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California Legislature Passes Violent Game Bill

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the no-love dept.

Censorship 218

404Ender writes "In a move similar to the passage of a law designed to restrict the sale of violent video games to children in Illinois, California is now awaiting only the signature of Governor Schwarzenegger before a similar bill becomes a law. Does this action signal the start of a disturbing trend of the restriction of First Amendment rights? How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?"

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Restrict the sale to children? (4, Funny)

Rayonic (462789) | about 9 years ago | (#13527868)

So only children can buy violent games in Illinois? Neat.

Re:Restrict the sale to children? (2, Informative)

Dormann (793586) | about 9 years ago | (#13528269)

I'm pretty sure it's:

Restrict (the sale to children)


(Restrict the sale) to childern

(I get the joke, I'm just saying the grammar gets a C+, not a D-)

Re:Restrict the sale to children? (1)

fbjon (692006) | about 9 years ago | (#13528973)

Yes, the restriction applies to children, and only children.

Except children in Illinois.

Re:Restrict the sale to children? (2, Interesting)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | about 9 years ago | (#13529112)

The other one that gets me is "sanction", which as a verb means to approve or to penalize for, depending on usage.

Re:Restrict the sale to children? (1)

Fjornir (516960) | about 9 years ago | (#13529942)

Don't forget "cleave"

1st Admendment Rights lost? (3, Interesting)

gameboyhippo (827141) | about 9 years ago | (#13527882)

Adults will still have rights to play games. It's about protecting the children. I think there is an implied right for parents to protect their kids and if a State wants to reinforce this, then they should.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (0, Redundant)

jrockway (229604) | about 9 years ago | (#13527999)

So where do we draw the line between rights that only adults can have and rights that everyone can have? Since the legislature has decided that free speech doesn't apply to children, why not remove other rights as well? Why give children any rights at all? Why bother giving them a fair trial if accused of a crime?

(Now that I think about it, children are already unable to vote, buy "restricted substances", etc. In fact, even those under 21 can't buy alcohol. How ludicrious.)

yes, it's absurd (5, Insightful)

rebug (520669) | about 9 years ago | (#13528055)

Why can't my five year old drive himself to school? Why is he not allowed to spend his allowance on handguns and alcohol?

Oh, that's right, because he's a child. Is the adult/child distinction unclear to you for some reason?

Re:yes, it's absurd (1)

ghettoimp (876408) | about 9 years ago | (#13531197)

How about, why can't my *fourteen* year old drive himself to school? Why is my *seventeen* year old not allowed to spend his *paycheck* on handguns and alcohol? A five year old is one thing, but calling everyone under 18 a child and lumping them into the same category... that's quite unfortunate, and it goes to the heart of why this (and the other examples you cite) are bad laws.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (1)

David Horn (772985) | about 9 years ago | (#13528081)

>> So where do we draw the line between rights that
>> only adults can have and rights that everyone can
>> have?

I know. Every child should be allowed to own a gun, too. Get with the times.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (3, Insightful)

The Madd Rapper (886657) | about 9 years ago | (#13528125)

As you have (parenthetically) noted, many laws already exist that restrict the rights of minors. Hey, I wish we could change some of them too. Society has decided, for example, that people under age 18 are not capable of knowing what love is and expressing that emotion through sex--at least with another individual who is over age 18.

I agree with you that this one is wrong. This seems to be a kneejerk reaction to an industry that older generations do not understand and want to control. It smacks of conservative appeasement to the same crowd that watched Natalee Holloway every night. I hope Arnold does not sign this, or that courts do not uphold it--but good luck with that.

Of course children ought to be protected, but the hypocrisy and inconsistency with which that protection is applied is downright baffling. I guess you can't tell voters it's their own fault.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528192)

for example, that people under age 18 are not capable of knowing what love is and expressing that emotion through sex--at least with another individual who is over age 18.

Interesting "for example" there. Are you just bitter that you have to inform your new landlord that you're a sex offender after getting chased out of yet another community?

Of all the things wrong with America, "can't fuck kids" is your biggest complaint, eh?

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528291)

That's pretty funny.

The example in my mind was minors in high school and/or college. Whatever comes to your mind is out of my control, although I admit I could have phrased that more specifically. Many states have a lower age, 16, which I find much more appropriate. But I digress.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (1)

Babbster (107076) | about 9 years ago | (#13530825)

Hey, I wish we could change some of them too. Society has decided, for example, that people under age 18 are not capable of knowing what love is and expressing that emotion through sex--at least with another individual who is over age 18.

You're either joking or you're a NAMBLA member/supporter. I honestly can't tell which...

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (1)

schon (31600) | about 9 years ago | (#13531971)

Society has decided, for example, that people under age 18 are not capable of knowing what love is and expressing that emotion through sex--at least with another individual who is over age 18.

Umm, I think you mean "Society IN THE USA has decided.."

The age of consent varies dramatically in other countries. Of course, these countries don't go into a tizzy when a nipple gets shown on television, either.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (2, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | about 9 years ago | (#13529567)

Why is an effective distinction not made between the direct application of substances (alcohol, other drugs) and indirect application (pornography, violent video games) through natural processes?

If it is insisted that access be restricted, surely there is some more finely grained way of going about this, is there not?

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528245)

But this law doesn't allow adults to "protect" their children from violent games.

Their children would just go round to the houses of whichever of their friends had the most enlightened parents, and play violent games there. So we need a new criminal offence of "aiding and abetting the playing of EVIL GAMES by a minor without parental permission."

So then the kids would get their grown-up siblings to buy games for them, keep them hidden, and play them when the clueless parents were out. We'd need a new criminal offence of "procuring EVIL GAMES for a minor."

So then the siblings wouldn't buy games for the kids any more, but they'd buy them for themselves, and maybe the kids would sneak into their rooms when the siblings were out too and play the games then. So we'd actually have to create a criminal offence of "failing to keep EVIL GAMES under lock and key to prevent minors stealing them."

