Federal games ratings oversight proposed

Hey, thanks for putting the current Administration in office, fuckstick.

Seriously, though, I hope I’m not doing violence to your point by removing this quote from your little rant, but…

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.

The point of the oh-so-quaintly named Family Entertainment Protection Act is that you – an adult – can play whatever games you want, but that certain content can be harmful to children. Do you disagree? Do you mind if children are exposed to hooker killing games? What about sexual content in The Sims? What about actual pornography? Shouldn’t it be regulated so it isn’t readily available to children? Or what about advertising in children’s programming? Is it really not harmful, or should it be regulated?

Because if you admit that there should be different rules where children are concerned, then your pithy little Oscar Wilde reference about a book never harming anyone goes out the window and the question is one of where you draw the line.

After years of being under the radar and getting away with a coy ‘aw, shucks, we’re just a lil’ ol’ niche industry and you shouldn’t pay us no nevermind…’ act, games are rightfully regarded as the enormous influence among children that they are. And now that the gaming industry – and that includes retailers, developers like Rockstar, publishers like 2K, writers like me, and even players like you – has blithely skipped by the chance it had to clean up its act, we’re going to get hit with a government stick.

Personally, and I know this is going to be an unpopular view with those of you who are having a grand ol’ time decrying censorship [sic], I think it’s about time. Let’s run that act through Congress, get the debate going, and put the fear of the FTC out there where it belongs.


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.[/quote]

I don’t agree with Mr McGriddle.

I know our media diet can do harm, if it is weighted too heavily in one place or another, and assuming that we all blithely skip through popular culture without reabsorbing, reshaping, and regurgitating it in our daily interactions is short-sighted and dangerous.

If you don’t believe that pornography does harm spend some time working with violent offenders, like I have; it won’t take long for you to start seeing the connective tissue between the sex trade and domestic abuse.

Disclaimer: Some of you are going to say, “Oh, you obviously don’t have children.” It’s true, I don’t. (My mention of “my kids” in a previous post was intended as part of a joke.) If you think this invalidates my point of view, there’s not much I can do to stop you from thinking that way. So, uh, feel free. But I’d like to live in a country that rejects this Family Values crap, because it seems like every time a law based on it passes or it gets some fucker elected, I wind up dropping my pants and bending over in the middle of a circle of cops with whips. (Maybe I just need new hobbies.)

The answers to your rhetorical questions are yes, no, no, no, no, what about it, and regulated (in the same ways that all advertising is subject to regulation – advertising is not entertainment; it is commercial speech*).

  • I don’t think there’s any need to debate that part, but even if there is, this thread is probably not the best place for it.

As you can see, I don’t. The problem with the existence of special rules for children is that they tend to have a major impact on everyone else, too. I think games will be particularly hard-hit by this – harder than television – because so much of the market is made up of minors. The other problem is that once a line like that gets drawn, even if it’s just FOR THE CHILDREN, it sets the dangerous precedent of classifying games as being in various states of moral rectitude with more legal weight than ever before.

I didn’t mean for the Oscar Wilde quote to be something that people really take away from the post. I think it’s overused. I just put it in there to connect my remarks more directly to other, similar viewpoints on the subject.

Look, kids don’t even want this protection. “Family Values” is just a code phrase for Fucking Prude Values. I didn’t see any sense in letting these dorks run my life when I was eight, and it doesn’t make any more sense now that I’m no longer one of the THINK OF THE CHILDREN. The government does not set out to protect everybody from everything bad that might happen ever, because trying to do that would have some serious negative consequences – i.e., it would really suck for the people being protected. And I think it’s profoundly misguided to try to “protect” people from exposure to ideas or images, no matter what those ideas or images are, and even if they are children.

Why children should be singled out for this treatment is beyond me anyway. One thing that always pissed me off growing up was people lying to me for my own supposed good. You know, Santa Claus brings you presents at Christmas based on a comprehensive evaluation of your behavior during the year. America is the best country in the world. Practically any statement about Jesus. But the people who said this stuff were not obligated to provide even children with a balanced or muted perspective. That Santa Claus shit always made me feel humiliated and patronized and betrayed. The Easter Bunny? Why the fuck does anyone tell kids this twisted shit? So don’t tell me that everybody under 18 has to be barred by federal law from playing computer games they want to play. Their parents will manipulate their lives however they like anyway. So violence is depicted, or sex. Big deal. Nobody needs protection from mere IMAGES of anything. And they are mere images, shadows on the cavern wall, and if a child doesn’t understand that, the problem lies with his parents, not with the imagined need for a law to regulate entertainment so that your kids won’t see a nipple.

