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Massachusetts is latest to propose videogame law blocking minors from violent material

In the latest string of videogame law proposals, the Massachusetts legislature will hold a hearing Tuesday on House Bill 1423, which seeks to restrict minors from buying violent videogames in a similar way how minors are blocked from purchasing sexually explicit material.

As GamePolitics excerpted from HB 1423 regarding the proposed restriction, “Matter is harmful to minors if it is obscene or, if taken as a whole, it… depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community, so as to appeal predominantly to the morbid interest in violence of minors.”

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is championing this bill. “Children aged 17 and under should not be sold this stuff, so they are not getting into the hands of 9- and 10-year-olds,” said Menino’s chief of human services, Larry Mayes, to the Boston Herald.

While not actively involved in the promotion of the bill, Florida attorney Jack Thompson had a hand in authoring an early January 2007 draft of the HB 1423.

“The Mayor of Boston asked me to draft a bill, on his behalf, for the Massachusetts legislature. Mayors get to do that in Massachusetts,” Thompson said to GamePolitics.

Thompson also had a hand in drafting the HB 1381 game law, which was deemed unconstitutional and forced the state to cover the game industry’s $91,000 in legal fees.

Although Thompson sees the Massachusetts bill as similar to the one that was shot down in Louisiana, he feels that those behind the HB 1423 could achieve a different outcome. “The difference is that these people intend to win the court fight, unlike the knuckleheads in Louisiana,” he said in 2007. “That bill was constitutional. They took a dive because of (ESA boss Doug) Lowenstein’s threats.”



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Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Fnoob on 3/18/2008 9:00:55 AM , Rating: 5
This is just plain stupid. They already have the "M" for Mature audiences, which requires ID be shown.

This is exactly the kind of trivial time wasting proposal I would expect from our do-nothing Congress.




RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By FITCamaro on 3/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Fnoob on 3/18/2008 9:35:39 AM , Rating: 3
Gotta love liberals.

I throw the whole lot of them under the bus, absoFNlutely worthless. Besides, there will be NO bashing of ill-conceived liberal agendas here. No sir. Not on this site.

I can just imagine the minutes from Congress on this one :

-'Speaker recognises our esteemed college from Massachewsets'...
-'Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank you for affording me the time to address what is surely one of the most dire threats to our country's morality : violent video games!
-'oooooooohs and ahhhhhhs of approval' from the floor.
-'Yes, thank you, thank you. Clearly, ladies and gentlemen, we are at the brink of the crux of a precipice here - and it's the children we must protect!!
-'ooooh yes! Here here!'
-'Yes, thank you, thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, violent video games have been shown in several government studies to cause herpes of the prefrontal lobe; and in some extreme cases... republicanism!
-'ooooooh we knew it' from the left side.
-'We object to that study' on the right. 'We have done our own independent multi-billion $$ studies that show that these games do in fact cause brain herpes, but also cause a spontaneous desire to have abortions, which we simply cannot morally allow whether or not they are actually pregant'
-Speaker 'Minority Whip, could you please have the rep from AL sit down'....

This goes back and forth for 6-8 months, until, in the end it is proven that G.W.Bush is actually the one responsible.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By xsilver on 3/18/2008 9:57:21 AM , Rating: 4
You're attacking liberals for being liberal rather than just judging each case by its merits and then figuring out whats right without consequence to which side its on.

It would be like generalizing republicans as being a bunch of gun toting, tobacco chewing inbred hicks rather than just seeing them for the person they are and arguing the particular case.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Fnoob on 3/18/08, Rating: -1
RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By onwisconsin on 3/18/2008 11:28:04 AM , Rating: 3
Mebbe you'd prefer totalitarianism. Faster and more efficient with twice the fear of a Bush Administration!


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By FITCamaro on 3/18/08, Rating: -1
RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By jeff834 on 3/18/2008 11:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe not TWICE the fear of a Bush administration. 1.24x at MOST. It's a balance issue between having a big enough military footprint to not fear other countries and keeping it reasonable so as not to fear your own country. At least when the dictators stage an election they actually get the majority vote...


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By slacker57 on 3/18/2008 3:38:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You're attacking liberals for being liberal rather than just judging each case by its merits


quote:
I certainly am not. I recall throwing them all under the bus as worthless, do-nothing, incompetant, overpaid blowhards.


So, basically, what you are saying is, "I am so smart.
I am so smart. S-M-R-T. I mean S-M-A-R-T."


