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Censorship Your Rights Online

Congress To Consider Age Limits On Violent Games 591

labrat1123 writes "It looks like Congress is getting ready to revisit the 'Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act.' Cliff Notes version: It would become a federal crime to sell or rent a violent video game to anyone under 18. Entire article available on CNN." Note that this is not a law; it's a bill being readied for reintroduction after its original version was killed last session.
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Congress To Consider Age Limits On Violent Games

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  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:48PM (#5137430)
    that in this time of imminent war, collapsed economy and everpresent terror that our legislators have their priorities set straight. I can sleep easier now.
    • by qoncept ( 599709 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:55PM (#5137503) Homepage
      My grandpa is annoying because all he talks about is politics, but then again, all he watches is CSPAN, so he has that right.

      Before complaining about what our representatives are concentrating on, its good to find out what their priorities are.

      Or perhaps a letter to your local congressman telling him to concentrate on the problems you see (which I can guarentee are getting their fair share of attention) and ONLY those problems.

      Also, our unemployment rates now would make people from the 80s' mouths drop. The economy isn't bad at all.

    • by skaffen42 ( 579313 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:01PM (#5137567)
      Too true. Fortunately they haven't tried to stop kids from joining the army [] when they are seventeen. Much better to give them the real thing rather than virtual immitations.

      And they get paid for it too!

      • You might wonder why the army doesn't push the virtual immitations more to train the youngsters for the real thing? Hah!
      • America's (Score:5, Insightful)

        by isotope23 ( 210590 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:31PM (#5137861) Homepage Journal
        Oh the sweet taste of Irony!

        If this passes it will be illegal for kids to get
        the free video game, but
        it will be legal for them to kill for real.

      • Much better to give them the real thing rather than virtual immitations.
        While I agree that putting age limits on video games seems rather silly given today's society, I think your comment regarding the military being worse is just wrong.

        First off, anyone who joins the military goes through extensive training. You don't come in off the street, get handed a gun, and go out and shoot some bad guy ass. It just doesn't work that way. The mindsets of video gamers is not the same as the mindset of a trained military officer. You can argue that they are similar, but the amount of training and education behind the millitary officer clearly stands apart from Joe Teenager blowing up the imps on Doom.

        Secondly, we're talking about the military that defends the country. This is different from attacking prostitutes in GTA3. Military officers aren't supposed to do this. Violence doesn't just mean killing people. It can also mean other types of vulgarity. A video game where the goal is to steal cars and kill people in no way meets the ideals and principles of the military.

        Finally, I think your comment was a rather sad way to get karma. You came up with a weak quip that is anti-establishment, added a mix of current events (military in Iraq), and throw it on Slashdot hoping to bowl a strike. Sadly, it seems you did. Maybe in the future you'll put more thought into the comments you post so they actually have some value to them.

        While I might not agree with everything our military and our Congress does, I still believe that they are much better and more worthy than violent video games.

    • by ShatteredDream ( 636520 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:25PM (#5137800) Homepage
      Congress is convinced that it can decide for itself what ethics it will hold its members to and the President doesn't have the balls to order the FBI to launch a reign of terror on corrupt Congresscritters. Congress was terrified of the ABSCAM investigation because the FBI royally pissed on their parade. They're very afraid of federal law enforcement being ordered to take action against them because despite what many believe, the majority of agents in the major agencies are very good at what they do.

      The FBI in probably six months could dig up so much dirt on Congress that it would cause our elected government to collapse because >80% of them would be before a grand jury facing felony charges. What we need is consistent and merciless prosecution of corrupt elected leaders. I would like to see a permanent independent council office established that would be charged with policing them and that would have a large group of investigators from the FBI.