For fuck's sake. Even guns don't have that kind of restriction placed on them, and you can kill someone with a gun.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (5, Insightful)

Retroneous (879615) | about 9 years ago | (#13528268)

Absolutely agreed there. Everybody's crying about a loss of some sort of right, and there's no right going missing anywhere. The government is simply "protecting" kids from stopping them buying violent video games, the same way it stops them from buying adult movies.

In other words, stop being so damned critical, just because the big, bad government made a new law that doesn't actually affect any of us, unless we're 12.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528702)

Hey buddy, in case you didn't know, the goverment doesn't stop kids from buying pornos. The retailers do taht voluntairly. Not caring about something because it doesn't personally affect you is incredibly stupid. Whenver someone's freedoms are eroded, it sets a precedent that affects all us. Do you know how many countless people stood bye and watched the holocust happen and said "that's not affecting me." A real test of weather you truly belive in fundemental rights such as freedom of speech is if you willing to stand up for it when OTHER people are being violated.

I am tired countless assholes out there like assemblyman Yee who think they are above the consitution.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (2, Insightful)

HeavyK (822279) | about 9 years ago | (#13528738)

You are wrong about porno thing. The government can regulate the sale of porn to minors as pornography falls under the legal definition of obscenity, and obscenity isn't protected by First Amendment.
I totally agree with what you said otherwise.

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (1)

jimmypw (895344) | about 9 years ago | (#13530445)

What difference will it make? IMO It's bullying thats makes children go nuts and take guns to school.
For example i have been playing games like gta since it was released, I have played games, duke nukem, doom, quake. And in all this time i have never tried to or even wanted to steal a car, get a gun not to mention shoot anybody.

I can sort of understand the right to censorship but a game is a game and what bush is doing is very very real...
Let me ask you... whats worse?

Re:1st Admendment Rights lost? (1)

TheSloth2001ca (893282) | about 9 years ago | (#13530503)

thats because you are a freak, any normal kid would steal a car, get a gun and shoot people. And that is why this law is needed.

California? (3, Interesting)

Caiwyn (120510) | about 9 years ago | (#13527888)

Wow, not what I'd expect from California... it will be interesting to see how that goes now that the gay marriage bill has been vetoed in the name of public opinion. The populace continues to surprise.

Re:California? (2, Funny)

Schemat1c (464768) | about 9 years ago | (#13528185)

Wow, not what I'd expect from California... it will be interesting to see how that goes now that the gay marriage bill has been vetoed in the name of public opinion. The populace continues to surprise.

That's because all of the intelligent people in California have sold their homes to people stupid enough to pay obscene prices and have moved the hell out of there before the whole state implodes upon itself.

Re:California? (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 9 years ago | (#13529299)

Considering that "the public" is never asked for their opinion beyond "Republican or Democrat?" I don't see how you can pin this one on them so easily.

Also, I find it amusing that a governor elected by a plurality believes he's more connected to public opinion than any legislative body.

How does this restrict free speech? (4, Insightful)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | about 9 years ago | (#13527926)

Just how does a measure like this restrict free speech? Kids are no longer allowed to purchase violent video games, yet this does not make the sale or manufacture of such games illegal.

Furthermore, I don't see what harm can come of this law. All it will do is make sure a parent checks out the games they buy their children. Sure kids might still be able to get such games, but it's better than no law at all.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

HeavyK (822279) | about 9 years ago | (#13527979)

" Just how does a measure like this restrict free speech?" Uhh, maybe because minors have a right to free speech buddy.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | about 9 years ago | (#13528049)

Indeed they do. The right to say what you want does not imply the right to buy what others have "said." For example, porn is restricted too.

Sophistry (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528443)

"The right to say what you want does not imply the right to buy what others have "said.""

That's just a rhetorical trick. Using that, it's easy to restrict any speech. Oh sure, you can publish a newspaper criticizing the government, that right is guaranteed... but the right to buy such a newspaper is not.

The first amendment says "Congress shall pass no law restricting the freedom of the press," or some such. The freedom of the press is a matter both of producer and consumer freedom. There are works so objectionable that purchasing or owning them is illegal, but they are far, far worse than violent video games.

Moreover, any restrictions on the first amendment that have been accepted have traditionally been required to be enforced equally. That is, if material is objectionable in one medium, it is objectionable in all media, and if it is not objectionable in one medium, it cannot be restricted in others.

This was originally important because people wanted to put restrictions on comics and movies which were not being applied to literature. The works of the Marquis de Sade and Poe were far beyond mid-50s media morality.

In this case, it is *only* violent video games which are being legally restricted, and the content in them falls far short of many movies, graphic novels, novels, records, and even graffiti. The restrictions on other media are voluntary and do not have the force of law.

The fact is, the right to a free press does imply that your potential audience will not be legally prevented from accessing your work. If the audience cannot access an author's work, that _author's_ right to freedom of speech has been abridged, not the right of the audience, you see?

The question of whether that applies to minors is obviously much more complex, but the implication must be clear.

Re:Sophistry (1)

poopdeville (841677) | about 9 years ago | (#13528692)

Call it a rhetorical trick if you'd like, but as I said, having the right to say what you want does not entail having the right to buy what others have said. A minor cannot legally buy pornography, even though a minor can write pornographic stories (though admittedly, I am unsure about how distribution of a minor's stories would work in practice).

Consider the context in which I made my claim. An idiot said that minors have first amendment rights, and implied that this alone is sufficient to guarantee the ability to buy violent video games. According to this logic, minors have the first amendment right to buy pornography. This is blatantly false and shows that the idiot's reasoning was invalid.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 9 years ago | (#13529045)

I'm not at all convinced that computer games are or ought to be considered "speech," even for First Amendment purposes.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (4, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | about 9 years ago | (#13528020)

I have to agree with you here. This can only really be a positive thing for the industry as a whole. Perhaps if 14 year olds aren't playing Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto, people will get off the backs of the industry. There will still probably be groups that like to complain about the content of video games, but at least the industry will be able to say, "Obviously this is not content for young children and there are laws preventing them from buying this game. So the only way the could acquire it is through a parent buying it or an adult purchasing it for them. I think you should take some innitiative as a parent and make sure that you don't buy them violent video games or that you should keep an eye on what they're playing in case someone else has purchased it for them."

