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Media Coalition takes on the Governor Schwarzenegger for violent video game legislation

The video game industry takes consistent hits on its violent and sexually explicit releases, primarily in California. Governor Schwarzenegger appealed a decision that blocked legislation from 2005 that restricted sales of mature video games to minors.  This week, Media Coalition filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) in order to be a part of case and oppose the legislation.

Media Coalition consists of video game groups as well as the Association for American Booksellers, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America (yes, they do good things once in a while), The Entertainment Consumers Association and others.  According to the group, they are an “association that defends the First Amendment right to produce and sell books, movies, magazines, recordings, DVDs, video tapes and video games”, and the publics’ rights to access them.

The group claims that the legislation to prohibit the sales of mature video games is unconstitutional.  If the Governor’s appeal succeeds, it will give shape to the First Amendment by allowing certain forms of censorship, whether it’s for the better or worse.

The law also states that mature rated games that are sold or imported in California should be labeled as such largely on the cover.  The Coalition claims that this is “compelled speech” and as a requirement, it is too general.

Violence in video games has been a tireless issue, with constant criticisms over Grand Theft Auto, and other violent or sexually explicit games.  School shootings and violence amongst the youth has been blamed on video games.  A consistent theme in these cases seems to be proper labeling so parents know what they are purchasing for their children.

The problem: are First Amendment rights being snuffed by this video game legislation? The sales of mature video games are not being completely prohibited. They can still be sold but not to minors. 

The other question that must also be posed is it up to the states to decide what video games children should play.  Critics, such as Jack Thompson, say yes, even though the courts aren't exactly on his side.  But since there has been no clear evidence showing that video games have a deep impact on children’s behavior, the idea that carving the First Amendment to how the states see fit is asinine. So it really comes down to whether states should have the ability to do this.

It’s an ironic situation; the man whose acting career was built on violence and mature content is now fighting against just that.  Either way, it looks like with Media Coalitions involvement in the case, the Terminator is going to have to put up a good fight.



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I just don't get it....
By bighairycamel on 2/29/2008 11:21:57 AM , Rating: 4
As long as I've been alive they've restricted people younger than 17 from entering an R rated movie without an adult companion, and restricted them from NC-17 (or X back in the day) movies regardless. I guess I just don't see how restricting them from video games is any more unconstitutional than from movies. It's a double standard if you ask me.




RE: I just don't get it....
By NicePants42 on 2/29/2008 12:03:23 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly.
quote:
It’s an ironic situation; the man whose acting career was built on violence and mature content is now fighting against just that.
No, he isn't. He's fighting to prevent certain content from being sold to an unsuitable audience.

I'm not arguing in favor of restricting game sales, but this is a slippery slope that you're on, Mr. Sanghani. Would you say that the Governator was fighting against the porn industry if he supported legislation preventing the sale of pornography to minors? How long do you think it'll be before someone invents an interactive porn video game? Will state legislation restricting the sale of such games to minors - without the backing of a scientific study assessing the psychological impacts of such content on minors - also be an asinine attempt to carve up the first amendment?

Or, if you're so concerned with a minor's right to access whatever media they desire, why don't you write articles criticizing rating systems and parental controls?


RE: I just don't get it....
By Joz on 2/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: I just don't get it....
By NicePants42 on 2/29/2008 12:11:05 PM , Rating: 2
Also,
quote:
The other question that must also be posed is it up to the states to decide what video games children should play.
No. The question is this: Is it up to the states to decide what video games children should be allowed to purchase without the consent of a parent or guardian.

As someone who will soon be a parent, I definitely think that we need SOME laws preventing our kids from purchasing violent or sexual media without parental consent. I'm not in favor of expanding the federal government's power, so leaving it to the states sounds good to me.

Not everything Jack Thompson believes is inherently evil.


RE: I just don't get it....
By PhantomRogue on 2/29/2008 2:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I definitely think that we need SOME laws preventing our kids from purchasing violent or sexual media without parental consent. I'm not in favor of expanding the federal government's power, so leaving it to the states sounds good to me.


But then you go down the slippery slope of... where does it stop? Your State tells your kid what video game or movie he/she cannot buy. Its not long before you have the state telling kids what they cant do, then what they cant believe. Its the Governments job to keep me safe, not to treat me like Veal.

Its up to Parents and People to raise a child, not the Government (be it State, Township, County or Country).