      We also need to remove the bullshit precedent that everything is interstate commerce from our legal system. That is the ruling that lets these jerkoffs justify their passage of this law. Without that ruling, the courts would strike it down within a week of its being passed because it would be so clearly unconstitutional on its face that the US AG would have no case to argue. We need a constitutional court similar to France's and IMO, it wouldn't be such a bad thing to make it a capital offense to be found guilty of a certain number of instances of corruption such as 5 or more quid-pro-quos.
  • by CharlieO ( 572028 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:49PM (#5137437)

    What I want to see is the 'Protect Lawful Consumers from Iditotic Protectionist Legistlation Act'
    • by RealErmine ( 621439 ) <commerce@wor[ ] ['dho' in gap]> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:07PM (#5137612)
      How about a "Parents Should Pay More Attention to What Their Kids Are Doing" bill. I think that one would probably hit the cause of the problem head on. But then, I guess that's not what legislation is for .
      • by ( 637314 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:20PM (#5137740) Homepage Journal
        In other words, outlaw day care. Children in their development need proper stimulation for adequate pathway growth in the brain (see the book Endangered Minds by Prof. Healey for more information).

        If you plop a toddler down in front of the TV, or leave them in an ill-attention day care center, the kids will get ideas in anyway.

        Parents are too easily distracted in this high paced world. They would rather challenge their kids with video games rather than with story telling and skills that yield to higher level reasoning and abstract thought.
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:21PM (#5137748)
      > What I want to see is the 'Protect Lawful Consumers from Iditotic Protectionist Legistlation Act'

      This is Congress you're talking about - the more hyperbolic the name of the act, the more likely it is that the act does the exact opposite of what it claims to do.

      I mean, think about how Sen. Hollings' (D-Disney) CBDTPA - Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act - would have done for broadband adoption and digital television...

      Based on that track record, the "Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act" probably requires DOOM III be taught part of the Kindergarten curriculum, with advance placement classes moving on to GTA:Vice City by second grade.

  • Topic? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Socratis ( 449796 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:49PM (#5137442)
    Why censorship? So by extension it's censorship to not sell porn to kids in middle school? Also, it doesn't mean that kids can't play these games, it just means they have to con their parents into letting them.
    • Re:Topic? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fester213 ( 125261 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:54PM (#5137490) Homepage
      Which is how it really is already. Any parent that's dumb enough to allow their child to play something that is truly harmful to them either with or without their knowledge is dumb enough to be conned into buying it in the first place.

      So this really accomplishes nothing. THANKS CONGRESS.

      Also, the movie ratings aren't federally enforced, and they work as well as they're ever going to. Why do lawmakers think that video games need more attention than films?
    • Re:Topic? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chrisseaton ( 573490 )
      Socratis is right. If games are not censored, then people who want their children not to be able to get their hands on them can't do anything. If the games are censored, then those people are happy, and everyone else can still get the games, they just have to get an adult to do it. This is a situation that means both groups get to do what they want, although with a inconvieance to one group. If there was no censorship on the games, one group would loose out entirely. I support this.
    • The pertenent question here is whether or not Congress has the Constitutional authority to pass the law in question, and the answer to that question is no. The First Amendment trumps the commerce clause.
    • Re:Topic? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:21PM (#5137751) Homepage Journal
      "Why censorship? So by extension it's censorship to not sell porn to kids in middle school?"

      No it's not. I suspect, however that what you meant was, "it's censorship to not allow the sale of porn to minors." There, your answer would be yes. That's called censorship.

      You and an unfortunately large number of others seem to have picked up the idea that censorship only occurs when some quanta of people don't agree with it. This is incorrect. If I want to say or publish something and you prohibit me from doing so or make it a crime to do so or restrict the audience who is allowed to hear me, that's called censorship.

      99% of the population might agree that I should not be allowed to (e.g. yelling fire in a crowded theater), but that doesn't make it non-censorship.

      The question that you want to be asking is this: is it reasonable censorship.

      That's a hard question. First, you have to decide under which circumstances censorship is warranted. Radical protectionists would say that any speach or publication that could pose a threat to society should be restricted. Radical civil rights advocates would say that no speach or publication should be restricted. Somewhere between those is almost certainly where we will end up.