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Polynikes on 3/18/2008 10:30:37 AM , Rating: 5
Last time I checked, both liberals and conservatives were all about censoring video games. You can't pin this on one party alone.

(Libertarian 4 life.)


By Oregonian2 on 3/18/2008 3:59:09 PM , Rating: 3
Just a comment that you've poked at one of the things that tends to be ignored.

There's political conservative/liberal that is usually economy/money based, and there's the usually religious based conservative/liberal social issue positions. They can be the same people but also not be -- they're different groups and concepts. I, for instance, am very conservative and very liberal respectively. The press tries to use terms in the way that's best for their own benefit which tends to confuse things even more.


By JoshuaBuss on 3/18/2008 4:05:37 PM , Rating: 2
yup.

sooner people realize there's more violence in your typical prime time TV show than most M rated video games the better.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By gramboh on 3/19/2008 2:44:26 AM , Rating: 2
Libertarian here as well. This law is ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as bashing political ideologies without thinking, which only supporters of the Republican party seem to be doing these days (anyone else notice that?).


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By molgenit on 3/18/2008 11:14:37 AM , Rating: 5
What does Congress or Bush have to do with this? READ the ARTICLE! The Massachusetts legislature is debating this NOT the federal government.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Omega215D on 3/18/2008 4:04:25 PM , Rating: 1
They come from the same state where Lite Brites are deemed dangerous.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By TITAN1080 on 3/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Fenixgoon on 3/18/2008 9:14:06 AM , Rating: 2
yep, every retail store I've seen has a policy that M games must be purchased by someone 17 or above, meeting the criteria for M+ (17 and older). What happens is mommy or daddy buys GTA for little timmy thinking it's just another game.

I don't see how legislatures can be so dumb; do none of these people have kids? Then again, that could be a good thing...


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By novacthall on 3/18/2008 9:35:04 AM , Rating: 5
Funny you should mention that scenario, actually. I have a tale to that effect.

Way back when, I had a friend who worked in an EB at the local mall. I'd go over to hang out on some weeknights to keep him company and help pass the hours until he could clock out. Mostly, we'd talk and play games, but every once in a while a customer would come through that made us scratch our heads.

One night, a woman and a small child walk into the store. The woman was young-ish and we assumed the tike to be hers. The child, in our estimation, couldn't have been older than 10. They both saunter up to the counter, and without hesitation, the child tells us he'd like Grand Theft Auto. My friend and I look at each other in disbelief. He then does what any responsible game store employee would do.

Reaching behind the counter, he finds the game. He holds it up, with the rating in plain sight of the woman and explains, "Ma'am, this game is rated 'M' for mature audiences. It is rated so for the following reasons..." at which point he rattles off the various reasons GTA games are intended for mature audiences.

The woman turns to the child, suddenly furious, and belts out "Why in the hell would you want a game like that??" Content with ourselves in having done our public service to all of gamer-kind, I won't lie to report that we felt a little ping of hope for humanity. The ball's in the kid's court, now. His response?

"But mom! It's so cool! "

To which the mother replies "Okay," and pulls out her credit card.

Slack-jawed, we stood there. Confronted with a willing and educated if not completely irresponsible customer, my friend completed the sale (EB doesn't pay him to have morals, after all). The child and the mother walked out of the store and our lives forever, but the impression that brief conversation left on us is permanent.

The moral of the story is: there is no law, no legislation, nor any amount of government regulation that will ever be any match for bad parenting.

Maybe next time I'll tell the story of the angry woman who returned "Pokemon" on the basis that it's anti-semitic... =)


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By mmntech on 3/18/2008 9:45:09 AM , Rating: 3
I've seen the exact same thing. Mom buying GTA for her 10 year old son at an EB in Toronto. These are the very same people who scream the loudest about violent video games. They want the government to control it because they lack common sense as a parent. There is the other extreme of the over-protective parent but that's another story for another time.

I'd like to hear the Pokemon story. I know animal rights groups were up in arms but "anti-semitic?"


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By glitchc on 3/18/2008 10:38:40 AM , Rating: 2
It had to do with a Swastika which appeared on one of the Pokemon cards.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Omega215D on 3/18/2008 4:08:27 PM , Rating: 2
What position was it facing? The Nazi version was supposed to flow backwards but the Buddhist version is supposed to go forward. Some people need to learn cultures... some buddhist temples here had to get rid of them.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Alexstarfire on 3/18/2008 11:02:17 AM , Rating: 2
Well, what they need to do is stop selling it to people like that. It's obvious that the kid is going to be playing the game, why be allowed to sell it even if it's the mother paying for it?