I think there's plenty of room in the market for video games featuring more adult oriented content. Video games aren't just for children any more, and at some point (if not already) the number of adult gamers will surpass the number of children gamers. These people need more contend than Mickey's Counting Adventure.

To those who would suggest banning games or at least violent, aldult-oriented games I would like to point out that there are similar movies that are made, books written. Not to mention pornography, alcohol, and cigarettes. Some of these obviously aren't for small children, but the society has somehow managed to survive even though these "evils" are widely available. People usually don't go around giving their kids beer, cigarettes, and violent movies, so why should games be any different?

Preventing minors from buying certain games might cut into the sales figures a little, but let's face it, if a minor really wants to play that game, they'll get a hold of it somehow. Much the same way that minors get beer, smokes, porn, or just about anything else they really want like illegal drugs.

Such a law is really a step forward, but like many other laws to protect minors from certain things, it won't be completely effective. The only real way to stop people from having access to content that might not be appropriate for them is to make sure that content is not produced. However, if you think that I'm going to give up GTA and other M rated games just so the 1% of the popultion that thinks such things are absolutely evil can be satisfied, then you have another thing coming.

I'm willing to meet these people half-way and agree with them that not all games are appropriate for children or should be able to be purchased by these children. However, they should also meet the rest of the world half way and realize that we have the freedom to produce and buy such things. Until then, there will always be some sort of a squable over "objectionable content" in video games.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (2, Insightful)

FidelCatsro (861135) | about 9 years ago | (#13528030)

Well it does restrict to a certain extent the rights of parents .If i want my Hypothetical children to buy Violent computer games , then that should be my right as a hypothetical parent to decided.
Laws enforcing the right way to parent your children are a restriction .

Sure you could still go buy it for your child , but you are now not allowed to let your child have the responsibility to choose based on your parenting.

Who else has the right to say what is suitable for your child .

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

agraupe (769778) | about 9 years ago | (#13528218)

If I had a mod point for you, I would give it. This is bizarre logic, but it makes sense once you wrap your head around it. I'm going to use this argument from now on, if you don't mind.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (2, Insightful)

FidelCatsro (861135) | about 9 years ago | (#13528329)

Thank you ; I would have no problem with anyone using my argument .
At first it does seem a bit bizarre , but i do like to stay strong my views about personal freedoms .
I may not think it is the best idea to let your children have access to some games when they are rather young , but it is not my place to decide .

Let people decide based on their own experiences , the knowledge they have of the development of their children. Advice and discussion is always welcome : it's restrictions that I have a problem with.
Change a persons views with words , not by force.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | about 9 years ago | (#13528677)

I'm not even going to step in to agree or disagree, I'm just going to point out that there is already a precident on saying what is unsuitable for your hypothetical child/teenager: they can't buy porn, even if you as a parent decide that it's acceptable for them to do so. Alcohol too, although that's in a different league I guess - still could be argued as a matter of whether the teenager is responsible enough or not though.

Like I said, not condemning or condoning, just saying that this is not the first time.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

Have Blue (616) | about 9 years ago | (#13528835)

The way you express your belief that violent games are suitable for children is by letting them play the games. How the games were acquired doesn't really enter into it. If you want your children to play violent games, get involved with their lives long enough to figure out what games they want and go with them to buy them.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 9 years ago | (#13529094)

RFID implants would solve this. You could program what your child is allowed to do into the chip in his or her hand and then stores could be required to adhere to that. Honestly, that's the only way your solution would work.

The reason? Ok, let's say I don't want my kids playing violent video games, which is probably a fair thing to say of the majority of parents in the US, given who they voted into Office (the "moral" candidate). There are 8 hours a day during which I have absolutely zero control over my kid's life, period. If I'm going to give them any freedom whatsoever, they'll have a little more than that. That's a good chunk of their lives that they could use to acquire these video games without my knowledge.

It'd be nice to think that all our kids could be home-schooled and that we could all be deeply involved in their lives, but that's not the way our culture works. Most parents in the US rely on strangers to raise their kids. They rely on movie theaters enforcing movie ratings, laws restricting the sale of other items to their kids. It's pretty deeply ingrained in our society, given the pressures to reproduce along with the pressure to own many things and have creature-comforts. The combination doesn't allow for most families to have a single income-earner.

Now I think the above is crap. If you can't have time for your kids, you shouldn't have them. But that's not the culture around here.

(For anyone who will claim that you can just raise a child to obey you, I'll call bunk. I've seen kids "raised right" that were right little shits as soon as they were out of their parents' sight. Sometimes it's hard to "raise them right", and it's not like the gov't requires a license to become a parent or anything)

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

NanoGator (522640) | about 9 years ago | (#13529209)

"Sure you could still go buy it for your child , but you are now not allowed to let your child have the responsibility to choose based on your parenting."

What really rubs me the wrong way about it was that I was 16 when I had my first car and my first job. My dad trusted me with the car. I earned that trust. He didn't have a problem with me playing Mortal Kombat, either. Why? I was a good kid. (i.e. I never got into fights or anything like that.)

I had the means to get the game, I even had the trust of my parents to play it. In that example, I would have been inconvenienced. And yeah, it would have felt like the mean ol' gov't was trying to 'protect' me even though it didn't even know me.

I really don't think it's cool. The age is too high and I really don't see a problem getting solved here. The loudmouths trying to take Rockstar down, for example, aren't trying to take it down because a bunch of kids have played violent games and ruined the world. They are noisy because, in their narrow view, they think it'll happen and they acted on an unsupported intuition. That bugs me. That really bugs me.