      This is a particularly sticky one because there's a totally orthoganal debate that this touches on. That is the debate over how much the federal government should attempt to cover for parents who don't get involved in their children's choices of entertainment.
    • Yes, it's censorship (Score:5, Informative)

      by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:55PM (#5138115) Homepage
      There is a clearly established first amendment "right to read," noted in many cases. Interfering with someone obtaining or possessing protected materials is censorship, like unconstitutional. Pornography is protected if it has "literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." Anything below that is considered "obscene" and can be regulated without 1st A. interferance. (No. I'm not defending this system, but it has been with us for decades.)

      For minors, the Supreme Court (Ginsburg?) ratcheted up the cutoff for obscenity. This is clearly censorship, but constitutional censorship, at least according to the Court. I think they're probably wrong, mostly because I don't think the sexually explicit material is dangerous, but that's me.

      I don't think these restrictions on minors -- whether print, film, or game -- make much sense, though as a parent I do appreciate the *labels* as a heads-up to what's inside. It makes it a lot harder to "con" me, or to make an honest mistake, even I'm distracted or unknowledgeable.

      Even requiring labels interferes with free speech (what happened to the record labeling thing?), but might be upheld. Who knows though, the thought of the gov't making these judgment calls is disturbing. Note that the whole movie rating system was cooked up by the industry to head off gov't intervention, and so escapes the 1st A.
  • Is this... (Score:2, Insightful)

    ...another law to "get in line with Europe"? (Specifically the UK, where there are age limits on games/films already - 12, 15 and 18, although not many games are rated 18)
    • ...another law to "get in line with Europe"? (Specifically the UK, where there are age limits on games/films already - 12, 15 and 18, although not many games are rated 18)

      I've got a terrible feeling that I'm feeding a troll but here goes...

      Firstly, film censorship is nothing new. Last time I was in America, there were several film classifications including R17. How is an age limit set at 18 that much different to one set at 17? The 12 rating is now 12A, the A standing for "adult supervision" and basically it means that under-12s can watch the film as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Again, not much different from the American 13 rating.

      So, Mr Troll, where's the fire? How are UK film classifications any heavier than their US counterparts?

      And if age classifications are OK for films then what's wrong with extending them to games? Do you think it's a bad thing that a eight-year old isn't reduced to bed-wetting by prolonged exposure to Quake III? That a pre-teen's parents need to buy his/her copy of Grand Theft Auto 3 for him/her (and hence have to be at least vaguely aware of the content that they're exposing their kids to)?

      It's not as if the ELSPA games ratings were even imposed on the games industry by dictatorial politicians - these ratings are self-imposed by the games manufacturers. So, if you've got a problem with it, blame EA, Rockstar Games et al.

      Let's be honest here. Games are getting more realistic all the time. We're not talking about the almost cartoon-like violence of Gauntlet, Rampage, Afterburner, Ikari Warriors or even Operation Wolf. Some of today's games are full of blood and guts that some young kids would find very disturbing. I'm talking about the likes of Quake 3, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, etc.

      Sure, some kids won't bat an eyelid if you sat them down in front of the TV and hit them with a Freddie or Jason marathon, and those kids will probably laugh at the idea of being scared at a computer game. But not all kids react this way, and it's the duty of a society to protect the weak and vulnerable as well as the strong and resilient. Hence a rating system that lets otherwise ignorant parents know just what they're buying for their kids.

      Anyhow, 99 percent of the time, the ratings are ignored by parents, etc, so, no big deal again. It's only the occasional media frenzy that whips up any interest, and the only game that I can remember that even got significant coverage was GTA3 - one of the few 18 titles. I'm willing to bet that GTA3 got as much (if not more) negative press from some sections of the US media.

      So, Mr Troll, where's the problem with the UK system?
  • Figures (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gentoo Fan ( 643403 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:50PM (#5137450) Homepage
    With 99% of the attention being focused on the Iraq soon-to-be war, I fear that lots of crap legislation will get pushed thru with almost no public scrutiny (oh wait, it's like that already).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:50PM (#5137452)

    Say, selling a R-rated movie, or music CD with 'Explicit Lyrics' to a kid under the age of 17/18?

    What about selling pornography to a person under the age of 17/18?

