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Truth in Ratings Act Reintroduced

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the think-of-the-children dept.

Movies 302

dropgoal writes "Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas (and GOP presidential candidate) has reintroduced the Truth in Ratings Act. Like the previous version that failed to pass last year, Sen. Brownback's bill would make the FTC responsible for overseeing the video game ratings system and possibly result in a unified ratings system for games, movies, and TV. The ESRB would also have to review all game footage before issuing a rating. Currently, the ESRB hands out ratings after viewing a reel with representative content prepared by the developers. Sen. Brownback thinks that's not enough. 'Video game reviewers should be required to review the entire content of a game to ensure the accuracy of the rating. The current video game ratings system is not as accurate as it could be because reviewers do not see the full content of games and do not even play the games they rate', he said."

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won't survive (0, Troll)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020324)

won't survive court if by some unholy miracle it get passed at all

Re:won't survive (3, Insightful)

Aglassis (10161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020838)

won't survive court if by some unholy miracle it get passed at all

I agree that it wouldn't survive in court, but it is useful to remember that the original Communications Decency Act (a much stricter form of censorship) was passed by 84-16 in the Senate and the recent Family Entertainment Protection Act was introduced by Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Tim Johnson and Evan Bayh. If you think that there will be any road bumps by Democratic or Republican Senators (or Representatives) you are being very naïve. The only protection citizens currently have from government censorship is our courts as neither the Executive nor the Legislative Branches seem to think that it is an important issue. Apparently our legislators think that an alternative reading to "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" is that Congress can make *any* law on the same.

Re:won't survive (4, Insightful)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020950)

No, our legislators are well aware that most of this junk can't survive judicial review. They just don't care. The whole idea - particularly when a presidential hopeful is involved (hi Hill!) - is to get publicity and attract the "Won't someone please think of the children?" vote. The next 20 months will be filled with lots of this garbage, and it's up to the electorate to get enough edumication so that they don't buy into it. Unfortunately, the chances of said edumication happening on any large scale are slim and voters will be swayed when someone like Senator Clinton says "I sponsored a bill intended to protect our children from exposure to videogame violence, and I will continue to fight to protect our children as President."

Speaking of rating... (3, Insightful)

js92647 (917218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020330)

I'd like to see more fair ratings on game review sites. Sites like gamespot are long biased and comment well on games if the developer/publisher provides them with everything they want.

A bit off topic :\

Speaking of rating..."/.". (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020368)

"I'd like to see more fair ratings on game review sites. Sites like gamespot are long biased and comment well on games if the developer/publisher provides them with everything they want."

Slashdot is absolutely wonderful! And no I'm not getting a lifetime subscription, and a free car.

Date based or procedural content? (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020336)

Video game reviewers should be required to review the entire content of a game to ensure the accuracy of the rating.
How would this work in cases of games that literally take 365 days to complete, such as Animal Crossing, or procedural content that has well over 4.2 billion combinations, such as Spore?

Re:Date based or procedural content? (5, Insightful)

yincrash (854885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020352)

It wouldn't work. The senator either knows this and does it to boost his popularity among game haters, or has no idea what he's doing.

Re:Date based or procedural content? (4, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020546)

He's just doing it so when the presidential race gets more momentum, he can say that he introduced legislation to "protect the children"...The degree to which his legislation is stupid is completely irrelevant.

Re:Date based or procedural content? (0, Troll)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020646)

"The senator either knows this and does it to boost his popularity among game haters, or has no idea what he's doing."

All he needs to know is, if the Democrats go through with the plan to nominate Clinton and/or Obama, he can rely on the bigotry of Americans to elect, by default, any moron the Republicans care to run.

Re:Date based or procedural content? (2, Insightful)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020746)

+5 Insightful?

Parent is of course, completely correct. Last time the christ brigade rolled out in record numbers over gay marriage, sealing the 2004 election, and now the democrats are gearing up to do it all over again. Good f*ing job guys.

and for the record, I agree that this won't stand up in court, and the author probably knows this. It's politics, as they say. (ie. politics as in a ruse to get this idiot's name in the papers, proclaiming that he 'thought of the children', in hopes of winning some votes come election time.)

Re:Date based or procedural content? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020834)

He's a politician so I'd be leaning towards the latter.

Does the senator know what he's suggesting? (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020860)

I think that Senator Brownback doesn't know what he's really suggesting here but is still trying to boost his popularity among people who dislike most modern videogames. I mean, his hometown (outside DC) is about ten to fifteen miles from the nearest real grocery store--and I do mean the entire town.

Re:Date based or procedural content? (1)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020402)

What about games such as Age of Empires - I assume the rating for that has to be reasonably low. But I could place my houses in a way that spells FUCK OFF or something equally childish. Now the game contains inappropriate language for its rating...

Date based or peanut content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020458)

"How would this work in cases of games that literally take 365 days to complete, such as Animal Crossing, or procedural content that has well over 4.2 billion combinations, such as Spore?"

Somehow game testers manage.

Months of footage (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020486)

Somehow game testers manage.
Game testers also produce months of footage even on the release candidates. How long would it take for the ESRB to review all footage of every possible scenario or combination of scenarios in the game? And how much would it add to the price of a game?

Simple (4, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020470)

By reviewing the games for as long as possible, this lengthens the time it takes for new games to make it to market. Therefore, everyone gets so bored with video games, we just give up and join the Republican party, and a church group -- instead. Or at least that's the plan.

