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BC Scraps Mandatory Video Game Ratings 193

Posted by chrisd
from the as-tipper-steams-in-anger dept.
antarctican writes: "In their first intelligent move, the new government of British Columbia has scrapped the mandatory video game rating system which was brought into effect last year. At last some sanity in this attempt to rid youth of these e-v-i-l influences.... *smirk* We can only hope others in positions of authority come to their senses too." But we must protect the children!
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BC Scraps Mandatory Video Game Ratings

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  • The movie industry is the same way. Sony/Nintendo/MS are the people who actually create the PS2/GC/Xbox discs, so they get to dictate licensing and royalties. And none of them will let you publish a console game with one of them if your game isn't ESRB rated.

    The movie industry is the same way. Most theatres won't show non-MPAA rated films.

    At least it's a legislative victory.

    -Evan
    • Its clearly a form of economic censorship with video games, music, and movies. Ratings, which are unfairly and arbitrarily decided by industry groups with no public accountability, determine how many people get to see said works. For a movie, NC 17 is akin to a kiss of death, silencing alternative and unpopular viewpoints. Its the same with video games, where ratings often determine which stores carry particular games. Parents and their children should be determining who sees what, through analysis of each case, not arbitrary industry forces.

      I thought it was the funniest thing when I got IDed a couple of months ago buying fallout + fallout 2 at target. Sure, I'm a little young looking, but still ;-)
    • Don't blame Sony, MS, Nintendo, the MPAA, theaters, or record companies for the rating system being de facto ratings. It's not their fault.

      The ratings are mostly harmless, at least to ideals such as free speech and free expression. It costs nearly nothing to put the ESRB rating on a game. But the benefits it extolls are enormous. Parents -- well, some of them, at least -- like the ratings. Those who don't could care less about the black-on-white tilted "E." But really, which kind of parent is going to scream if the label isn't there? From this view, it's a good PR move for the companies to have such labeling. For those who believe that companies should take the high road and refuse to crumbled under the public's (and, more importantly, their customer's) desires, PLEASE, do not go into business for yourself.

      Second: Labeling shifts the burdern of suitability monitering from the parents to, well, no one.
      * Movie theaters can refuse to allow teens into R-rated movies. Parents no longer have to pre-screen movies (either by viewing or reading reviews). Movie producers do not have to worry about the suitability of their content -- hey, it's labeled! Theaters are also usually under no legal obligation to deny access to R and PG-13 films.
      * Since the TV ratings came to be, sexual content has skyrocketed. Why? Because TV producers push the envelope -- now that it is labeled (see above), parents cannot complain. No surprises equals no complaints.
      * Remember how everyone shut up about the vulgarity of Two Live Crew after the "Warning: Explicit Lyrics" tag came to be? And remember how bands wore it as a badge of honor?

      The exception to this is video/computer games. Quite simply, the ESRB rating came soon after the advent of console gaming -- within a few years. Well, at least within a few years of graphics good enough to be considered vulgar. They were a response more to other labeling -- not so much do to objectionable video game content.

      This goes to show that the market demand for labeling exists -in and of itself-. The industries in question do not require them for the sake of limiting speech. They require them because it makes for a better -- that is, more sellable -- product. And they are right.
  • I need those M ratings to find the good ones damn it!
  • Was Quake3 released in black and white only in Canada. No wonder they're miserable.
  • I'm afraid this argument has been downgraded to a "think of the children" and can be safely disgarded
  • Oh shit! Here we go again. How deep do you think the threads in this "conversation" shall go? Lets have a lottery! You know, kind of like guessing the the gender and birth weight of the next baby to arrive. Perhaps we'll get lucky and it will be still born.

    'tain't got no sig
  • This is far from their first intelligent move. They've cut taxes, put nurses back to work (they'd already offered them the highest wages in CANADA and the nurses still weren't happy), and, most importantly, gotten rid of the corrupt BC NDP and their horrible financial decisions.
    • Gordon Campbell is one shady character though, you gotta admit. They were elected by default.

      cjf
      Athens, GA
      • Gordon Campbell is one shady character though, you gotta admit. They were elected by default.

        Exactly, the Liberals weren't elected, the NDP was booted out for screwing up so much. Once the NDP get their act back together, bye-bye Liberals.

        Campbell is a shady character, he scares me. Him and his whole party is like one slickly run television show.
    • Re:BC Liberals (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by antarctican (301636)
      Oh a wonderful job they have done you say, eh?

      Let's see, hour deficit has doubled because of their premature tax cut. They're looking at breaking the contract with the nurses and rolling back their wages. They're cutting social programs left, right and centre. They're selling the province off to the private sector to pay back their corporate backers at the expense ove the working class of the province. Yeah, wonderful, turning the province into an American style capitalism, yuck.

      A general strike in the province is coming, and I'm going to be there marching along side them. I'm counting the months until we can begin recalls.

      Yes the NDP had become a bunch of fucknuts. However I'd gladly take them over these right wing "liberals" (read: ultra-conservatives).
    • How about the first-time workers wage. That is the most racist, discriminatory piece of legislation in years.

      It discriminates against youth, despite what the Liberals may have you believe. It discriminates against immigrants.

      The Liberals want to stimulate the economy. Helping McDonald's chop $2/hour off of their lowest wage isn't going to help the econmony.

      It makes the poor poorer and the rich richer.

      And why does everyone think cutting taxes is a silver bullet. You get what you pay for. Cut taxes and you've just taken money away from health and education.

      Have you ever been to the downton eastide in Vancouver. That place is a mess. It was much better in the early 90s before the federal government decided to stop funding low-cost housing. Now what we are starting to see is Americain style ghetos up here in Canada too.

    • Re:BC Liberals (Score:2, Informative)

      Yes. The BC Liberals are brilliant. So brilliant that my company has now lost our three senior (and good) programmers to companies in Washington and Oregon, and we can't find replacements (at rates we can afford, and we pay well). Back to that in a moment.

      The Liberals didn't drop the rating system because they're fair-minded and principled. Rather, they view implementing it as an unnecessary nuisance of an expense. Their only moral standard is a "$", and if you take the time to observe, you'll note that they are mostly interested in the $ in their own pockets.