RE: I just don't get it....
By NicePants42 on 2/29/2008 3:06:36 PM , Rating: 3
Apparently all slopes are one in your world. There is a very large gap between restricting what retailers may sell to minors and restricting what minors are able to think. I'm sure some would argue that our educational system has been traversing that slope for some time already.

The author is on a slope that stops with my kid being able to purchase any type of media (pornography, etc.) without my consent. The slope I'm on stops with me having to approve every purchase that my kid wants to make. Seems an easy choice to me.


RE: I just don't get it....
By Xerstead on 3/2/2008 7:34:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...preventing our kids from purchasing violent or sexual media without parental consent.

How does having parental consent make it ok?

Are kids whos parents don't care about their welfare less affected by the violence than those with responsible parents?
One of the major issues is that parents are not being parents and taking a responsibility for what their kids do.
Going back many years, my parents wouldn't (and didn't) buy me adult rated films. Yet it seems many parents don't even consider the age rating when the child/teenager asks for it. Video games are labled as clearly as films when it comes to age restrictions and adult content so why should it be such a big issue.
Also, I still haven't found out why a nipple is more offensive than 'Head-Shot!' and 'Multi-Kill.'


RE: I just don't get it....
By NicePants42 on 3/3/2008 10:41:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
One of the major issues is that parents are not being parents and taking a responsibility for what their kids do.
Thanks, Captain Obvious.

Would you rather allow any given 8-year-old to enter a store alone and legally purchase cigs, beer, porn and Manhunt 2 simply because "there's no substitute for good parenting"?

Making bad parents good and/or making it 'ok' for minors to play Manhunt 2 or the next interactive porn are things no amount of forum posting are going to do. What the law (or ESRB, etc.) can do is keep retailers from targeting kids with unsuitable media, and make it more likely that parents see what their kids are buying.


RE: I just don't get it....
By Polynikes on 3/3/2008 7:16:17 AM , Rating: 2
I started playing violent video games (Wolf 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Half-Life, etc.) at a young age. (I'm 24 now.) I was certainly way too young to buy any of those games when they were released, but my parents bought them for me, not knowing anything about the ratings.

I turned out just fine. Someone who is prone to be "influenced" by video games doesn't actually get influenced by them, they're already touched in the head if they do anything even remotely resembling the stuff that happens in games. They need professional help, not overbearing laws or parents.


RE: I just don't get it....
By noirsoft on 2/29/2008 12:43:47 PM , Rating: 4
What you apparently don't get is that it isn't illegal for a movie theater to let anyone in to see any movie. It's a business agreement between the theater and the MPAA. If a theater lets a 16 year old in to see an R movie, they won't go to jail. They may get blacklisted and the MPAA may refuse to let them show future movies, hurting their bottom line, but there is no law.

That's the same way it is with video games now. The local EB Games stores won't sell an M-rated game to a minor without a parent present. I've seen it happen. If there was a law, then the store could face legal action if the kid came in with a fake ID and bought a game. Is that what you want?


RE: I just don't get it....
By NicePants42 on 2/29/2008 3:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
Forgive my ignorance, but if retailers can get sued for selling to someone who used a fake ID, how do retailers deal with current alcohol and cigarette laws?

Do you know of any place that's been successfully sued or shut down for selling alcohol/cigarettes to someone they shouldn't?


RE: I just don't get it....
By tastyratz on 3/1/2008 2:07:09 PM , Rating: 2
actually...
yea.
When I was a kid working at a gas station they had their tobacco license revoked for selling to undercover kids on more than 1 occasion with fake ID's.
They couldn't sell butts for a VERY long time.

This DOES happen, and that was 8 years ago, I'm sure its worse now


RE: I just don't get it....
By Major HooHaa on 3/1/2008 7:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
I have been playing games since the Atari VCS\2600 console (space invaders, defender, missile command, Pac Man etc...). Later on, I got my first machine (a Commodore 64) in June 1991 and my brother and I have had various consoles and computer ever since. I don't think games have taught me to be violent, I have found them a good safety valve and a good way to work out stress, when I am have been really wound up.

Also I would like to point out the team aspect of multiplayer online games. Try playing Battlefield 2 online with a bunch of friends... All using microphones to communicate! It's such a cool way to game and adds so much to the game. Currently I am trying to beat the final boss at the end of "Half Life 2 Episode 1" (I've only got 1 rocket left!!!) and playing "Team Fortress 2" and "Battlefield 2" online.

