×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Video Game Free Speech Ruling Aftermath

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the knee-deep-in-the-opinions dept.

The Courts 258

On Monday we discussed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that a California law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors was in violation of the First Amendment's free speech protection. By now, both sides of the debate have had a chance to respond to the Court's ruling. Congressman Joe Baca and CA State Senator Leland Yee pledged to continue the fight for stricter controls on the distribution of violent games, while others cried, "think of the children." Game industry groups were unsurprisingly pleased with the decision, but warned that this won't be the end of it, and asked lawmakers to stop wasting time with such legislation in the future. An article at the NY Times points out how the ruling highlights the lack of clear evidence supporting either side of the debate, and Time notes the Supreme Court's double standard, asking, "Why does the court treat violent images and sexual images so differently?" Finally, an editorial at Gamasutra reminds us that even though most game developers are breathing a sigh of relief, many would like to see the industry shift toward something more creative and meaningful than violence.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

258 comments

Wasting time (0)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36608952)

and asked lawmakers to stop wasting time with such legislation in the future.

The "with such legislation in the future" part is redundant. Politicians are very much like diapers.

Re:Wasting time (4, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36608984)

Ah, BTW, in regards to

"Why does the court treat violent images and sexual images so differently?"

a possible answer is: violence tends to lower the demographic pressure, sex to increase it. With limited Earth resources, this is still "think of the children" but on a longer run. </sarcasm>

Re:Wasting time (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609110)

Ah, BTW, in regards to

"Why does the court treat violent images and sexual images so differently?"

a possible answer is: violence tends to lower the demographic pressure, sex to increase it. With limited Earth resources, this is still "think of the children" but on a longer run.
</sarcasm>

Clearly you've never read the bible. Endless killing of people of other religions is "OK" even encouraged by God. On the other hand, extreme societal control of what goes on in "private" bedrooms is mandatory.

Re:Wasting time (1, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609300)

Clearly you've never read the bible. Endless killing of people of other religions is "OK" even encouraged by God. On the other hand, extreme societal control of what goes on in "private" bedrooms is mandatory.

Considering you've been modded Insightful instead of Funny, I feel the need to point that this is not actually in the bible.

Re:Wasting time (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609320)

You haven't read the Old Testament, have you?

Re:Wasting time (1, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609350)

You haven't read the New Testament, have you? Nothing in the Old Testament is mandatory anymore.

But even in the OT, there was no such thing as extreme societal control.

Re:Wasting time (5, Interesting)

xatm092 (1654477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609430)

No extreme societal control? http://niv.scripturetext.com/leviticus/20.htm [scripturetext.com] Nothing in the Old Testament is mandatory anymore? http://bible.cc/matthew/5-18.htm [bible.cc]

Re:Wasting time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609502)

I think it's safe to say "owned."

Re:Wasting time (0)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609524)

Now read the rest of the NT please. You're only ripping a single verse out of context, and not looking at the context. If you'd read the rest of the NT, you'd have known that Jesus and the apostles regularly point out how the old restrictions, especially the ones that we find incomprehensible, are not binding (at least not anymore).

Re:Wasting time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609598)

Pick and choose... pick and choose. Toss away what you don't agree with, keep what you do.

Either follow it ALL, or don't follow it. Poser.

Re:Wasting time (2, Informative)

SethThresher (1958152) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610148)

I'm sorry, but that's just not how it works. The Bible isn't just a single body of work, it's a collection of history and laws spread out across thousands of years, detailing God's word, etc. Things change over time. Prophecies are fulfilled, promises are met.

Look at it this way: when the God of the Universe himself comes down and says "Hey, all that stuff I told you before has been taken care of. now all I want you to do is to love Me and each other, and to spread the word." that tends to change one's outlook. The Old Testament, as it stands, is now a history book that we can learn from, not a body of law that we are to strictly follow. It still reflects the Word of God, and is thus still applicable for teaching and insight, but it's not like Christians are being told not to eat pork, or not leave their houses on the Sabbath, or go to war with the Canadians because that land was promised as an inheritance at some point in the past.

Love God, love everyone else too. That's what it boils down to.

Now let's go back to being mutually happy that we're allowed to play and buy video games where we shoot up aliens, okay? ;)

Re:Wasting time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36610304)

Sorry if this sounds like and ad hominem, but I'm worried I will just be wasting my time if I take advice on bible studies from someone who is known to have said something as bizarre as "But even in the OT, there was no such thing as extreme societal control".

Re:Wasting time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36610036)

You do realize that, in the first passage you cited, "gives his child to Moloch" means killing him/her as a sacrifice, yes? Banning human sacrifices is NOT "extreme societal control." We'd probably (at least want) to kill any parent who did something similar today. Didn't read the whole quote, but skimming it most of it seems to be things we make illegal/ disapprove of today also. Probably not the best quote you could have chosen.

