Supreme Court to rule on Video game Regulation - What it means for us

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  • BlackHawkBlackHawk Bible music connoisseur There's no place like 127.0.0.1
    edited April 2010
    Let mommy and daddy decide with the law if we’re too obsessed with protecting the kids to let them do it at home.
    There's a flaw in your argument and that is the assumption that all parents pay attention to what their kids play or even care at all. If it's not the government, be it state or federal that regulates it, then who? The church?
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX
    edited April 2010
    Re: "order a public vote on the matter"
  • DuniganDunigan Norfolk, VA
    edited April 2010
    Black Hawk wrote:
    There's a flaw in your argument and that is the assumption that all parents pay attention to what their kids play or even care at all. If it's not the government, be it state or federal that regulates it, then who? The church?

    There's a flaw in your argument. If parents arent paying attention, or dont care at all, what's to say a law will do any good. This is a problem that begins and ends in the home...not in the law, or lack thereof.
  • edited April 2010
    Who thinks the ESRB is a pain now? They were the only ones shielding the hobby from this stupidity, and gamers and M rated game developers do nothing but whine and cry about the job the ESRB does. I've been on record before, the ESRB does a fantastic job, and so do the retail outlets that handle M rated titles for the most part. I have seen several kids told politely that they will need to bring an adult in to purchase a title for them. The system we have in place now works just fine.

    I'm a parent, and I should get to decide what my kid gets to play. If I think she can handle capping a zombie or two without becoming a sociopath herself, then so be it. It just so happens my six year old prefers a nice round of Mario Kart, or Wii Sports from time to time.

    Supreme Court to rule on the future of video games at retail?? Seriously, what a load of horse shit....
  • Sledgehammer70Sledgehammer70 California
    edited April 2010
    Who thinks the ESRB is a pain now? They were the only ones shielding the hobby from this stupidity, and gamers and M rated game developers do nothing but whine and cry about the job the ESRB does

    Cliff I think you have it wrong... The game industry (Each gaming studio) pays for the ESRB as it was and still is the game industries stepping stone to be proactive and create a board to regulate itself. The industry did this to avoid the government stepping in and controlling the video game world. A huge fear in the game industry is that the government will step in and say the ESRB isn't doing enough. If that happened, games will than be even more dumbed down based on a government rating system.

    This is the first step of the government doing any sort or oversight into how a state controls sales / rating of games... This can turn into a huge deal for the gaming industry pending the outcome of what the Supreme Court even thinks about this.
  • edited April 2010
    Are you arguing that we should sell violent games (and presumably other media) to minors?

    Putting aside all the things that are banned from being sold to minors without anything more inconvenient than a proof of age at purchase for adults, it does no side credibility to exaggerate their opponents argument. One is then put in the position of having to backtrack when confronted with his inaccuracies.
  • edited April 2010
    That would be rediculous if I got arrested for buying my son an M-rated game. I don't have a son, but hypothetically. I am a very passive person unless I'm provoked even then I try to not get violent. I was five months old when my dad took me to see Nightmare on Elm Street, and I think I've turned out alright.
  • edited April 2010
    Part of me wants to say "who the fuck cares, I'm not 16 or younger anymore". However, I'm going to have to side against the ESRB. Blu- brings up a good point over why the ESRB shouldn't have any role in lawmaking. There's also the issue of what ends up happening to parents who buy their kids M-rated games.

    As someone who played nearly nothing but M-rated games from an extremely early age, I think this would be a travesty for this generation of young gamers (even if most of them are playing FPS on consoles).

    There's also the fact that California has a large enough gaming market to make most developers shoot for a T rating.
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI
    edited April 2010
    Did you three even... read the article?

    Alen, nobody says they should sell games to minors. The ESRB is doing enough, it just doesn't require government intervention.

    Homes, firstly, it's rIdiculous. Secondly, where did you get the idea that you buying something for your child would become illegal? The illegalities are only to selling games to minors directly, and they're penalties for the stores, not the parents.