      So, why are our coders leaving? Because they want their kids to have a good education, and they want to have health care they can count on. These guys won't get paid as well, but they've grown tired of seeing the "capitalist" U.S. fund public services in a sensible and adequate manner. A manner which is considerably more lavish than what "socialist" BC does. At the same time, they're seeing the Liberals, in a few short months, gutting what's left of the BC public services.

      Washington and Oregon aren't Utopia, but they are stealing BC nurses, teachers and skilled workers by the thousands.

      Amazing that no one in BC remembers what Gordon Campbell did when he was mayor of Vancouver. Oh well, as Mr. Churchill said, "people usually get exactly the kind of government they deserve"!

  • Yet they should be fair. You mean to tell me you cannot come up with a game that would be considered innapropriate for young children?

    Climb into my wayback machine.
    The atari 2600 had a game named porky's. It wasn't based on porky pig it was based on a teen comedy movie that played heavily on sexualy deviant behavior. Apologies if I start sounding like the lesbo girls coach from the movie.

    Anyways scene's included nudity, someone sticking their penis in a hole in the wall (only to be nearly ripped off by the female lesbo coach on the other side) and prostitution. Some of these elements were integrated into the 2600 game of the same name. It didn't look like anything XXX because the atari only did like 160x120 in 4 colors.

    Take the wayback machine to present day.
    The level of graphics today are coming closer and closer to reality. Now imagine a remake of porky's based on today's hardware. I wouldn't want my 6 year old nephew to play a game like that on his PS2. C'mon be real here, some material is really innapropriate for kids to see, imagine a game with japanese rape tenticle scene's in it (which I have seen DVD's of conviently placed next to the GAMES section) Video games can be just as addictive as nicotine, more so if there is japanese rape tenticle scenes and boobs involved. Sorry, don't mean to focus so much on those japanese rape tenticle scenes (sorta thing that sticks in your head once you have seen it) but I hope I made a good point.
    • Video games can be just as addictive as nicotine

      Wow. That's just... dumb. Really dumb. How can you possibly equate the addictive effects of nicotine, which has strong biological addictive qualities, with playing a video game? By the results of many studies, nicotine has actually been found to more addictive than both crack and heroin. That's really, really far from the addictive qualities of playing a game that has no direct effect on your bodily functions, bodily organs, or brain chemistry.

      As for the rest of mind numbing post, you should learn that video games are not solely a children's medium. This is something that they've learn to grasp in Japan, but not in America. Much like the stereotypes Americans have of animation. According to recent statistics, the age of the average gamer is actually closer to the late teens and early twenties than to the average six year old. Should all of those gamers be forced to play only what is fit for a six year old? That's been the main question in censorship for many years. Should everyone only be able to watch, play, and read what is fit for a six year old? I say no. I happen to err on the side of freedom. You, however, seem to err mostly in the realm of FACTS.

      "Video games are just as addictive as nicotine". I swear, some of my brain cells are committing suicide right now just so they won't have to process that piece of ignorant crap again.

      • Man I really take offense to you calling me ignorant you unread ass. I hope the mods throw a few points my way for my reply.

        "Video games are just as addictive as nicotine". I swear, some of my brain cells are committing suicide right now just so they won't have to process that piece of ignorant crap again.


        First of all smart ass, read this.
        http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.01.00 /c over/onlinegames1-0022.html
        Then read this.
        http://www1.chinadaily.com.cn/itchina/2001-06-15 /1 4145.html
        and this
        http://www1.chinadaily.com.cn/hk/2001-06-16/1430 4. html

        And there is a few more I really wanted to find for you too, but I couldn't so sue me. One was about this kid who was shot while sitting at a game house because he stole some kids diablo special item. The kid drove across town to the other game house to kill him for REAL. The other story I wanted to find was about the guy that sat in a gamehouse for a week and keeled over from a heart attack. Not as addictive as nicotine you say? You must live in a bubble.
        • Wrong logical step (Score:2, Insightful)

          by aepervius (535155)
          Addictiveness is not defined by isolated incident but by the way a population react to a product. Most people will react addictively (more or less depeding on their biology) but they will all react addictevly within set parameter. OTOH you are speaking of isolated incident from people which *had* particular weakness. Which is not a real indicator of addictiveness of video game. A real study would involve a big population of gamer. And seeing how those rare isolated incident are, I would guess that it would prove that video game are as addictive as reading, or other old fashioned gaming.
          • I just got my copy of wired today, there is an article about autism in silicon valley on the rise. One of the statements posed by the author was that these children gravitate towards games, they lack the social ability to read people's intentions on their faces, ect.

            So what is to stop a game company from producing a game that is "addictive" towards people with these biological pre-dispositions. You can add Attention deficit, Obsesive compulsive, and all sorts of other people with disorders that are pre-dispositioned to like games. No different than Phillip Morris fine tuning the amount of nicotine in each cig (drool)nicotine yum.

            It may sound like conspicary but it's probably allready been thought of. Atari could have been conducting psychological profiling of gamers to understand how to create a mass marketable game with addictive qualities. It's scary to think about i'm going away from this post now.
        • Actually, I live in a world where a couple of anecdotes that subscribe to neither science nor logic do not consistute such a broad statement as "Video games are just as addictive as nicotine".

          You present a few anecdotes about the "danger of video games" to me. This does not stand up to the millions of deaths in America alone due to lung cancer in people that are too addicted to nicotine to quit smoking. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an umbrella term used to describe chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is the fourth leading cause of human death in the world. 90% of COPD deaths are caused by cigarette smoking [cnn.com], and sixteen million people are diagnosed with COPD each year in the United States alone. This is in addition to the studies I mentioned in my original reply about nicotine being more addictive than crack and heroin [economist.com].

          Millions of people of varying ages play video games on a regular basis, but yet, deaths directly related to video games or found to be psychologically caused by video games are few and far between. This puts the addiction rate among users of video games firmly in the less than one percent margin, and pales in comparison to the 80% addiction rate among nicotine users [economist.com] (yes, that is a repeat link for the purpose of proving my point). In fact, the vast majority of non-biological addictions are firmly in the 1% or less percentage of addicts among users. This includes gambling, gaming, surfing, volleyball, and yes, even ping-pong, as well as all other human activities.

