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St Louis Continues Pushing Violent Games Law

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the ain't-over-til-it's-over dept.

Games 35

Thanks to Frictionless Insight for pointing to a St.Louis Today article indicating officials have decided not to give up on trying to outlaw the sale of violent video games to minors, despite a recent tide against their effort. As a CNN article explains, ".. [the original] ordinance, passed by the St. Louis County Council in 2000, requires children under 17 to have parental consent before they can buy violent or sexually explicit video games or play similar arcade games", but this was struck down as unconstitutional on June 4th, with a judge citing the First Amendment and the protection of free speech. The County has now set a petition for review, saying the courts "set too high a standard" for proving a link between videogames and violence. The saga continues..

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35 comments

Even as a parent I have to agree with the court (0, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 10 years ago | (#6288923)

It's obvious to any right-thinking person that TV in general and video games in particular don't cause violence in children. If that were so, educational TV would make them smarter--and I've never seen any evidence of that either.

However, I think there's still a link there. Clearly people who like violent video games over otherwise-equivalent games must be enjoying the violence. So violent video games serve as a magnet to these violence-prone people, which skews the statistics of the anti-gaming nuts. Perhaps a wiser use of our money would be to establish a national DNA database of these whackos that are spending their free time pretending to kill people--it'll save time when they eventually do murder someone.

wackos not "whackos" (2, Funny)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 10 years ago | (#6289031)

Perhaps a wiser use of our money would be to establish a national DNA database of these whackos that are spending their free time pretending to kill people...

No, no, you've got it all wrong. "Wackos" pretend to kill people while watching a computer screen. "Whackos" pretend they're having sex with people (usually sexy women) while watching a computer screen.

GMD

Re:Even as a parent I have to agree with the court (1)

Sj0 (472011) | about 11 years ago | (#6295033)

For a "PhysicsGenius", you have a pitiful understanding of statistics. statistically speaking, a poor minority living in a violent neibourhood is far more likely to join a gang, commit murder, or another serious crime than a middle class white boy who plays video games. Far more, as in a thousand to one. So quit being such a paranoid baby and let law enforcement deal with people whose socioeconomic factors actually point to them actually committing a crime, rather than people idiot scare mongers would like you to believe are more likely to.

Re:Even as a parent I have to agree with the court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6296199)

So rather than keeping an eye on people who entertain themselves with simulated violence, you recommend...locking up "poor minorities?" Hitler would be proud, sir.

Goose, gander, pot , kettle (1)

August_zero (654282) | about 11 years ago | (#6299495)

But by your own argument you support this idea. If it's good to monitor gamers because they like violent games you should be all for monitoring minorities for their culture of violence.

That or you don't understand sarcasm.

Re:Even as a parent I have to agree with the court (1)

Sj0 (472011) | about 11 years ago | (#6311526)

...And stalin would be entertained greatly by your stupidity. I never said anything about locking ANYONE up. Besides the fact that your entire premise is flawed(oh no! SIMULATED VIOLENCE?! We should keep track of people who watch TV and play sports too! Lets get those freaky karate people too! They spend their time entertaining themselves with REAL VIOLENCE!!! Hell, hunters? They entertain themselves by KILLING THINGS!!!!! What better way to desensitize yourself to killing than by killing? and soldiers, we should lock them up right away, since their JOB is KILLING PEOPLE!!!), there are better ways to stop statistically relevant people from committing crimes, but closing your ears and going "that's RACIST! I'm not going to listen to you! LALALALALA!" isn't one of them. By coming out of your little fantasy world, we can save the costs involved with "keeping an eye on" TENS OF MILLIONS OF GAMERS, and possibly make some neighbourhoods just a little safer.

St. Louis County is not the City of St. Louis (4, Informative)

trentfoley (226635) | more than 10 years ago | (#6289009)

...passed by the St. Louis County Council in 2000, requires children...

Thank god I live in the City of St. Louis. I keep hearing about this kind of strange goings on out in the County. The last time I heard about anything this crazy was when they tried to ban MTV in St. Charles County. That didn't last very long, though.

I have kids too, though. So, of course, I'm a concerned parent. But, as Bart said unto Lisa, "How can you expect to become desensitized to violence if you don't watch it."

