Federal games ratings oversight proposed

Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman today announced that they are planning to introduce new legislation that would establish federally coordinated oversight of the gaming industry’s ratings system. The legislation, dubbed the Family Entertainment Protection Act (2005), will be formally introduced in two weeks’ time.

from http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051130-5651.html
see also http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statements/details.cfm?id=249368

This is a bigger deal than previous laws, in my view, because now it’s federal. Thanks Rockstar Games! Yes you, fuck you I spelled your name out.

As far as I’m concerned they can have this - but they have to make it apply to Movies and books as well. Especially movies. It’s not like the MPAA isn’t exactly the same as the ESRB.

I can’t quite shake the feeling this belongs in the Politics forum, especially since the MPAA was brought up.

If they’re going after videogames, at least that means they’re leaving comics alone for a while.

And videogames had it coming, really. It’s not like Rosckstar hasn’t been engaging in the equivalent of an adolescent cry for attention.

Clinton and Lieberman are exactly the people I’d expect this from. Way to go, Democrats.

Game ratings will become more influential, but less accurate. Some people will suffer the ugliness of direct legal consequences. Others will merely see their business damaged or destroyed. There will be a new era of treading lightly, as per the history of comics.

Lieberman is a sleazebag who has been hounding the video games industry since the days of Mortal Kombat. Videogames to him are an easy of a target as Dungeons & Dragons were in the 1970’s and 80’s. He’s not much of a human being, let alone politician, let alone Democrat.

Maybe Fox News will jump on those two out of sheer spite.

(It’s time to get on board the videogames are art train.) Choo Choo! Can’t censor my game, because you fart on the President, and that’s a political statement!

Yeah, if it was republicans, they’d mandate a bible message into each rating.

They could use a thumbs up thumbs down raiting.

Jesus gives GTA 2 thumbs down.

Jesus gives The Bible game 2 thumbs up.

I think that would work.

it always warms my heart to see our government officials devoting their time and energy to such important causes, I mean its not like there is anything more pressing to worry about.

Democrats want to control what you do with your wallet. Republicans want to control what you do with your willy.

As much as I understand the animosity, this was both inevitable and is important. The whole battle about Video Games as Murder Simulators isn’t going to be won or lost on the shoulders of a phony like Jack Thompson, it’s going to happen here.

If this bill gets beat down that means the system has spoken and feels that Video Games aren’t dangerous enough to our society to warrant intervention from outside sources. It will become as trite as Bugs Bunny cartoons causing a kid to leap to his death or other such pulp media that will occasionally cross the airwaves as news stations seek to alarm (and thus enthrall) their audience, but the public eye will be on other matters.

As such, this is the battle we have to fight. If there ever will be a time to speak openly in support of the industry, it’s now. Now is when you have to decry this intelligently on your blogs, speak about it softly but firmly in interviews and write a smart letter to your representative. Statements such as “Clinton and Lieberman are exactly the people I’d expect this from. Way to go, Democrats.”* (as much as I do respect Unicorn McGriddle posts in most cases) will only serve to get you ignored.

If this swings our way, it’s practically over for the Video Games are evil crusade, save some insane pandering by radical lawyers.

If it swings the other way, well, there’s always bowling.

Chris Woods

*In Unicorn’s defence, a message board such as Qt3 is the most appropriate place to make such a statement. I just mean it would be bad in a blog or an interview or whatnot.

Yeah, we’d never ever see this legislation from the religious right guys. Frankly, from a political point of view, the only reason folks like Clinton and Liberman get on these tangents is because they’re trying to insulate themselves from the “no family values” charge. Where’s that pressure coming from? Not some nanny state left but from the religious right and center-right.

Clinton maybe, but Lieberman has long been out for games. He’s also a bit of a DINO these days, most liberals/democrats can’t stand him.

You do WHAT? Please, for your own safety, remember as you read my posts that I’m crazy. I’m Unicorn McGriddle, dammit! Turn over your badge and gun, I’m taking you off this case!

As to the subject at hand, half of Joe Lieberman’s career has been trying to police the content of entertainment. It’s not a first for Clinton either. (For that matter, Tipper Gore also did this.)

I don’t mind – in principle – a government that’s active in regulating financial and economic issues. I favor price controls on most products (especially necessaries), or even straight-out distribution. I also think that some serious government regulation is necessary in all commercial fields, at least barring some kind of other major change in the way they work. (There’s already a lot of important and essential government involvement in commerce, though it’s not always in the right direction.)

However, I object as a matter of first principles to any call to alter or stifle entertainment. Oscar Wilde, who fell to one of many of these movements, said at his trial that he did not believe a book could be harmful. I’ll take that one step further and say that I do not believe that comics, music, movies, or games can be harmful. They can be unenjoyable, they can be offensive, they can be wasteful, they can be commercial failures, but none of these things are reasons to regulate what can and can’t be created or published, or how it can be distributed, or to whom.

This applies to ANY entertainment. Even pornography. Even entertainment involving the recorded commission of criminal acts (although obviously the acts themselves are vulnerable to prosecution). Even entertainment that depicts violence or excrement or BAD WORDS. Even entertainment that elderly judges don’t like.