Re:Wasting time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609610)

You haven't read the OT have you?
OT specifically states that the OT is the first and one true law, the unchanging, unimpeachable, direct word of God and shall never be changed by any entity ever for any reason whatsoever no exceptions no loopholes.

If a newer version of the Bible can override an older version, I have (as the one true living prophet of all deities ever) just penned a NEWER Testament which makes vast and sweeping changes to all holy books throughout the world.

Re:Wasting time (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609700)

You haven't debated with a fundamentalist, have you? Which parts of either Testament are valid is entirely up to whoever you are talking to, and dependent on what point they are attempting to make.

Re:Wasting time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36610116)

Nothing in the Old Testament is mandatory anymore.

Does that mean we can drop the whole creationism debate?

Re:Wasting time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36610254)

In the New Testament there is this guy named Jesus, I don't know if you maybe missed him when you only read the back cover for your book report. Anyway, he's a sort of central character, and his support for the Law of Moses in all its hideousness is quite explicit. Which is somewhat paradoxical in the context of his other teachings, but don't pretend it isn't there.

Re:Wasting time (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610290)

You haven't read the New Testament, have you? Nothing in the Old Testament is mandatory anymore.

I'm Jewish, you insensitive clod!

Ok, not really, I just couldn't resist using that meme to point out that the New Testament means jack to some people.

Re:Wasting time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609376)

Although committing sexual harassment against an teenage Jewish girl who's already engaged and abandoning the child to her existing fiance is just peachy. As long as she didn't testify that the religious authority took her virginity. it's all OK.

Because they are, duh! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609748)

"Why does the court treat violent images and sexual images so differently?"

They are treated differently because they are different.
Any toddler can tell the difference between real and "cartoon" violence just from their direct experience of, well, toddling.
No pre-pubescent child can possibly understand human sexuality - they just aren't wired for it yet.

Does this mean that exposure to Janet Jackson's nipple will twist their development - probably not.
But exposure to Michael Jackson might.

I have no problem with my kids chainsawing the heads off of aliens in Gears of War:
I'd have a big problem with them being exposed to puerile blow-job jokes in Duke Nukem Forever (even if it didn't stink).

Re:Because they are, duh! (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609904)

But exposure to Michael Jackson might.

Why, is he a zombie (again) now? Or maybe a vampire?

Re:Wasting time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609848)

Ahh, religion bashing.

Isn't it wonderful when people find things to hate about a whole class of other people. I particularly like the statement of particular issues as if they were universally present. It's also cute when people think they are accomplishing anything of worth by provoking other people.

Re:Wasting time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609220)

"Why does the court treat violent images and sexual images so differently?"

Better question: Why does the media and general populous of the United States consider violent images and sexual images to be the same?
Sure; back in our pre-civilized history sex and violence were often closely related. But as we have advanced as a civilized species and people this relationship has grown further and further apart.

My parents never put too much effort into shielding me from violent OR sexual (or both) imagery as I was growing up. I had video games (Commodore 64 represent!), television, access to the internet (first in my rural town! I was 12!), and content was never a deciding factor when I asked to see a movie (Money, time, or "I really don't want to see that, so I'm not taking you" were).
I have now been an adult for over a decade and am socially, sexually, intellectually, and monetarily stable/successful.

(wishful thinking)
Maybe they finally realized that there's nothing wrong with sex!
(/wishful thinking)

Oh, and don't rebut with BDSM. It's not really my thing, but I've got friends in the scene and I can tell you with absolute certainty that while BDSM is variably painful and variably dramatic... it does not count as "violence" in this context. If it does, then it's not BDSM, it's assault.

Re:Wasting time (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609420)

Why does the media and general populous of the United States consider violent images and sexual images to be the same?

They don't. Remember the uproar over the exposed nipple during the superbowl?

Re:Wasting time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609552)

Ah you lucky Americans. I can only wonder what excitement and wonder it is for a woman to show her nipples if it might cause a public uproar.

Re:Wasting time (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609646)

I would it imagine during victorian times, it would have been equivalent to a wanton display of ankle. Quite the racy event.

Re:Wasting time (1)

vancedecker (1336829) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610328)

Ah you lucky Americans. I can only wonder what excitement and wonder it is for a woman to show her nipples if it might cause a public uproar.

Go join your local Jesus or Mohammed cult. They will take care of you. Then you will know all the joys associated with abridging the freedom of others around you.

Our country is controlled by our Jesus cult of power and greed known as the C-Street 'the family'

Re:Wasting time (0)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609908)

That was just a proxy for a greater social battle. Heathen blacks versus whites, conservatives versus liberals, etc. Her "malfunction" was simply used by the powerful to become more powerful, and the other side folded like a handkerchief. Similar to the "that Obama" talk now. When they make racial comments, they don't care about the racism, and when they make policy comments, they are talking about race.