I guess what I'm saying is that the law itself doesn't bug me (it beats games getting flat out banned) but I cannot imagine it being the last step. It's amazing how passionate people get when they're ignorant.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13530003)

I don't think that laws like this are really amied at people like you, the good kid, who are really almost responsible adults at an age before they are legally considered adults.

In some cases people are mature and can take on the real world at a younger age. I had an uncle who left home at 16, got his own house, a job and did just fine on his own. On the other hand, there are some people who are legal adults and are clearly not ready to be thrown into society at large.

In any case, these laws are aimed at the young kids who really shouldn't be playing video games like Mortal Kombat. Just as there may be 16 year old kids that can treat consuming alcohol with responsibility, there are many out there that can't. The same holds true for just about anything, be it games, alcohol, freedom of speech, etc.

This law isn't for the parents out there that keep a watch on what their kids do or the games the play, it's really for the parents who don't and society as a whole. When parents don't parent, someone has to do it for them or the little monsters they birth only turn out worse. Unfortunately, this ultimately falls to the government, especially when some people ask for it this way. No matter what administration is in office, a government responsible for the upbrining of the nations children will always fail if for no other reason than there's no sense of connection between the two groups. It's as though both groups really don't care about each other. It's really hard to do well at a job you probably didn't want in the first place and could almost care less about considering other problems you have to deal with.

The cold hard truth is that until everyone takes care of their responsibilities, laws like this that limit the freedom of Americans need to be put in place. Whether or not games like GTA are "murder simulators" is debatable, but I'd feel a lot better if 14 year old weren't playing games without supervision where it's fun, cool, and encouraged to kill people, occasionally for no real reason. 999 out of 1000 might be fine playing it, but that 1 who isn't really ruins things for everyone else when they do something stupid.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about 9 years ago | (#13529333)

As interesting as this argument is, it's a bit of a stretch to call this scenario a restriction on free speech. A restriction on "free parenting" (whatever that means), perhaps, but not free speech.

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (1)

Bastian (66383) | about 9 years ago | (#13528880)

Agreed. That, and it's really nothing new. There have always been classes of speech [] to which children are not privy. I'm sure plenty of states have similar restrictions on the sale of R-rated movies to children. And the Supreme Court has ruled that children leave their free speech at the door when they go to school.

Frankly, I can respect that. I think it's fair for parents to be allowed a chance to at least try to restrict their children's access to certain kinds of information.

(Though I gotta admit, there are some definite limits - I fully support gay kids getting a hold of support materials despite their phobe parents' wishes, for example - but I have no idea where exactly those limits are.)

Re:How does this restrict free speech? (0, Flamebait)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | about 9 years ago | (#13529620)

Just how does a measure like this restrict free speech?

Because on /. anything that interferes, however tangentially, with the any of preferred pastimes (however vulgar or pointless) of some overweight, socially stunted, acne-bespeckled computer geek living in his parents' basement is an attack on our sacred God-given right of free speech.

In other words, it restricts free speech as much as your parents grounding you for forging a "B" out of a "D" on your report card: None at all.

Remember, this is the crowd that argues: "Hardcore porn never hurt me so there's nothing wrong with it."

Or, "Kids will make intelligent choices on their own and parents shouldn't interfere."

And simultaneously, "Parents should take repsonsibility for their kids, but everyone in society has the right (or even duty) to undermine parents at every turn."

All these arguments, commonly heard in these parts, are the well-considered opinions of people who have no experience with the real world.

Maybe you should re-read the constitution. (3, Insightful)

BaronSprite (651436) | about 9 years ago | (#13527951)

I don't know about you but I fail to see any violations. This is in place to prevent the sales of M+ video games to minors. It's the same as restricting them in R rated movies. If a kid really wants a violent video game then I guess they are just going to have to prove to their parents they are mature enough to have it and the parents will buy it for them. Atleast in a perfect world.

Re:Maybe you should re-read the constitution. (2, Informative)

HeavyK (822279) | about 9 years ago | (#13528002)

The MPAA rating systme isn't inforced by law. It's voluntary just like the ESRB. And that's the way it should be.
Also minors DO have First Amendment rights. So this law does have to do with free speech and the constitution.

mod parent down (1)

poopdeville (841677) | about 9 years ago | (#13528069)

Indeed they do. But the right to say what you want does not imply the right to buy what others have "said." For example, porn is restricted too. I suggest you try looking through the Constitution for what the First Amendment actually says.

Re:mod parent down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528309)

"Congress shall make no law restricting freedom of the press."

What does your copy say?

Re:mod parent down (1)

carrus85 (727188) | about 9 years ago | (#13528483)

To quote wikipedia:

"In Leathers v. Medlock (1991), the Supreme Court found that states may treat different types of the media differently, such as by taxing cable television, but not newspapers"

Last I checked, Video Games != newspapers (or the press, as stated in the first amendment).

Re:mod parent down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528731)

Nobody's stopping Rockstar et al. from making video games as violent as they'd like. They're stopping minors from purchasing violent games, just like they stop minors from buying pornography. This has been an accepted legal principle and part of case law for decades.

Re:mod parent down (1)

VoidWraith (797276) | about 9 years ago | (#13528754)

Actually, they don't. The Constitution doesn't apply to minors.

Perhaps a More Efficient Way... (3, Insightful)

SpottedKuh (855161) | about 9 years ago | (#13527973)

...would have been to simply enforce the "AO" rating given out by the ESRB. Why invent your own sticker and everything?

I mean, it's already enforced that children in the US cannot enter a movie rated NC-17 (no one 17 or under is admitted). Why not simply implement a similar rule that children 17 or under cannot buy AO games?

Beyond that, obviously, it's up to the parents to show a little responsibility, and maybe learn what the different ESRB ratings [] mean. Then, they can supervise what games their kids are buying, and make informed choices as to whether or not to allow it.

Re:Perhaps a More Efficient Way... (1)

k_187 (61692) | about 9 years ago | (#13529087)

yes, but my guess is that they don't want to apply this to the AO games, its the M games (GTA et al...) that they're gonna throw this on. there are very few games that get an AO. The major chains don't even carry them. Usually if a game's gonna get that rating, they'll just bypass the ESRB anyway.