Some of the games that were amazing and left my jaw on the floor?.. Doom 2 in 1994 (never played anything like it before), Civilization 2 (play through 6,000 years of history!), Grand Theft Auto (I was disgusted when I saw the advertising for the game... But playing the game completely changed my mind), Portal (OMG! The whole game is sooooo well crafted, it leads you through, then twists the whole thing around and the ending is wonderful).

You have got to look at the history of games and their development, many people have grown up with computer games and so the as these gamers have got older, then the games companies have aimed new games at this segment of the market. I got my Commodore as a young teenager, but I was gaming before that and now as I approach 30 years old I am still gaming and am still part of a gaming community, that are in the same age group as me. I must say that I have drifted away from consoles and have ended up with playing games on the P.C. I get on better with a mouse and keyboard when it comes to a playing a game from the first person perspective, than with a console controller.

I have always gone by the feel of a game, Grand Theft Auto had a good feel to it... But I didn't like GTA 2, it felt darker, grittier and I just didn't enjoy it as much. GTA 3 was great, as this felt like GTA 1, but now with 3D graphics.
GTA 3 was certificate 18 in the UK and rightly so. I played GTA: San Andreas, but didn't like this game much and haven’t gone back to this particular game.

Going back to my teenage years, there we got a Sega MegaDrive in 1994 (Sega Genesis in the states) and one of the games that came out around that time was Mortal Kombat. This was the game with the "Death Moves" and blood in it and it caused a media storm. If you defeated your opponent, at the end of the round you had a few seconds to perform a special Death Move. As a teenager I enjoyed this game. From a game play point of view, Street Fighter 2 was a better game, but pulling off the death moves (each character in the game had their own unique death move) was such a laugh, ripping somes head and spine from their body etc... It was over the top cartoon violence, "The Simsons" "Ithchy and Scratchy" do worse to each other... And they are a parody of the likes of "Tom and Jerry".

I think that to introduce young children to today’s 18 certificate games would not do them much good, but then showing a young child an 18 certificate film is just as silly. I remember watching certain films at an age where I was to young and those films scared me or I didn’t like. It has been the same with games, there are some that I don’t like or have felt uncomftable playing. I enjoyed Grand Theft Auto partly because of the balance between open ended fun (even just driving round the city while listening to the radio) and the missions, that could be gain by walking up to a ringing public phone, that you come across while playing the game. I didn't enjoy Carmageddon and felt uncomftable playing it.
I would just like to say that prior to playing both games (GTA and Carmagedon), I had been hit by a car and ended up in hospital(Aquired Brain Injury is not much fun!).

Anyway, enough ranting from me. Computer and console gaming have been a pastime of mine for the last 20 years or more. In all that time I have got fed up with the calls of “ban this sick filth”. Although that was a newspaper headline a few years ago.

Finally, to give an idea of the timescale over which computer games have been in existence, the game ‘Space Invaders’ dates back to 1978 (which was also the year I was born), so video games have now been around for over 30 years. Go on, Google the word "Spacewar!".


Why just video games?
By DarthKaos on 2/29/2008 12:36:44 PM , Rating: 3
I really don't mind a law that restricts the sale of mature content minors if it includes all forms of media. PERIOD

The law must include CDs, Movies, Books, Posters, Video Games, Board Games, Toys, etc... All forms of media would need ratings (if they don't have them) and all would need to be under the same legislation. This would help parents and it does not infringe on free speech. It just helps parents protect their children against media that is not right for them. If a parent thinks their child is old enough to have said media, they can buy it for them. Plus adults can buy it.

The biggest reason it must be all media though is because then retailers will not pull the mature content from shelves. If video games are the only thing with a restriction some major retailers could refuse to sell it because of image issues (how their establishment looks to the public) or because it would be more difficult to deal with one type of media being different from all others.

If video games can have a negative affect (not saying they do), why would music, movies, toys, or books about killing, drugs, driving fast, or being in a gang have some sort of affect too?




RE: Why just video games?
By Hiawa23 on 2/29/2008 1:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't have an issue restricting minors from buying explicit or mature games, but, I, as a 33 year old don't want Government telling me what I can & cannot have access to. The movie theaters do it. I have a 10 year daughter & all I play are violent games, listen to harsh music & watch violent movies, not around her, though. Parents need to be parents & start teaching their kids right from wrong instead of relying on the athletes, & celebs to do it, which is why alot of youths are out there doing everything, & all these cases where we see these kids or youths going into schools or other & going on killing sprees aint cause of GTA. The signs have to be there & it's sad many parents don't see em or care to until it's too late then they start blaming everyone but the ones that should be blamed.