          So, to sum it up, not only did you compare a non-biological addiction to a biological one in terms of the ratio between users and addicts, which is a massive piece of bull shit in any discussion in and of itself, but you described a non-biological addiction to what appears to be one of the most addictive drugs out there right now. If that's not ignorant, I wonder what is.

          A few anecdotes do not equal a massive addict-to-user ratio. If these stories were examples of how addictive video games are, then there would be MILLIONS of such examples of video game addiction. To be as addictive as nicotene, these examples would have to be repeated among over 80% of players. They are not. These are rare, sensationalized instances. I honestly don't mean to be offensive when I say this, but I think you need to do some reading on the subjects of addiction, statistics, and ESPECIALLY media literacy. The kind of media illiteracy you have shown in your posts is exactly the sort of thing that has given rise to anti-video-game legislation, parents going absolutely ape shit over video games, and a general call for censorship in all sorts of media. Very large numbers of people have been duped into thinking that incidents such as those at the Columbine High School are commonplace among teenagers and video game players, under the assumption that because it is getting so much media attention, it must be a common phenomenon. The truth, however, is that there was such a media frenzy over Columbine because of how RARE the incident was. If more people understood the way the news media worked, they would not have been so easily duped by all of the "experts" that tried to rush in and make a quick buck by selling books and producing TV specials that tell people how evil video games are.

    • If you're so uninvolved in your child's life that you don't know what games their playing without looking at a rating, you shouldn't have children.
      • I'm gonna reply cause I want children someday :)

        What about grandma, do you think your grandma really knows what a game is about when she gets your kid a playstation game for christmas? As a parent I would just take the game away, but too bad grandma had to waste that 50-60 bucks.
  • What is the horrible deal with letting people know what to expect in games? I'm not a parent, but if I didn't follow games I know I could use a little help in knowing what to buy my children. These ratings only serve as an indicator of what to expect from the game, movies have been doing this for years. Ratings don't force anything upon anyone. It's just another label, what's the big deal?
    • The deal is that the ratings are often assigned by people with hardly any background in gaming. Many have never even picked up a video game controller in their life, and yet they decide what is and what isn't appropriate for millions of gamers. As more stores adopt these ratings as law, you should really be questioning this practice.

      How does the ESRB rate games?

      Three people are randomly chosen from a pool of 'trained' reviewers. Instead of actually playing the game to see if anything objectional is in there, these people will watch videotape footage of potentionally objectional scenes and will also review the script to a game. They then assign a rating without ever meeting each other, or actually playing the game. This kind of system leads to ratings like 'T' on Chrono Chross because it has 'suggestive elements'.
    • Books have *not* been doing this for thousands
      of years.

      The problem is enforcement of some nonelected
      group's opinion on what you should be allowed
      to see. Controlling the flow of information
      is a big deal.

      -Kevin
    • Neither the movie ratings system nor the video game ratings system tells you anything about the content of the material being rated.

      Parents who use ratings to choose video games (or movies) are failing to fulfill their parental responsibilities: they are deligating the job of choosing content for their children to someone else. Moreover, they are allowing someone else to decide on what factors to base the decision without having any knowledge of their child.

      And if you really believe that "ratings don't force anything on anyone", you're obviously not thinking about the effect it has on the people who create the material being rated. See my previous posts on the subject.
  • by rwuest (2452) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @12:53AM (#2577665) Homepage
    I have a (now) 9 year old son. I used to believe that it didn't matter what was in the games he played, he would be who he was, he knew right from wrong, and reality from fantasy.

    In the third grade (8yo), he was given several very violent games which he quickly mastered and played as much as he could. He also started getting in trouble at school with fighting and writing violent compositions. As a test, we took the violent games away. Within a few weeks, the violent behaviour ceased, too.

    Some months later I convinced my wife to try again, to see if he went back to acting violently if we gave him his games back. It only took a week and he was in trouble at school again. We took the games away and guess what? The violent behaviour went away.

    I'm not sure at what age a persons personality is fixed, but it certainly isn't for youngsters. I back the ratings systems. We rely on them. I think BC is making a mistake.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Oh? So you think that violent video games = violent behavior at school?

      Have you checked in any other factors, like what kinds of friends he has at school, what kind of behavior he normally has?

      This is merely little more than anecdotal evidence. Prove some real facts.
      • This is merely little more than anecdotal evidence. Prove some real facts.

        I think his methods, while not scientific, were a bit better than anecdotal evidence. He introduced an element, removed it, re-introduced it, and re-removed it. But if you need corroboration, as another parent, I will concur with his conclusion. My daughter watches a cartoon with someone hitting someone else, and she attempts to hit someone as well. She sees a movie with some Karate in it, and she attempts some Karate herself. It's such an obvious (and immediate, and easy to reproduce) cause-and-effect situation, that we no longer allow our kids to watch even "family" TV stations without some limitations.

        People mirror their environment. It's called the "theory of social proof". It used to be called the Werther's effect. Go learn about it sometime.

    • I see no need for ratings, simply just look at the games you are purchasing your son. Obviously you can tell the difference between a violent game and a non violent game simply by picking up the game and reading it's back. Use common sense, it's not that difficult. I still don't see the need to waste taxpayers money on paying someone to sit around and play games and decided whether they are violent or not.
    • I applaud you.

      It's not the ratings that I take offense to, it's the parents who rely on them completely who create a bad situation.

      Parents should have an active involvement in what their kids are doing, and you are doing just that. You made your *own* decision.

      Most parents I've seen are content to let pop culture raise their children. They're lazy. I think that's much more sick than any kind of violence in the media. It creates a bad dependence on others. When someone else takes offense to something you think your kid *should* be exposed to... Well, you know the rest.

      Personally, I think that you should not let ratings define your decisions. I think you should keep making the decisions yourself.

      This is exactly what the opposition to ratings is all about.

      I say to you: Bravo.
      • That's grossely inefficient.

