any person under the age of 18; or

(2) any video game containing a content rating of ‘Mature’ (as determined by such Board) to any person under the age of 17.
Matheson turns this enforcement over to the Federal Trade Commission, adding an "up to $5,000" fine to any violations. Once again, the question is why? All this does is add a layer of unneeded regulation and fines to a system that a majority of game buyers and sellers feel is working just fine. This is just Matheson turning a system from voluntary to mandatory just so he can appear "tough on video games," which is a terrible plank for any platform.

On the upside (for us -- not so much for Rep. Jim Matheson), legislation tracking site, govtrack.us, currently gives the bill (as it stands) a 3% chance of getting past committee and only a 1% chance of being enacted. Part of this is due to the fact that many other states have tried (and failed) to enact government regulation of video games, something the Supreme Court declared violated the First Amendment. Another factor is the general inactivity level of our representatives (often considered "ideal" by small government types) which has resulted in only 11% of bills making it past committee and only 2% into actual law.

For now, it's more of the same old video game scapegoating, with this effort being surprisingly lazy in its approach. It's cyclical and repetitive, like EA's release schedule -- comforting in its familiarity and unsurprising in its lack of imagination.



Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 6:13am

    Meanwhile the real societal deficiencies and legislative failures that leaded to the tragedies remain shiny and intact to produce many more of such incidents.

    Typical Governmental efficiency.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Well the government needs something to blame, can't have something like this challenge their way of living that has always worked..

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:21am

    Matheson is from Utah. Introduction of this bill is intended to help him in the primaries in his (Mormon) district.
    That's about all there is to this.

     

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    S. T. Stone, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:21am

    Intelligent commentary on a bad videogame-related bill and a cheap dig at EA? Itís like Kotaku if it didnít suck!

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Re:

    This can't be repeated enough. Not enough grandstanding and headlines involved in tackling things like poverty, education and mental health, so resources have to be diverted to stupid stunts. Nothing gets done, all goes quiet till the next atrocity, rinse, repeat...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:24am

    What a jerk. Write a law "forcing" companies to do what they're already doing, then take credit for them doing it.
    You've got to be scum even by politician standards to try and pull a fast one like that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:30am

    Blaming video games for violence, is like blaming the board game Monopoly for slum lords.

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    I don't particularly like the insinuation that Mormons in particular support this kind of legislation. This kind of legislation has an emotional appeal to a vast array of emotional and shortsighted people of all faiths and lack thereof.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    I wonder if they're going to 'suggest' which way the report on the video-game/violence link should turn out, because just about all the credible ones that have already been done tend to show either no such link, or at most a 'maybe, more research is needed' as the strongest they've come up with.

    Be kinda funny if the report they commission to look like they are 'doing something' contradicts their own position on the subject.

     

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    Call me Al, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:34am

    If they truly believe that violent games contribute then what they are engaged in here is really security theatre.

    Shops already limit who they sell to and so young kids simply can't buy these games directly. What they can do though is pester mummy and daddy to buy it for them or they can borrow it from their brother or their friends brother.

    Essentially what I am trying to say is this won't affect the people they are trying to target but will just add another layer of annoyance for consumers and vendors alike.

    Presumably it will also put a massive new compliance burden on India games since now they'll have to get their games rated. I don't know if that costs but it will certainly be a hassle and potentially will slow down releases.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    This bill just explicitly mandates ESRB submission and rating of every game sold on retail shelves, a practise already followed by any game you would see on a retail shelf.

    I'm not even convinced its language is sufficient to require such ratings and displays for games distributed digitally or not physically packaged, a vast and ever-growing category of video games these days.

    In short, this bill fits the classic definition of "worse than useless": it creates bureaucracy and waste, it won't work as intended, and even if it did, it wouldn't solve the nonexistent problem.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re:

    It's more a case of "appeal to morality" rather than actually, y'know, doing something useful.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:38am

    these events are terrible and deserve immediate attention but i wish politicians were as keen to get their names added to other bills that are or should be just as important and in the peoples interest, like when being put under constant surveillance and the undermining of the Constitution, which is happening on a daily basis

     

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:44am

    Think before you legislate

    Hooray for unintended consequences! Goodbye home-brew programmers who don't submit their hobbies to a commercial review board. There's no way this goes forward without chilling innovation and free speech.