I’m not sure what chance I had to clean up the industry, or what obligation I had to do so, or what “clean up the industry” ought to mean. (If left to my own devices, I’d probably say it meant “improve working conditions at EA.”)

An enormous influence on children, eh? I’ll tell you what else is an enormous influence on children: parents. Let me take that argument in a slightly different direction than it usually goes: PARENTS ARE NOT REGULATED. At least, not on a level commensurate with their influence. They don’t need to apply for a license to conceive, or pass an intelligence test to get it. They don’t need to meet any basic economic standards that might ensure they have the financial means to properly support a child. They don’t have to prove that they can make arrangements to spend adequate time with the child. They don’t have to commit to teach the child to eat and shit without making a mess. They don’t have to have clean criminal records, or pass drug tests. They don’t have to be free of HIV infection or other conditions that can be passed to a fetus. They don’t have to have an ultrasound to check for birth defects. (The baby may be taken away later, but that is analogous to a lawsuit after a game is released and is the alleged cause of some damn thing that somebody doesn’t like.)

All of these things have a tremendous influence on children. Why aren’t they regulated? Because things are not regulated in proportion to their influence on children! This games legislation is just another fucking cheap shot from all the Kyle’s moms in the Senate. If laws are going to revolve around controlling the experiences of minors, get back to me on this when at least some steps have been taken toward what the previous paragraph talks about.

I have no useful life experiences, and certainly no relevant ones, but perhaps what you’re seeing is the connective tissue between violent crimes and persons convicted of violent crimes? Nah, surely nobody but violent criminals is exposed to pornography. Whether this is because porn turns people into criminals (whoa, NOLF flashback) or because the criminal life leads naturally to porn is irrelevant – pornographers are giving aid and comfort to violent criminals, and terrorists are violent criminals, so therefore pornography is terrorism and those who would defend pornography are “terror allies.” (Which is apparently like butt-buddies, but with terror. I knew a little knowledge of Bill O’Reilly’s shtick would come in handy someday.)

  • I thought I already raised and dismissed the whole “when is a door not a door” censorship semantics thing. I really don’t care what you want to call it instead, but censorship is punchy and recognizable and people know what I’m talking about – even if some of them think it’s cute to pretend they don’t because there isn’t prior restraint or whatever.

Well, it’s certainly an unpopular view with me. And I don’t see what legitimate debate there is. But I do think the damn thing is going to pass in some form or another, because, after all, THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Enjoy your unnecessary legislation – too bad the rest of us are stuck with it to. Most of all, when you’re thinking of the children, don’t forget all the children who will be subject to this bullshit. If they knew what you support, they’d think you were a complete dick. Well done.

Ooh, know the answer to this one! Silent Hill.

'nuff said.

Yup, your batshit insane certificate is in the mail.

I have no useful life experiences, and certainly no relevant ones, but perhaps what you’re seeing is the connective tissue between violent crimes and persons convicted of violent crimes? Nah, surely nobody but violent criminals is exposed to pornography. Whether this is because porn turns people into criminals (whoa, NOLF flashback) or because the criminal life leads naturally to porn is irrelevant – pornographers are giving aid and comfort to violent criminals, and terrorists are violent criminals, so therefore pornography is terrorism and those who would defend pornography are “terror allies.” (Which is apparently like butt-buddies, but with terror. I knew a little knowledge of Bill O’Reilly’s shtick would come in handy someday.)[/quote]

I’m not writing about people who society largely considers ‘violent criminals’. I’m referring to your friends and neighbours, people who frequent this forum, people you play baseball with, or bank with or go to church with.

I worked at a court-mandated batterers program, with guys who were sent there, in lieu of doing jail time, for an 18 week course. They come in all shapes and sizes; lawyers and burger flippers, caucasians and east indians, old and young, doctors and dossers; and they have all been violent with their spouses. One guy kicked his pregnant wife in the stomach, causing her to abort, another pushed a broken beer bottle into his wife’s neck, another punched his partner in the face.