    • by EEgopher ( 527984 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:03PM (#5137584) Homepage
      There is a generic national law that you can't have a binding sale for ANYTHING between a merchant and a minor. If they're under 18, and the purchase is NOT a necessity (clothing, food, shelter, medical care), the child can return the product in any condition and get FULLY refunded. (of course there are dozens of court-cited examples to the special-case contrary, but this is the general rule).
      Stores are already at a risk selling ANY video game to a 17-year-old, because having not reached the age of majority, the sale can be easily rescinded, in efforts to protect minors from clever merchants who make their living taking advantage of the ignorant.
      So everyone relax. Restrictions for those under 18 aren't THAT terrible, and even more importantly, THEY'RE ALREADY IN PLACE!
  • by escher ( 3402 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:50PM (#5137455) Homepage Journal
    Lessee... Combat, Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Quake, Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Warcraft II, Starcraft, Warcraft III...

    *looks around*

    Nope, haven't killed any people yet.
  • by docbrown42 ( 535974 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:51PM (#5137460) Homepage
    "It would become a federal crime to sell or rent a violent video game to anyone under 18."

    What about giving the games away for free? What about violent freeware games?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Today Congress decided to follow the model of a popular website and begin re-examining old bills.
    Next up for review is the issue of women's sufferage. This is expected to be a highly contested ...

    Well, you get the idea. Nothing will be said that hasn't been previously said before on this subject.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Soon, it will be illegal to sell or loan books containing violence to persons under age 18. That would include the Bible, and keeping that mind-warping drivel from our youth will help break the cycle of these right wing conservative fucks who keep making these retarded bills!!!!!
    • by AlgUSF ( 238240 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:06PM (#5137606) Homepage
      Soon, it will be illegal to sell or loan books containing violence to persons under age 18. That would include the Bible, and keeping that mind-warping drivel from our youth will help break the cycle of these right wing conservative fucks who keep making these retarded bills!!!!!


      "Rep. Joe Baca (D. Calif.)" has been working on re-introducing this bill, I somehow doubt that a Democrat from California is a right wing conservative fuck.
  • by HorrorIsland ( 620928 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:52PM (#5137470)
    Please add a rider prohibiting marketing, sales, and playing to and by persons over 30 years of age. I've been putting off an awful lot of chores. Besides, my thumbs are starting to hurt. Thanks.
  • about time (Score:2, Funny)

    by tps12 ( 105590 )
    It's good to finally see some legislation on this. If we had had age limits on violent video games, I would have never made the mistake of playing Duke Nukem 3D last week. I don't know if I'll ever recover.
    • About time people raised this subject. After all these years I finally had the courage to install Doom on my PC a few days ago. Oh my God! I was pretty disturbed. The sounds were really creepy. And I stayed up late to play. I really felt like I was there and that there were really horrible things lurking in the shadows. And the art in the game is just horrible. I think at one point you see the mangled innards of a corpse. How can this be legal? I haven't slept since. I really can't imagine that there'll ever be a time when I recover. How can I forget what I saw and heard? You can't just choose to forget.

      I'm glad that you had the courage to speak up!

  • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:53PM (#5137477)
    I'm sorry, but children are NOT full blown citizens with all the rights thereof. Even if there is absolutely no research supporting it, parents have a right to raise their children as they see fit by not letting them play video games (or watch a movie, or anything else for that matter).

    I've been saying for years that children shouldn't be allowed to buy videogames (or movies or books of anysort) without parental consent. If you want your kid to have access to such things, get them a library card, get them a membership at Blockbuster, or perhaps even have an active role in your childs life by buying it for them.

    Granted, in the US it's absolutely 100% impossible to control ALL aspects of your kids life and I would never suggest trying that, but perhaps anything that encourages involvement is a good thing.
    • One of my local retailers, Fred Meyer, already cards kids when they try to buy R rated movies, explicit content CDs, and M rated games and will not seel said items to anyone under 17 (I think, maybe 18). When I was 16 I would have been very annoyed, but as an adult I support this.
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:06PM (#5137609) Homepage Journal
      parents have a right to raise their children as they see fit by not letting them play video games (or watch a movie, or anything else for that matter).