    What constitutes a game, or for that matter distribution? I assume this will pertain to all the apps in iOS and android app stores. And all the ones on distributed on personal websites or posted on forums. Remember how everyone had games on their TI-85 calculators in school and all you needed was a link cable to transfer them to your friends? BAM! $5000 fine! And don't even tell me that we can rely on the common sense and leniency of prosecutors to overlook the incidental infractions.

    How do these people not realize that their efforts target a much wider audience than they intent? Oh, right because they know nothing about what they're legislating and haven't asked anyone to help sort it out. Can we get a law passed that fines legislators for poorly drafted, overly broad and useless bill?

     

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    Planespotter (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:45am

    So lets get this right... It's OK to make laws on video games but not on guns?

    Man that's one fucked up political system you lot have over there!

     

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    Anonymouse, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:50am

    Enough with all this silly pussy-footing around. Just get to the final point and ban all video games, movies, TV, guns, knives, sticks with nails in them, bullying, name calling, finger pointing and stink eyes.

    We'll be a much happier, controlled society.

    Have you taken your happy pill today? The computer is your friend!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia_(role-playing_game)

     

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    Keroberos (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    I don't know how it is now, but last I heard the voluntary rating restrictions were working a lot better than the mandated restrictions on alcohol and tobacco. The problem isn't with the retailers--it's with the parents. All of the rating restrictions you could think up will do squat if the parents just buy the games for their kids anyway (which is what they already do). I worked in video games retail for 5 years, and most parents could care less about the ratings--in fact they usually were pissed that they had to come buy the restricted games for their kids.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re:

    Tackling real problems takes real effort and money. This is a politicians way of appearing to do something, by appearing to be responsible for an existing system.

     

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    Nick-B, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:04am

    As one of the few democrats in Utah... I apologize for Matheson, for he knows not what he does.

    When I first heard about this the other night, I instantly derided the bill as idiotic garbage. Not only is enforcement of sales to age groups by the VOLUNTARILY IMPLEMENTED ratings system by the ESRB been declared unconstitutional (ask a handful of states that passed it and had it overturned by courts, thus paying millions to ACLU lawyers), but the other half of the bill is also horrible.

    Declaring that any game cannot be created (and sold) from inside one's garage-band website without review by a third-party VOLUNTARY ratings system goes against too many principles our country is proud of. Imagine musicians cannot sell their music without going to a board to make sure songs with bad lyrics have an age rating. Imagine an author not being able to sell his book online because he didn't take it to a board for mature content first. Imagine an artist being unable to sell a painting without it going to a board of other artists for approval first.

    Not to mention that the vast majority of games sold ALREADY have and SELF ENFORCE said ratings system. I don't know of a single store that doesn't "card" it's customers for mature video games already. I don't know of a single store that will sell a game without a rating already on the box (unrated are as bad as AO, which NOBODY sells). In order to even release a game for all the consoles (which is a majority of game sales) you must have an ESRB rating before you can be licensed to make it for said game system.

    The only location this will stop are the various "indie" developers that are making the games people WANT to play. They do it out of their own pocket expenses, sell it on their own websites, and keep all their money. They don't want to be fined up to $5000 for every copy they sell because they didn't go to some third party group and beg them to rate their game (at their own expense, mind you).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:14am

    EA Burn

    Just had to highlight this brilliant bit at the end: "It's cyclical and repetitive, like EA's release schedule -- comforting in its familiarity and unsurprising in its lack of imagination." Nicely done, sir. Nicely done.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    The government and Big Pharma are covering up that these lone wolf killers are currently on or were withdrawing from psychiatric medication such as SSRIs. An investigation needs to be launched into that rather than pointing fingers at the entertainment and gun industries. A hundred years from now, history is going to look back on today's pill popper mentality the same way we currently look back on the "quack medicine" remedies of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:37am

    How this would be used...

    If it suddenly became law that every game distributed in interstate commerce had to have a rating on the packaging, suddenly games distributed without packaging at all (ie. digital download) could not comply. This represents a giant tool to be used by legacy gatekeepers to fight the disruption caused by direct distribution via digital download. If this were successful, expect to see the exact same claims pushed for in music and movies. The depths to which the Content Cartels will go to achieve their agenda know no bounds.

     

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    Michael, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    If this passes...

    Don't get caught re-selling a video game in an envelope without the ESRB rating on it.

    Oh, and get ready for the ESRB to increase fees associated with rating games because they get a forced monopoly on the system.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    Matheson didn't get the latest memo from the NRA. Even the NRA doesn't buy it's own excuse that violent video games are to blame, as evidence by their shooting game for 4 year olds.