Re:Wasting time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609678)

Oh, come on, you're not doing such luminaries as Anton Scalia justice! He's only trying to work out what the Founding Fathers(tm) intended, and it's clearly obvious that when they said "congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech", they intended for video games where you shoot people to be allowed to be sold to minors, just like they intended for pictures, videos etc. of consenting adults having sexual intercourse to be banned. Why, it says so right there in the text, doesn't it? Maybe you can't see it, but that's why you have people like Scalia to look so very closely and interpret the text for you and enact the will of the Founding Fathers(tm).

(Side note: I'm being sarcastic, but I'm snarking Scalia and his ilk, not you.)

silver lining to the double standard (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610110)

Although I find the double standard for violence vs. sex disappointing (especially being more of a fan of the latter than the former), I'd rather have a double standard than for them to deny them both the full protection of the First Amendment. And the existence of double standards can sometimes be used to leverage equal treatment in the long run (see the civil rights movements, for examples).

Re:Wasting time (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609088)

"Why does the court treat violent images and sexual images so differently?"

Politicians can pretend to be dealing with violence by putting on cowboy hats for photo sessions.

People having Too Much Sex is harder for them to deal with.

Re:Wasting time (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609918)

People having Too Much Sex is harder for them to deal with.

And, of course, "too much" is "more (or better) than me."

How effective are the restrictions? (3, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36608962)

Other than for politicians who like to say they voted "against" sex and violence, and retailers and producers, do these laws have any effect to begin with on kids? I have seen opinions that it "desensitizes" kids to violence. But I've also read that access to porn has led to less sex crime. It kind of feels like violent games would reduce empathy in kids, but I'd be more interested in slashdot links to actual studies of behavior than political posturing and opinion about the ruling.

Re:How effective are the restrictions? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609070)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHHdovKHDNU

Experiment by Albert Bandura. Shows how kids will reproduce acts of violence they have witnessed.

A few notes:
- This experiment features kids who have unsupervised access to visual depictions of violence. It's not clear if kids still act violent when an adult puts this violence into context for them.
- The experiment does not seem to say much about the long-term effects of exposure to violence.
- Kids will imitate almost any behavior they observe in others, violence is not an exception. It's how they learn.
- It has been argued that letting children explore violence in non-harmful ways (i.e. violence against objects or in video games) might be good for them, as it can make them feel strong and able to defend themselves (grows confidence, reduces anxiety) and lets them understand when violence is and is not appropriate (for example, by playing Cop vs. Thief with toy guns, they'll learn why criminals are bad guys and their actions wrong).

This experiment, therefore, should not, on it's own, be interpreted as a statement for or against violent movies or video games. It simply shows kids will imitate violence they see in media; nothing more and nothing less.

Re:How effective are the restrictions? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609140)

Aside from the question of how effective the law (almost certainly wouldn't) have been in terms of changing minors' access to the games it applied to(see the complete absence of minors with access to cigarettes, under-21s with access to booze, and people generally with access to schedule 1 drugs...) there seem to be two 'schools' of result, depending on how researchers approach the question:

In individual-scale studies, people often demonstrate that subjects primed with violent video games are somewhat more likely to act-out violent behaviors, answer ambiguous prompts with the more, rather than less, violent possibility, etc.

In population-scale statistical work, of the 'epidemiological' style, the results usually seem to be that video games, presumably by providing an extremely easy and attractive(and generally quite cheap, too) timesink for the idle and troublesome youngish males who handle most of society's grunt-level violence, appear to reduce the levels of violence sufficiently intense to show up in crime statistics.

Re:How effective are the restrictions? (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609684)

do these laws have any effect to begin with on kids

I'd be more interested in slashdot links to actual studies of behavior

The supreme court ruling refers to articles on both those points. They stated that in California, 20% of retailers will sell violent games to children, which compares to the 18% of liquor stores that sell alcohol to minors. The justices also commented on various studies, basically concluding that they are all very subject and totally inconclusive. The actual opinions are full of interesting facts.

The DECISION is meaningless too (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610146)

do these laws have any effect to begin with on kids?

Does this DECISION have any effect either? The industry already self-censors, so what practical impact does it really have. It isn't going to make it any easier to get a AO rated game made, published, or sold. It isn't going to make it any easier for a kid to buy a M-rated game (since most retailers won't sell them to a kid anyway). It has no real-world impact at all. I suspect the court only did it so they could *look* like they were championing free speech (after a year of ultra-conservative decisions that DID have real-world implications).

Re:How effective are the restrictions? (1)

vancedecker (1336829) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610282)

Typical worthless uneducated 'man on the street' opinion. Your comment is typical of clueless retards who want to seem smart. I'm sure next you will tell us about how studies 'prove' it.

What in the seven hells (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36608972)

Why does the industry have to SHIFT towards anything? Is there some sort of quota that prevents the publication of more than one type of video game? Jesus Christ, I'm so fucking tired of everything being black or white and thing else.

Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (3, Informative)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609004)

Why does the Supreme Court treat violent video games differently? Its a double standard...blah blah They acknowledged that and said why in their ruling. They pointed out that not just in American history but in western society leading up to American, we have always done so. Our oldest fairy tails and even our Bible stories depict rather graphic violence even though they are intended for presentation to children. Meanwhile we have always restricted the presentation of sexual images, when not presented in away that society broadly recognizes as high art.

They said all this in their ruling, maybe these people should try reading it and then respond.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609040)

>... Bible stories depict rather graphic violence even though they are intended for presentation to children. Meanwhile we have always restricted the presentation of sexual images,

You really haven't read the Bible, have you?

The Song of Solomon is a pretty good bit of literary erotica.

--
BMO

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609086)

>... Bible stories depict rather graphic violence even though they are intended for presentation to children. Meanwhile we have always restricted the presentation of sexual images,

You really haven't read the Bible, have you?

The Song of Solomon is a pretty good bit of literary erotica.

-- BMO

Incestuous erotic literature at that:

9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
more than any spice!
11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride;
milk and honey are under your tongue.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609268)

Ezekiel 23:20
There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.
(New International Version)

Other translations are different wordings, but convey the same meaning.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (2)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609218)

Yeah and they don't usually teach The Song of Salomon to kids in church... but stories of violence like the story of David and Goliath where David Bashes Goliath's head with a stone then decapitates him are favorites for children. Furthermore The Song of Solomon would be considered art.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609316)

Song of Solomon is quite arousing.

Anyone who doesn't get this, Song of Solomon talks about oral sex and many other delights.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610022)

I have not read the "Song of Solomon" recently and I don't have it handy but If my recollection is at all correct its mostly euphemism. Quite titillating, yes if you have any experience with acts alluded to, but not exactly graphic if you don't. The depictions of violence on the other hand tend to be quite specific, and might even be characterized as technical.

My suspicions if it were translated as,

Oh the joy I felt shoving my throbbing penis into your swollen vagina repeatedly.

society would take a dimer view of letting children read Bibles.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (2)

Eivind (15695) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609056)

Who the fuck came up with the ida that bible stories "are intended for presentation to children" ?

The bible is most definitely *not* written to be child-friendly, it has plenty of gruesome murders and torture, and a fair bit of sex.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (2, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609120)

The bible is most definitely *not* written to be child-friendly, it has plenty of gruesome murders and torture, and a fair bit of sex.

We need to ban that book. Think Of The Children!

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609130)

It is very child-friendly, it's just present day humans that for some erratic reason think that children should not know of sex, violence and torture until they grow up.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609394)

John 3:4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Context adds that the Bible is the unadulterated truth.
I can't find it at this moment because I can't remember the correct wording, but there is another passage (old testament) which states that it is a command directly from God that the Bible be taught to all children as soon as they become literate.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609178)

Interestingly enough I attended a talk by a few well know authors who were talking about themes in old folk tails and fairy tails which they'd come across while researching old stories.
One striking thing was that there tended to be a lot more sexual references.
A lot of disney stories are older ones with the violence toned down and the sex stripped away entirely.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609216)

Given that, until comparatively recently, the population-level western standard of living often didn't include enough dwelling space to necessarily separate the humans from the livestock, much less the existing children from the production of siblings, 'protecting' children from sexual material would have been pretty tricky(though, at the same time, willingness to use fairly coercive means to attempt to control sexual behavior was quite high)...

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609422)

They said all this in their ruling, maybe these people should try reading it and then respond.

They did say why, but perhaps some people don't think that "tradition" is a good reason to uphold a decision.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609840)

+1 Sir!

"Tradition" is NEVER a good reason to uphold a decision.

Note that I'm not suggesting that tradition is universally wrong; just that it's not a valid criteria to use for passing judgement on the appropriateness of a rule/law/assumption.
Most traditions became a tradition due to being based on experiences that an action/practice correlated to a desired outcome. Of course, back when most traditions started people were even LESS aware (somehow) that correlation != causation. This has resulted in many traditions that were either only valid under specific conditions spreading to areas where those conditions are not satisfied, or are no longer valid due to other changes in those conditions.

One of my favorite examples for thought is the Jewish ban on pork consumption. When the ban was penned, it was almost impossible to safely slaughter, store, and assure proper cooking, of pork. This caused many people who ate pork to get sick, sometimes to the point of death.

Observe people eating pork.... Observe people sick and dying... Observe healthy people that don't eat pork while living otherwise the same... Ban eating pork... Observe less people sick and/or dying.... Add nearly complete ignorance of disease/parasites/bacteria.... =Assume pork is cursed.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609902)

Which is a fine argument and a legitimate response to the decisions. Saying we should not do something just because of tradition is different than saying I don't understand why we do then when the court has just told you its by tradition.