Does Anyone Know What The Bill Actually Says? (3, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | about 9 years ago | (#13530139)

Perhaps a More Efficient Way...would have been to simply enforce the "AO" rating given out by the ESRB. Why invent your own sticker and everything?

Going from memory of a G4TV interview with Yee, all he claimed to be pushing for was to make it legally punishable for a store to sell a game to someone outside the ESRB's label.

That's not actually any different to a child not being allowed to buy porn, cigarettes or alcohol and those stores that sell them anyway risking getting fined.

Now, the way the ESRB makes it sound, it sounds as if Yee is creating a blanket law that bans games without sensible consideration of content. My guess is this may well be much like the gun lobby protesting gun safes or trigger locks - they really don't have a problem with them themselves but they don't want to conceed this issue only to start down a slippery slope. Similarly, I'm guessing the ESRB don't want laws passed forcing stores to abide by the ESRB's own ratings - because that gets legislators thinking they can create other laws - potentially ones that push the ESRB out of its role.

I mean, it's already enforced that children in the US cannot enter a movie rated NC-17 (no one 17 or under is admitted).

Effectively, yes. Legally, no.

If I recall correctly, the movie industry faced almost exactly the same issue the games industry is facing. So they instituted their own body and got theaters to agree to it. By acting promptly, they forestalled any actual laws.

It's a common misconception but R, NC-17, etc. aren't legal terms. They are a voluntary code followed by theaters to keep the government off their backs. A theater could quite openly sell NC-17 tickets to ten year olds and there's nothing the authorities could do (save maybe a charge of contributing to the corruption of a minor).

The problem the games industry has is that, whereas most theaters apply the rating system as though it was law, about 30% of major stores and about 80% of independent stores (again, quoting the G4 interview) ignore the law. Those numbers are large enough that the games industry is shooting itself in the foot. If they'd stop whining and start applying the ESRB suggestions as strongly as the MPAA suggestions, the problem would go away - or would have done had they acted sooner and not waited until it's critical.

Well, this will be an obvious success (3, Funny)

Ieshan (409693) | about 9 years ago | (#13528014)

I mean, Schwartennegger has never made any violent media in his days.

Even Those from his last movie. []

Re:Well, this will be an obvious success (1)

SpottedKuh (855161) | about 9 years ago | (#13528039)

I mean, Schwartennegger has never made any violent media in his days.

Unfortunately, if he passes the law, there's no way to mod him "-1: Hypocrite"

Re:Well, this will be an obvious success (1)

despisethesun (880261) | about 9 years ago | (#13528545)

Yes there is. It's called an election.

Re:Well, this will be an obvious success (4, Insightful)

k_187 (61692) | about 9 years ago | (#13529099)

yes, but there was also a mechanism in place that restricted access to that violent media.

Re:Well, this will be an obvious success (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | about 9 years ago | (#13530538)

Just as there is such a mechanism now.

Attack of the awful English (3, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | about 9 years ago | (#13528053)

In a move similar to the passage of a law designed to restrict the sale of violent video games to children in Illinois, California is now awaiting only the signature of Governor Schwarzenegger before a similar bill becomes a law.

Wouldn't it have been much clearer to simply write "California is about to pass a bill restricting the sale of violent video games to children?"

How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?

Get one of your parents to buy it for you.

Seriously, everybody harps on about parents taking more responsibility, but as soon as a law that is intended to help them do this is passed, people forget about that. The only people who are prevented from playing violent video games by this law are children whose parents do not want them to play violent video games. That seems perfectly reasonable to me.

submitter is a minor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528059)

and is pissed that he or she can't buy a game that the government thinks is violent. big effin deal. i can buy the game if i want, and minors aren't guaranteed the rights in the constitution. wait until you're 18 and you won't care about these laws. hippie.

another sticker on our video game boxes???/ (1)

brandanglendenning (766328) | about 9 years ago | (#13528112)

the first amendment has flown right out the window!!!!

Seems Fair. (3, Insightful)

Walker_Boh_Druid (864617) | about 9 years ago | (#13528130)

There is already the ratings on games, there might as well be a law enforcing it. If I were to live in California, I might feel differently, as I'm a teenager myself, but I don't see any problems with this. Restricting minors to this is a good thing, as for every mature minor, you get 3 that are very influenced by what the see around them, and are pretty immature. What we really need to sort is why in this society it is bad for a child to see something that occurs naturally, and is necessary for reproduction is, but it is okay for them to see people getting shot, blown-up, and cut to pieces.

I'll be back (1)

cwebb1977 (650175) | about 9 years ago | (#13528144)

and I've never made violent movies! I just hope my fellow austrian makes it to president of the US!

How do we go about this? (1)

dauthur (828910) | about 9 years ago | (#13528151)

The question is "How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?". The answer is, and I quote my slightly "off" friend next to me: "Get a gun, steal a car and shoot everyone. Then have pixelated sex with an ugly girl, after which you drink coffee!". That's actually a very rational answer, considering the matter at hand...

As for our rights, we can take a realistic stand by signing not internet petitions, but having trucks of signed-on-paper petitions being delivered to various politicians. The only way to stare down the opposition, especially when the opposition is in such power, is to rally against. Similar to a mutiny, except we're not going to have any Governers walking the plank.

It won't work. (1)

imstanny (722685) | about 9 years ago | (#13528153)

Rights and Efficacy aside; trying to curb people's behavior never worked and it never will work.

Whether or not you outlaw drugs, guns, alcohol, or video games... or set an age requirement; if a person wants to engage in any of those behaviors, they will. Especially if it is something trivial like playing video games.

Furthermore, from personal experience, I have always managed to get into an R movie, even if i had to buy a ticket for a PG13. As easy as that was... buying a video game will require much less effort.

