Washington st. passes law criminalizing sale of GTA to kids

Just heard about this on the radio. This was introduced by a Democratic party “concerned mother”’ type and passed by an overwhelming majority. Interestingly enough, it failed to pass until the word “violence” was redefined:

“Violent video or computer game” means a video or computer game that contains realistic or photographic-like depictions of aggressive
conflict in which the player kills, injures, or otherwise causes physical harm to a human form in the game who is depicted, by dress or other recognizable symbols, as a public law enforcement officer.

The legislature wouldn’t pass it until “violence” was reinvented to mean “killing a police officer or firefighter.” Yet another example of politicians using the dead bodies of WTC police officers and firemen as props to pass whatever crap they want.

Here are some other interesting quotes from the law:

There is a growth in the amount of research which shows video games increase aggressiveness and decrease pro-social behavior. These video games are an affront to any police officer who ever gave his life for his profession. These violent video games are more violent than most movies that adults see. Like a porn film, violent video games do not have a plot. Unlike movies, video games are participatory. There is a built in protection from parents because there are secret codes hidden in the games allowing skilled child players to access them while most parents can’t get to that level. Parents lack knowledge because they can’t get to this level. The packaging is deceptive because it doesn’t accurately tell what is inside.

The law makes the sale or rental of such games to minors (17 and under) a Class 1 Civil Infraction, but rewrites the law code to specifically state that the fine should be double that allowed for other Class 1 Civil Infractions:

a) The maximum penalty and the default amount for a class 1 civil
infraction shall be two hundred fifty dollars, not including statutory
assessments, except for an infraction of state law involving tobacco
products as specified in RCW 70.93.060(4) {+ and an infraction of state
law involving violent video or computer games under section 2 of this
act +}, in which case the maximum penalty and default amount is five
hundred dollars;

Here are links:

If you click on the “Text and Analysis” link on that page, you can read the different versions of the legislation which show that “violence” had to be redefined to mean “attacking a police officer” in order to pass this crap.

I don’t support the sale of these games to minors, but it sure seems like this bill is a showboating measure designed to make this lady look good, rather than a sincere attempt to address a real problem.

Okay, what’s the “real problem” then? If you dont’ support the sale of these games to minors, what’s the problem with criminalizing the act? Obviously retailers have little interest in obeying the ESRB guidelines voluntarily.

It’s highly unlikely the law will stand.

I love how liberals always accuse the conservatives of trying to limit freedoms through censorship and laws but it’s ALWAYS the Democrats who attempt to legislate censorship and content.

Tipper and her record crusade. Lieberman versus Mortal Kombat and now this.

Only thing that changes between liberals and conservative politicians are the specific things they want to make laws to ban.

I’m a liberal, but I made a point of mentioning that a Democrat was the sponsor of the bill. Just because Democrats have their share of culture war opportunists like Joe Lieberman and Tipper Gore doesn’t mean that accusations of censorship against certain conservatives are any less valid.

How many conservatives do you know who publicly sing the praises of the ACLU? Conservatives made “card-carrying member of the ACLU” an insult. Yet it was the ACLU that testified against this law.

I don’t really understand what the big deal is. It seems to me reasonable that we would want to back up ratings systems with legal repercussions (nothing more severe than fines, though, I should think). Does anyone know how this works for movies? Are theaters criminally liable for selling, for instance, X-rated tickets to minors, etc?

I am also puzzled as to how this constitutes “censorship.” I don’t think it’s censorship to prevent children from having access to certain materials.

I think lots of municipalities have local ordinances about theaters enforcing the ratings. Here in Salem there’s a law that theaters can’t let someone under 18 into and R-rated movie alone. That’s a year higher than the rating actually indicates. But nationally it’s basically self regulation within the industry.

The point of my post not censorship. The point is the folly of legislators trying to single out fictional portrayals of attacks on police officers for special legal consideration. Should a movie in which a police officer is attacked be rated for a higher age group than the exact same movie, except that a civilian is the one getting shot?

I also found it interesting that lawmakers used the “lack of plot” and existence of hidden cheats in games, such as the nude cheat in Giants: Citizen Kabuto, as an excuse for action.

Meh. You’d think different if you were a parent.

I’m sure I’d think different about young women getting run over by bulldozers too.

The packaging is deceptive because it doesn’t accurately tell what is inside.