The Supreme Court has long taken the view that not only should it keep consistent in the technical sense, as to its interpretations but also in the character sense, at least until that character no longer reflects the general character of the public.

This is why geeks always see clever loop holes in the law being used by various service X, and then are always shocked when the judgement goes against them. The court expects when an individual is determining how to follow the law they will take into account its spirit, at least when its one where that can clearly be known.

Consider this, if someone will now creates a sexually explicit video game an try and sell it to minors, do not expect the court look favorably upon it. Its free speech when its killing hookers, its porn when you show their services being utilized. They court likely won't consider that a hypocritical position to take, even if you do.

Re:Man some of these "activists" are dumb as rocks (0)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609968)

Tradition is never a good answer for anything. Those who think it is are dumb as rocks.

Already have a voluntary rating and enforcement (5, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609008)

The thing newspapers keep missing is that there is already a voluntary rating system out there, which all game retailers adhere to. Console makers have already banned Adults Only games from their consoles, and violent M games are kept away from kids by retailers already. By most tests, the system is more effective than the Movie rating system at keeping kids away from M (R) rated content.

So really, the court didn't rule that you can't have a ban. The court ruled that to overcome the first amendment challenge, California had to prove significant interest in a government-enforced ban above and beyond the already in-place industry ban. Since the California law was only going to add legal confusion to an already working voluntary system, the supremes ruled against them.

Re:Already have a voluntary rating and enforcement (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609322)

Exactly, the need for legislation is not required because the industry is so meek, so paranoid of bad publicity that stores ask for ID even when it is not required and will take "controversial" games off shelves. It's not like legislation would have any teeth either for non-commercial games - mods, flash content etc. where the more extreme stuff is likely to be found anyway.

Re:Already have a voluntary rating and enforcement (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610010)

Most retailers don't sell them to minors... but what about third party sellers? Small game shops? Ebayers?

The lack of clear evidence... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609028)

There is also lack of clear evidence that rules restricting the sale of tobacco, alcohol, and porn to minors is making a difference. For that matter, the closest analogue is probably R-rated movies, and there isn't any evidence that restricting those at the theatre is useful, either.

Re:The lack of clear evidence... (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609068)

Just to let you know, the MPAA rating system is purely voluntary by the studios and the theaters.

--
BMO

Re:The lack of clear evidence... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609158)

Just to let you know, the MPAA rating system is purely voluntary by the studios and the theaters.

Sure, but the theatres face all kinds of hell if they intentionally allow unaccompanied minors in to R-rated movies in the states.

Re:The lack of clear evidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36610162)

No they don't, or not from the government at least. The government doesn't regulate that at all, because it's unconstitutional and illegal. Same with video games, books, etc.

Double Standard? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609076)

"Why does the court treat violent images and sexual images so differently?"

To call it the 'court's' double standard seems rather unfair. The justices specifically noted that it was rather odd how American tastes in media, past and present, were highly permissive of violence, even for fairly young children; but much less permissive of sexual material. However, in keeping with their job description, they couldn't really do much about that. 'Miller-test obscenity', while pretty unsatisfactory in a number of respects, is one of the few ways to successfully exempt something from First Amendment protections. For reasons having to do with American culture in the past, continuing into the present, that one doesn't mention violence.

Perhaps more importantly, the court argued that the law was attempting to enforce an (unconstitutional) double standard by imposing special restrictions on violent media that happened to be video games, restrictions that were not imposed on violence in other media: had the law flipped out at violence per se, as people often do about sexual content, regardless of medium(except for stuff old enough to have a gloss of cultural respectability, which is why 120 Days of Sodom is on the shelves and Playboy behind the counter, wrapped in plastic...), it would have at least had a shot at getting some Miller-esque test carved out for it. Since it specifically targeted video games, it was quite arguably an attempt to legally silence one specific class of speakers, rather than a specific perfidious topic(which might not have necessarily succeeded; but would have had a better chance...)

The court, for the most part, was just repeating back to us an observation on our own standards.

Re:Double Standard? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609296)

One lick is worth a thousand bullets.

Re:Double Standard? (1)

reimero (194707) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609440)

Fuzzyfuzzyfungus got it exactly right. The Supreme Court basically ruled that video games are to be afforded the same protections as books, movies, TV shows, music and works of art, because video games are a legitimate form of creative expression (seriously, play the original Deus Ex and tell me that doesn't qualify.) California can't discriminate against violent video games because California also can't discriminate against violent books, TV shows, movies, paintings and what have you.

Re:Double Standard? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610012)

To call it the 'court's' double standard seems rather unfair. The justices specifically noted that it was rather odd how American tastes in media, past and present, were highly permissive of violence, even for fairly young children; but much less permissive of sexual material

Sure they could have. They can rule according to the Constitution. There's nothing in the Constitution about community standards. They have chosen to give community standards more weight than our Constitution. That's entirely their fault.