I agree that it's all on the parent that they are so retarded. I say they either shut up on the matter or simply not sell M rated games ever. There is no way you're going to stop little kids from getting their hands on it. Many parents are just too idiotic. They don't rate stuff for no reason you know.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By molgenit on 3/18/2008 11:20:45 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well, what they need to do is stop selling it to people like that.


Since its not possible to tell what some will do with something you cannot pick and choose arbitrarily. I doubt the stores want the hassle anyway. I guess the law would put teeth into possible charges against adults who allow the game to be played by the children, kind of like the way NY is now going after parents who allow drinking parties in the houses for kids.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Gastrian on 3/18/2008 12:01:03 PM , Rating: 2
We have laws like that in the UK, our BBFC ratings, which are normally reserved for movies but can be applied to games specifically prohibit the the sale of an age rated video/game to a person under that age or someone who is buying specifically for a person under that age.

On more than one occassion I've had to stop a sale because either the person mentioned it was for their child or the child would come to the counter while their parent was buying it and start talking about playing the game when he got home.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 3/18/2008 1:14:33 PM , Rating: 4
In the U.S. you get sued for refusing to sell them a product and argue that the store has no right to limit the sale of the product to an adult. Case closed.


By encryptkeeper on 3/19/2008 9:22:33 AM , Rating: 2
I love it. It took about 70 years of advertisements about how "safe" cigarettes were before it was revealed to the public about how dangerous they really were (if you've never seen the old cigarette commercials from the 50s, look them up sometime). One decade with the ESRB ratings, and no proof that videogames cause violence (and all of human history to prove we didn't need videogames to make us violent) and now they want to crucify anyone who's dumb enough to sell an M rated video game to a little kid.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By kextyn on 3/18/2008 11:22:01 AM , Rating: 2
They can't refuse to sell it to an adult just because it's intended for their kid. It's no different than someone taking their young child in to an R rated movie at the theater. What you are suggesting is more parenting by government instead of by the parents.

If the game should really only be played by adults and not even children with parental consent then it would be AO. But since everyone refuses to sell AO games nobody makes them.


By Spivonious on 3/18/2008 11:24:55 AM , Rating: 2
That's horrible. When I worked at Gamestop and explained GTA's rating to parents they would always refuse to buy it or say "oh, it's not for him, it's for me." The absolute worst was when we'd refuse a sale to some kids, they'd go outside and pay some random guy to buy it for them. Talk about the fall of humanity.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By jajig on 3/18/2008 11:29:06 AM , Rating: 2
It's not bad parenting, it's a point of view. When I was 8 years old I could watch porno and Freddy Kruger movies if I wanted to and it didn't warp me. If anything I believe it made me not care to watch it as it wasn't something forbidding to me.

I have a good job in IT, stable family life and no vices (drugs, alcohol, whores etc). I am a good citizen because my family was there for me. I believe the real problem to be an absence of parenting rather than letting a kid play a game.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2008 11:51:08 AM , Rating: 2
Worked at Best Buy and had the same thing man. It's sad isn't it.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By inperfectdarkness on 3/18/2008 9:32:49 AM , Rating: 1
i need to bring my flak cannon with me the next time i'm traveling through mass.


By Misty Dingos on 3/18/2008 10:02:28 AM , Rating: 2
You would be better served to bring a large tanker truck filled with clean water. Then when you are through the state of Massachusetts you can then use the water to wash the incredible amount of BS that will be layered onto you while in Massachusetts. Any state that can continue to elect a drunken philandering pork barrel boob senator is in dire need of an electoral enema.

I give this video game restriction law a good chance to pass muster in Massachusetts owing only to average citizen’s desire in the state to be lead around by the hand and nose by their assigned government handler from cradle to grave. They are, for the most part, a sad and pathetic lot.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Hiawa23 on 3/18/2008 9:46:33 AM , Rating: 2
I am 34 & have a 10year old, but not sure I have an issue with this at all. Minors should not be able to buy this stuff, but I am all for parents buying their kids whatever v games they decide to. It should be up to the parents or guardian, IMO, but GOVT does need to regulate this so that minors are not buying the games directly.