Re:St. Louis County is not the City of St. Louis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6289836)

Banning MTV isn't sooo crazy.

Re:St. Louis County is not the City of St. Louis (1)

pyr0 (120990) | about 11 years ago | (#6295532)

They actually didn't ban MTV in St. Charles county...the cable provider just stopped carrying it. I think that was just after I graduated high school and left for Rolla, but I seem to remember hearing about St. Charles area teens actually forming a picket line outside the cable company office to protest!

Movies (1)

Suicide (45320) | more than 10 years ago | (#6289043)

Next, are they going to try writing a law to restrict children from seeing movies with an R rating? I know theaters voluntarily enforce MPAA ratings, but last time I checked, it wasn't law.

Re:Movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6289525)

The MPAA is the only reason such a law does not already exist.

If the law for movies existed, the law for games would have been easily passed.

OMG, the MPAA and slashdotters on the same side!

Re:Movies (1)

bucky0 (229117) | about 11 years ago | (#6298070)

Actually, it law here in Tennessee. As a matter of fact, I think the letter of the law says that the parent has to watch the movie with you (i.e. you'r mom can't just buy the ticket for you and leave)

Violent video games law???? (1)

Tassadar99 (592261) | more than 10 years ago | (#6289058)

What are they gonna do next. How bout The No luod music law. I like video games. Like StarCraft and Diablo 2. They're a bunch of poops. I'm glad im well away from that state. math.random*(((Grrr)))){}

Re:Violent video games law???? (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | about 11 years ago | (#6293154)

How bout The No luod music law.

In California, if your car stereo is too loud, they can impound it (the stereo, or the car if they can't easily remove the stereo).

Then, of course, there's the usual laws regarding loud music (or any loud noise) between certain hours (ie after midnight).

The question they need to be asked: (4, Insightful)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 10 years ago | (#6289069)

Would you pass a similar law for books? movies? television? Why be media-specific?

Oh, and that game those punk kids play, you know the one where they pretend to have this war, you know? and they're trying to kill everybody on the other side so they can capture the king? That seems pretty violent too.

another question that needs to be asked (1)

tankdilla (652987) | about 11 years ago | (#6292325)

I'm guessing that the people that really want this law are parents who don't want their kids playing violent video games. So why don't parents just not let their own kid play the violent game? Why are they trying to put laws in place for something parents should be doing themselves. I'm assuming parents are the main proponents, but it could also be nosy people that see kids playing violent games and want to prevent it. To these people, why don't you have your own kid and discipline him/her like you want? It's like anything people don't like, they try to get rid of it through legislation.

'[SOAPBOX]
And another thing, I hate when kids do crazy stuff and start killing people, and people blame everything, video games, music, etc.... when the problem is most likely rooted at the home.
[/SOAPBOX]'

Re:another question that needs to be asked (2, Insightful)

ronfar (52216) | about 11 years ago | (#6293595)

I'm guessing that the people that really want this law are parents who don't want their kids playing violent video games. So why don't parents just not let their own kid play the violent game?
Actually, I have a theory about that, it's not only that they don't want their own kids playing videogames, they also don't want other people's kids playing videogames either. There are lots of reasons for this. I mean people believe in things like the ideas that games cause murders and suicide as a superstition. When I was a kid, it was D&D, nowadays it's GTA. So, if you believe something like that, then you don't want anyone playing videogames. Because that weird kid (who exists mostly in these people's imaginations) who plays video games obsessively may kill your family.

There is also H. L. Mencken's definition of Puritanism to consider, "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." He was really onto something with that. Think of all the things that have been in trouble. Pool, pinball, comic books, Rock and Roll, and RolePlaying Games have all had their time in the dock. All of these things have in common that they are fun without being educational or "spiritual." Some people really hate that, you have to come up with a better reason for stuff like that to exist than just because it is fun, because to those people fun=bad.

I actually kind of wish that the game companies would fight this not in courts but by complying. They could just stop shipping games to stores in St. Louis County and close the arcades. The trouble is they are worried that if it succeeds in St. Louis, Joseph Lieberman will decide to introduce a bill making it national. It would be interesting to see what would happen, though, even though a lot of small arcade and video game owners would end up suffering in the short term. (If I was an arcade owner in St. Louis county, I'd already be looking to relocate.)