This is perhaps my most important political stance of any immediate relevance. I absolutely oppose the control and modification of entertainment by a guiding authority empowered to make the decisions it sees as morally fit for the subjects in its purview.

Elements of culture – and whether you like it or not, this extends as much to Christina Aguilera as it does to Ludwig von Beethoven, and as much to George Lucas as to Sergei Eisenstein, and as much to Lenny Bruce as to Pericles, and as much to J. K. Rowling as to Alexander Dumas, and as much to Warren Ellis as to the Bayeux Tapestry – AND EVEN TO GAMES – share as their touchstone and guiding light the principle not of art but of entertainment. They are things created for the enjoyment and cogitation of other people, and there is enough variance in responses to any given piece of entertainment that any group vetting works for “unacceptable” content will be throwing SOMEBODY’S baby out thinking it’s bath water. That it isn’t their baby does not excuse them. Culture is for everybody that wants it.

Everyone’s tastes and interests and desires are worthy of participation in the creation and consumption of culture. The world is big enough that it is not diminished by other people being able to enjoy what they naturally seek out; nor is it impossible for you to avoid what you dislike to a great extent. And in this way, citizens can more fully pursue their happiness, living in the worlds of entertainment and imagination – and yes, perhaps even art – that they choose for themselves.

I was building up to a really disgusting joke, but it seems thematically unwarranted at this point. I was going to estabish that Tipper Gore had “crusaded” (that’s what they like to call it, for some reason) against rap and metal and so forth, and then have the bulk of the post, and then somehow work in a lurid description of scatological furry porn (probably as an example of something – in this case, a drawing of two anthropomorphic tiger-boys goin’ at it while rubbing shit on each other* – that Joe Lieberman doesn’t like, but OTHER PEOPLE LEGITIMATELY AND INDISPUTABLY DO), and then suddenly start a new paragraph that says “That’s why I voted for Ralph Nader!” and end the post.

So, thematically unwarranted – even inappropriate – but still there. You’re still allowed to read this post. It’s still freely distributed on the internet. Nobody is getting sued or fined or jailed or subpoenaed. No person or class of people is prohibited by law from reading it. Nobody will be fired if the wrong people somehow gain access to it. And even if you don’t think it’s funny, that’s how it should be.

  • I certainly MAKE FUN OF – for example – furries, both in this post and elsewhere. I make fun of a lot of things. I’m often pretty vicious about it. I am always happy to mock what I don’t like. And few things piss me off as quickly as having to listen to music I hate over and over again. But that does not mean that I put myself in the position of denying entertainment that I dislike any of the protection from interference that I would want accorded to what I do in fact enjoy. That position, I leave to the moralists. It is no coincidence that following the advent of the PMRC, there was no counterstroke attempt to ban Pat Boone or whatever those Jesus-hungry fuckups listen to. Nobody demanded an incest warning on the front of the Bible. Maybe such ideas were floated as jokes, but they sure as hell weren’t brought seriously into the places of law.

The heart of the whole matter is mean-spirited or perhaps just callous – it is the quest of the ambitious to stamp on one group of people to please another. It is mostly Republicans who take this idea as far as they can conceive of it being taken. But while they are busy with “not torture,” and the old crimes of the cross, and new horizons of graft, there are Republicans and Democrats alike (and it’s more galling in the case of the Democrats, who are supposed to be an opposition party, dammit!) who tire of merely twiddling their thumbs and Supporting the Troops and start clumsily mashing together their own little macaroni picture of What is Moral at Home. Usually this involves indefensible bullshit like calling Frank Zappa a pornographer – with the natural unspoken corollary that something’s going to have to be DONE about him.

And THAT (and the shit-catboys, of course) is why I voted for Nader.

The CD cenobite from hellraiser 3 would disagree! CD’s can KILL! SCRAY! DANGER! thinkofthechildren!

Nice post. And I agree. Not that I need to agree; I think it should be taken for granted that anyone on this forum would.

what did you expect from demoKKKrats?

My own party is conspiring to make me dislike them. :roll:

Video games are an easy crusade: traditionally, the constituency couldn’t even vote. And of all the so called “single issue” voters, I think you’d be hard pressed to find one who votes on this issue alone, even here.

The part which annoys me is the hill that has been chosen to die on: gratuitous, pointless, trash-entertainment sex and violence as free expression. The fact that we do have a right to that just makes it worse: we’re fighting for a straw man, and losing the battle would just make it easier for bad people to suppress forms of free speech that actually mean a damn.

I was going to reply indignantly to Rob’s post, but on reflection I realized that my post above probably sums up my position well enough that anyone reading this thread can already easily deduce my objections.

Within the framework of the American political system, I’m not quite a one-issue voter, but I vote based on a small number of issues. A candidate I vote for ideally supports abortion, secularization, and redistribution of wealth, and opposes war crimes, free trade, and censorship. (Spare me any technical definitions of censorship; we all know what I mean.)