Re:Date based or procedural content? (2, Insightful)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020474)

Well unless the wording of the bill explicitly says that they have to play through all conceivable states of the game I wouldn't worry about that. If you put 100 hours into a game like Spore or Animal Crossing you can more or less safely assume that any additional game play will be more or less the same.

Re:Date based or procedural content? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020552)

Obviously you missed out on the final, graphic sex scene in Animal Crossing. Now, I'm no furry, but that stuff was awesome!

Re:Date based or procedural content? (2, Insightful)

Vengeance_au (318990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020736)

Although that logically makes sense, I'm not sure how 100 hours of gameplay is any different to a video of gameplay - as long as all functional areas of the game are shown. This bill is calling to play through the games - not just a representative section. The real issue is that no matter how much gameplay occurs (1, 100 or n-1 hours) issues such as the "hot coffee mod" where the player had to download a patch to get access to the content, and there was absolutely NO way of accessing the content without the patch. And MMORPGs etc where content is both added or generated by the users - absolutely impossible, as the landscape is continuously changing. Classic example of that is second life (although many would argue it's not a game) - there is some seriously nasty stuff in there, but its all user generated, and none of it was in the initial build deployed by linden labs.

I see this as a way of adding complexity to the process and address the WSTOTC angle (Won't Somebody Think Of The Children!) without actually adressing any of the (already quite well addressed and managed IMHO) problems - classic politicking.

<offtopic> I love this quote from Sen. Brownback "I encourage everyone to visit our nation's capital, and please stop by my office on Thursdays for a visit and some hot coffee." [senate.gov] . Why Senator, I didn't know you had the patch installed! </offtopic>

Re:Date based or procedural content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020824)

You don't even need to go into the more exotic games with procedural content- plenty of conventional games have branching storylines, tremendously time consuming side quests, and mutually exclusive material that would require a very large number of 50+ hour playthroughs to fully explore. And what about games that add content after release? Games like World of Warcraft and Eve are constantly adding official content after release, it would be impossible to fully review them until after it stops being possible to play them.
This isn't even touching on user created material. The ESRB seems to have no problem with retroactively changing its rating based on users modifications of the game if it gets enough press (hot coffee and to a lesser degree Oblivions nude textures), if you include everything your game could possibly be, you might as well just give up and rate every game as M, because someone, somewhere will eventually figure out how to replace one of your textures with some porn.
This is what happens when people try to legislate things they don't understand. The ESRB may not be great, but at least it's done inside the industry by people who have some idea what they're dealing with. If the FTC gets involved, things will get much, much worse.
I am reminded of a penny arcade strip:
http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2001/02/14 [penny-arcade.com]

We can all relax now (4, Funny)

Soporific (595477) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020338)

Good old Sam has solved all the other problems we are having today and ratings are last remaining vestiges of a cruel world...

~S

Re:We can all relax now (-1, Troll)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020560)

Well, the Republicans can't really address any *real* problems. They're responsible for them...

Re:We can all relax now (2)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020638)

"We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
but we tried to fight it"

Thanks, Billy.

Disclaimer: I am not a Republican, although in some ways I am rather conservative.

The full content? (2, Insightful)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020354)

If the FTC or whomever must review the ENTIRE content of a video game, does that mean every possible combination of levels/characters/interactions? How long would that take? How would the FTC even know if they've covered all the levels? They would have to rely on the gamemakers. Yet that is exactly what Brownback claims is the problem with the current system: the gamemakers providing a sampling of the content. This is an unworkable and self-defeating proposal. But if they need a game screener...

Re:The full content? (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020496)

"If the FTC or whomever must review the ENTIRE content of a video game, does that mean every possible combination of levels/characters/interactions?"

Funny, that was my first thought too. Then I remembered they aren't testing the game for bugs, they are just looking for anything offensive. Generally, a cursory run through a game will give a pretty good indication of the rating. In the very rare cases where a developer is stupid enough to put something *hidden* into the game that will ruin its rating, a simple but direct question to the developers making them disclose it should cover the rest. I am not claiming this is airtight, but it's still "better" than the current system.

Re:The full content? (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020588)

I am not claiming this is airtight, but it's still "better" than the current system.

I don't see how...the outcry over "hidden" adult content in a game is based mostly around that Hot Coffee thing, which required players to actually download a patch from the internet to see it. Since the internet is already full of plenty of adult content, I don't see how this is a problem. Not to mention that the game (GTA) was already rated M...

The current system works just fine. It's just a victim of politicians who want to look like they're saving the chilluns.

Re:The full content? (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020658)

I don't see how this is a problem. Not to mention that the game (GTA) was already rated M...

Rated M, what does that mean? Does it mean that you have to 18 yrs or older to buy the game? Nope. Does it mean you have to have your parents with you to buy the game? Nope. It means nothing at all. It's voluntarily rated M as a warning to parents who may be buying the game for their preacher's kid, nothing more. There is no legal binding behind it. All this guy wants to do is to place a standardized rating system on video games so that the technically illiterate can understand it.

And it's not just the outcry over the Hot Coffee thing, but GTA in general. The object of the game is to carjack as many people as possible. Bonus points for beating up whores and ripping them off!??! It's not just the Hot Coffee that is the problem, it's the whole damn game and games like it. Ever play Postal 2? You piss on people, cut their heads off with shovels, douse them with gasoline and throw lit matches on them... and so on. How about Duke Nukem 3D ("Shake it, Baby!")? These games need a rating so that any 5 year-old off the street can't just walk into any GameStop and pick up GTA New Orleans-Mardis Gras.