        You are asking every single parent to review, in full, ever single game, movie, and tv show that their child comes in contact with. It's noble, it's doable (seeing as you're probably already highly interested in what you're kids are doing), but it's grossely inefficient.

        Don't get all high and mighty on me. I'm not asking that someone do my job as a parent. I'm asking that someone make my job as a parent a bit easier, so I can cook dinner instead of watching over my son's shoulder for an hour trying to figure out if the game he's playing is too violent (and that's *after* it's been bought), or hunting down a reputable review of the damn game before he buy's it.

        The whole advantage to society is organization and reducing dulication of effort. You aren't helping.
    • If your child is directly affected by such things, then I applaud your actions. However, this rating system did not leave it up to the parents the way the current ESRB rating system, which is present in both American AND CANADA, currently does. This system made violent or sexual video games so difficult for store owners to carry that it effectively banned them from 90% of stores in British Columbia. It took away parents' ability to choose that their child WAS mature enough to play such games, or for those parents with liberal views about sexual content to allow their children to see such things with their parental permission.

      The ESRB ratings that are in place now give parents a choice. This government rating system would have taken it away from them, and enforced a style of parenting on the people of British Columbia. It also would've kept such games out of the hands of adults by making the games too difficult for retailers to carry.

      There's nothing wrong with ratings like the ESRB, but there IS something wrong with ratings that have so much power behind them that they take away people's rights to choose what they and their children see. This rating system made the government the parent of not only every child, but every adult in British Columbia, and that's just wrong.

    • I understand and agree with your course of action in your presented scenario. I would just like to make sure it is understood that what happened with your child does not necessarily happen with all kids.

      I grew up watching "violent" cartoons like road runner, g.i. joe and transformers as well as non-cartoons like A-Team, Kung-Fu and more.

      Also, since a young age I've been a huge fan of martial arts. Jet Li is, of course, my favorite. :-). Anyway, I've seen LOTS of martial arts movies. I've studied martial arts. Since a young age.

      However, I have NEVER EVER been in a fight. I've never even hit anyone. I never will. I've never been in trouble at school for anything other than talking-back and heavy duty slacking. I'm a lazy son of a bitch, but not violent, not at all.

      Anyway, just some anecdotcal evidence to provide some perspective. Have fun,

      Justin Dubs
    • Couldn't agree more.

      More information is rarely a bad thing. Those who claim it is are often covering something up...

      Food is FORCED to list its indgediants (I know, a SHOCKING violation of the rights slashdoters hold dear). Hope to see BC reverse its decision on this as well.

      Why do so many on slashdot want to deny the right of parents to make a choice for THEIR children. Just because you like your kids doing gory MK3 finishing moves doesn't mean every kid should.

      Rating make it straightforward for folks to take a look at a game and have an idea of where it falls in the violance catagory.
  • I think it is the responsibility of a child's parents, not the government, to guide children onto a good road for their life. Bureaucracy never misses a chance to miss, and whenever bureaucrats try to gain control over something, it becomes a big, inefficient and ineffective mess.

    What difference does it make that a video game or music CD says "Parental Guidance" or whatever? Most folks know that movies have a rating system, and I think most of the same folks don't know that there is a similar system for other forms of media. What is the government going to do, prevent children under 18 from purchasing video games? Newsflash: That doesn't work for cigarettes or alcohol. Why should it work for video games?

    Besides, if the government tries to take control over video games, to protect our youth, then the next thing you know, they'll pass a law that makes it illegal for minors under 18 to play for more than an hour on a school day or something ridiculous like that. Again, don't you think the parents should decide what their children can and can't do? That's all I'm trying to say. I don't want to argue about details, like what some rule, law, regulation--or whatever you want to call it--says. I'm just saying that in most matters, parents should be responsible for teaching their children, and once they're old enough, the children should be responsible for themselves. We don't need the government sticking their noses into yet more aspects of our lives.

    Oh yeah... and yes, I do know what this story is about. I'm just trying to say that it's ridiculous that most governments have this urge to waste inordinate amounts of time and money trying to control things that really don't matter anyway.

    • I think it is the responsibility of a child's parents, not the government, to guide children onto a good road for their life.

      And the ratings system is designed to assist the parents in doing just that. Look at it not as a goverenment intervention ("Sorry kid, we can't rent you this game 'cause it's rated XXX w/ chocolate"), but rather as a tool to help parents find out what's inside the box. Parents have enough on their hands already; they may not have time to pre-screen every video game themsleves.
  • The real problem atleast in my opinion with laws such as this is it continues to send the message that video games are something only kids do, im 17 and i play games, a teacher at my university often trades games with me! The point is: gaming is for all ages, and stuff like this being taken away is good for getting rid of the stereotype that only children play games, now if only Australia would let us play Mature games and introduce an 18+ catogory
  • I beleive it is up to the parent to decide what is right for their child to play. If their parent decides it is okay for their child to play World War II online, then it is her decision and not that of the BC government. A follow up from the Times Colonist [canada.com] is availble too. This is one of many things that I am happy to see from the Liberal government.
    • I beleive it is up to the parent to decide what is right for their child to play. If their parent decides it is okay for their child to play World War II online, then it is her decision and not that of the BC government.

      Yes, but ratings do not keep parents from deciding what is appropriate for their child. Ratings only help parents make this decision.

  • It's interesting, really.

    If you looked at the papers, you'd see that people are complaining about this. Saying stuff like "The industry is ineffectual, and all this bad stuff" etc. (Well, they're partially true, but that's another matter). This is simply political - BC has a pretty whacky political environment.

    Of course, what no one realizes is well, why do *PARENTS* buy these things then? Parents are the ones who carry that money to buy these games (after all, they do cost $50+, and no kid I know gets an allowance that large unless they were extremely rich [rich rich, not "Canada Rich" which is what the government calls people making > $60k/year (Canadian - probably about US$37-38k)]. So if the parent is purchasing these games, they're just as fault as the game industry. And if the kid manages to save that much money, or has a job, they're more or less mature enough already to play these games.