'Miller-test obscenity', while pretty unsatisfactory in a number of respects, is one of the few ways to successfully exempt something from First Amendment protections.

No, the Miller test does not exempt anything from the Constitution. The Miller test is an unconstitutional end-run around the First Amendment protections. It was invented from whole cloth by the Supreme Court. THAT is not in their job description.

Re:Double Standard? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610106)

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of the theory of 'obscenity' as somehow being a nebulously different and unprotected class of activity.

However, speaking empirically about what the court actually does, and what people stand for it doing, things that were invented from whole cloth sufficiently long ago are called "precedent" and taken seriously, and asserting in some vaguely plausible way that a work satisfies the Miller test is, in fact, a successful way to exempt something from First Amendment protections.

I don't like that aspect of reality; but I would argue that it is a reasonably accurate picture of how matters actually work.

Re:Double Standard? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610160)

Well, sure, in a "might makes right" kind of way. It's nothing but thuggery though, and deserves to be called out as such at every opportunity.

The Meaning of Life is... (1, Troll)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609084)

... violence. Raw violence, controlled violence, channeled violence... it's all the same. "Competition", that poster boy of capitalism, is really nothing more than a highly channeled and almost symbolic form of violence. Competition is all about putting your figurative foot to the other guy's figurative throat and squeezing until he cries uncle, right? Would somebody please explain how that is really so much different than the caveman version of that scenario, where it's actual feet and necks in play rather than sales figures and balance sheets and quarterly reports? Then there's the ubiquity of literally violent team sports, which curiously no one is rushing to banish from schools and universities and the airwaves. Violence is violence, when the intent is the same, to put one's figurative foot on the other guy's neck.

So "competition" isn't that different from game violence in terms of the intent, but once again the ruling class/elite/whatever wants to make sure we're all restricted to playing this game of life by their rules only, by which they hope to have an incumbent advantage. They've been playing this game with systems of laws for centuries, using "the law" to their primary advantage. They perhaps don't want these games reminding a generation that they in fact do have other options for playing The Game. Vive la revolucion!

Re:The Meaning of Life is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36610018)

Well... sorry to break it to you, but playing highschool basketball and playing GTA are not even closely comparable. being able to have sex with a hooker and then kill her to get your money back doesn't get the same reactions / emotions as hitting the game winning shot. you aren't killing someone in a sport, nor are you even trying to hurt them, you want to win, not injure. The point of violent games is to "put your foot to someones throat", and the more you kill the better. The only way violent video games have a bad effect on kids is if they have parents that are too lazy to teach them the difference between real life and virtual reality.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609108)

Why are/were parents relying on the legislative/judicial branches to protect their kids from buying stuff over the counter anyway?

Re:Why? (1)

farseeker (2134818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609148)

Because as far as I can tell, some parents are lazy and want the ability to blame everyone else for their failings, rather than realise that it is their own job to raise and educate their child.

I do not believe that this is the majority of parents. I believe the majority of parents do a good job of this. However it's the minority of parents who, of course, make the most noise.

Where I live, pornographic magazines are right next to the checkout counter at my local petrol station. They're wrapped of course, but the visible part of the covers is still quite provocative. It's MY responsibility and duty to teach my son how and when/if he should consume such material, and until he becomes old enough to make the decision for himself, to make it for him.

Why laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609160)

Why always make laws about everything?
Why not let parents decide whether they want their kids to play violent games or not?
If the problem is that parents don't understand the ESRB age ratings, start by replacing those big letters (T, M, R...) with numbers, like in Europe (10+, 15+, 17+...). Also, campaigns and advertisements to educate parents about age ratings would cost much less time and money than drafting new laws.
If the problem is that parents don't realize why violent media is bad for kids, then educate them about it! If really violent games are bad, you should have evidence of it and you could use that evidence to convince parents!
And if you think parents are too stupid to understand violent media are bad for kids, even when strong evidence is presented to them, then at least have the honesty of saying it! "You are complete fucktards who can't take care of a goldfish, much less children. The government should take the education of your children out of your hands and into its own, because we know better than you what values your children should be taught. We can't even teach you to be better parents because you're just too goddamn stupid to learn anything and it's amazing you even figured out how to reproduce in the first place - frankly, we'd have more success teaching rocks to be good parents". There, how hard was it?

Sex and violence? (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609240)

Sex is usually obvious to identify. What actual "damage" sex does to minors is still a bit of a mystery to me. I recall as early as 5 finding girls to be "interesting" and being quite curious about the differences. This is considered normal and healthy for kids. Oddly enough, the interest and curiosity never stopped. And we also know that when something is denied to someone, it just makes them want it all the more. What's more, I also recall my first experiences with alcohol -- I was also quite young and guess what? I hated it! I didn't learn to like it until my early 20s. I can't say they same would be true for sexual experiences for kids because I have no experience to relate, but there seems to be some indication that "protecting children" from exposure to sexual information is probably more damaging emotionally and psychologically.