It's not that I think all games should be Disney approved, but a rating system can actually free programmers to make whatever game they want. The can make "Sam and Max go the Red Light District" because the second a parent complains, all they have to say is, "Hey lady, you have to be 18 or over to buy this game. You saw the rating, why did you buy it for your kid? Do you buy them Playboy too? Then why did you buy them a game that says in plain letters that it is an X-rated game, right there on the label?" Right now, Sam and Max--Red Light will not be made because they'd get too much heat. Allow an X rating and it's on!

Re:The full content? (2, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020694)

Rated M, what does that mean? Does it mean that you have to 18 yrs or older to buy the game? Nope.

Who cares...Most places do enforce ratings, and anybody old enough to get themselves to a game store and buy a game for $50 or so is probably old enough to play an M rated game. If they're not, then their parents should be paying more attention to them. It's not my problem if their parents don't care enough to filter what gets into their hands.

It's voluntarily rated M as a warning to parents who may be buying the game for their preacher's kid, nothing more. There is no legal binding behind it.

Sounds fine to me. We don't need laws about *everything*...society can regulate certain matters all by itself.

The object of the game is to carjack as many people as possible. Bonus points for beating up whores and ripping them off!??! It's not just the Hot Coffee that is the problem, it's the whole damn game and games like it.

Myself, I don't particularly like GTA. But that's not because of the content. It's because, to me, it's not really that fun of a game. If you don't like the game (for whatever reason), don't play it. Nobody's forcing you to play GTA. Let those who like it play it, and stop bitching about it.

Re:The full content? (4, Insightful)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020744)

Rated M, what does that mean? Does it mean that you have to 18 yrs or older to buy the game? Nope. Does it mean you have to have your parents with you to buy the game? Nope. It means nothing at all. It's voluntarily rated M as a warning to parents who may be buying the game for their preacher's kid, nothing more. There is no legal binding behind it.
Perhaps you should review the legal status of movie ratings in the US.

Re:The full content? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18021054)

Rated M, what does that mean? Does it mean that you have to 18 yrs or older to buy the game?

I'll just point out that movies are handled the exact same way. It's voluntary, with the exception of X rated stuff.

Re:The full content? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020758)

While the Hot Coffee content did require a patch to the software to view, it is still a fact that the content was actually included with the game the whole time. The patch did not add any content to the game, it merely enabled something that was already there, but masked away by the programmers. If the HC patch had itself provided actual additional content added to the game by installing it that was not present beforehand, it would be a very different issue indeed.

Re:The full content? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020590)

If the FTC or whomever must review the ENTIRE content of a video game, does that mean every possible combination of levels/characters/interactions?

I doubt it. What I expect to see is the product manager and maybe a programmer or QA tech go to their ratings meeting with the FTC. These two sit in a room with a few FTC reps and they ask questions about the game. Then they say, "OK, show me everything". The QA tester or programmer runs through each of the levels and shows all the cut scenes. Of course, they should be smart enough to show any easter eggs (ala Hot Coffee) to the FTC as well. When they are done, they get their ratings.

What I don't see is the following for Starcraft:
Here is Zerg vs. Human
Here is Zerg vs. Protoss
Here is Zerg and Human against Protoss
Here is Zerg, another Zerg and a Human against a Protoss
Here is Zerg, teamed up with a Human against another Zerg, but the Zerg will turn on the human after the other Zerg is wiped out.
Here is Protoss vs. Human
Here is Protoss vs. Human and another Protoss...
OK, that's map one. Now lets look at Map two.
Here's Zerg vs. Human....

You get the idea.
I'm sure the Product Manger will merely have to point out the different combinations and maybe show the layout of each map. Every single possible combination would be asinine. Trust me, the FTC guys have lives too, even if it is TV Dinners and Lucy re-runs.

Re:The full content? (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020928)

Hot Coffee wasn't an easter egg (I'm defining an easter egg as something intentionally put in by the designers for players to find). It was something they were thinking of adding to the game but decided not to and it was accidentally left on the disk. It is impossible to access it without altering the actual code of the game.

Re:The full content? (4, Funny)

mauthbaux (652274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020612)

Easiest way to review the content: ignore context.

Just hand the guys a giant text file of all the game dialog so they can scan it for profanity and racy phrases. Then do a long and tedious slideshow of all the wireframe models and their associated skins. Seeing as they only seem to care about nudity and gross obscenities, this should work just fine.

The third encounter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020358)

Is Sam brownback the inspiration of serious sam games?

All "footage" in a game? impossible (-1, Troll)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020360)

the dippy senator doesn't know that games cannot show all their "footage" - ever heard of an MMORPG senator dipshit?

Re:All "footage" in a game? impossible (1)

rfunches (800928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020596)

the dippy senator doesn't know that games cannot show all their "footage" - ever heard of an MMORPG senator dipshit?

MMOs have a baseline rating (I've usually seen T) and carry the "Game experience may change during online play" disclaimer to cover anything that wasn't part of the game when it was reviewed. The disclaimer is part of the ESRB ratings system [esrb.org] to accomodate online games with "user-generated content," including chatting or permitted modifications. TFA seems to imply that only the ratings process (not the actual ratings) would change, so criticizing Brownback on the grounds that his proposals can't be applied to MMOs is inaccurate (and correctly modded as trolling).