    Unless of course the NRA decided it actually supports gun violence.

     

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    dennis deems (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:03am

    Cyclical and repetitive

    Matheson has introduced identical bills at least twice before. Compare the text of H.R. 5345 (109th) from 2006 and H.R. 5990 (110th) from 2008.

     

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    anonymous dutch coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    lucky

    lucky you don't have a huge deficit to deal with, otherwise you would be really screwed with these kind of politicians.

     

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    Eponymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Re: Think before you legislate

    I'm glad you brought this up for this was my thought about this too (I'm actually surprised this wasn't fully addresse in the article). It once again shows how out of touch our legislators are, for regardless of whether or not there is a connection between video game violence IRL violence, since they are attempting to regulate a market as it was 10 years ago and not how it is now or will forever be going forward. Also you forgot categories like web based flash games, YouTube videos of game play, or games integrated into hardware to name a few more.

     

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    anonymous dutch coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    ps

    and don't get me started on the electorate putting these clowns in office.

     

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    DCX2, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Music and movies are notably absent...

    Hmm, let's look at the FTC Undercover Shopper Survey enforcement of entertainment ratings, shall we?

    http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/04/violentkidsent.shtm

    In 2010, 33% of 13-16 year olds were able to purchase an R-rated movie ticket. This is compared to 28% in 2009.

    64% of kids were able to buy a CD with a Parental Advisory Warning, down from 72% in 2009.

    38% of kids were able to buy an R-rated DVD, and 47% were able to buy an unrated DVD. This is down from 54% and 58% in 2009

    And the moment you've all been waiting for...

    A whopping THIRTEEN PERCENT (13%) were able to purchase an M-rated game, compared to 20% in 2009. In fact, if you examine the graph, video games retailer are the only monotonically decreasing retailers. They went from 85% in 2000 to 13% in 2010 - unheard of in the entertainment industry.

    If anything, movies and music should take a cue from video games on how to enforce entertainment ratings. Perhaps Rep. Matheson should pass a bill targeting those industries instead.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:41am

    I can understand why people keep trying to pin the blame of violent actions on violent games or movies, is because we are visual creatures that learn by observation and so some conclude that those violent samples are teaching violent behavior.

    The thing is, it takes more than just watching fictional violence to go out and do violent acts, you must be encouraged by other factors as well, it must be acceptable inside your social group.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Tackling real problems takes real effort and money.
    Well yes, but in many cases not nearly as much as is urinated up the wall in stupid stunts to "do something about" whatever it is instead of actually fixing it.

    The problem is not money, and it's not really effort either. The problem is that actually fixing thigs usually falls into either or both of the following categories:
    1/ Most ways to actually fix something are usually unpopular with and/or negatively financially impact a significant part of the population. Since most people ultimately only hear the soundbites, this is tantamount to political suicide and therefore not usually popular among politicians.
    2/ Most of the rest of the ways to actually fix things will negatively impact some major industry and said industry will make sure it has "contributed" to enough political campaigns. Given that's it's all but impossible to get elected without significant chunks of money, going against a major industry's wishes is also typically tantamount to political suicide and in fact worse career suicide as then they don't even get a cushy job in industry after political life. This is even less popular than option 1.

    Of course many of the best real solutions hit both of the above and you therefore have a better chance of winning the lottery 3 straight weeks than seeing one happen...

     

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    Michael, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Re: Cyclical and repetitive

    See! Had we listened back then...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:49am

    Youtube: Financial Cost of Drug Addiction - Video Infographic aka the true cost of the war on drugs.

    This is great create more laws that turn something into criminal behavior that we can't enforce fully, but will have to all pay for it and suffer from abusive law enforcement.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Pissing in the wind and saying its raining is not the same thing as rain.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 11:35am

    The only video game I know of that would make anyone want to go to an elementary school and kill a bunch of innocent children is "Maple Story" (http://maplestory.nexon.net/)

    Which brings up another point. In the article it stated sell or rent. How would that affect any of the "FREE" games available, which make their money from in game cash shops?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    This is HORRIBLE.

    It gives the ESRB the legal power to veto the sale of any video game to minors. If nothing else, you're restraining them from selling to ANYONE until the ESRB gets around to rating the game. There's no way this could be constitutional.

    Which then brings up the question: do the people supporting this bill think it's somehow constitutional, do they know it's unconstitutional and don't care, or did they not even stop to think about whether it was constitutional?