RE: Why just video games?
By Alazar on 3/2/2008 7:19:11 PM , Rating: 2
This is exactly what I intended to get across. You cannot just blame one media for all the problems when you have multiple medias exemplifying the same characteristics and attributes.


Fury
By Alazar on 2/29/2008 12:16:16 PM , Rating: 2
This is an absolutely ridiculous, stupid, and pointless debate that people are so intent on fighting on and on about and it just makes me livid that it's still an issue.

If people are SO intent on blocking video games that have violence or sexual content then you have to block TV shows and movies that show the SAME THINGS!

STOP BLAMING VIDEO GAMES!

Don't movies and TV show the exact same things and who fights them? No one. The video game industry has been suppressed by these finger pointing people for so long!

This madness has to end.

If you say a game promotes violence what about movies like Rambo? TV shows like Prison Break? What about War Documentaries? Do these not show violence?!

I am not saying I promote these things, but this constant aassault and attempt to browbeat the gaming industry into submission is an attempt to destroy Free Speech!

If you start censoring video games, what's next?

Let me be clear. Parents, understand that if you have such a problem here, DO NOT BUY THESE GAMES! Each one is clearly labeled on the case it's rating and on the back the content. The ESRB exists for a reaon.

If games are to blame for violence why not the shows and movies that display the same things? Why is it video games are the sole attack for these problems?

People don't want to fess up to their mistakes and it's about time this country stops foisting off the blame. A person is responible for his or her own actions. No game, no show, no music artist is responsible for what each of us does.

Games don't kill people, people kill people.




RE: Fury
By Hexus on 2/29/2008 12:20:04 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, although there is on point you're incorrect on. There are groups and advocates that battle against all media violence, TV and movies included (Joe Leiberman anyone?)


RE: Fury
By Alazar on 2/29/2008 12:29:40 PM , Rating: 2
This is true.

While small groups out there fighting TV and movies (stupid arguments as well), who is at the forefront of this fray?

The gaming industry.

Who's been to blame for several school shootings?

The gaming industry.

And these fights are stupid. Arguably, it is a good idea that these games be restricted, but more often than not people want to stop the sales of them all together.

Let the ESRB do it's job. It's been explicitly create for concerning itself with these issues!


Good Laugh
By Bioniccrackmonk on 2/29/2008 1:15:04 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America (yes, they do good things once in a while)


Too funny.




ESRB
By Hexus on 2/29/2008 12:14:22 PM , Rating: 2
The state's deciding what people should or shouldn't play? It's ridiculous. I'm all for the ESRB rating system, I've yet to see an unfairly labeled game. Keeping minors from purchasing M rated games is a good idea, but prohibiting their sales altogether is going to far. The task of deciding what games should and shouldn't be played by children and teens should be in the hands of the parents in my opinion.




Amicus Curiae
By Macungah on 2/29/2008 1:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
Filing an amicus curiae isn't a very big deal. It does not tie two parties together, or even affect many cases. It's a submitting of an official statement. The groups try to illuminate, or offer their "expert opinion" in hopes that they can sway judges in their direction. Doesn't work most of the time.




Proofread your article!
By lagitup on 2/29/2008 2:35:42 PM , Rating: 2
Theres a typo:
quote:
Recording Industry Association of America (yes, they do good things once in a while)

I am pretty sure that info is incorrect...
:P




Finally....
By LSUJester on 3/2/2008 7:38:26 PM , Rating: 2
While I don't disagree that adult-themed games shouldn't be in the hands of a ten year old, I also don't agree with a law prohibiting it is fair when you have other forms of media that show the same things.

I do like that someone is willing to put in a little money and defend the videogame industry from ignorant politicians. Look at the movie industry... they put millions into the pockets of lawmakers (wait, did I say members of Congress are crooks??) so they can have preferential treatment, so why can't EA, Activision, Ubisoft, etc., band together and do the same thing?

I'm sure if you put enough of money in front of Arnold (and the others like Hilary) he'll change his tune soon enough. This America, baby... freedom is bought, not earned.




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