Violence is really subjective... easy to identify, but we have to approve the cause or justification first. Recall that people weren't upset that yet another war game was created, but that there was a depiction of a playable present-day "enemy" where the player attacks US soldiers. (There would have been no commotion if the game was only about US soldiers attacking the Taliban.) It's not the violence itself that we seek to limit, it's the thinking behind the violence we seek to limit. Of course, we can't say what we actually mean because then it is clear and obvious that what we think or feel on the subject is pretty anti-american ideal-wise.

So instead of admitting that to ourselves and everyone around us, we just say "ban violence! (with the following exceptions: [insert list of things I approve of])"

Not likely (3, Funny)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609286)

many would like to see the industry shift toward something more creative and meaningful than violence

Yea, except those that do the purchasing. Though I'm sure it's been tried, "Call of Knitting: Black Yarn", "Mundane Borrowing Bicycle" or "Halo: Frolicking" probably just wouldn't sell very well.

Re:Not likely (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609326)

This is why "The Sims" almost bankrupted EA before they wised up and released "The Sims: Noire." and why Nintendogs had to be rebooted as "Michael Vick's Nintendogs: First Blood" right?

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609712)

Thank you for this comment, what idiot thinks the industry would take violent games and retool them as non-violent games? The point is, non-violent games exist, and are hugely popular. Violent games also exist of course, and are also popular. But if you look at the top ten all time selling games over all platforms, it would be interesting to see how many were shooters or fighters, and how many were sports or Sims games.

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36609792)

Let's not forget how quickly cooking mama became hookin' momma.

Unconstitutional (2, Insightful)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609360)

If something is found unconstitutional and people keep attempting to push the exact same laws over and over, they should be personally fined for the amount of the cost to the system if again found unconstitutional.

Re:Unconstitutional (3, Insightful)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610078)

On the other side of the coin does the same hold true for people petitioning the courts to overturn laws they view as unconstitutional? Should we have started giving fines to women's suffrage activists? Civil rights activists?

Fines are not the answer. The correct answer is to just not re-elect those people.

Re:Unconstitutional (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610204)

Two members of the Supreme Court did say that a more precisely defined law could pass Constitutional muster. This is an open invitation for politicians to try again. This is how our legal system works.

silly question (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609636)

Why wouldn't the court treat violent images and sexual images differently? Human brain has a different response to seeing violence and to seeing sex.

Re:silly question (2)

Mods (1424749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609916)

The brain has a different response to hearing the word 'free' than it does to the word 'kill' but they are both protected under free speech. Just because one evokes a different emotional response does not mean that they need different rules.

Re:silly question (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610038)

In what way are they different? Please provide a neurophysiological explanation.

what's stopping them? (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609674)

even though most game developers are breathing a sigh of relief, many would like to see the industry shift toward something more creative and meaningful than violence.

Regardless of whether the "many" in that sentence are the developers or the 3rd part observers, these "many" have an opportunity to either develop other types of games themselves or to patron different types of games. The benefit of for-profit art, just as the the benefit of for-profit anything is that they have to strive to keep pleasing their customers.

video games are about catharsis (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609734)

they are about expressing and releasing violent and sexual energies that have no other outlet. much of violent and sexual impulses cannot be released in socially acceptable ways. so on some basic level, this is why violent and sexual media are so successful: they fill a need

it has always been my assertion that violent and sexual media doesn't CREATE inappropriate violent and sexual real life behavior, but instead serves as a form of releasing what is already there. in other words, those who oppose violent and sexual media are working on an inaccurate model of human psychology: we are not empty vessels that are corrupted. we are vessels already, naturally, innately, full of violent and sexual impulses. and we need a way to release them harmlessly, lest they be released harmfully. so violent and sexual media DECREASE real world inappropriate violence and sexxual behavior in my view

of course, videogames don't HAVE to be violent or sexual

but what i am saying, psychologically, is that the most successful videogames will always be violent or sexual. that's the most important need they fill

Re:video games are about catharsis (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610066)

but what i am saying, psychologically, is that the most successful videogames will always be violent or sexual. that's the most important need they fill

Is that why Myst, the Sims, and Farmville are among the most popular games of their times?

WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?!?!? (1)

vancedecker (1336829) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609756)

Hysterical Middle American Mouth Breather's Vow To Not Be Stopped!

"We got fences put up around every cheap hotel pool in the country! This first amendment crap won't stop us for long!" - another hysterical middle American 'homemaker' who cares about the 'the children'

As a Parent (2)

Nynaeve70 (2232514) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609776)

I feel it is up to a parent to choose what is best for his/her child. By the standards that some politicians are choosing my son (when younger) would have limited to "age level" reading only, when he was capable of reading adult books. (Note: One of his parents always read every book before he was allowed to read it, as we felt it was our responsibility.) My son is an adult now, but I felt and still feel it is the parent's decision for their child as they grow. Each child is different. Some children can handle different video games at different ages than others.