Re:All "footage" in a game? impossible (2, Insightful)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020654)

Actually, they have heard of an MMORPG, and is addressed in the original TVGRA (Truth in Video Game Recording Act):

The Comptroller General will conduct a study determining the "(1) the effectiveness of the ESRB video and computer game content ratings system, including content ratings for on-line or Internet-based games;" [...] and his report shall "contain recommendations regarding effective approaches to video and computer game content ratings that address the unique ratings challenges of on-line and Internet-based video games." And as far as I know, the ESRB in it's current form does not have such an online review process.

My cynicism tells me it's just another election year. My moderation tells me that this same legislation has been supported or introduced by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT); the latter two representatives with the initial framework under FEPA (Family Entertainment Protection Act). So, before anyone starts casting stones at the other, I think most would agree it's a bipartisan effort.

I do agree that reviewing all game content would be impractical, but not impossible. The TVGRA defines all "content" as "all of the visual images and sounds that are included as part of the recorded data of the video or computer game". Which could be as simple as parsing through all the texture and wav files; no need to play the game through it's countless variations. Currently, the ESRB just accepts something like a movie trailer from a game developer for it's review process.

I find the GAO study in the TVGRA (section 3) interesting, "(3) whether an independent ratings system would offer better accuracy and effectiveness in content ratings for video and computer games;" I thought the ESRB was an independent non profit entity (established by the Video Game industry) in partnership with retailers. I think the current system works, as shown by the ESRB fines levied against Rockstar Entertainment for GTA (and any reasonable attempt at non disclosure). This bill will cycle around every two to four years (as expected), but like most here, I doubt it will ever materialize. For the most part, commercial enterprises police their own better than any bureaucrat, as the GTA case and precedent proved.

How? (2, Insightful)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020370)

How are they going to see footage of everything that can happen in a game? I assume that they are not just talking about cut scenes.

I think the main problem is that the company supplies the footage to be reviewed. How many marketing/PR guys do you think that goes through before it reaches the censors. Perhaps it would be better for a group of independent game players to generate a representative reel of footage. I will be the first volunteer to take that job. On second though - imagine all the crap you would need to play!

patches (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020380)

what about content patches, are they going to view those as well? this idea is stupid, as is the man proposing it.

ESRB doesn't ask for a random sample (5, Informative)

Warbringer87 (969664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020420)

The developer sends footage of the worst/extreme content in the game, and fills out some paperwork. They are assigned a rating (developer can resubmit or appeal). Then...when the game is 100% complete ready to go to the shelves, ESRB gets another copy, and plays a bit... and if there is anything more extreme in that final game than there was in the footage (ie, topless chicks, more gore) the developer has some penalties slapped in their face. Its a good process, and it works pretty damn well, and it is certainly better than this pos "Truth in Ratings" act. Whether you agree with the whole GTA/Oblivion issues is besides the point. Nothing is foolproof, but if the worst we've gotten is anatomically correct nipples and disabled content, I think they're doing a damn good job.

Aaaargh! (3, Insightful)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020440)

This is yet another stupid idea from someone who is trying to impress potential voters in an upcoming presidential campaign.

I'll bet that if you asked him after injecting him with Sodium Pentothal, the illustrious senator would admit that he doesn't expect that the bill will have a snowball's chance in hell of passing.

Isn't Brownback a Republican? (4, Interesting)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020450)

What ever happened to the party of "less government interference?"

That's right, I remember now. It was the Unholy Alliance that did in the fiscally-conservative, small-government Republicans. Now the Republicans seem to be the party of fiscally-unrestrained big government. I find it rather humorous that during the Bush Years the FCC has steadfastly held to its notion that the free market will provide us all with speedy, cheap broadband and all kinds of broadcast diversity, yet one tit shows up on the Super Bowl and suddenly the FCC stirs into action. The FTC is an entity often decried for its meddlesome consumer protection activities, but throw up the hue and cry of "think of the children!" and suddenly the FTC is a useful government agency.

It seems the party now stands for individual freedom to make money, government money to spend money, and meddlesome interference into matters of so-called morality. Perhaps the theory is that if you can't make government work more efficiently, you may as well try to make it an extension of the church.

Re:Isn't Brownback a Republican? (3, Insightful)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020550)

Nah, you just missed the footnote. It's the party of "less government interference*" (* unless people are doing something we don't like).

Oddly, so is the Democratic Party.

At the end of the day, strident "liberals" and "conservatives" have exactly the same political philosophy: the government should get its nose out of the business of people who are doing things I approve of, but spare no expense stopping people from doing things that make me feel uneasy.

Beautiful (3, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020648)

the government should get its nose out of the business of people who are doing things I approve of, but spare no expense stopping people from doing things that make me feel uneasy.

Nicely put.

Political parties are the problem. Hamilton was adamantly opposed to them, even when one was forming around him in opposition to the Jeffersonians. Perhaps he was on to something. Line up behind a party, and you have to do a lot less thinking for yourself. But of course, how are you going to stop people from organizing into political parties? It is human nature to form into groups, for better and for worse.

Re:Isn't Brownback a Republican? (0, Flamebait)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020922)

At the end of the day, strident "liberals" and "conservatives" have exactly the same political philosophy: the government should get its nose out of the business of people who are doing things I approve of, but spare no expense stopping people from doing things that make me feel uneasy.

Yup. But at least liberals aren't two-faced hypocrites about it.

Re:Isn't Brownback a Republican? (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020652)

What ever happened to the party of "less government interference?"
Fiscal conservatives and small government types have always been the black sheep in the Republican party. Reagan was not typical of the party.

Sounds like I need to educate myself (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020698)

Fiscal conservatives and small government types have always been the black sheep in the Republican party.