    Thomas, the ESRB doesn't have any role in lawmaking. They were meant to be a body created so the video game industry could police itself, and they did a fantastic job. This lawsuit is asking the Supreme Court to override the ESRB and create a law. ESRB hasn't made any - it's just a (very good) ratings system that manages to prevent nearly all sales of mature games to minors. Siding against the ESRB means you want the government to pass legislation on it.

    I mean Jesus, guys, did you read at all?
  • ZuntarZuntar North Carolina
    edited April 2010
    It's all the parents fault for being stupid and not policing what their kids do and see.

    The whole "I turned out OK" crap is just that, crap! It's just the dumbing down of the root values of our society.

    I truly wish people would quit trying to allow children to grow up so fast.
  • BlackHawkBlackHawk Bible music connoisseur There's no place like 127.0.0.1
    edited April 2010
    Dunigan wrote:
    There's a flaw in your argument. If parents arent paying attention, or dont care at all, what's to say a law will do any good. This is a problem that begins and ends in the home...not in the law, or lack thereof.

    It's not really a flaw. Even if the parents don't care their kids still can't legally acquire the game.
  • edited April 2010
    Cliff I think you have it wrong... The game industry (Each gaming studio) pays for the ESRB as it was and still is the game industries stepping stone to be proactive and create a board to regulate itself. The industry did this to avoid the government stepping in and controlling the video game world. A huge fear in the game industry is that the government will step in and say the ESRB isn't doing enough. If that happened, games will than be even more dumbed down based on a government rating system.

    This is the first step of the government doing any sort or oversight into how a state controls sales / rating of games... This can turn into a huge deal for the gaming industry pending the outcome of what the Supreme Court even thinks about this.

    Thats my point. Maybe my statement was too broad, but I have seen execs from Rockstar, and Acclaim complain about how the ESRB censors them. Specific comments about Manhunt, GTA SA, and BMX XXX. They complained about the ESRB and access to Wal Marts shelves and cried foul, that they were being censored, when in fact, there were not being censored, they could make any game they wanted, and be subject to the industry's rating system.

    I think we pretty much see it the same way, my statement was probably a little too broad.

    My point, ESRB good, government bad.....
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA
    edited April 2010
    Alen wrote:
    Are you arguing that we should sell violent games (and presumably other media) to minors?

    Putting aside all the things that are banned from being sold to minors without anything more inconvenient than a proof of age at purchase for adults, it does no side credibility to exaggerate their opponents argument. One is then put in the position of having to backtrack when confronted with his inaccuracies.

    Even though Snarkasm addressed your points, I felt I should elaborate on something.

    This isn't about encouraging the sale of violent content to minors, I'm against that entirely. I grew up abiding by the ESRB, and I'll do the same with my kids. Doesn't mean I would have been messed up if I hadn't followed the guidelines, but my parents just figured there was an age for that kind of thing, and I'm glad they had that responsibility.

    The real issue is the legality of it all. Let's take R-rated films for example. Today in America, A minor can go to a movie theater or a store and watch/buy an R-rated film. There is no law against that. Now, the MPAA has put a rating system in place, and it is followed very judiciously at almost every store, and every movie theater in the nation. There is no requirement or law that says stores and theaters follow this policy, but out of responsibility, almost every one does.

    I worked at a movie theater for four years. It was our policy to not admit people to films they weren't allowed to see via the MPAA guidelines. There was no law against it, but we regognized the MPAA guidelines and chose to hold them in policy.

    The ESRB is doing the same thing now. It isn't against the law for a minor to buy an M-rated game, but almost every store out there is going to stop them with an ID check.

    Throwing laws around for this sort of thing, and comparing violent video games to pornography standards, is asinine and unnecessary.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX
    edited April 2010
    I love you, Bobby.
  • edited April 2010
    Snarkasm wrote:
    Did you three even... read the article?

    Alen, nobody says they should sell games to minors. The ESRB is doing enough, it just doesn't require government intervention.

    Homes, firstly, it's rIdiculous. Secondly, where did you get the idea that you buying something for your child would become illegal? The illegalities are only to selling games to minors directly, and they're penalties for the stores, not the parents.