      Absolutely! Of course, my parents saw fit to not let me play certain video games, watch certain movies or television shows, read certain magazines, and in a few cases read certain books. They managed to do all of this without any laws enforcing it. Instead they relied on the tried and true method of actually being parents, involving themselves in my life, paying attention to me, striving to instill ethics in me, setting limits, and punishing me when I violated those limits. I seem to have turned out okay.

      Laws like this are unnecessary and won't significantly change things. Good parents will continue to be good parents and bad parents will continue to be bad parents. Attempting to replace bad parents with laws is a terrible idea.

    • Re:Well (Score:2, Insightful)

      First of all: it _is_ possible to control all aspects of your childrens' lives. How? Keep them at home, 24-7, and raise them in isolation.

      Don't want to do that? Then you're going to have to equip them to deal with the real world: they'll need the social skills to understand the violence, sex, drugs and other issues in the real world as a whole. How do you do that? Expose them to those problems, explain them, and help them to understand why they exist.

      No well-balanced child ever killed people, stole things or any other crime. If you're well-raised, you're a good person, end of story. My parents raised me well, and that quite simply is why I dont have the impulse to be a criminal.

      Unless your child is mentally ill, you have no excuse if you raise them wrong.

      I'm not looking troll: I'm not trying to tell you how to raise your kids, or accuse anyone of having bad parents. I'm here to make the point that we need to take responsibility for our actions, including raising our children.
    • By your logic, how many free-thinking individuals would be left? Video games are one thing (though I still don't think it's entirely right), but books?! How can one say something like that? I know kids that aren't even allowed to read books on different religions because of how their parents are. Is that fair to the children? Because a parent is closed minded, that child shouldn't have the right to expand their mind? What bullshit. How can you justify that? And a response would be nice.
      • The problem is (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nlinecomputers ( 602059 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:27PM (#5137822)
        ...what you consider "expanding" and allowing free thinking is considered corrupting and even socially distructive by others. The reason we don't allow prayer in schools is because there is no way to allow it that doesn't expose them to a viewpoint that might be in total oposition to the way I am instucting my children.

        At what age is the child able to "freely" think and chose for themselves and at which point do they emulate, by rote, their parents?

        Every thinking person reaches that point but to what degree and how well they do so can't be set at a fixed date. For the same reason allowing no limits is no good either. Parents are the only ones that can make that call and as they are legally responsable for their children the laws should support them and not do it for them.

        Blanket laws are stupid. It doesn't matter if it is a blanket allow all freedoms to children or a blanket law blocking everything from children. Let parents be parents and make them responsable in part for what the children do.

  • by recursiv ( 324497 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:53PM (#5137478) Homepage Journal
    This isn't censorship. This is just a restriction against selling these games to minors. A key point is that a parent can still buy the game for the minor if they think their kid "can handle it." Shouldn't the parents be responsible for this? Isn't this what we wanted?
  • by mrtroy ( 640746 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:54PM (#5137489)
    The man show can get that little fat kid dressed in a scouts outfit to try and find people to go into bestbuy and buy him a copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 instead of condoms and a 6pack.
    The only let down is he wont be able to ask a redhead girl if her carpets match the curtains because unfortunately he will only be soliciting males since its best buy.

    And dear god when I have children I may not buy them beer when they are 12 but they can have a gory game anyday...I REALLY dont want to find them in their room with 3 friends huddled around a wired magazine giggling or something *shudder*
  • I'm sick of this. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digerata ( 516939 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:54PM (#5137494) Homepage
    Laws don't prevent children from mature content.

    Its parents that need to protect children.

  • Good! I'm glad. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aash ( 130966 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:55PM (#5137501) Homepage
    I know a lot of people are going to get all up in arms about this, but personally I think it's a good thing. Having a good ratings system in place for games will help get angry parents off the gaming industries' back.

    The truth is, games these days should be rated. I don't think an 11 year old kid should be able to walk into a store and buy GTA: Vice City. Games never really needed to be rated before because they were never really violent before. With a few exceptions, the rise of real violence in games is only about five years old.