This law is absurd.

financially and legally scary for developers (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | about 9 years ago | (#13528175)

A way that I could see this restricting is not in the law but in the enforcement of it. If because of this all violent video games now can only be displayed in location where children are not allowed to enter (as is done with pornography or if companies must now card for all purchases of mature videogames(as is with cigarettes). Many of locations that sell video games may not carry violent video games anymore. If it goes the way of restricting viewing of the product, Wal-Mart is not going to create a separate section within their stores just for the sale of mature games. They would simply not carry them anymore. If it goes the way of cigarettes where the purchaser must be carded before every sale this is going to create allot of hassle for the large companies. They will have the change within their product databases whether the item must be carded for the purchase or not buy a title by title basses rather then just a product basis (cigarettes alcohol) and then they would have to monitor their registers at all times because if the casher forgets to check the age of the buyer it is now a legal problem. Large companies may not find this hassle worth it. And they may simply stop caring mature titles. If Wal-Mart and similar companies stop caring your game you have lost a very considerable market for your game and your company will have a very hard time competing in the market. Financially this sounds pretty scary for the game industry. As far as freedom of speech goes is that the way that games get put into that violent category. This IS NOT using the ESRB or another rating system. The bill only gives examples of what can not be in games that are now to be regulated. Under these regulations there are only generic descriptions of what type of violent acts are no longer going to be allowed. Because there is not a rating system or an impartial body that will be making this decisions there is now a loophole open where someone may bring up legal claims on just about any video game. A mother may watch their kid playing lets say a new Tony Hawk game. When the mother looks at the game their kid happened to wipe out on the skate board and there is a long animation of the skater falling down a hill running into multiple objects. Because this is a violent and gruesome animation if the mother had a problem with it she may now bring legal action against the place where the game was purchased. It doesn't matter that the game was rated teen. There was still some violence that she saw as unacceptable for her children.

Re:financially and legally scary for developers (1)

adamdewolf (879951) | about 9 years ago | (#13529463)

I'm 26, and I can't remember the last time I was carded for smokes or beer.

If there is a main-stream demand for a product, then the retail outlets will adapt.

For Example: A town I live near is in the process of becoming wet (beer sales). Wally World was the first store to have new coolers in place, even before the ink is(no beer yet) dry on the ordnance repeal.

Legal action for a skate-board wipe out? Gimme a break. Sounds like a good ad for pro safety gear (PPE for you OSHA minded folks).

Maybe you might not need the safety gear if you have the Force?Star Wars Skate Board []

If anything this give the games a special place, makes them taboo, brings them more attention.

No such thing as bad press.....

Re:financially and legally scary for developers (1)

agraupe (769778) | about 9 years ago | (#13530812)

Tell me... where do you buy your smokes and beer? Beer I can get no problem, but cigars are a different matter...

Silly sticker, but otherwise OK. (2, Informative)

cgenman (325138) | about 9 years ago | (#13528193)

Inflamatory rhetoric aside, this seems like an OK bill. Basically, it is saying that certain types of media can't be sold to kids without parental permission. This is consistent with movies and other forms of entertainment.

The whole "2-inch sticker" seems a bit ridiculous, especially because it implies a new ratings system, a new ratings board, etc. But that's a pragmatic problem, not an ethical one. Both sides come out smelling like zealots here, with one side saying that it will destroy first amendment rights, and the other saying that videogames are as bad for you physically as smoking.

I also don't necessarily agree with the findings of the bills, that "Even minors who do not commit acts of violence suffer psychological harm from prolonged exposure to violent video games." Taken literally, this is true of basically anything. It does go into some lovingly crafted detail [] on what constitutes violence. I'll be amused to find out how the courts decide to interpret the requirement that a virtual victim must be conscious of the abuse at the time it is inflicted.

Re:Silly sticker, but otherwise OK. (1)

Phudman (813414) | about 9 years ago | (#13530614)

I wonder if the definition of violence in the bill will cause a T (teen) rated game to get the 18 sticker?

Constitution protects minors free speech as well. (2, Insightful)

HeavyK (822279) | about 9 years ago | (#13528195)

Seeing as there are no laws barring the sale of ultra violent movies, music CDs, books, magazines or any other violent materials to minors, i see no reason why there should be one for violent video games.

Not only that but the courts including the Supreme Court have ruled that minors have First Amendment rights and that the only material that can be legally restricted to them is material that falls under the legal definition of "harmful to minors", and that the "harmful to minors" definition is an extension of obscenity law that deals only with sexually explicit material (a.k.a. pornography). Materials that depict of describe violence are not obscene and are therefore fully protected by the First Amendment for both minors and adults.

Re:Constitution protects minors free speech as wel (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 9 years ago | (#13529141)

I think people see a difference because acting out violence in video games might be different than passively watching them. Even then, many stores (around here, at least) restrict the sale of rated R movies. The problem is that it's a voluntary restriction, of course.

This sucks for the teenangers. (1)

Brantano (908473) | about 9 years ago | (#13528204)

I think alot of you are leaning towards 'this is banning children from buying M or AO rated games'. But what about the teenagers that are aged 14-17. If i was a seventeen year old kid who wanted to play GTA or Devil May Cry, why shouldnt i be able too? This is protecting the children and giving a kick in the balls to the teenagers who bring life into the videogame industry by buying all the bloody games. Videogames are not like movies, in a rated R movie you can see everything from frontal nudity to a 'real' persons head getting chopped off. In a videogame everything is fake, nothing looks real, and therefor a M rated game should not be like an R rated movie. There needs to be a rating for teenagers, because "T" isnt it.

First Amendment? (3, Insightful)

HD Webdev (247266) | about 9 years ago | (#13528252)

Since when did the first amendment have anything at all to do with what types of products companies are allowed to supply to children?

The proportion of alarmist articles that are getting through lately is completely rediculous. It's an embarrassment. Until lately, I used to promote this site quite a bit.

Please, for the love of god, stop this nonsense.

uh... (2, Insightful)

Gogo0 (877020) | about 9 years ago | (#13528347)

How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?"