    And while we're at it...
    "It shall be unlawful for any person to ship or otherwise distribute in interstate commerce, or to sell or rent, a video game that does not contain a rating label, in a clear and conspicuous location on the outside packaging of the video game, containing an age-based content rating determined by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board."

    What happens if you go to an online games site? Is that considered a "video game"? Does it matter if you can pay a bit of money for extra content?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 12:45pm

    Re:

    "So lets get this right... It's OK to make laws on video games but not on guns?"

    No, you got that wrong. This law is not OK either. It won't pass, and if it does it will get stuck down.

     

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    shane (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:01pm

    Aaaand viola.

    Suddenly we see how idiotic it is to blame just the NRA for this little trend.

     

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    Anonymous, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:08pm

    Gov. Christie has the right to determine what is and is not welcome in his home, but neither he nor anyone else has a right to determine what is and is not welcome in mine.
    It is kinda funny, though. A government official taking a stand against a game that makes heroes out of the military. I don't want such a brainwashing "game" in my home either.

     

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    shane (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Think before you legislate

    Exactly. We need regulation, but we need RATIONAL regulation. If some home programmer puts something up for download that is pornographic, you don't need a labeling law to go for him.If your 6 year old is unsupervised on the internet and finds it, it's your fault, not the internet's.

    This issue has been solved so many times... why does nothing ever stay solved?

     

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    shane (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    Re:

    You should post this on the NRA thread. You would get way more votes for funniest post that way. =)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

    Linking terms

    And just to throw this out there: the ESRB website has a terms of use for LINKING to the website.

    "5. You agree to protect and use commercially reasonable efforts to maintain the good name and reputation of ESRB.

    6. ESRB reserves the right to request the removal of any link to the ESRB Site for any reason and at any time. If ESRB chooses to exercise such right, you agree to immediately cease the use of any link to the ESRB Site."

    I think not.

    This is one of the worst terms of service I've ever seen. A disclaimer of all liability on their part. An indemnification agreement. An arbitration agreement. The right for them to modify the agreement at any time (oops - they probably just invalidated the whole thing be including that, if it wasn't already invalid.) They're actually so brazen as to literally state that everything needs to be interpreted in their favor: "Should a provision of this Agreement require interpretation, it is agreed that the court, arbitrator, agency, individual or entity interpreting this Agreement shall not more strictly construe the terms herein against the ESRB."

    Anyway, here's the link I have every right to use without agreeing to "terms" for using it:

    http://www.esrb.org/about/termsofuse.jsp

     

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    shane (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:25pm

    Forced Monopoly

    Good point. Good point.

    Like Monsanto actually pushing for stricter EPA laws.

    http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Monsanto-Paid-Protection-EPA.htm

     

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    shane (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:27pm

    Re:

    Especially that "abusive enforcement" part.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:29pm

    More from the ESRB

    And from http://www.esrb.org/ratings/faq.jsp we have this:

    "Publishers of packaged or boxed games carrying an ESRB rating are contractually bound to follow the industry-adopted Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Advertising Practices, along with numerous additional requirements addressing how rating information must be displayed on game packaging and in advertising and certain restrictions on where ads for Mature-rated games may appear. The ESRB's Advertising Review Council (ARC) diligently monitors industry compliance, and in the event that a game publisher is found to have inappropriately labeled or advertised a product, the ESRB is empowered to compel corrective actions and impose a wide range of sanctions, including monetary fines."

    Do you see what the problem is? In order to get an ESRB rating, they need to agree to "terms". If this bill becomes law, then either:

    1) The ESRB will have the power to impose these terms - or whatever terms they like - on every video game producer in the country. This bill states that a game MUST get an ESRB rating, but does NOT state that the ESRB must rate a game. Frankly, Congress does not have the power to force the ESRB, a nonprofit nongovernmental entity, to do their bidding and rate every single game in existence. So, if the ESRB doesn't like you, you're just out of luck. Or the ESRB could shut its doors, and suddenly all new video games are illegal.

    2) If I'm somehow wrong about the ESRB being able to impose its terms, then it follows that the ESRB will be forced to abandon these terms, weakening what they already have in place.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Forced Monopoly

    This bill gives a private body created by members of the software industry, the legal right to regulate the software industry. I'm not even sure this can be called regulatory "capture" anymore - this isn't something they even need to go out and capture. It's more like a pet.

    I'm really not sure if it's worse if Matheson honestly thinks this is a good idea, or knows it's bad and introduced this bill anyway.