    Thomas, the ESRB doesn't have any role in lawmaking. They were meant to be a body created so the video game industry could police itself, and they did a fantastic job. This lawsuit is asking the Supreme Court to override the ESRB and create a law. ESRB hasn't made any - it's just a (very good) ratings system that manages to prevent nearly all sales of mature games to minors. Siding against the ESRB means you want the government to pass legislation on it.

    I mean Jesus, guys, did you read at all?

    I'm just going to quote Icrontic law, whenever Snark and Cliff agree, its equivalent to indisputable truth.

    I'd argue with Snark just for fun, but I can't. You guys totally missed the point.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA
    edited April 2010
    Thrax wrote:
    I love you, Bobby.

    <4
  • edited April 2010
    So if what I'm reading is correct, theoretically this law could make it illegal, and therefore punishable, to sell Team Fortress 2 (and similar games) to minors?

    I'm not even sure how to correctly present the incredible amounts of annoyance and down-right dislike of this entire idea I have.
  • DuniganDunigan Norfolk, VA
    edited April 2010
    Black Hawk wrote:
    It's not really a flaw. Even if the parents don't care their kids still can't legally acquire the game.

    They cant acquire the game now. Why do we need a law to prohibit that? See "R" rated films comment by UPSLynx.
    UPSLynx wrote:
    A minor can go to a movie theater or a store and watch/buy an R-rated film. There is no law against that. Now, the MPAA has put a rating system in place, and it is followed very judiciously at almost every store, and every movie theater in the nation.
  • jpparker88jpparker88 Lancaster, CA
    edited April 2010
    I worked at a local play n trade for about a year. We had all the games sorted by rating. From Mature to Everyone. We were also instructed not to sell M games to anyone that looked under 21 and teen games to people that looked under 18. Also, when a child wanted to purchase a M game, with an adult present, we made sure to tell the adult why the game was rated mature and ask if it was alright. Most parents did not seem to object on the parts of violence, such as halo or call of duty. Where parents made the child pick another game were in the instances of drug use, sexuality, nudity, and sometimes strong language.
    Personally I think the ESRB is one of the most proactive ratings boards out there with their ever changing descriptions on the back of games and on some of the newer games including the descriptions in more than one language, in very easy to read print. Unlike the MPAA which just tells you the movie is rated R and in small print at the bottom of the end of the trailer it shows why it got the rating.
    Also, on advertising for games on television and online, it shows right there why the game being advertised got its rating. It's all plain and very clear.
    I personally don't think the supreme court needs to get involved in this matter because there is enough self-policing in the industry as it is. From the programmers, to the producers, and to even the stores that sell the games. Example, I wanted to buy halo wars on the xbox 360, a teen rated game, yet at target I was still carded and they ran my ID to make sure it wasn't fake. This was all for a teen rated game, I have had the same for all M rated games. I have never been carded buying an R rated movie, even back when I was 14 or 15.
    The only thing I can see to where they might be able to make a case about minors having unrestricted access would be via content delivery sites like steam and direct 2 drive. There is no person there to check your ID to make sure you are of age, all you need is a credit card, so they might make that argument. But by in large, this argument by the state is just them wanting to get more power and tell me what is good for me and my future children.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA
    edited April 2010
    jpparker88 wrote:
    Personally I think the ESRB is one of the most proactive ratings boards out there with their ever changing descriptions on the back of games and on some of the newer games including the descriptions in more than one language, in very easy to read print. Unlike the MPAA which just tells you the movie is rated R and in small print at the bottom of the end of the trailer it shows why it got the rating.

    I agree. ESRB has done a fine job of progressing with the times and making it very obvious what the game contains.

    The MPAA ratings system could use an overhaul in my opinion. Many films are rated R because of language, yet the MPAA ratings system allows any PG-13 film to contain at most one use of the word F***. What's the point of protecting younger audiences from such a word if they can still hear it in some films?
  • coldalarmcoldalarm England, UK
    edited April 2010
    This system is in place in England/UK and we're still around, so no, it's not the end of the world. I bet it doesn't affect a single one of you on this website, and as such I think arguing for/against it is completely pointless.
    Yeah, the difference between different "levels" of offensive material (violence/language/etc) does differ from game to game, but really this system will be put in place to protect the consumer and the retailer.