Become 18 years of age?
This is another non-issue being made into an issue on slashdot. Im surprised it wasnt posted in YRO...

If you didn't vote Libertarian (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528389)

You ASKED for this!
A vote against a Libertarian candidate is
a vote to abolish the Constitution itself.

Re:If you didn't vote Libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528866)

Right. And a vote for a Libertarian candidate is a vote thrown into the maelstrom of American politics.

I like where the Libertarians are coming from, but they scare the crap out of me with all that shiny tinfoil hat stuff.

If your over 18, why do you care? (2, Insightful)

nmaster64 (867033) | about 9 years ago | (#13528451)

I think this is a great law myself. I mean, it's identical to the way R-rated movies are restricted. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this at all, why is everyone making a big deal about it?

Generally, when the government sticks it's nose in video games, it's bad news. But this is one of the few good things they've done right.

Since I'm over 18, this doesn't really affect me at all. So seriously, I don't care. If your under 18, I say to you, sorry, but we all have to go through it. I personally have a little brother around 12. I've never had a problem with him playing T-rated games and such, but I forbid him from playing M-rated games. There's just no reason he should be playing those types of games.

I'm one of the biggest 1st ammendment rights pushers on the planet, and I feel even more strongly when it comes to gaming. However, some things just make sense. Mature games are made for mature people. Kids shouldn't be playing GTA and RE4.

Pointless... (3, Funny)

tktk (540564) | about 9 years ago | (#13528520)

When my (future) children want to play violent video games, they'll have to wait until it's their damn turn.

I'm first.

The problem with bills like this is... (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 9 years ago | (#13528566)

That they seek to impose a ratings system seperate from the ESRB system.

If this law (and others like it) simply gave legal power to the ESRB system (i.e. restricted the purchase of M and AO games to adults or whatever), I would have no problems with it really.

Explain this to me again... (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | about 9 years ago | (#13528587)

Explain this to me again - what's so bad about restricting the sale of adult video games to children? Unless you're not an adult yourself, you won't be affected by this, so... what's the big deal?

Re:Explain this to me again... (2, Interesting)

ElleyKitten (715519) | about 9 years ago | (#13529555)

My big problem with this is that it's not saying that M rated games shouldn't be sold to minors, it's saying that "violent" video games can't be sold to minors. How do they define violent? ""Violent video game" means any video game or any copy of an electronic game that may be played using a portable electronic device or hand-held gaming device using a television or computer, that, taken as a whole, to the average person, applying contemporary statewide standards, appeals to minors' morbid interest in violence, that enables the player to virtually inflict serious injury upon human beings or characters with substantially human characteristics in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, and that, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors." However! "This paragraph shall not apply to a game in which the visual depiction of violence occurs as a result of simultaneous competition between two or more players" link to bill []

I'm not quite sure what games exactly are covered, but I guess gory fighting games and shooters aren't, as long as they're two-player! Seriously, I used to work at a game store, and I feel bad for anyone who has to figure out which games this actually covers, and if they get it wrong, it's a $1000 fine. Now you could say that they just shouldn't sell M-rated games to minors and they should be fine, but then why doesn't the bill just say M-rated games shouldn't be sold to minors if that's what it's supposed to mean?!?

Also, oddly enough, the bill doesn't have an exception for family members. So technically, if I gave my (future potential) 17 year old daughter GTA, I could get fined $1000. Wouldn't that be great?

And stickers annoy me.

Does the CA law impose penalties... (2, Insightful)

phillymjs (234426) | about 9 years ago | (#13528648)

...on stupid parents who ignore ratings and buy unsuitable games for their young kids? Like maybe, hold said stupid parents liable when their kids shoot people and say "the violent games made me do it!" as an excuse?

Because IMHO that's what we really need: parents being held responsible for their piss-poor parenting.


Re:Does the CA law impose penalties... (1)

LocalH (28506) | about 9 years ago | (#13529604)

It's not that cut and dry - some people are mature enough at 14 to handle such a game, and some people wouldn't be able to handle it at 30. If I had a kid, and he was 14-15, and I felt he was mature enough to play GTA:SA, then I should be able to buy it for him, and not have somebody telling me "you shouldn't do that, he's not mature enough to handle it". What you're suggesting is just another step towards a nanny-state, where the government can tell parents how to raise their kids. People like you are the reason that in some areas, it is ILLEGAL to spank your own kids (and I'm not talking punching and beating senseless, I'm talking things like being spanked by hands or belts).

Just because some kids are fucked up in the head to begin with, doesn't mean that you have the right to tell a parent "you can't buy that for your kid because I said so". Plus, what happens when one of these fucked up kids buys such a game used from a friend? How will you tell the difference between that and a game that the parent bought for him?

When a kid shoots people and says "the violent games made me do it", he's trying to pass his behavior off onto an inanimate object. That reminds me of a case where there was a woman, who happened to smoke pot, and she hit a person with her vehicle. Said person went through the windshield, and for whatever reason she just drove home with the person still in the windshield. When she was on trial, she testified, and said that "the drugs made me do it". BULLSHIT. She was fucked up in the head, pot or not pot. Everytime someone blames an inanimate object for their own actions, we lose a little bit of freedom. People should not be able to say "the game made me do it", they should be responsible for what they do, period (unless they're seriously mentally retarded or something).

arnie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13528687)

How much money do you recon arnie made from royalties of the violent terminator games?

Is this a new change? (1)

lucars83 (913912) | about 9 years ago | (#13528824)

Is this a new thing, restricting sale of video games to minors? I know for at least 4 years in Washington that people under 17 can't buy games rated M. I'm 22 now and still get carded from time to time when buying video games rated M, and when buying music CD's with Parental advisory.

Re:Is this a new change? (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | about 9 years ago | (#13529466)

The change on this is that it is being turned into a law rather then a recommendation.

