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Censorship United States Entertainment Games

DC Could Ban 'Mature' Video Game Sales to Minors 578

Posted by timothy
from the they-might-make-mayors-smoke-crack dept.
DeathPooky writes "As a part of an effort to continue a reduction in crime in the nation's former murder capital, DC leaders are trying to pass a law banning the sale of mature video games to minors - along with harsh penalties to enforce the law. According to the article, 'A store that violates the law could lose its business license and face a fine of as much as $10,000.' This law mimics other such bans proposed in Virginia and Maryland. I can already feel the chilling effects from here."
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DC Could Ban 'Mature' Video Game Sales to Minors

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  • by Grey Ninja (739021) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @07:25AM (#11581546) Homepage Journal
    The Internet is a medium of anonymity. There's no easy way to prevent the sale of mature video games to minors without a huge invasion of privacy, another obstacle. Ask for ID. There's no internet involved here. And who is defining what is mature content? The ESRB. Same as always. =)
  • by RocketRainbow (750071) <rocketgirlNO@SPAMmyrealbox.com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @07:32AM (#11581570) Homepage Journal
    In Australia it is perfectly well enforced.

    The definition of mature content is done by the "office of film and literature classification" guys. These people screen all movies, and many magazines, books and games, to classify literature. Our movies all say things on them like:
    "drug themes" "sex themes" "sex references" "violence" "drug references"
    Then there's a rating: C G PG M R X

    If you try to sell a violent video game you are likely to get reported and instantly your video game has to be reviewed before it can be sold.

    If it's a bit violent (like Duke Nukem or Doom or whatever the kids play nowadays) it's likely to be slapped with M which means you should be 15 to buy it and in practice, the shopkeep won't sell it to an 8 year old. If it's quite violent (particularly if it has a real aspect to it) then it may be marked R and you have to prove you're 18.

    This isn't particularly hard, and there's no invasion of privacy. Unless you think that showing a proof of age is invasion of privacy, in which case I guess you don't go to many swank bars...?
  • by m00j (801234) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @07:45AM (#11581621)
    Here in Australia the office of film and literature does games as well. Unfortunately they can't get it out of their heads that games are played by people other than kids.

    We have a rating system of:
    C - Children
    G - General Exhibition
    PG - Parental Guidance
    M - Mature Audiences Recommended
    MA - Mature Audiences Only (15+ only)
    AV - Adult Violence (mainly used for TV)
    R - 18+ only
    X = 18+, pr0n

    Only problem is there is no R rating (or AV or X for that matter) for games. This means games like Manhunt and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude get banned from Australia! Heck, even GTA3 was banned until they removed the ability to pick up hookers and made it harder to run people over.

    You might think this would not affect you elsewhere in the world, but really the makers want to reach a broad audience, so a lot of games will already be toned down in the rest of the world just so they can get it into the more stringent parts of the world.
  • by mboverload (657893) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @08:14AM (#11581716) Journal
    Here, read this if you dont beleive me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESRB [wikipedia.org]
  • by emm-tee (23371) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @08:19AM (#11581734)
    I'm shocked that a lot of people here seem to think it's okay to sell violent games to children. A lot of games are extremely violent and offensive, and reward indiscriminant violence.

    Surely people agree that the same type of ratings should be applied to video games as are applied to videos/films?

    In the UK we have the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) http://www.bbfc.co.uk/ [bbfc.co.uk] . If it decides a film/video/game is only suitable for people over a certain age, then it is illegal for a shop to sell it to a person below that age. Other countries have similar systems. There's also a pan-European organisation, http://www.pegi.info/ [pegi.info], although I don't think it's descisions are legally enforcable.
  • Re:The UK (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 05, 2005 @10:35AM (#11582259)
    It's not censorship, because I can't think of an example where a game company was ordered by the BBFC to cut something from a game.

    A quick search turned up a few instances of UK game censorship:

    "Carmageddon, in which the gameplay involved mowing down innocent pedestrians, was the first game to be refused classification in 1997 (effectively banning it). It later received an 18 certificate when a modified version, replacing the pedestrians with zombies, was submitted."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_controvers y [wikipedia.org]

    And apparently the cutscenes were removed from Twisted Metal Black (PS2) in Europe due to to complaints from advocates for the mentally ill.