    The same thing happened with movies. Before the sixties movies didn't have ratings. They weren't needed because before that, it would have been almost unheard of to put graphic violence or sex in a movie. But then filmmakers wanted more mature content in movies, and a ratings system was introduced.

    Games are at that point now. Some kind of enforced ratings system is needed, I think.
    • Re:Good! I'm glad. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by EricWright ( 16803 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:51PM (#5138066) Journal
      As others have said, there is already a rating system on video games. The real issue here is criminalizing the sale of "M" rated games to the under-18 set.

      R rated movies are supposed to forbid access to those 17 and under without adult (read, 18+) supervision. When is the last time you saw the police show up at a movie theater and arrest the 16 year old ticket seller for selling tickets to the latest R-rated action flick to his under-18 friends?

      Ratings, yes. It helps people be more informed. Criminalization of "ratings violations", no? How many more non-violent offenders does the US need in its jails?
  • Whew! (Score:2, Funny)

    by BFaucet ( 635036 )
    I was a DOOM fanatic when I was 12 and I went on a murderous rampage when I was 13... wait... no I didn't. That's right! I remember now... I would take out the stress of the day's being picked on by shooting virtual creatures and became less violent towards my peers.
  • Aargh!
    It's Cliffs Notes, not Cliff, not Cliff's not even Cliffs', okay?

    You can check the web site:

    Thank you.
    -Mr. Cliffs (no, not really)
  • What'll be left? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pmz ( 462998 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:57PM (#5137526) Homepage
    If you think about it, Super Mario Bros. is pretty darn violent (you know, smushing all them koopas).

    Pac-man is violent.

    NCAA Football is violent.

    Doom 3 is violent.

    Of course, violent to different degrees...where's the line drawn in these cases? I remember having loads of fun with Legend of Zelda and even the original Spy Hunter (remember that?). I was in elementary school at the time. In high school, I do remember having some wierd dreams after playing Doom, however (tell us why Psychologists, before people begin making arbtrary laws).
  • Mortal Kombat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Radio Shack Robot ( 640478 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:57PM (#5137535) Homepage
    I remember trying to purchase Mortal Kombat II back in the day at Walmart. They wouldn't sell it to me unless I was 17. That was the last game I bought at Walmart. Now I buy everything at radio shack and they don't card. (Except to get your home address. heh)
  • phew! (Score:4, Funny)

    by frenetic3 ( 166950 ) <houston@al u m . m i> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @03:59PM (#5137544) Homepage Journal
    It looks like Congress is getting ready to revisit the 'Protect Children from Video Game Sex

    thank god! i always wondered why my friend's DOOM manual was a little sticky.
  • by pogle ( 71293 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:00PM (#5137553) Homepage
    But I'll say it again. Congress shouldnt have any mandate here. Parents, pay some fscking attention to your kids and what they do!! Take active part in their lives, learn something about their pastimes and games. It works, I'm living proof. Lotsa violent games in my past and I've never decapitated anyone without good cause.

    Even today my mom hears updates from me now and then on my progress in the Warcraft3 ladder, and what the game is basically about, even if she has no idea how to play it. She also got a kick out of GTA Vice City and Conkers Bad Fur Day, and feels fine about my little sister playing them since she has established a *firm foundation* in my sisters upbringing to the effect that you don't really maul people with chainsaws... :)

    In otherwords, teenagers, talk to your parents! Show them what you play, encourage them to understand the nonsense that Congress is doing, and have them take a more active role.
  • by zillyorg ( 323074 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:00PM (#5137560)
    The parking lot of Best Buy will come to resemble the parking lot at the liquor store....

    "Psst. Hey, Mister. Here's fifty bucks. Can you go inside and get a copy of GTA Vice City for me?"
  • by Neil Watson ( 60859 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:01PM (#5137562) Homepage
    I don't know whether or not violence on TV or in video games has a negative impact on children. We argue about Columbine and why these kids ended up the way they did.