    It's just a cheap call to avoid involvement with the child. Perhaps there should be birth licenses, since it seems these parents don't even want to take a 5 minutes to read that little tag explaining the meaning of the little game ratings down at EB or where else. Or even spending time at the computer playing (*gasp*, what a novel concept! Quality time! I should patent that!) with their child.
    • if the kid manages to save that much money, or has a job, they're more or less mature enough already to play these games

      Most of the 14 year-olds I know have jobs flipping burgers. This might not be the ideal way to gauge maturity.

  • needless cynisism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by basking2 (233941)

    Just some slight criticism:

    Video games DO contain some really messed up concepts. Ratine systems provide parents with info so if there IS a real threat to a young child, then the parent can prevent the interaction.

    The alternatives are not as "free" as rating systems unless you are suggesting that anything that goes on a store shelf is fit for a child to get in their mind.

    The bottom line I think is that the cynicism was pretty inappropriate, IMHOP. I don'thave time to research video games and I don't want to say,"Nope, no video games for you kids, you may pick up a really nasty one by mistake." They should have some video games! They should NOT have Gore-Blaster IV: Chainsaw edition.

    The cynisims implys that incorrect views (or some very irresponcible views) are held by some people.

    • Video games DO contain some really messed up concepts.

      Yeah, I was thinking hey why don't we do this:
      Make a Quake 3.1 and have the following:
      No health, but "karma" points.
      You are not longer shooting, but moderating your opponents.
      machine/shot gun are mod points.
      rocket launcher is a retort launcher.
      grenade launcher is flamebait poster.
      rail gun is pointed argument poster.
      BFG is metamoderation.
      Lava is now "red tape"

      Quad damage is now Multiple owies.
      Regeneration is 'Nap time'
      Invisibility is "speak when spoken to"

      And, all opponents never die they just get put into time out until they can play nice with the other players.

      I dunno, too much /., too much Q3...

      oh, well, Regen^H^H^H^H Nap time.
    • Oh, come on.

      Exactly who needs the ESRB logo on the side to know what Grand Theft Auto (to pick a random example) is like?

      Bah.

      The only people who need the censorship logos are the people too young to have clued in to where the dirty words are. That's why, when Ice T started creating his own warning labels, his sales went up.

      Oh, yeah. It might help stupid parents too. But it probably won't, because their intelligent children will just hide the (game/music/movie) discs beneath the bed.

  • I live in Vancouver. There are a number of facts behind the rating system that were never (to my knowledge) publicised. I was curious as I bought the Linux port of SoF a week after the ban was 'implemented', so I asked a clerk at EB some questions. The answers surprised me.
    • 1. The RCMP in a Vancouver suburb were called in on the basis of a single parental complaint.
    • 2. They confiscated copies of SoF at EB, only one of many videogame retailers in the province.
    • 3. Copies of the unexpurgated version were readily available post-ban at Future Shop (recently purchased by BestBuy) and other retailers in the province, without restriction. For the sake of argument, if you think of this as akin to 'jazz' mags -- put at levels where younger children could not access -- this did not occur. Anywhere. I saw copies at several stores myself, easily accessible by youngsters, unstickered. It was only in the last two months or so that I personally noticed any difference.
    • 4. As the reference below should indicate, the newly-elected provincial Liberal government during its time on the Opposition benches openly supported the NDP ban on violent videogames at the time.
    • 5. As reported in today's local papers, several parental watchdog-type groups are up in arms over this change. You can expect the Liberals to waffle a bit on this issue. I apologise in advance as I don't have the URL to verify this.
    • 6. Most significantly, at no point ever was the Linux port of the game affected, for understandable (economic) reasons. I personally attribute this to ignorance as getting Linux game ports is pretty difficult, though not impossible.


    • More info on the change available here [canada.com] -- forgive the reference, I'm feeling lazy (The Vancouver Province is a tabloid rag).

  • Taco, hemos and chris, and katz ratings?

    That is the scale, you decide the best to worst.
  • Like we need them... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kypper (446750) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @01:11AM (#2577699)
    Oh come on. I mean, Mortol Kombat wasn't obvious? The flaming people on the back of the package weren't obvious? Blood, gore, guts?

    You can tell if it's going to be violent or nasty most of the time. If it isn't, take it away from the kid.


    If you're unsure, rent it first.

    BC recognises it's the parent's role to look at what their kids are playing. One person's PG might be another's R, and vice versa. Nobody should be paying for a standardized system we don't need.

  • by guru_steve (205501) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @01:20AM (#2577718)
    I live in BC, Canada, and as far as i understood the law, it prohibited the sale of violent video games to minors. By scrapping the law, now it is the exclusive responsability of the industry to police itself.

    BUT i've never quite understood how banning the sale of video games to minors would prevent them from playing the game. Wasen't that the original intent of the law -- to stop kids from playing violent games?

    Yes, we only sell tobacco products to those of age. Does that prevent kids from smoking anyways? Hell no. More often then not it's in the early teens that kids start smoking.

    Take it one step further - you can pirate any game online with minimal hassle. Now it's no longer a tangable, physical object to buy (like cigarettes,) but rather pirated software.

    Get real. This law wouldn't stop kids from playing games. If anything, it would probably cost the game companies sales. Since little Billy Bob can't buy the game from Future Shop (now Best Buy, i guess,) his only option is to pirate it online.
    • I pretty much agree with you on why preventing minors from purchaseing doesn't prevent most from playing it. I just want to point out that, from what I've read, of the people who have started smoking in the last few years the majority of them are in their early twenties (I think this was even a BC study I was reading... might have even been in the sun... I'm not sure). It certainly is true a lot of young teenagers do smoke despite not being able to buy cigarettes but a lot of teenagers don't smoke due to the banning of cigarettes sold to them. Of course your point about games not being tangable, unlike cigarettes, is dead on.
    • It was to regulate the sale of these items to minors.. not to regulate minors from using them.

      A parent is still legally free to purchase a game for their child, and let them play it. Just as a parent is still free to take their child to an R rated movie. (Funny, though, I've seen a movie theater manager actually arguing with a lady that she shouldn't be taking her child to Terminator-2)

      Regulating smoking *DOES* work. there are less teenage smokers now than there used to be.

      No matter how you slice it, though, excessive regulation is a waste of money, and they are bang on. If parents can't control the video games their children play, they aren't spending enough time with their children (or their children are smart enough to do it anyway).