    If a minor buys a restricted game, the retailer will take the blame in this and rightly so. These games have ratings for a reason, whether it's voluntary or otherwise. But it also "forces" parental involvement for minors and gaming and that is a huge benefit. The parent is responsible for the purchase of a restricted game, and that would then make it no different to alcohol or anything else with an age restriction.

    Example of how it works: A few years ago I had to get my mum to buy GTA for me due to legal enforcement of ratings, and that meant she knew what I was playing. Whether she cared or not is irrelevant because she was the one purchasing the game and therefore she could not plead ignorance to my activities if, say, I went around murdering people. If I wanted alcohol, I would have had to go through her too and she would then be responsible for providing me with that substance.

    This law does nothing except put the responsibilities where they lie - on the parents. You'd think "oh well, the retailer will still do it", but I doubt it. $50 lost sale or $1000 fine + Possible Bad Reputation? Doesn't take a genius to work out that the lost sale is preferable. By bringing this law in, what they will be doing is helping to protect their citizens. It's not regulation or restricting one's rights at all (remember: minors rarely have the same rights as adults in any situation), it's about protecting their citizens, and they're protecting them by increasing the responsibility of the parents in this age of computers and gaming.

    Some people have noted it's "unnecessary" because retailers tend to follow the guidelines. Sure, that might be so, but do the parents? No, not really. If there is a law behind these ratings then they suddenly become more serious. I don't know how to explain it, but guidelines don't have the same moral impact as laws do. The average person will think twice about breaking a law, but they may not do so when breaking a guideline. We'll use Health & Safety as an example. If it was a guideline at your workplace to wear, say, gloves then you might forgo it from time to time, but if it was law to wear them, would you break it? Not as readily, I suspect.

    In the grand scheme of things, this law is inconsequential. The average gamer is now around the 30s, I believe, and your highest rating is 25 (AO), right? Average person won't be affected via that logic.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX
    edited April 2010
    Because it doesn't affect us personally, it's not worth debating? Wow.

    Just wow.
  • JingallsJingalls Eugene, OR
    edited April 2010
    "First they came for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up."
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI
    edited April 2010
    It also has more effects than the obvious ones - for instance, many retailers will just stop carrying M-rated games if it becomes a punishable offense since it's more trouble than its worth if they have a dumb employee violate the law.

    Wal-Mart already doesn't carry video and audio content with adult ratings (obscene rap, etc); if there's a fine when Timmy gets a copy of GTA4 without his mom, they just won't bother selling it. If big retailers don't sell it, devs start to water down content - because if they can't sell it at Wal-Mart, they can't necessarily sell it at the volumes they want to sell.
  • coldalarmcoldalarm England, UK
    edited April 2010
    Thrax wrote:
    Because it doesn't affect us personally, it's not worth debating? Wow.

    Just wow.
    Yeah, I think I wrote before my brain kicked in. Whoops.
    Snarkasm wrote:
    It also has more effects than the obvious ones - for instance, many retailers will just stop carrying M-rated games if it becomes a punishable offense since it's more trouble than its worth if they have a dumb employee violate the law.

    Wal-Mart already doesn't carry video and audio content with adult ratings (obscene rap, etc); if there's a fine when Timmy gets a copy of GTA4 without his mom, they just won't bother selling it. If big retailers don't sell it, devs start to water down content - because if they can't sell it at Wal-Mart, they can't necessarily sell it at the volumes they want to sell.
    I doubt that, to be honest. Think of the profits they make when, say, GTA V or CoD387438743285: We Liek Monehz 2783 comes out.
    Using the UK again, you can walk into Tesco or ASDA (ASDA is owned by Wal-Mart) and get a copy of GTA. You can walk into GAME and buy Manhunt or Leisure Suite Larry. As I said, the company would rather lose 1 sale than get a $1000 fine, and their practices won't change much. If most of these stores are already asking for ID on rated sales, then they'll continue to do so. They will have to by law.

    Just to add to the essay I wrote... We're talking minors, here. This law does not stop you (as a parent) going out and buying GTA IV, Slash Their Necks 15 or whatever and giving it to your child. This law, in my opinion, is in place to put the responsibility for a rated purchase on the correct shoulders. It is not the retailer's job to decide what is or isn't best for your child, and as such they should not be allowed to supply them with the product. If you don't care what your kid does, go and get them a paid-for debit/credit card and give them that, and tell them to order online.