I always thought Reagan was essentially a "return to the roots" of Republicanism, a sort of clearing the decks after decades of Democrats leading the show with the continuation of New Deal policies under other names. To me Reagan's cleverest stroke was to turn the Republicans into the party of strong military defense, but I assumed his harangues against big government were just a more skillfully delivered version of the Republican mainstream agenda.

Would you say that in the 20th Century (to keep the scope of discussion manageable) the Republicans were primarily motivated by social conservatism, rather than fiscal conservatism and desire to limit the role of government?

Re:Sounds like I need to educate myself (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020908)

To me Reagan's cleverest stroke was to turn the Republicans into the party of strong military defense

Let me make a slight modification: "To me Reagan's cleverest stroke was to turn the Republicans into the party that talks about strong military defense"

Re:Sounds like I need to educate myself (3, Informative)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020978)

The Republicans were not the party of strong military defense before Reagan because Nixon had to promise to get our troops out of Vietnam to get elected, at least the first time. (The troops left Vietnam approx. when he left office, or maybe a lil' later.)
Before WWII, Republicans were both socially and fiscally conservative for the most part, and more the latter. Teddy Roosevelt was actually a social radical, but he left the Republican party around 1912 or so. Coolidge and Hoover left the invisible hand alone for the most part. (What party was Smoot and Hawley in, and are protectionist tariffs fiscally conservative or fiscally radical?)
After 1960, Kennedy effectively made the Democratic Party the party of civil rights. Southerners started switching parties from Democrat to Republican around then, and they made the Republican Party socially conservative. I'm not sure who was the first Republican to be fiscally radical: maybe Reagan, but it could've been as early as Nixon. I mean, foreign military quagmires and wiretapping weren't much cheaper then than they are now.

Re:Isn't Brownback a Republican? (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020890)

Fiscal conservatives and small government types have always been the black sheep in the Republican party. Reagan was not typical of the party.

What is "small government" doing in the same paragraph as Reagan? This was the man that invented trillion dollar deficits!

Re:Isn't Brownback a Republican? (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18021032)

Trillion dollar deficit? Whatever are you talking about?

You are correct, however, that Reagan did a lousy job of getting spending under control. But I only place half the blame at Reagan's feet. The other half I place at the feet of congress, you kept sending him massive appropriations bills to sign.

Re:Isn't Brownback a Republican? (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020734)

Republicans are just go-slow Democrats.

Statements: Morals will deteriorate if left alone. The free market won't.
Conclusions: Therefore, morals need intervention. The free market doesn't.

(The church has a remarkable way of supporting law and order; therefore you think anything non-anarchist is some kind of religious monster.)

Re:Isn't Brownback a Republican? (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020904)

Once government started consuming more than 50% of the GDP, government has more money to spend than all other economic entities in the United States, and then some. The government spends more than every man, women, child, illegal alien, tourist, buisness, corporation, church, charity, etc, combined. For every dollar anyone spends for any reason, the government spends a dollar and some change.

Big government *IS* big buisness. Government is the only consumer worth a damn anymore. Call it socialism, or state capitalism, or whatever (they are all the same thing anyway), but the U.S. has crossed that threshold. The government is so big, so all encompassing, that free-markets or consumer capitalism are no longer relevant.

The only way to make money in the U.S. is to sell to the government... and so now big buisness supports big government, because those are the people with money to spend. Hence, Republicans have essentially adopted National Socialism as opposed to Laisse Faire Capitalism.

those Republicans generally don't exist (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020938)

Fiscally conservative, small government Republicans I mean. Those who like call themselves "fiscally conservative" typically like to make big tax cuts, regaurdless of what it does to the national debt. Small government conservatives generally like to cut spending on social issues but increase it on everything else. Oh, and cut industry oversight, which frequently leads to nasty consequences.

Re:Isn't Brownback a Republican? (5, Funny)

randomaxe (673239) | more than 7 years ago | (#18021036)

yet one tit shows up on the Super Bowl

That's "Mr. Timberlake" to you, buddy.

A) Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020452)

B) Who is the idiot that came up with this system? This game is rated M for mature? Who decides what content is too risque for a 16 year old? They should never have based any rating system on a person's age. The rating system should rate games 1 thru 5 for three categories based on how how much violence, sex, and profanity are in them. To make it easier they could name the rating levels, so a game might have "Extreme Violence, Mild Profanity, and Mild Sexual Situations".

Is this so hard? Why did they think it was a good idea to choose what levels of content were appropriate for certain age levels? It should be up to the parents to decide which sorts of content they want to keep out of the hands of their kids.

That was RSAC (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020506)

The rating system should rate games 1 thru 5 for three categories based on how how much violence, sex, and profanity are in them. To make it easier they could name the rating levels, so a game might have "Extreme Violence, Mild Profanity, and Mild Sexual Situations".
I remember when what you suggest was called RSAC [wikipedia.org] . ESRB beat RSAC because its simplicity was easier to market.

Re:That was RSAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020786)

IIRC, RASC was overly complex with at least 5 categories. Also, easier to market to WHOM? Who do we need to market a ratings system to? Nobody. The republicans wanted a ratings system, we game them one to shut them up. Why did we feel the need to "improve" upon it? It provided more information than the current system does.

Presidental Candidates (1)

adamanthaea (723150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020464)

Wouldn't it just be faster these days to indicate who isn't running for President?

Re:Presidental Candidates (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020578)

Wouldn't it just be faster these days to indicate who isn't running for President?
Nice idea, but sorry to say, it won't work, because almost all of them are running for re-election if they are not running for president. So almost all of them will be doing something stupid like this.