There is no on/off switch, ie: watch porn and you’ll hit your wife, play violent games and you’ll blow up your school; people who tell you there is have almost no comprehension of actual human behaviour. But if you have an understanding of how meaning is created, how a social discourse is refined and reinforced via the messages we take in from the world, and that those messages are normalised, to the point that we don’t even notice them (like fish that cannot see the water they swim in), then the linkages between our input and our output come into focus.

Our egos are heavily invested in believing we created ourselves, that the things we think come from deep inside, but none of us develop in a vaccuum.

Mass consumer porn is played out against a backdrop of dominance and power, and it feeds into a variety of ugly ideas about how women should be treated, about their role as the sex class. It’s not seeing cocks and tits and cunts that is harmful; it’s the story that’s being told along with the images - like bone structure behind a face. We don’t need no porn, we need better porn.

(edit: I’m not trying to convince anyone of what I believe to be true; I don’t expect to persuade you; I just think it’s valuable to speak up on topics like this, otherwise the dominant view tends to get reinforced over and over, and eventually is trotted out as ‘common sense’. Peace.)

We don’t need no porn, we need better porn.

Metta, there’s your campaign slogan right there. :)

My only issue with this kind of legislation is that it singles out the medium of video games. I don’t think the film, television, or radio industries do a better job protecting children from content they shouldn’t have access to. It’s painfully easy to sneak into an R-rated movie or watch “Boobs-a-Poppin’” on HBO after the parents have gone to sleep. And I still maintain that the content you view in Film, TV, and most definitely the Internet can be vastly more disturbing and easier to obtain than anything found in a video game.

If video games are to be regulated in such a matter then Film, TV, DVDs, Books, Radio, Recorded Audio should be as well.

Nevertheless, it would seem that they are in fact the perpetrators of violent crimes. I think this colors the sample somewhat.

Furthermore, though I’m not half the porn expert I’ve always dreamed of being, and can’t comprehensively evaluate the underlying content of porn as a whole, I can say that porn – or any sort of entertainment – isn’t anybody’s sole source of behavioral cues.

Yeah, me too. Sure, I’d like to convince people, but this is the internet.

I need a certificate? Jeez. I always thought insanity was more of a DIY field.

I think disagreement here comes down to an irreconcilable gap between the belief that entertainment can be concretely harmful in and of itself to enough audiences and to a sufficient extent to warrant regulation and the belief that at least one of these criteria is not met. Obviously if they were I’d favor SOME form of regulation, although I’d hesitate to leave it in the hands of Joe fucking Lieberman, the Hubert Humphrey of our time.

This will almost for certain NOT come before one of the Circuits or the Supreme Court. They typically don’t touch laws that “protect” children unless there is a clear case of abuse of that law. They have, but it’s rare.

So, that being said, if this law gets passed it’s more or less stone. Keep that in mind.

Now, on to the argument at hand. The issue, as I see it, is not that it’s a bad thing to make a law that children can’t buy M rated games. This bill does not establish a new ESRB, it provides for a yearly review of their actions and make it so that it is illegal to sell M-rated games to minors. The real issue here is that game designers will “dumb down” or rather, eliminate some violent material from videogames in order to appeal to a larger consumer base. Rockstar might not make The Warriors II or GTA: Tokyo because they want to make sure that the 14-17 crowd can buy their games in the mall without a parent. Do we really need to be the age 14-17 year old’s advocates in this case?

Since the average age of a videogame buyer is 30, does this really affect us much? (Those of us over 18 ).

ElGuapo: Any government-mandated ratings will lead to the death of adult content in the retail sector. Wal-Mart et al won’t carry it.

The sunny side of this is that adult-oriented designers may be forced to look into mature and intelligent themes over vulgarity and brutality.

Do the Super-Walmarts sell wine, beer or cigarettes? Or anything that has an age restriction? Do they have to card for that?

Yes, no, no, no, no, no, yes, and no. I know virtually no one (in the US, at least) agrees with my position of treating children as having independent thought or ethics that aren’t forced into them at parental gunpoint, though, so I’m going to use the option that “what makes you think this will be limited to children?” They won’t, the same way the CDA crap couldn’t be limited to children.

I can (and do) buy hard liquor at my local Super WalMart. So they do sell things they have to card for.

That’s because children don’t possess these qualities. They are still forming their personalities. That’s why they aren’t called mini-adults.

See: Movies, music for more relevant examples. Wal-Mart limits access to “adult” content. As everyone’s largest customer, Wal-Mart effectively makes adult content less profitable and less appealing to a creator.