      The original intent of the law was to prevent kids from buying the games, ie: to force the decision on the parents.
  • I used to think ratings systems were bad. It all changed once I became a parent.
  • Like the other day I was frustrated in heavy traffic and actually thought about locating a railgun or BFG...
  • Back to Columbine (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WildBeast (189336)
    At that time many articles were written about how violent video games push kids to crime. After the Sept. 11 attack, I saw an article who also blamed violent video games because apparently the author believes that the gamers are reluctant to go to war because in games such as Quake and Unreal Tournament you always end up loosing at least one game.

    Now for the shocking part. Please keep in mind that governments don't take their own decisions. Their decisions are based on what most of the voters want and what the pressure groups wants. In my experience, only 10% of the population is really against censorship. I thought that most slashdotters were against censorship to, but I got surprised when they were encouraging the government to stop WinXP from being published. Stop being hypocrites.
    • that gamers are reluctant to go to war article (can you post a link to it please?) is so true - I wouldn'd fight for the UN to save my life - everyone knows that AK-47's beat the crap out of any other weapon lol
  • parents?? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jeffy124 (453342) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @01:43AM (#2577754) Homepage Journal
    being a former salesman in retail i can say that parents sometimes dont know about the current ESRB anyway. many times parents would buy an M game only to return it an hour later because it's not appropriate for their 10 year old. (I usually followed these up with a short intro to the ESRB system, and draw their attention to the "M - Mature, Ages 18+" box)

    so for some, ratings dont matter. they'll just buy, and return if's too much for their kid.
    • Your logic here seems to say: I've seen this system fail in some instances, therefore it must fail in all instances.

      Isn't it possible that many parents use the rating system as an effective means to decide what is and isn't appropriate to buy for their children? Just because some parents are idiots doesn't mean that all are.
  • I work at Toys R Us in Vancouver, in the electronics section, and really the Ratings were the biggest joke. Some had a Mature(18+) and *technically* we were supposed to ID kids buying them, but i saw some games that were worse and ok for the kids to buy.
    TOtal crap
  • I really think it's time that we all need to make a real effort to protect the children...

    Protect them from growing up in a world of censorship and enforced lowest-common-denominator morality.
    • Ratings != Censorship. Rating Systems = (hopefully) informed consumers.

      If I make a game that has psychos drowning kittens, should the government deny me that right to publish my game? No, of course not. But the government should force me to put some sort of labeling on my product so that consumers are made aware of its contents. Think FDA and stuff you buy at the grocery store. You may not know what half the crap in your Velveeta is, but they tell you so if you want to become informed, you can.

      psxndc

      someday I'll get educatedparents.com up and we can all be done with this...

      • The problem with rating systems, as we have them now, is that they don't try to provide information. Instead they provide value judgements. They say "in the opinion of a faceless beaurocrat who you've never met, this is appropriate for kids over ten."

        Providing information is a little mark saying "this is violent," or even better "has simulated bloodshed" or "realistic bloodshed" or "disembowled kitty cats" and so on. Yes, there's some judgement involved, but the information provided should be as factual as possible. Then parents can actually make an informed decision, rather than relying on some government-imposed generic opinion about how old kids need to be for it to be appropriate-as if every kid matured at the same rate.
      • Rating systems seem never to just kinda happen. They don't even seem to happen from consumer demand - consumers seem perfectly happy to buy things without ratings, and product producers (be it movies, video games, or cheese) don't feel enough consumer demand to care.

        Do you refuse to buy Velveeta because it doesn't have a cheese rating? A simple, short code to tell you what it has in it, in three letters or less? No, you read the label, look at the description of the contents IN ENGLISH and decide if you want it. Do you let somebody at the National Cheese Board decide for you if the cheese is appropriate for people with your lifestyle? No, you make the decision yourself.

        Ratings systems get imposed by the government. Oh, sure, the ratings systems the United States has on video games and movies are called "voluntary", but the systems were put in place when congress told the industries "put in a ratings system or we'll regulate you." I think that's enough of a threat to scare any industry into compliance.

        Now look at what happens when the ratings system gets imposed. Does the industry go on behaving normally, and simply stick the rating onto the boxes of the products they would have been making anyway? No. What happens is, they turn around and stop making anything with the highest rating.

        How many movies have there been rated PG-13? Too many to count. How many were R before there was a PG-13? Too many to count. How many have been NC-17? Two. How many were X before there was an NC-17? I'd have to check, but I know it's hardly any. How many video games are on the market with the M rating? Plenty. The AO rating? I think there are one or two for the Playstation 2, and hardly any for any other system.

        Is this because consumers don't want movies or games with the sort of content that comes with these ratings? No. Is it because, by nature, hardly any games or movies would get these ratings anyway? No. Look at what happened when Hollywood introduced ratings: the kinds of films they made went immediately from mostly films target marketed at adults, about the sorts of relationships adults really have, to being all gee-whiz-mom bubble-gum-and-soda-pop dumbed down unrealistic (but unobjectionable) garbage in which it was forbidden to show a toilet or a couple's bedroom with only one bed. Look at what happened when the videogame ratings were imposed: companies pulled games off the market rather than rate them.

        No, the real reason is twofold: First, because the content producers know that many consumers look at the rating and DON'T THINK, and automatically reject anything with the highest rating, even if an actual inspection of the content would cause them to buy. This is because consumers regard ratings not as information but as WARNINGS, and react accordingly. Secondly, because the sort of right-wing fundamentalists who are usually the strongest backers of ratings systems get all upset if the studios produce a too heavy ratio of adult-oriented material to children's material and start calling again for the industry to be regulated.

        What would an educated parent do? They'd examine the actual description and consider what they know about the actual content and, in concert with their knowledge of their child, make a determination of whether they think the material is appropriate for their child. They would understand that ratings are merely guidelines made up by some bureaucrat who is going for the lowest common denominator and carefully erring toward higher ratings, and take ratings with a huge grain of salt accordingly.

        However, hardly any parents are those educated parents. Just because you understand what a rating is and how to use it doesn't mean almost anybody else does. Most people follow the ratings blindly, so an NC-17 for a movie or an AO for a video game is the kiss of death. It's the scarlet letter.