By rdeegvainl on 3/18/2008 10:33:17 AM , Rating: 2
I think equal treatment of media is important here. If they can liken violence to porn, then it should be all media that is treated that way, and you know the other media's wouldn't let that happen. Also I believe government needs not to regulate ideas such as violence. If the violence takes place in the real world then yes, but when it is all just images, then no.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2008 11:56:03 AM , Rating: 2
They already can't buy the game directly due to ESRB ratings and the laws regarding them. This law is both pointless and will be ineffective. It's nothing more than a "Look! We actually did something." law.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By jeff834 on 3/18/2008 11:56:47 PM , Rating: 2
ESRB ratings aren't law they're suggestions. Just like movie ratings aren't law. The reason these ratings are enforced by stores and theaters is because they fear backlash from developers and distributors, not to mention being sued by people for whatever may happen because they sold an M game to a minor.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By oab on 3/18/2008 11:20:08 AM , Rating: 2
An M rated game does not require ID to be shown, many stores implement that internally to avoid bad press.

Independent stores are more than willing to sell an M rated game to anyone, even though EB and BB may not.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By molgenit on 3/18/2008 11:24:33 AM , Rating: 2
I guess since its also only a voluntary effort there is nothing mandating it. So stores are free to follow the guidelines or not.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Spivonious on 3/18/2008 11:21:44 AM , Rating: 2
That's not true. There is no law that requires an ID to be shown when purchasing M-rated games. It's simply a policy that Gamestop et. al have and strongly enforce among their employees.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By mollick2 on 3/18/2008 4:25:00 PM , Rating: 2
most stores don't really enforce it everywhere, it depends on the employees. the gamestop here doesn't care, they've let me purchase m rated games since i was 14. when i was 14 i know i didn't look like i was 17 or older.

the only store that ive encountered that really enforces it, is walmart. but they never give me shit(im currently 16 but i appear a bit older then that).


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By JustTom on 3/18/2008 12:48:21 PM , Rating: 2
From the ESRB website:
quote:
Although it does not have the legal authority to implement or enforce retailer sales policies with respect to computer and video games


So no, you are not legally required to produce ID. This codifies into law the use of ratings to limit whom can buy particular video game titles.


RE: Must be a slow day in Mass...
By Targon on 3/18/2008 1:08:21 PM , Rating: 2
The ESRB does not REQUIRE that people show ID, it is a guideline, nothing more. While some stores will have a policy to restrict the purchase to those of an appropriate age, that is not a legal requirement.

This isn't a federal law either, and since it does not stop the sale of the games, if anything, it helps encourage parents to see what their kids are playing, even if the same parents may not pay attention anyway.


So Gamers are now Porn Addicts...
By bigjaicher on 3/18/2008 8:56:01 AM , Rating: 2
Wow... The subject says all...




RE: So Gamers are now Porn Addicts...
By Inkjammer on 3/18/2008 10:04:35 AM , Rating: 5
If gamers were porn addicts we'd be able to download Jessica Alba on Steam. But we can't. So I guess we have to settle for posing Alyx Vance in revealing positions over Garry's Mod.

If Mayer Menino only knew...


By Spivonious on 3/18/2008 11:26:31 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
download Jessica Alba


Is that what they're calling it these days? ;)


By Omega215D on 3/18/2008 4:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
We'll always have Alexis Sinclaire from SiN who is supposed to be modeled after Bianca Beauchamp.


What's left, Pong?
By Fnoob on 3/18/2008 9:17:30 AM , Rating: 2
depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community

No Halo, no COD, no TF2 for you - fragging the hell out of each other might give your parents cause to vote for retarded legislation.

All existing FPS will be required to mod all weapons to shoot only flowers.




RE: What's left, Pong?
By Fnoob on 3/18/2008 10:06:21 AM , Rating: 2
And only 'soft, fuzzy' flowers. Absolutely NO ROSES, someone could get a nasty splinter.


RE: What's left, Pong?
By rcc on 3/18/2008 2:59:18 PM , Rating: 2
lol, yeah, have you ever seen what happens on the CoD4 "shipment" map with 36 people on a server??

It's ugly, futile, and just look at all the lead and shrapnel poisoning of the environment.


RE: What's left, Pong?
By Omega215D on 3/18/2008 4:13:08 PM , Rating: 2
I have to admit that the German version of TF2 sounds pretty funny with the character exploding into various objects like cheeseburgers instead of blood.