    I do know that if a child is exposed to sex, drugs, violence, barney or anything else it can be solely blamed on bad parenting. Parents, forget about planning your next cruise, or meeting that special someone now that your divorce is final. Forget about trying for that new premotion to get your career on track. Your job is to raise your children. It is not the job of daycare or school or Gandma. Raising your children is your job. Nothing else matters.

  • Noone under the age of 17 may watch an R rated film unless accompanied by an adult, and I believe they may not purchase one either. It is a crime to admit someone under the age of 18 to an XXX rated film, or to sell, rent, give it to them.

    With more and more games pushing the envelope closer to traditional porn, stuff like BMX XXX, GTA 3 or DOA Volleyball, this isn't surprising in the least.

    Nielson and others have shown that upwards of 90% of the video game *players* are over 21, so this really shouldnt have much of an effect at all.

    The ESRB has done a great job of rating games, and are much more descriptive than their TV and movie counterparts, but irresponsible retailers frankly ignore them.

    I saw a kid who looked to be 9 or 10 buy a copy of BMX XXX from blockbuster the last time I was there. This game is just full of nudity (at about a playboy level), sexually explicit language and swearing. Left unchecked, the sequel will probably spiral into hardcore porn. It's a crappy game, and the nudity is a gimmick to sell it.

    I generally cringe at new legislation, but the industry is incapable and unwilling to police itself. It's illegal and frankly wrong to sell pronography to little kids, even if it's submarined into a second rate Xtreme-SpOrtZ game.
    • Actually, the only reason, as a minor, you cannot attend an R Rated movie is not because of any law, but because the movie industry agrees to not allow it. The MPAA is not government mandated. It is a studio group that comes up with the ratings. The same goes for NC-17. It is the theaters that agree to follow to the MPAA recommendation.

      Also, it is the retailers that voluntarily follow the guideline by not renting or selling to minors.

      Nor Pornography is a totally different story. Selling or renting or showing Pornography to a minor usually fall under child sex crimes. It is up to the courts to determine if a particular image/video/movie etc would be considered pornography.

      Movies are no longer classified as X or XXX by the MPAA. These are self applied ratings to encourage the purchase of the materials by adults. Usually pornography is never submitted to the MPAA, which means that average theater won't show it, etc...

      Since none of the movies mature content (violence, sex, adult themes) is actually law, the Gaming industry should follow the same. It should be companies that refuse to rent, sell, or produce games to minors. Congress should have no business in it.
  • Give me One good reason why this is a bad thing.
    • Re:One reason (Score:3, Informative)

      by tsg ( 262138 )
      Give me one good reason why this is a good thing.

      We're talking about passing legislation here. "Why not" doesn't cut it.
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:02PM (#5137576)
    These old congressmen think they can save the kids by keeping them away from Max Payne et. al? Little do they know most 15 year olds are too busy having sex, smoking weed, and fighting on the tennis courts after school to really care what games are on the shelf.

    Good think all the fucking, drinking, smoking and fighting youth will be kept safely away from Vice City 3. Don't want them getting any bad ideas.

  • by zaren ( 204877 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:02PM (#5137578) Homepage Journal
    from the article:

    "Baca's office told me the new bill is being modeled on a St. Louis ordinance that makes it illegal to sell or rent a violent video game to a minor without a parent/guardian's consent."

    Which means that if I think my 10 year old (well, he's only 6 now, but that's not the point) can handle a "mature" game, I can give him permission to get it. This is far from an outright ban, and more palatable in my eyes (the eyes of someone with kids of his own).

    Also, there was mention made of having to hire adults to work the registers, under the theory that they'll be more responsible, and less likely to rent / sell "mature" games to minors. I made a leap of logic and figured that maybe minors would be forbidden by this law to work that kind of position. If this were to happen, it could cause problems for all kinds of businesses - how many grown-ups are going to want to earn the wages of a register jockey? This could leave nobody manning the tills, and a LOT of places folding up shop.