This is the part that I have the most problem with, because it’s simply not true. In the case of the specific game they are talking about, the box describes the game like this:

“You’ve been betrayed and left for dead. Now you’re taking revenge, unless the city gets you first. Mob bosses need a favor, crooked cops need help and street gangs want you dead. You’ll have to rob, steal, and kill just to stay out of serious trouble.”

Nearby is the ESRB label, which says that the game contains “Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Violence.”

I’m surprised that anyone can make a convincing argument that the packaging is deceptive, or that parents have no way of knowing what sort of content their children would be exposed to. The box is pretty clear on what the game is about.

A better argument would be the fact that software stores are so lax on selling Mature rated games to kids. Even so, it bothers me that they are trying to make a distinction between violent games and violent movies. Kids get into R rated films all the time, and despite what that blurb above said, there are plenty of movies that are every bit as violent as GTA3. You don’t see anyone trying to criminalize that, however.

Yes, if I was a parent, I’d care enough to watch my own kids. :roll:

Yes, if I was a parent, I’d care enough to watch my own kids. :roll:[/quote]

Good luck doing that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I take it you’re going to head out with your kids everytime they want to visit a friend’s house, or that friend’s family takes them to the Mall…etc. etc.


Software stores lax? There’s no Law that says they can’t sell the game to a minor - at most it’s company policy that they will try not to.

The games rating system is an advisory - nothing more, nothing less. It’s there to help parents make decisions about games withou 0 knowledge of them. It’s not up to the software store to stop a 13 year old from buying GTA - it’s up to the parents to pay attention to what their kids are doing.

Hey, my job as a father is to help instill morals and an understanding of the world in my kids. They’ll encounter this stuff sooner or later in their lives, if I shelter them from everything in life they’re going to grow up completely and utterly fucked up.

Maybe. It looks like there is about to be a law, though, at least in one locality. You have to admit, most software stores don’t even try to avoid selling mature games to kids, company policy or no. I’ve never seen a sales clerk at EB or Gamestop or wherever refuse to sell someone a game. Theaters do a much better job at enforcing movie ratings. If software stores don’t want to be policed in this manner, they could take away some of the heat by better policing themselves.

Just a quick question:

Does anybody have any idea how good theaters are at policing PG-13 and R rated movies? I’ve seen tons of newsmagazine exposes of the sale of M rated games to minors (Walmart always does the best, btw) so we know that they suck at self-policing. I was just wondering if the motion pitcure ratings people have more luck with their system.


I’m a parent myself. I think this is ridiculous.

Kids have been playing “cops and robbers” for as long as there have been, well, cops and robbers. Should we start arresting kids who play the “robbers”?

Sure, a kid who is having issues comprehending that GTA is a game, or if it becomes an excuse for acting out, that kid needs help from his/her parents. Parents need to be actively involved in the kinds of media their kids consume, and have open dialogue with them (I’m still working on this part myself, since my 2 yr old’s vocabulary is largely limited to “play” and “yes” and “dinosaur”).

Put another way, I’d vastly rather have my kid playing GTA with me where we can discuss what’s going on, than having to sneak behind my back, playing it with his friends, where I can do nothing about it.

It is impossible to keep kids from seeing this sort of content. Things like this just make it more attractive, and make the whole situation worse, IMO. I don’t want the government raising my kids – that’s my job.

Hey, my job as a father is to help instill morals and an understanding of the world in my kids. They’ll encounter this stuff sooner or later in their lives, if I shelter them from everything in life they’re going to grow up completely and utterly fucked up.[/quote]


My point was pretty much that this is a good thing for two reasons:
A) Honestly it would keep this out of the sweaty hands of kids, my two year old nephew can play this game pretty well (He can carjack someone and smash the car into a building, whereapone he says ‘Uh-OH!’. Hey, he’s two) But when he gets older his mom is gonna start policing what he plays closer, when he’s able to understand what he’s seeing better than now. (for those concerned: He has no violent tendencies beyond the pulling of cat’s tails and yelling ‘Haw haw’ whenever someone hurts themselves, he’s never seen the Simpsons.)

B) Next time any type of ‘Ban video games NOW’ type thing pops up, we can point to this law and say well we have OUR measures in place, AND laws to ‘think of the children’ for us. That way nothing gets banned, nothing gets censored, and everyone can play the games they want.