Too high a standard (2, Interesting)

Danse (1026) | more than 10 years ago | (#6289138)

On June 4, that panel said the county's use of "anecdote and supposition" did not establish enough connection between violent games and violent behavior to warrant a limit on the game makers' free speech rights.


The county's petition for review says the 8th Circuit panel set too high a standard.


Yep. I can definitely see where they're coming from on this. I mean how much more scientific do you have to be in order to take away people's rights? What does the court want, an actual scientific study or something?! I think the court just doesn't place enough value on a good anecdote or a seemingly plausible supposition. If the court insists on more evidence than that, then they might have to actually make an effort, and its even possible that the study might not support their position! (although, granted, that's not likely, depending on who they hire and how much they pay)

Well.... (4, Insightful)

Monark24 (669579) | more than 10 years ago | (#6289271)

I live in STL County, but being a bunch of years over 17 I don't care... I have been following this videogame violence stuff since the mid 90's, and what it comes down to is if the parents think that violence and content will ruin their children's minds they have the right to say "no". What I don't understand is why with the ERAB Ratings ON THE GAME PACKAGE why they dont make a decision for themselves instead of going for legislation... I suppose that could be asking to much for parents...

Re:Well.... (1)

Repton (60818) | about 11 years ago | (#6292006)

"It doesn't affect me so I don't care." Uhuh. Now, _there's_ a good attitude.. </sarcasm>

Especially considering that no one affected by the law is able to vote... (assuming voting age of 18)

The troubling pr0nography issue (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6289559)

Well, we do have a similar laws to keep pr0n out of the hands of minors.

We have only anecdotal evidence at best that this is harmful to kids. (Unless there was a study wherein they showed a bunch of pr0n to a bunch of kids...and that's messed up).

Why do those who feel this is different, feel that way?

Could violent games be to potential murderers like pr0n to the potential rapist?

Discuss.

Re:The troubling pr0nography issue (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6289986)

Discuss.

No.

Re:The troubling pr0nography issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6290043)

Yes, on /. anything that is logical but goes against the norm is ph34r3d or worse.

Can noone make a good arguement for or against this comparison?

Re:The troubling pr0nography issue (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | about 11 years ago | (#6293230)

Could violent games be to potential murderers like pr0n to the potential rapist?


Actually, that's exactly right, as in:
the link between the two is either completely non-existant or is actually there for some percentage of the population, depending on who you pay to do the study.

Even porn that actually depicts rape (which is in itself illegal in most states, if not the entire country) does not appeal to all rapists, and violent video games do not appeal to all violent offenders.

If people took care to pay attention to what their children were doing instead of asking the government to prevent them from doing it, there would be fewer problems in this country (well, if that isn't stating the obvious...).

Re:The troubling pr0nography issue (1)

August_zero (654282) | about 11 years ago | (#6299445)

Welcome to the wonderful world of social statistics.

Like so many other things, many people in the media, and elsewhere only have a basic grasp on a field of knowledge, and then they run with it, instantly becoming an expert. Statistics seem to be one of those things that many people just can't get straight.

Here is an easy experiment: If you have fliped a given coin 5 times, and each time so far it has come up heads, what is the chance that it will come up heads again?

Ask someone that, and very few people will be able to give you the correct answer: 50%.

In the same way, people confuse correlation and causation all of the time. Just because all the jelly beans are red, does not mean all things that are red, are jelly beans (if you want a realy clumsy metaphor there you are...) So some kids that shot some other kids played doom. Guess what, lots of kids that play doom never shoot other kids, and many kids that shoot other kids never played doom. But these are the sorts of conclusions that human beings make.

A professor i had in college gave me this quote, and I am afraid I can't remember who originaly said it but it goes like this:

"Most people use statistics in the same way a drunk uses a lamp post: for support rather than illumination"

Re:The troubling pr0nography issue (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | about 11 years ago | (#6301124)

Yeah, I got a pretty wonderful welcome to it when I took Social Psychology in college, and pretty much determined for myself that my teacher was full of it. I did my final paper in that course on the lack of effect of music and violent imagery as a tool for turning children into killers and rapists.