        Now, explain to me how it's "not censorship" to either force a product to be labeled with something that you know from the outset will mean "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T BUY THIS" to most consumers, or to impose ratings on an industry when history shows that it will make the industry censor itself? Isn't forcing an industry to censor itself just the same as censoring it yourself?

        I think it's a perfect expression of the mindset which leads to censorship through "ratings" that my original post got modded-down. I said I want to see children protected from censorship and it got labeled a "troll", but I was neither trolling nor being facetious.

        As a child I wasn't really afraid of violence - I knew that I lived in a safe place and it didn't worry me. I wasn't afraid of sex, my parents had explained that and I just wasn't interested until I hit puberty. Swearing didn't bother me, my father was a marine, I grew up knowing how to swear with the best of them. But I was deeply upset that I knew that I was only getting to see such censored, filtered material as the lowest-common-denominator would approve of for me to see, and that the movies I got to see (there were no video game ratings at the time thank God) were being selected not by my parents, but by some bureaucrat who didn't know me, because my mother blindly followed the ratings system.

        My parents weren't stupid, they're about as smart as parents come, but they were too culturally indoctrinated to know to question the ratings system yet. I'll never forget my first R-rated movie. My mother actually grabbed me and covered my ears when people on screen started swearing, and put her hand over my eyes when anything was happening which she guessed might lead to something she might not want me to see. She later said she was sorry and there hadn't been anything she wouldn't have let me see or hear, but she was so terrified by that R rating that she didn't feel she could take the chance.

        I'd like to see today's children grow up without that foolishness. I'd like to see a generation of kids who hits 18 and is connected to the world, knows how to cope with it, and understands how adults behave. I'd like to see a generation that doesn't have to take a few years to act childish while they learn all the things their parents should have taught them instead of hiding from them. I'd like to see the censors get a taste of their own medicine.
        • *bzzz* Most movies aren't rated X because 99% of the mass consumer market doesn't want to see what's in an X rated movie. Granted there is a market for hardcore sex and or violence, but it's not that people are afraid to go to an X rated movie, they just don't want to. If people aren't going to go, Cinemas won't show them, and they'll lose money on a screen that they could have put a PG-13 movie on. The government only imposes ratings systems when there is public outcry that the government isn't doing anything to inform the parents and protect the children.

          psxndc

          • Congratulations, you just made my point for me.

            Theaters won't show X rated movies because people won't go to X rated movies. Why won't people go to them? Because they're X rated. If they weren't X rated, would there be a market for their same content? Yup. Therefore, they're being censored.

            Read my post again. Maybe you'll get it this time.

            I'm not stupid enough to fail to understand that governments get involved with ratings when people start making a stink about it. What I'm saying is that ratings systems aren't an appropriate or effective way of solving the problem, and lead to censorship.

            What would I do? I believe that advertising materials for films and video games should accurately reflect the content - basically, demand truth in advertising. Everyone claims they need ratings because they need to be able to know what's in the movie/game. Okay, then do something that accomplishes that. Don't use a ratings system, the ratings say absolutely nothing about the content, they just make a value judgement for you based on criteria which have nothing to do with you personally. Use a content descriptor code - like the Geek Code [geekcode.com].
  • I have no problems with ratings. They give parents a guide as to what might/might not be appropriate for their children.

    What I'm 100% against is not selling games because of their content. It should be up to the buyer what is "too much".
  • by Tsar (536185) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @01:56AM (#2577773) Homepage Journal
    Remember the strip where Calvin's dad explained to him how they calculate the weight limit on bridges? He said they drove heavier and heavier trucks across it until it collapsed, then they rebuilt it exactly the same way and set the limit at the weight of the last truck that made it across.

    Why don't we establish a video game's rating the same way? Let a control group of six year olds, seven year olds, eight year olds, etc., play the game for a month. Then set the minimum age for playing the game to one year older than the oldest child driven by the game to commit a violent and/or sexual offense.

    Or would that be wrong?
    • In the strip, Calvin's dad was bluffing an answer in order to maintain his ego and to not let on that he had no clue how they derived the maximum bridge load. It is an undisputably impractical method. That being said, what level of detrimental effect is considered unacceptable? What would you consider to be a violent/sexual offence? Would you take the oldest child who murdered someone? Or would you take the oldest child who hit someone at school? Or would verbal abuse, agressiveness, and excessive beligerence be enough to merit rating the game one year higher? The simple fact is, if a game is unsuitable in content for a certain age, it does not have to drive them to murder in order to produce a detrimental effect on them. I'm afraid, "Yes, That would be wrong."
  • Isn't it ironic? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Stardo (465325)
    I find it fascinating that I'm usually the oldest person playing on my favorite Counterstrike server and I'm 19. Most of the people playing are between 12 and 16. Ratings don't seem to matter to them very much, as they didn't matter much to me when I played Wolfenstein the first time in 3rd grade (or Doom in 6th grade).

    Now, what I find ironic is the Counterstrike servers that don't allow swearing or porn sprays. So on these servers, you can watch a lifelike character's head getting blown away in full 3-d detail, but you can't express your disgust at the wall-hack cheater who capped you when you weren't looking, or show the newest fake nude photo of Britney Spears you found on the net by typing Britney into Google's image browser. I say if you're going to desensitize today's youth to death and violence, we might as well desensitize them to swearing and porn.

    I mean, there is sort of a double standard with violence. When I worked at Blockbuster, a lady came in with her kids and they got the Matrix. She asked why it was rated R and checked the back to make sure there was no nudity in it. She was perfectly comfortable letting her kids see the graphic scenes of pure violence, but heaven forbid they see the semblence of a nude figure at such an age.

    I dunno. I think we just all live in a very crazy world. I'm glad I'm too much of a nerd to ever get a girl and have kids.
    • From imdb.com [imdb.com]

      Sheila Broflovski:
      Just remember what the MPAA says: Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words!

      cya,
      john

      • > Sheila Broflovski:
        > Just remember what the MPAA says: Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words!

        It's truly sad when what you thought was a funny character in South Park turns out to be real life. But yes, there really are people like that out there.