Doesn't matter if it is not workable (5, Interesting)

khchung (462899) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020468)

To all posts that ask how this law is going to work, about generated content, etc, etc.

I have learned that nowadays, the main reason that law-makers introduces new laws is to boost their own popularity. It doesn't matter if the law cannot work, is impractical, will be struck down in courts, etc. It only matters that the (1) it grabs the headline thus putting his name on the news and (2) it showed people that he has "taken a stance" against something.

Just think about it, is it a surprise that people who are elected based on a popularity contest do things to boost their own popularity?

If you want to stop this law from passing, don't waste your time telling people it is not workable. Stuck at the heart of the matter and go tell games companies how much money it will wastes them, and tell people how many jobs such money could have created instead, or how much dividends would it costs the stock holders of those game companies.

Turn the law into an unpopular proposition and it will be dead.

Re:Doesn't matter if it is not workable (2, Insightful)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020558)

I think that falls under, the "The behavior that is rewarded, is the behavior that occurs" rule.

Rate video cards under a specific benchmark? result: the video cards are made to perform better under that benchmark, to the detriment of regular performance.
Give money to poor people with kids? result: poor people have more kids, even though it just makes them poorer.

An Immutable Fact of Politics (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020478)

Once someone thinks up an idea that produces another source of tax money, it'll be reintroduced over and over ad infinitum. It may fall out of favor once in a while, but you can bet that it's distant descendants will reappear to haunt us until the extinction of our civilization.

  Then, it will get reborn again. ;)

SB

 

Hmm (2, Funny)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020500)

Well, if they need employees to review the entire contents of games, I will volunteer for only $100 an hour

The full footage? Right... (4, Insightful)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020532)

First off, while the "cut scenes" of a game could be said to have "footage", the whole rest of the game (typically) have no such thing. Even if you checked every single character skin and setting, there would be no way to _know_ there wasn't an easter-egg or something.

The fact of the matter is that "objectionable content" is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

And what of "patches" and "mods"?

Heck take some of the "dance moves" from WOW and line them up and you have simulated sex, at least within the limits within the minds of people who think that some of these other things were "objectionable".

The Nanny State cannot hope to get closure over this, and trying to is just more waste of my taxpayer dollar.

Note to you regulation-happy people out there: Your "precious bundle" is neither as fragile as you imagine, nor as important as you dream. Neither are you. If janet jackson's saggy boobie and the gyrations of a pair of 100 polygon figures are enough to undermine your sense of moral turpitude, then you are a mindless chode; and might I suggest that the world is much safer if you put an opaque polyethylene bag over your head. (But it only _really_ works if you cinch it snuggly. Assist your child before yourself.)

Now if you can get truth in ratings for suckage, then we can talk.

The best-case scenario is the worst-case scenario (5, Informative)

luckbat (450567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020540)

I believe this pretty much covers [penny-arcade.com] how the bill is expected to work.

Re:The best-case scenario is the worst-case scenar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020626)

and I believe I could fly...

Duke Nukem Forever? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020576)

So finally, Duke Nukem Forever, really will be "forever."

Why is this an issue? (2, Insightful)

GoldTeamRules (639624) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020604)

Why does the Slashdot crowd care if games are assigned ratings? People always say that parents should be the ones to monitor their children not the government, or the games company, etc. But, parents need tools to be able to make these decisions.

No, it won't be perfect. But, it will be accurate enough to allow people to make a purchasing decision.

This isn't a censorship issue. To me, there is nothing wrong with assigning a rating to content so that you can make an informed purchase.

Re:Why is this an issue? (1)

Sacrelicious2 (1064224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020682)

The point is that the requirements of this bill are impossible, and will destroy the entire game industry if put into effect since no company will be able to comply with the new regulations. We have a rating system, and, as Rockstar and Bethesda learned the hard way, it is in the companies best interest to ensure that the ESRB gets detailed, reliable, detailed, complete, and detailed information about the game being released. The rating system we have works, and this legislation is an attempt by politicians to destroy the game industry for a few votes, which I definately have an issue with.

Re:Why is this an issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020688)

This isn't a censorship issue. To me, there is nothing wrong with assigning a rating to content so that you can make an informed purchase.

It becomes a censorship issue when retail distribution is controlled by a handful of oligopolies, chief among them a company (Wal-Mart) run by howling Bible-thumpers.

The government should not be in the business of reviewing games until you can demonstrate that those games are doing any harm to society.

If I demanded that tomato sauce be rated for chunkiness, people would look at me funny. If I demand that video games be rated for violence, people like you applaud. That makes no sense.

Re:Why is this an issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020690)

the point is that the ratings system already in place is better than what is being proposed, also that the methods proposed to asses the appropriate rating are impossible to execute on certain types of games. if all games must undergo this process, then it would effectively outlaw MMORPG's or games that generate new content as you play.

Re:Why is this an issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020716)

It's not an issue of games being rated. There's already a fairly efficient ratings system in place. What the bill is asking will have people spending months reviewing a single game. Games will take even longer to get to the market than they do, and it wouldn't really work much better than the ESRB does now.

Re:Why is this an issue? (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020796)

> But, parents need tools to be able to make these decisions.

I wholeheartedly agree. At worst, even an R movie is slapped with an NC-17. Producers (like software developers) can cut or edit material based on their target audience.

I think it's a non issue quite frankly; kind of like pissing on some dead coals at a campfire just to see some smoke.