Previously stores have been upholding the ESRB ratings voluntarily. The same way they do with CDs and movies. That hasn't been a law past for either one of those. Most retailers, like Wal-Mart, EB games target GameStop and many others, have held the ESRB recommendations for years and do not sell M or AO games to minors.

Its abotu the teenagers, not the children. (2, Interesting)

Brantano (908473) | about 9 years ago | (#13528941)

I dont think this affects adults or children at all. Children couldnt buy M rated games from most retailers anyway. It affects the people around the age of 18 that arnt 18 yet. This isnt liquor or drugs or masturbation from porno's. Its violence, which isnt even obsene. I would be pretty pissed if i was 16 or 17 and couldnt buy GTA by myself and had to get mommy to do it for me. Everyone wants kids to grow up, then treat them like babies.

Does anybody care? (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 9 years ago | (#13529006)

I don't know about you, but I haven't bought a game in a store in a decade. They are just so much cheaper on eBay, especially if you wait a while after the release. Children, especially, would benefit from those lower prices; as it is, a single game takes a pretty big chunk of a kid's allowance.

Hang on, let me get my copy of (1, Flamebait)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | about 9 years ago | (#13529215)

Fahrenheit 451:

"With school turning out more runners,... and swimmers instead of examiners, critics... and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual', of course, became the swear word it deserved to be."

"Colored people don't like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don't feel good about Uncle Tom's Cabin. Burn it. Someone's written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigaretter people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity... Peace... Take your fight outside. Better yet, into the incinerator."

"She was a time bomb... She didn't want to know how a thing was done, but why. That can be embarrassing."

This sounds more and more like America EVERY DAY.

Give me an F-ing break. (0, Troll)

nberardi (199555) | about 9 years ago | (#13529222)

This passing of the law is starting a disturbing trend against the First Amendment? This has nothing to do with the First Amendment, you can still buy your video games can't you? In addition if this is the first time you thing the First Amendment has been trampled on you are not only blind but ignorant.

What about McCain-Finegold, where a canidate is restricted from putting on ads about other canidates in the last 30 days? That is the trampling of Free Speach becaue a couple whiny Senators don't like people attacking them in ad form.

What about the forced removal of the ten commandments from court houses and public buildings. Don't give me seperation of church and state, because I would like to see somebody find that quote in the First Amendment.

What about the repeated calls for censorship of a certain talk show host by Senator Robert KKK Bird?

What about the calls for Blogs to fall under FCC regulations when contain political speach?

Give me an F-ing break this doesn't even come close to the crap I have seen in the last 2 years. You are a whiny panzy and somebody should take away your voter card and burn it.

make the ratings legally enforceable (0, Flamebait)

E8086 (698978) | about 9 years ago | (#13529383)

As far as I know, right now the game ratings are only a suggestion, a suggestion I've never seen enforced. I've seen kids/teenagers carded at movie theaters for PG-13 movoes, I think it's required in NYC theaters. Other than that there is NO enforcement of ratings, games or movies, unless their porn. As long as they're just a suggestion kids who may be too youg for some games are going to be able to buy them. If not, at least the "questionable" game material may gain the attention of the parent buying it to shut their kid up when they're carded by the teenager working the counter at GameStop and think give more thought to buying their 12yr old an "M" rated game.
As for the question of rights, minors don't have them(I know someone's going to call me on this), except for being held responsible for an action when 7 or older and the right to be tried as an adult if they do something really bad. I remember having the right to be yelled at by the neighbors for being "too loud" while playing whiffle ball and football in the middle of the street.
"Ban" sounds too negative, perhaps they should change the wording to; "employees of places of commerce are required to verify the age of patrons seeking to purchase age sensitive[entertainment] materials." That way it should cover movies, games, magazines and any other items not covered by other state or federal laws.
Fortunately I'm about 2500mi away and 7yrs too old to have to even think about that silly proposed California "law." A seemingly dumb and pointless bill aimed at gainging support from religous and parents groups, I wonder who's up for re-election this year.

Story of fools (0, Troll)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 9 years ago | (#13529692)

> simimlar to... law designed to restrict the sale of violent video games to children
And you oppose that. What are you, a software industry shill?

> Does this action signal the start of a disturbing trend
> of the restriction of First Amendment rights?
No. Children don't have first amendment rights.

> How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?
Don't even try. The government is *of* the people.

Funny banner ad... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13530055)

The best commentary on this ever...

About 6 months ago, GameSpot or one of those sites ran a story about the push to get this law passed.. and on the right of the article was a banner ad featuring the ultra-violent first-person shooter, Terminator 3, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If Ahnold signs a bill saying violence in games/movies begets violence in kids, he needs to go out back and lynch himself, because he's done more than any ten of us.

How do we fight back...? (1)

gonza (769462) | about 9 years ago | (#13530158)

With bigger guns of course! Go out and arm yourself to the teeth and blow the shit out of other Americans to protect your 'rights'. Then get surprised when you don't feel safe at night.

Game sales (2, Insightful)

H0D_G (894033) | about 9 years ago | (#13530677)

I work in a toyworld store- In Australia, one of the most censorious countries in the world for video games(no 18+ rating) "I'd like a copy of Ultraviolent Megadeath please" "sure. is your mum or Dad here?" "sure" Mum comes over "He'd like a copy of Ultraviolent Megadeath" Point- a big sticker does nothing

Gamer Defense Fund? (1)

Gamingboy (901447) | about 9 years ago | (#13530834)

How can we as gamers fight back against this type of government action?"

Perhaps the answer is to make a Gamer Defense Organization that would pay for legal fees. A Gamer Defense Fund, if you will.

The Governator (2, Funny)

PhotoBoy (684898) | about 9 years ago | (#13532018)

The Governator: As the duly appointed representative to California I feel it is my duty to ban the sale of violent videogames to minors. Now if you will excuse me I'll be back. I have to go and make another movie where I kill lots of people and sexually harass the women on the set.

Someone with a brain: Isn't that being hypocritical Mr Schwarzenegger?

The Governator: Don't insult me, I have never even looked at another man.
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