     

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  47.  
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    crashsuit (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:43pm

    Influence of video games

    Remember in the 80s when all the kids were eating keys and squeezing into pipes?

     

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  48.  
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    shane (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Influence of video games

    ROFL! I mean.... that's bad... that's real bad.

    But ROFL!

     

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  49.  
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    shane (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:57pm

    Re: More from the ESRB

    I know Techdirt has a sort of loose affiliation with Demand Progress, or some would say more than that, but is there anyone here that sort of uses this place as a platform for organizing political action locally?

    I reached out to the local Occupy people and didn't hear back concerning an interest in organizing for his prosecutor to be investigated. I got no response as yet. Now your post makes me think even this law could use some protest.

    I just really want to organize and am clueless how to start or where.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Eponymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Think before you legislate

    I'm glad you brought this up for this was my thought about this too (I'm actually surprised this wasn't fully addresse in the article). It once again shows how out of touch our legislators are, for regardless of whether or not there is a connection between video game violence IRL violence, since they are attempting to regulate a market as it was 10 years ago and not how it is now or will forever be going forward. Also you forgot categories like web based flash games, YouTube videos of game play, or games integrated into hardware to name a few more.

     

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  51.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 7:01pm

    Re:

    > This bill just explicitly mandates ESRB submission and
    > rating of every game sold on retail shelves

    Yep, and if it's not sold on shelves-- if it's sold via web site download-- then the law apparently doesn't apply, since it requires the rating to be applied to the game's packaging. Web downloads have no packaging.

    And even if it did apply, it would be trivially easy to set up a site through a foreign server to sell one's game. If it's sold from outside the US, then US laws don't apply, no matter how much the DOJ tries to pretend otherwise.

     

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  52.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 7:05pm

    I think we should start rating politicians, beginning with the following labels:

    GI - Gets It
    FR - Front Runner
    CA - Corrupt Asshole
    FM - Fucking Moron

    So now we would have:

    Jim Matheson - D-Utah (FR)
    Jim Leahy - I-Vermont (CA)

    What other ratings could there be?

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re:

    "Yep, and if it's not sold on shelves-- if it's sold via web site download-- then the law apparently doesn't apply, since it requires the rating to be applied to the game's packaging. Web downloads have no packaging."

    Rather, it would make all such sales illegal, since the bill states that is unlawful to distribute the game without that label.

    "And even if it did apply, it would be trivially easy to set up a site through a foreign server to sell one's game. If it's sold from outside the US, then US laws don't apply, no matter how much the DOJ tries to pretend otherwise."

    That might work with a truly foreign company, but if this was done with software made in the US there's no way that would fly. If you make the software in California and then send it to a server in Barbados and somebody from Wisconsin buys it, that would still unquestionably be "interstate commerce". Even if it was sold to someone in California they'd still consider it "interstate commerce" if one packet went through one out of state node. (There's a good chance they'd STILL try to call it interstate commerce even if it never left the state, because it involves the Internet... remember the case of the farmer whose crops were declared by the Supreme Court to be "interstate commerce" even though they never left his own farm?)

     

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  54.  
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    Ferel (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 8:27pm

    Re:

    "FM - Fucking Moron"

    I had something slightly different in mind, but then there would be two 'FR' ratings...

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2013 @ 2:25am

    Re:

    More like I tried to pass a law, and look they are doing it anyhow.

     

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  56.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 19th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    Re: Re:

    I think it's more that this kind of thing is generally appealing to the socially conservative, and Mormons are in general very socially conservative.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    We have a similar law here in the UK.

    Problem is, bad parents in broken families that these mentally unstable children come from before shooting at a school, tend to not give a shit and will buy the 18+ game for their child. Just to make them shut up.

    So then video games will continue to be blamed anyway. And now we've wasted money monitoring something which was being done anyway without government oversight.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Right thing for the wrong reason.

    At this point, I'm aplauding Obama for having the CDC look into video games and violence. Maybe in a few years when the studies find no major causal relation people will shut up.

     

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  59.  
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    shane (profile), Jan 19th, 2013 @ 9:56am

    Sadly

    I'm pretty sure they've done multiple studies of that sort already. It won't work.

    The reason it won't work is that, even as any single part of the culture is going to be hard to correlate with individual behavior, it is also impossible to ignore that cultural values impact behavior. Even if you are, like me, one who argues that poverty is correlated with violence, and that human rights and just distribution of the means to sustain one's self would ameliorate much of the violence in any society, you are nevertheless left then with one irrefutable fact.