Re:Why is this an issue? (2, Insightful)

Sacrelicious2 (1064224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020828)

What you seem to be forgetting is that a system for rating games is already in place, and for the most part that system works. The cases where it 'failed' involved users finding ways outside of the game itself to view 'objectionable' content, such as hacks and mods, which shouldn't count in the first place. It would be like blaming disney for the fact that Tyler Durden spliced in some frames from some porn films into their movies at a particular theater.

too bad.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020634)

just too bad the internet doesn't exists.. otherwise the senator probably wouldn't be elected again because of his stupid ideas.. thank you parents that are too-stupid-to-watch-your-own-children.. ya fuck up everything! i want my damn internets fresh and i want my porn all night long!

candidate (2, Informative)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020668)

Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas (and GOP presidential candidate)...

The senator is not a GOP presidential candidate. He is a candidate for the GOP nomination. Big difference. Thank goodness he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting it. None of the current nomination seekers thrill me, but Brownback is near the bottom of the list.

MIB Playstation... The video tape... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020686)

I was the lead tester on Men In Black for the Playstation at Atari. There's a level just before the last level where I had a hell of a time trying to get through. Told the developer but they didn't give a damn. I had to do the tape for the ESRB. Sent 16 hours on two tapes. It took me eight hours to get past that one level. I hope the ESRB enjoyed every minute of it. I didn't.

Why is the /. community so opposed to this? (3, Insightful)

twigles (756194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020696)

I read about this topic a lot on /., and I'm not quite sure why everyone is so emotionally charged about it. Ok, after R'ingTFA I agree that this bill may not be the right one due to the unfeasible requirement of the ESRB playing every minute of the game. Any remotely open-ended game would baffle these poor people and hold up releases for months. Also, the FTC makes me nervous after the Howard Stern treatment.

But it seems like every attempt at improving the accuracy or consistency of ESRB ratings is met with derision and anger. Any attempt at *enforcing* those ratings is clubbed down as fascism. Why? The ratings exist because kids shouldn't beat a virtual hookers' brains out with a bat. I'm ok with that. I know they'll see the violence elsewhere, but so what? Do you permit anything through your firewall the moment your manager makes you toss up a stupid rule?

I'm a social liberal, I live in West Hollywood, frequent the clubs, fall to the left on almost every issue, etc.. But this all or nothing approach is silly and stinks of NRA tactics. Yes, the NRA is effective, but I don't want to be like them. Reasonable adults compromise.

I would like to compromise some and get these politicos off our backs before they do something truly draconian, like ban red blood, or any blood for that matter.

- Allow ESRB raters to choose the spots of the game they will examine. No auditor comes in and says, "show me what you think I should see." That's just dumb.
- Fine stores whose clerks don't card for MA+ games. This isn't fascist, it's simply obeying the law.

Re:Why is the /. community so opposed to this? (1)

John Miles (108215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020714)

Why do you believe these ratings should be enforced for games, and not for other forms of media (music, movies, books, magazines...)?

There is just as much evidence of harm to children caused by exposure to these other forms. What's special about games?

Finally, what part of "Congress shall make no law" is unclear to you and Sen. Brownback? The government is not supposed to be in the business of rating video games, any more than it's supposed to be in the business of reviewing Sunday sermons.

Re:Why is the /. community so opposed to this? (2, Insightful)

twigles (756194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020852)

Why do you believe these ratings should be enforced for games, and not for other forms of media (music, movies, books, magazines...)?
Huh? Since when can a kid get into a porno? Can a 12 year old buy Hustler? If the less extreme forms of these mediums are not enforced then that's a different issue. Actually, this entire point is a different issue, we're discussing games ratings here.

There is just as much evidence of harm to children caused by exposure to these other forms. What's special about games?
From my initial post: "Do you permit anything through your firewall the moment your manager makes you toss up a stupid rule?" You appear to have glossed entirely over that. This is not a binary solution.

Finally, what part of "Congress shall make no law" is unclear to you and Sen. Brownback?
If you're going to make a point about free speech then make it. Don't allude to it and try to force me to make it for you as well as counter it. That's just lazy.

The government is not supposed to be in the business of rating video games, any more than it's supposed to be in the business of reviewing Sunday sermons.
This is a strange comparison, one you didn't bother to flesh out yet again, and a bold, opinionated statement. The government is supposed to be in the business of whatever the people tell it to be in the business of. That's a democracy. Keep pushing the all-or-nothing standpoint on this issue and we'll see a backlash that will gain sufficient political power to mop the floor with the /. types. You are on the side of censorship in the way that Pat Robertson is on the side of liberals.

Neither of the options that you describe would have addressed the "Hot Coffee" mini-game in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It's content that a play-reviewer wouldn't have seen without knowledge of how to get to the content.
Again, this is not a binary solution. Just because your defense is not impenetrable you don't give up and do nothing. Or I don't know, maybe you guys do, but I still play the game. You compromise and reach a middle ground somewhere, or eventually the other side gains the sympathy of the independents and trounces you. We just watched this happen in our recent elections, were people not awake for that?

Re:Why is the /. community so opposed to this? (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020916)

The government is supposed to be in the business of whatever the people tell it to be in the business of.

The federal government of the United States is *supposed* to be in the business of a limited set of things that it was granted power over by the constitution. I guess that video games are relevant to "interstate commerce", in the same way that medical marijuana in California and growing wheat for personal use are, but...

Re:Why is the /. community so opposed to this? (1)

Dracil (732975) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020992)

Um, the equivalent for M-rated games is not Hustler or porno. That's the AO-rating. The equivalent would be something like the Alien series.