        (Shameless cut-and-paste from a post of mine on another "ratings" article)

        Most mindboggling thing about 9/11 - a moment where the censors just popped in raw video footage from a guy who had a handicam pointed in the right/wrong place when the second plane went in.

        The reaction of the camera holder was predictable: A scream of "Holy fucking Christ!"

        The news guy apologized profusely for the language. I blurted out in shock and laughter at the patent absurdity of that ("What the fuck?"), and a person next to me said, in a concerned voice, "Well, you know there might be children watching"

        Yeah, lady, your crotchfruit have just spent the past three hours watching 6000 people get incinerated, crushed, and splattering on the ground like sacks of wet cement, over and over again, live and on replay on National TV, and you're worried about them being emotionally damaged by hearing naughty words?!?!

        Holy fucking Christ indeed. Holy fucking Christ.

  • When this issue comes up in the context of movies, music, or video games, we keep hearing about "protecting the children". This seems to come from parents who end up being labeled as 'lazy' for not playing an active role in their child's development. Obviously, when kids can build bombs in their parents' garage and stockpile weapons without Mom and Dad ever knowing, someone is more out of touch with their kids than can be explained by simple teenage rebellion and parental alienation.

    What occurs to me though, is perhaps support of ratings systems by parents is more of a call for help from the parents themselves. The people with teenagers today are among the first generation who were raised on TV, former latchkey kids whose own parents were rarely there. Thus, with no role model who could offer guidance in the transition from childhood to the real world and all it's horrible truths, they also do not know how to guide their own children and are scared to death about making mistakes. A rating system offers them a quick, easy way to say 'No Johnny, see it says you have to be 18 to play that'. Unfortunately, they are passing down this lack of parenting skill to their children, who will find themselves dependent on an 'authority' to decide what is and is not appropriate for them to see, read, hear or play, and eventually what is approriate for their own children.

  • 1. Why is linux better than windows? (assuming you have money) keeping point: (YOU DO HAVE MONEY TO BUY WINDOWS)

    i'm like you. I like pizza. I like the beatles (but some songs are overrated). I like video games. Playstation 2 is awesome, X-Box looks awesome, but may not have the games that the new nintendo has. I want to know when I can have a DVD burner, and when I can chip out my PS2... I am one of your kind... But WHY WHY!!!! Why is linux "Better" than Windows...

    -JT
  • I'm surprised that video games are only ever rated according to objectionable content. They should be rated according to addictiveness as well! Becoming addicted to a fantastic game (RPGs in particular are famous for this) and ignoring schoolwork, friends, and the real world, can have just as detrimental an effect on a child as the content of the game they are playing will on them. I know I've experienced first hand what happens when one only lives to play a certain game and lets the world revolve on past....
  • Being a B.C. resident, I had the opportunity to listen to a radio call-in programme which discussed this act of government. Two things were very much apparent. Firstly, the older the caller, the more they supported tighter control over game sales. Secondly, females were far more supportive of those controls. I'd say it's pretty likely those people have had little or no contact with video games of any description. Whereas they doubtlessly watched countless cowboys slay hordes of savage Indians in the cinema of their youth, they have little tolerance for similar violence in new media.

    My suggestion? Rather than behave like a bunch of old woman, we as a society should encourage parents to be aware of the games their children play. Would a parent take a kid to see an NC-17 movie? No. Video games are little different. Caveat emptor.

    Per Ardua Ad Astra
  • Let the parents know what the game contains - violence (to what degree?), sexual situations, alcohol, religion, whatever. Don't slap on a 'teen' or 'mature' rating - let them decide whether the content is appropriate for the children.

    Not all 13 year olds can handle the same content, and you know not all teen-rated games have the same 'harfulness' to even the average teen, let alone an individual.
  • "In their first intelligent move, the new
    government of British Columbia...".

    Actually, this is about their fifth intelligent move.
    From abolishing photo radar, to allowing competition
    in auto insurance and privately funded health clinics
    the Liberals are on a roll.

    I'm considering coming out of exile and returning
    to Lotus Land.

    Ojing

  • The main influence I've always thought children need to be protected from are people in positions of authority, especially those with an agenda and an utter disregard for the rights of others.

    Lee
  • I saw this little kid playing gta3 on a ps2 at a LAN party (well, LAN gathering) the other day, and he seemed to be enjoying him self. After playing for a few hours i found it to be a fun and entertaining game for all the family - You could beat police officers (pigs) to the ground with a base ball bat and the repeatedly kick them until they oozed blood. You could 'jack cars and run down old people and even sniper inocent pedestrians from accross the street. On the way home, i considered flaging down a car, 'jacking it and going on a rampage, but then i remembered what the game taught me: Killing is all good an fun, but theres only one of you, and plenty of pigs, so unless you plan on killing yourself, you'd better not screw with them.
  • Mandatory ratings are not a good thing. But that's only because an industry should choose to self-regulate. Ratings are appreciated by more than just parents trying to filter their childrens' entertainment; there are people that prefer to play less violent games, or perhaps would be disturbed by sexual content, or occult symbology (if they were a religious nut or something).

    Surely giving the consumer more information can never be a bad thing.
    • Okay, let's pretend for a moment that you're disturbed by sexual content. You go to the movie theater, and as you're standing outside you notice that the movie they're showing is rated PG-13.

      Should you see it? Does it have sexual content? How can you tell?

      The ratings systems in current use don't tell you what's in the content, just what age some bureaucrat thinks it's appropriate for. That PG-13 movie could have got that rating for swearing, or violence. Or it might be all about sex.

      Ratings tell you nothing at all about what is in the content the rating applies to. If you want to be able to select based on actual content factors, don't ask for ratings, ask for content descriptors. If you want encoded content descriptors - V for violence, S for sex, etc - sure, that's nice, ask for it. But don't tell me that you can successfully use ratings to find the content you want.
  • Those duck-humping wankers that were in power in BC for so long are gone. I'm not one for politics.. but those jerks screwed up *so much* in the last few years.

    Now, maybe they can turn my beloved province back into somewhere I can actually work for actual reasonable money and I can move back home.

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