    You are arguing that society's values are motivating certain members of society to behave in specific ways.

    Human behavior is complex even when taken one by one. Trying to scientifically analyze all of culture in order to control everyone is almost hopeless.

    I have played probably all of the most disgusting video games and watched some of the most vile entertainment there is. Happily, to date, I have not participated in any of the anti social behaviors depicted. Even when watching something that depicts gross immorality as something appealing, rather than using it as a way to tag a specific character as a bad person, I still don't go out and do things that I am aware are wrong. I tend even to avoid doing things OTHER people think are wrong, unless of course I think THEY are wrong to think so.

    So sure. Video games don't cause the violence. But people do nevertheless get tired of entertainment that seems to just sort of gratuitously go against the expectations of society. It is a constant drain on the energy of many people to have to deal with it day by day, protect their kids from it, be exposed to it.

    Nothing is ever going to make them stop trying to make it go away. Simultaneously, nothing is ever going to stop other people, who rather enjoy all of this stuff, from telling them no.

    You may as well get used to it. Society is always going to have its little expectations.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    smarine777, Jan 20th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    violence anywhere, is failure everywhere

    Violence anywhere is epic fail. Ther is enough violence in the world, that we need far LESS of it everywhere we can find it. Studies exist everywhere also, that make it abundantly clear, that violent games cause agression in people.

    Now we have mass gun killings, now of innocent helpless children, and the gun lobby is all OH NO DONT TAKE MY GUN, and using innocent children ( the presidents this time) to help make their disgusting points.

    The NRA is a heartless, god less and completely ignorant institution, and is not completely irrelevant to ALL such discussions.

    They have shown themslves to be not only COWARDS, but totally irrelevant to any such future discussions to gun policy in this country.

    It's really a shame when such cowards are given ANY type of voice, and now that they have shown themselves to be the cowards they really are, they will indeed fall into the pits of irrelevance where they belong.

    We all know that sometimes having a gun is protection, and sometimes people want them, and I don't blame them for it especially in todays world. Do we really need assault weapons to help us stay safe ?

    If everyone in the world had such weapons, this no one would be safe, no matter who you are. I think people are forgetting that.

    That is why we have police, and the government, who are capable of standing up to thugs and killers.

    At some point we must trust law enforcement to carry out its sworn duties,and serve and protect. Most of us know someone who is a sworn officer of protection, and most of us also know them to be decent law abiding enforcers , trying to help protect us from thugs.

     

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  61.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 20th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Re:

    You forgot hammers!

    "Run On Guns Has Now Forced Poor Robbers To Stick Up Banks At Hammerpoint"
    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/alaska/hammerpoint-bank-robbery-846793

     

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  62.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 20th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    "That is why we have police, and the government, who are capable of standing up to thugs and killers."

    I can do that on my own. I don't need someone else to do it for me. That is for COWARDS or people who live next door to a police station and are lazy.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

    Re: violence anywhere, is failure everywhere

    Being serious, or playing devil's advocate?
    You make the call.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 4:55am

    What about a background check to buy a video game?

    There should be a background check in order to buy a video game. You should also register your games with the state and/or federal government. Maybe we could have a map showing all game owners and a list of the games they play so we can publicly shame them.

     

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

  65.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    > If you make the software in California and
    > then send it to a server in Barbados and
    > somebody from Wisconsin buys it, that would
    > still unquestionably be "interstate commerce".

    The government has the burden to prove where the software was created. Can they prove he didn't write his game while hanging out in Barbados?

    And I'd also love to see the legal definition of 'video game' they come up with. If they're going to require all video games have this warning, they have to legally define what is and is not a video game. Such a definition would have to be broad enough to cover everything they want to regulate, but narrow enough avoid sweeping in a whole shit-ton of other applications and web sites under its umbrella. I feel sorry for the poor bastard on the congressional staff that's given that job.

     

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  66.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 22nd, 2013 @ 3:40pm

    Re:

    I don't need someone else to do it for me. That is for COWARDS or people who live next door to a police station and are lazy.

    Anyone who would prefer police deal with crime rather than handling it themselves is a coward?

     

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

  67.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 12:33am

    Re: Re:

    If my owning a gun makes me a coward, then yes.

    P.S. My guns, 99.99% of the time, are a three hour drive from here(my home), but not everyone has that luxury.

    P.P.S. Where my guns are, when seconds count, the police are only an hour away.

     

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


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