Re:The troubling pr0nography issue (1)

August_zero (654282) | about 11 years ago | (#6303247)

If your still in school and you want a good laugh, take sociology some time, talk about getting your pants on backwards...

Re:The troubling pr0nography issue (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | about 11 years ago | (#6303674)

Yeah, I had a number of friends that took sociology around the same time I took Social Psychology, and it essentially said the same thing in a slightly different way (from a different perspective, more or less). I've basically been in school on and off for the last 7 years, as time and the travel requirements of my job permit. Luckily, I've been able to take a pretty broad set of courses over that period because, for the most part, if I simply took comp sci classes all the time I'd get bored out of my mind with the pace of them.

Ok... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6290275)

requires children under 17 to have parental consent before they can buy violent or sexually explicit video games or play similar arcade games.

From the sounds of things so far, slashdoters make this sound like a bad thing.

Guess then you don't care for the same rules applying to movies either. By this logic little Johny should be able to see M an XXX rated movies.

Re:Ok... (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | about 11 years ago | (#6293316)

Guess then you don't care for the same rules applying to movies either. By this logic little Johny should be able to see M an XXX rated movies.

There's no law preventing children from buying or renting R rated movies (though most rental businesses either allow parents to control this or don't rent them to children). The XXX type ratings are produced entirely by the industry that makes those movies, and the ratings have no effect on whether or not they can be viewed by minors (and to some degree I do have a problem with the government telling parents they can't allow their teenagers to watch these movies, in many cases videos marketed and sold to teens in other countries receive these ratings and restrictions in the US).

As for 'X' rated software, either regulate it with the rest of the porn industry or don't. Violent material rarely earns a movie an NC-17 rating, or a refusal by the movie industry to rate it at all, but when it does it's often given the same treatment as porn.

The real question is whether or not the M rating that games receive should be treated as an R, NC-17, or X type of rating, or whether the games industry needs a further level of rating for M-rated games. I know there are a lot of parents out there that don't mind letting their teenagers view either nudity or violence, but not both, or more commonly not both in the same context, so it would probably help if the M-rated games had additional content information like TV ratings often do. It might also help if the ratings board refused to rate some content and subsequently that material was treated as it would be in the movie industry, but I don't really see that as helping people much (and really there are a great deal of unrated DVDs out there simply because of the amount of extra material a lot of companies are putting on their 'special edition' DVDs now).

Bleh, anyway, I'm rambling. I guess my point is that laws don't enforce the official ratings on movies (and X ratings aren't official), but the laws that enforce X ratings take choice away from parents. Meanwhile, the games that are in the industry that utilizes X ratings are sold through the same channels as the movies and other porn. Maybe if the video game industry didn't rate every thing above a certain level with an M regardless of whether or not the content would justify it as porn would help, but I have yet to see an M-rated game that even comes close to porn in the first place (anyone that's seen BMX XXX would realize how much of a marketing ploy that XXX really is).

Re:Ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6298383)

Bleh, anyway, I'm rambling. I guess my point is that laws don't enforce the official ratings on movies (and X ratings aren't official), but the laws that enforce X ratings take choice away from parents.

Interesting, I am of the view that these types of laws GIVE the choice to the parents. The child/parent can watch(play, read, etc) whatever they want together, but the child could not do so without a parent. That sounds like empowerment to me. MORE choice and control for the parent, not less.

Re:Ok... (1)

sindarin2001 (583716) | about 11 years ago | (#6302502)

I agree with you on all points except one...

so it would probably help if the M-rated games had additional content information like TV ratings often do

If you look on the rating label on the back of game there is more of an explanation of the rating. It will say things like animated violence or nudity

St. Louis... (1)

EaTiN cOfFeE bEaNs (513655) | about 11 years ago | (#6290746)

...is not in St. Louis County. St. Louis is its own entity. St. Louis County consists of suburban St. Louis.

Trenchcoats in Doom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6293728)

Quoting from the article:

"... playing the game "Doom" didn't make people start shooting at Columbine High School, Fischoff said, but it could have influenced participants to wear trench coats like characters in the game."

Not sure what version he's seen?

Re:Trenchcoats in Doom (1)

JGag21 (678945) | about 11 years ago | (#6304006)

That was the rarely seen Trench Coat Mod that the imps wore. You know, when the flashed you the fireballs came out.
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