Does this mean R-Rated movies for 10 year-olds? (1)

Kolisar (665024) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609836)

Accepting the court's separation of sexually explicit material and violent material, does this ruling open the door for letting small children into R-Rated movies, which carry the "Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian" text along with the rating, without the "required" "accompanying parent or adult guardian" if the film is only rated "R" for violence and not sexual content? And if so, why have the "requires accompanying parent or adult guardian" text at all. And, what about NC-17, again if rated for violence and not sexually explicit material?

And, is it really that bad, from a First Amendment perspective, that adults have the right to decide if their children can play violent video games? I understand the profit motive, by restricting sales to any demographic the company looses potential profit, but I do not understand how the ability to SELL something to someone is a First Amendment issue, or how the corporations rights outweigh the rights of the parents.

Re:Does this mean R-Rated movies for 10 year-olds? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610086)

That door is already open. There is no legal backing behind movie ratings. There's nothing legally requiring a theater to keep someone under 17 out. The theaters choose not to.

Restricted to Adults != Banned (1, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 2 years ago | (#36609886)

I would actually have liked to see certain computer games restricted to adult sale only. The average gamer is apparently now 37 years old so why should companies not be able to produce games that are aimed exclusively at adults? If a parent wants to show let their kid play Doom or whatever then let them but force the parent to make the choice by purchasing it for them.

By allowing certain games to be restricted to adults we may get more games that were produced exclusively for adults. Some of them might be quite good. Currently if a game goes too far in this direction then it risks the distributor refusing to distribute it for fear of the moaning minnies demonstrating outside their shops or whatever.

Here in the UK we have a ratings system for both movies and video games. This results in many films and games being rated as unfit for children and not for sale to them. They are still available in shops on the high street and supermarkets, its just that the retailer has to look at the person buying it and make a judgement about their age. If they are unsure they ask for ID and refuse sale if they don't see any. Many countries use a similar system for alcohol, guns and many other things.

While this is by no means perfect it does have advantages. The main one is that if something unwholesome is sold to a minor, then the producer's hands are clean. They just point to the retailer who is clearly in the wrong since all adult only material has to be labelled with the appropriate age in big letters on the cover / box / whatever.

I can't help but feel that the current system helps the fundamentalists who feel that this content should be unavailable to everyone since they can use the think of the children excuse directly against the producers of content. If a decent, legally enforceable age restriction system was in place then they would have to concentrate on people letting minors access the material rather than using the same argument to try and attack everyone having access to it. They would certainly find other avenues to attack the people producing stuff they disliked, but by allowing the producers to say clearly that kids should not have access to this as well then it would make it harder to ban it outright.

Re:Restricted to Adults != Banned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36610258)

What you're describing sounds much like the current system in the US. We have rating systems for both video games and movies, and have had these systems for years. In nearly every case, stores will adhere to ESRB ratings and NOT sell games to minors, because they want to keep a good reputation.

The issue here is that some lawmakers wanted the *government* to be able to enforce these rating systems, and actually step in and fine stores for selling games to young kids. This is a restriction of free speech and is totally unconstitutional. It is (and rightfully should be) up to the kids' parents to determine whether or not their children should play certain games, watch certain movies, or read certain books. Who's to say what's "good for the kids" other than their parents?

Again, it's not like shops don't enforce the rating systems already - they absolutely do, because it's good for their business and the industry. It just shouldn't be illegal for them NOT to.

FTFA I call Bullshit (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610156)

"Gamasutra reminds us that even though most game developers are breathing a sigh of relief, many would like to see the industry shift toward something more creative and meaningful than violence." When I come home after a full day of dealing with idiots I like to blow off some steam by killing people (on my computer of course :-) I don't consider COD Black Ops an especialy violent game. I do my best to keep this away from my daughter so I have to wait till she goes to bed to play. If the industry self regulates who gets to buy these "violent" games why is this an issue. Ok maybe some parents may expose younger children to violent games but that is not the fault of the industry. That's just bad parenting. This whole thing is just a big waste of time.

Lobbying group representing VG industry?? (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 2 years ago | (#36610202)

Is there a lobbying group representing the VG Industry?? I know there's IGDA, but they are more concerned on the inner workings of the industry, not the relations of the gaming industry and the rest of the world (ie. government).

If I were a big-name video game publisher I would want less regulation/restrictions on games so that I can make as much money as possible. Laws can change at any moment and without a dedicated lobbying group with good pockets, they can easily change against the industry and we'd end up like Germany, where everything god-damn-thing is censored.

I sincerely hope all the big-name publishers out there pool their money and create or bolster their current special interest group (aka lobbyist) to keep their profitability high.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...