    If DC really wants to make a difference, how about putting more cops on the street, or making the schools a safe place to learn? Nah, that's crazy talk.
  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75@nospAM.yahoo.com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @10:45AM (#11582300)
    How much of an increase in violent crime do you need to see in the UK or Australia before it dawns on you that:

    A) Banning guns is a very, very bad idea


    Very bad example. Here's why [nationmaster.com]. The murder rate in the United States is still four times higher than it is in either the UK or Australia, despite a higher overall violent crime rate in those countries. In other words, there is more violent crime in the UK and Australia, but less murder. Why do you think this is?

    It's because of cases like this [go.com]. Cases that would be a simple mugging in other countries pretty frequently turn into murders here with easy access to deadly weapons. This woman - and countless others like her every year - simply would not be dead today if these stupid kids (and the stupid adults supposedly supervising them) did not have access to such weapons. Your position is directly supporting the murder of people like Nicole Dufresne.

    B) It's impossible

    Bullshit. Go to Japan and try to buy a gun. Seriously. If you think gun control doesn't work, then you just don't have a very well-developed world view. It does work and it has been working in various countries for many years. In fact, I just did a quick Google search on gun murder in Japan and quickly came up with some numbers from 1996: 9,390 gun murders in the US vs. 15 in Japan. Japan's murder rate has not increased appreciably since then - they have around 1,300 total per year (about 1/8 the number of gun murders alone in this country) with a population about half that of the United States.

    I would say banning guns would have a far greater effect on reducing the murder rate than banning violent video game sales to minors. But that does not mean I am against such a ban. I don't see why it has to be either/or. There is no reason, for example, that a 12 year old kid should be playing a game like Manhunt. No justifiable reason at all. I would argue that there's no reason for anybody to play that game, but if adults want to play it, that's up to them. Kids, though - I mean adults need to step in and say "no". Yes, it's the parents' responsibility, but a lot of people seem to use that fact as some sort of rationale for abdicating societal responsibility. It is not, for example, legal for 12 year olds to commit murder or even to drive a car simply because it's their parents' responsibility to make sure that they don't. There is still a law saying they cannot do it, as there should be.

    Handguns should be illegal. M-rated game sales to minors should be illegal. End of story. This is not a question of "my rights online", it's a question of living in a free and safe society that does not endorse the sale of devices whose sole purpose is to kill other human beings or the sale of adult content to children who do not yet have the mental maturity to properly process it.

    I realize Slashdot has more than a bit of a libertarian slant, but there is a difference between being a libertarian and being an anarchist. There are plenty of countries in the world that are freer than we are in the United States but nevertheless have successfully implemented these perfectly reasonable regulations regarding public safety.
  • Comrade, we have a new plan to reduce crime!
    How?
    We make everything a crime!

    I am personally uncomfortable with violent video games.I would understand boycotts and sit-ins of places that pander them.
    I am even more uncomfortable with censorship of violent video games.
    So far this is just talk.
    Some politicians had a meeting with some constituents - nothing has passed yet.
    The prime directive prohibits this sort of regulation:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
    RTFA - read the first amendment
    A similar ordinance in Indianapolis was found unconstitutional.
    http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/op3.fwx?yr=00&num=3643 &Submit1=Request+Opinion
    American Amusement v Kendrick
    Posner, Circuit Judge.
    The manufacturers of video games and their trade association seek to enjoin, as a violation of freedom of expression, the enforcement of an Indianapolis ordinance that seeks to limit the access of minors to video games that depict violence. No doubt the City would concede this point if the question were whether to forbid children to read without the presence of an adult the Odyssey, with its graphic descriptions of Odysseus's grinding out the eye of Polyphemus with a heated, sharpened stake, killing the suitors, and hanging the treacherous maidservants; or The Divine Comedy with its graphic descriptions of the tortures of the damned; or War and Peace with its graphic descriptions of execution by firing squad, death in childbirth, and death from war wounds. Or if the question were whether to ban the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, or the famous horror movies made from the classic novels of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker (Dracula). Violence has always been and remains a central interest of humankind and a recurrent, even obsessive theme of culture both high and low.

    On the other hand, Posner upheld a law banning anonymous political speech such as "vote for smith."
    http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/op3.fwx?submit1=showop &caseno=02-2204A.PDF
  • by ari_j (90255) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:43PM (#11583528)
    You, and likely the parent poster, will like this site: Assault Weapon Watch [assaultweaponwatch.com]. Sooner or later, there is going to be visible proof that people don't kill people, guns (and video games, and plastic sporks, and so on) do.

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