Re:Why is the /. community so opposed to this? (1)

Grail (18233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020774)

Neither of the options that you describe would have addressed the "Hot Coffee" mini-game in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It's content that a play-reviewer wouldn't have seen without knowledge of how to get to the content.

The rating of computer games for content maturity must rely on the honesty of the publishers (which can be encouraged by imposing heavy fines for breaches, but you're still relying on honesty).

The only way to be sure that your children don't see computer generated porn is to ensure your children don't see a computer.

Re:Why is the /. community so opposed to this? (1)

Sacrelicious2 (1064224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020848)

"- Allow ESRB raters to choose the spots of the game they will examine. No auditor comes in and says, "show me what you think I should see." That's just dumb." No, it really is not dumb. A) it saves loads of time, and B) it is in the developers best interest to be upfront with the ESRB about any objectionable content, or else they will be heavily fined and have their rating retracted post-release, causing all boxes on the shelves to be pulled, and prevent many retailers from carrying the game, since most retailers don't carry games with an Adults Only rating.

If this guy wins in the primaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020706)

I'm not voting

phalic spore (1)

Sacrelicious2 (1064224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020726)

oh no, what if someone makes a creature in spore that looks like a giant penis!!! Obviously, since Will Wright didn't submit this footage to the Rating Overlords, he will be thrown in jail, and maxis will exist no more. He is already suspect after the naked mods for the sims...

Relation to the airwaves? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020740)

And how does this relate to managing allocation of the electromagnetic spectrum?

You can't be... (1)

uhlume (597871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020768)

...Serious, Sam.

Truth. Ha. (2, Funny)

dank zappingly (975064) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020772)

How about a truth in government bill?

not a bad law (again) (1)

MEForeman (930504) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020810)

frankly, they need to standardize Movies, Music & Video games. Movies and video games are exceedingly arbitrary.

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020814)

...will feel much safer once the government is paying dozens of people to sit in cubicles and watch 100+ hour videos of orcs battling dinosaurs in middle earth.

whaaaa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18020866)

The current video game ratings system is not as accurate as it could be because reviewers do not see the full content of games and do not even play the games they rate

While true, who the fuck cares?
If little Johnny is really seeing something he shouldn't be seeing (read: enjoying something your morals object to) isn't that a problem with bad parental supervision? OTOH, Zelda: Twighlight Princess has a M15+ rating - but who the fuck is going to stop their kids playing it because of the violence in the game? Come on people, get a grip on reality.

Participatory Interactive Rating system (1)

sankyuu (847178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020876)

I would recommend that the regulatory boards allow a community-driven system for the assessment of the materials.
It would require widespread participation of would-be consumers, and would be called the "Participatory Interactive RATING System."
/ducks

Open Letter to Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas (1)

Alari (181784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020896)

I'd like you to attempt, on just one game, what you're suggesting the ESRB do. Here's a copy of Nethack [nethack.org] . =)

Sincerely,

Someone who's pretending to be a constituent.

Suggestion (2, Interesting)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020920)

I'm all for a standardized system of rating games, but the problem is that games are just TOO LONG to view entirely. Lawmakers from older generations must not understand this. A movie can easily be viewed in entirety because it is only about 2 hours long -- a game can be upwards of 80 hours and beyond! A potential solution is to retain the system of viewing a developer-prepared reel, but to make this reel publicly available at the time it is sent to the ESRB. Also establish laws that hold the developers financially liable if a game is found to have more graphic content than represented by the original reel -- if lying to the ESRB can sink your company into debt, then it simply won't happen. As it is right now, most people don't have a clue about what sort of arcane methodology the ESRB employs, and there's basically no culpability for error; legally establishing who is liable and making the methodology transparent to the public will fix the ratings issue without requiring the significant expenditure of time and money required to view all games in entirety, a hoop that could potentially damage the industry. Additionally, lawmakers need to understand that the nature of most PC games is that they are "editable" -- through modifications, mods. You all know that, but honestly, sometimes I think that some people don't, and this is for them. If I mod The Sims 2 to show all of the women topless, that's not a feature that was included with the game that the developer should be liable for -- the equivalent of this is to buy a movie, take it home, and use video-editing software to make it appear as though all of the actresses are topless. Should the producers of the movie be liable if I do that to a PG-13 film? Holding developers liable for the explicit content contained in mods will sink the industry -- and it's an industry a lot of voters care about!

i dont know, its pretty accurate (1)

SQLz (564901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18020998)

What is not accurate about it. Blood, death, beheadings, dismemberment ok for teens and above. A gold game with a possible 15% of a nipple sighting if you pause at just the right time with a high def TV, rated XXX adult.

Awesome Government Jobs? (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18021000)

First off, I'm against any government-imposed rating system on the arts, be they paintings, movies, videogames or whatever.

With that disclaimer out of the way, wouldn't it be sweet to be able to get a federal government job playing games and then rating them? I'd climb aboard that gravy train!

E is for "Drinking Game" (3, Interesting)

loftling (574538) | more than 7 years ago | (#18021038)

I work at Three Rings Design, makers of Puzzle Pirates [puzzlepirates.com] .

The game is free to download, but we had a publisher and put out a box version with some extra goodies. The game was sent off to be rated and they came back with an "E" rating, to which we replied "Really? Even though there's a drinking game in there?" It's not a central part of Puzzle Pirates, but is easily found and playable at any Inn: pass out and miss a turn.

They hadn't even noticed, but after our helpful idiocy they bumped us to "T".
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