By Believer on 3/18/2008 9:45:54 AM , Rating: 2
As my grumpy grandpa would say;

"Back when I was young, video games and distributed porn were unavailable to me (since it didn't exist). And if I couldn't have it then, neither shall the spoiled brats of today!"




When will it end...
By theeq on 3/18/2008 11:53:17 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, first, this is not, nor has it ever really been, a party issue. This is a hot button that everyone single politician out there is either willing to milk for publicity or avoids like the plague to avoid unpopularity.
Video games do not make people evil or violent. I am an avid gamer and I have grown up to be a stable and productive member of society, as has every other gamer I know. I wanted to play the violent games when I was ten years old, I remember the complaining all too well. But, my parents took responsibility and kept me away from things like "Doom" until I was able to convince them with my actions that I knew the difference between fantasy and reality and what was acceptable in either case.
It's been said before, it will be said again, this is a parenting issue. Videogames are being used to replace babysitters and parents are becoming more than willing to get juinor whatever game will keep him happy and quiet. If the kid is able to tell for himself that backing a car over a hooker (a la GTA) is wrong and something no one should do in the real world, I guess this is ok. But you need to be completely certain. Videogames are being used as a whipping post for people who don't want to accept any blame for any sort of social degradation. The Virginia Tech shooter was blamed on video games by a handful of self-acclaimed "experts" (Including our good friend and disgraced ex-lawyer Jack Thompson) before any real information on the guy was released.

I've read stories about someone who learned proficient driving from Gran Turismo and a guy who saved a life with first aid he picked up from playing America's Army. Comparing games to something like pornography is taking this way too far and appears to me as nothing more than trying to pander to an anti-game constituent base.




yay
By Kintarocrab on 3/19/2008 1:30:09 AM , Rating: 2
I guess they are just trying to prove how good violent video games are. Violent video games = porn? hmmmm, I actually lean towards porn being better then video games. (this is satire, for all you people without senses of humor)




Is the Bible rated M?
By Mitch101 on 3/18/08, Rating: -1
RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By Alexstarfire on 3/18/2008 11:07:25 AM , Rating: 2
While true in what content is contained within those mediums, they are very different in what they teach. The Bible is used to teach people to be good, highly vague but yea. To treat people with respect, not kill them, not to cheat on them, etc, etc. A violent game or violent movie doesn't teach you that. They teach you to kill people, nothing more.


RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By VashHT on 3/18/2008 11:47:01 AM , Rating: 2
While that may be true, its not like all video games are encouraging violence, and there are plenty of video games with good messages in them that also have violence.

To be honest if they made a law requiring kids to be carded for M games I wouldn't care at all. I always thought it was a good policy, I wouldn't want my kid beating prostitutes to death with a double ended dildo even if it is a game.

Anyway you should open your mind, not all violent games are violent for the sake of being violent or "teaching you to kill people" (if that was true this country would be like 50% mass murderers).

You should really look past the violence as you managed to do with the bible, it makes you sound hypocritical when you tell people to look at something in a different way but then make a huge blanket statement about other things that shows huge misunderstanding.


RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By rdeegvainl on 3/18/2008 11:54:01 AM , Rating: 2
funny thing is they want to restrict these things based on content, not the morality it teaches. Even then, government has no business legislating what morals can be expressed.


RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By FITCamaro on 3/18/2008 12:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
Hey thats a good idea.

"The Bible: The Video Game. Featuring all the books of the Bible. Run naked through the Garden of Eden as Adam and bang Eve to populate the Earth. Fight Goliath as David. Die on the cross as Jesus. All the moments you've come to love in a beautiful 3D adventure!

Rated M for Mature due to Adult Language, Adult Content, Nudity, sexual themes, and drug use."


RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By Kintarocrab on 3/19/2008 1:48:10 AM , Rating: 2
hahaha, you forgot this game. Here's a summary; get your father drunk, sleep with him a bunch of times without his knowledge(ya right), get pregnant, tell your sister to join in the fun. I call this game: keeping It In The Family.

Genesis 19 - versus
31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth.

32 Let's get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father."

33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, "Last night I lay with my father. Let's get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father." 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

36 So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father.


RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By charliee on 3/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By IndyJaws on 3/18/2008 2:20:09 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot one:

As paraphrased by the Apostle Jules

Ezekiel 25:17
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.


RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By charliee on 3/18/08, Rating: 0
RE: Is the Bible rated M?
By charliee on 3/18/08, Rating: -1
"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson














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