    Yeah, the store will be held accountable if it does break the law, and rightly so. But with the prospect of a fine for doing so, they'll be much more careful. Again, it's just like the alcohol market. Neither the UK or US is in ruins because alcohol is age restricted, and it's done for a reason. If the parent thinks their child is "mature" enough for alcohol, they have every right to go down to the store and buy them some.

    It basically just boils down to Minors vs Adults. Minors are not mature, experienced or responsible enough to be allowed to make every choice for themselves. As they get older, their number of rights and responsibilities increases (in the UK, at 16 you can buy lottery tickets, knives and a few other things. At 18 you become an 'adult' and can buy near everything) and once they're old enough, whether it's 17, 18 or 21, they can make their own choices by law. But for the most part, until that age, they're living with parents under their rules. If mom says "No GTA" then that should be it. The kid should not be able to go to Gamestop and get GTA (although nothing is stopping him ordering it online, but that's another issue), but as I understand it, that's currently possible? But if pop says "You can have GTA", he can go out and buy it for the kid. And then argue with mom. And then mom stabs him and the family falls apart. O, Discordia!

    Ahem. As I've said a few times, this law is in place not to stop the sale of M or AO video games, it's in place to give parents more power and control over what their child does in their house.
  • edited April 2010
    coldalarm wrote:
    Ahem. As I've said a few times, this law is in place not to stop the sale of M or AO video games, it's in place to give parents more power and control over what their child does in their house.

    I have ultimate control over what my kids do in my house (my son found out the hard way last night).

    I don't need the US Supreme court to establish that for me. My daughter won't play games or watch films of TV that I do not deem acceptable. My wife was watching some Vampire chick show last night, and I immediately removed my daughter to go play in the other room. I don't need a law to prohibit her from taking in media that is obviously inappropriate, nor do I want anyone to try and decide that for me. What I do want is a system that provides me with the tools to make good decisions. The ESRB is just fine as it is.
  • coldalarmcoldalarm England, UK
    edited April 2010
    What's to stop your kids going out and buying these games? Not much except a fear of parental punishment (grounding or whatever else you do).

    As I've said, we have this system in place in the UK and there's no problems with it at all. It's a minor inconvenience at most! The only reason (that I can see) people have against it is that you've not had this system in place until (possibly) now.

    Again, if you don't mind your kid playing GTA and he wants it, you can go out and get it for him. If you don't want him playing GTA, you don't buy it for him. Simple as that.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX
    edited April 2010
    The ESRB stops it. You will not find a major retailer in the United States that will sell an MA game to a minor without an ID or a parental escort.

    Perhaps you're arguing from a different cultural vantage point, but games MA games do not readily get sold to minors in the US of A, and not a lick of legislation has ever been needed to get us to that point.
  • coldalarmcoldalarm England, UK
    edited April 2010
    Thrax wrote:
    The ESRB stops it. You will not find a major retailer in the United States that will sell an MA game to a minor without an ID or a parental escort.

    Perhaps you're arguing from a different cultural vantage point, but games MA games do not readily get sold to minors in the US of A, and not a lick of legislation has ever been needed to get us to that point.

    So, in that case, absolutely nothing will change. The minor retailers will be more careful in who they supply to, but that'll be it. I can see the "why do we need this? what we have works" point of view, but maybe I'm just so jaded that I've no real faith in companies sticking to it until they've got the possibility of a fine hanging above each sale. As I said in one of my above posts, for a lot of people the law carries a lot more weighting behind it than non-legally enforced guidelines and it could be being implemented just to legally give it the weight it has.

    In the UK, we just lost our "guideline" rating system. It was made legally enforceable in September 2009 and it's replacing the BBFC as the legally enforced video game rating (The BBFC rate our films, and are for a few years they've been rating games). It'll be very interesting to see how that pans out.
  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI
    edited April 2010
    Again, that's our point. The ESRB works right now. What, precisely, is gained by turning it into a law?
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