    Lastly... Postal 2 is going to be a first person shooter?!? Check out that screen shot - wielding a can of gas while the store you're in burns! That game's gonna rock! }:^D
  • Wrong target... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by goatasaur ( 604450 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:05PM (#5137596) Journal
    Video games are apparently the scapegoat of the new century. I don't see how this proposal is going to help matters -- most retail stores voluntarily enforce the ratings that are already on games. The ones that don't, well, that's where GOOD PARENTING comes in... if you aren't paying attention to what your kids are doing, then the consequences of their actions are on your head.

    I haven't learn marksmanship from GTA3, and I've played CounterStrike for years, and I don't think I could effectively defuse a C4 bomb. Violent video games have never conclusively been tied to violent behavior.

    Violent movies, on the other hand, have. A more significant problem is the RIAA's granting of the PG-13 rating to movies that are way too violent and gratuitous to be seen by children. Theaters now hardly even enforce the 'R' rating! I have seen a ridiculous amount of news articles about children hurting themselves by imitating popular movies. The RIAA's policies are backwards and inane.

    Examples of borderline PG-13 movies:
    Eight Crazy Nights
    Bad Company
    The Fast and the Furious

    All the above movies have more violence and obscenity in them than almost any video game in recent memory, but the RIAA apparently thinks constand mindless violence and sexual innuendo is OK!

    I strongly disagree with this policy regarding gaming, but since it involves "protecting the children" I don't know a politician who would stand up to it. Seriously, do any of them have the balls to support violent video games?
  • I'm torn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:05PM (#5137599) Homepage Journal
    On one hand, I know that if I were a parent I'd want as much help as I could get to prevent my child from getting access to things I didn't want them to have.

    On the other hand, where do you draw the line? It seems stupid, for example, to prevent a child from buying BMX XXX but allow a different one to buy edible underwear at frederick's of hollywood. I mean, neither one offends ME, but you can see where I'm going with this.

    In the end the only things whose sale should be legally controlled are things which are physically dangerous; Drugs (alcohol/tobacco/high-test prescription medication), and firearms. Anything which is not immediately harmful... well, your child has no rights to speak of until the age of 18, save to be free from abuse, and to not be neglected. You have the legal right, and furthermore I think the moral right and responsibility to go through their things. You also have the responsibility to not be a fucking asshole when you find something that upsets you, and take a step back, and ask who it's hurting.

    Now HOLY SHIT you people are getting ready to mod me down and scream at me about privacy because you think it's sacrosanct, but let me tell you something, you have a legal responsibility to care for this child until they are 18, and unless you're a shitty parent you have a responsibility to your own sensibilities to raise them right. If you have a child you can trust so you don't have to raid their hiding places, that's fantastic, and I'm happy for you. You're doing your job, and I think you should have some more kids so everyone else can learn from your example. But for those people who have children too young and/or irresponsible to make wise decisions, NOT looking through their shit could literally kill them through neglect.

    Mind you, I'm 26 and have no kids and I have this opinion. I just know what my friends were like as kids. Except for not doing much of anything I was told, I was comparatively a perfect angel until the age of 15, which is when I moved out and started smoking cigs, smoking weed, drinking, and so on. Until then I had straightedge sensibilities. But I know what my friends were like, the little hellions, and they desperately needed more guidance.

  • Penny Arcade (Score:3, Informative)

    by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:06PM (#5137608)
    Here's a short summary of the debate that lead up to this bill:

    Here. []

    It's a good thing they're handling this, otherwise "first person shooter" games might start being produced, and all our kids would be turned into mass-murdering psychos.
  • by goingincirclez ( 639915 ) <goingincirclez.msn@com> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:09PM (#5137632)
    "Save the Children from Drug-laced shroom hallucinations": (Super Mario Bros.)

    "Protect our children from reckless race-driver wannabes": (Ridge Racer, Wipeout, etc etc)

    "Save the children from mind-melt controller-tossitis" (Tetris)

    "Teach children tolerance for ghosts of all colors" (Pac-man, Luigi's Mansion)

    "The Crusade to stop anti-alien racism" (Contra, Half-life, etc etc)

    Get a grip! I opine that ratings are a generally a good thing. But I hate the whole "Save the children" "Promote tolerance" angle politicians use... it's demeaning.

    There are people who need, want, and/or should be informed for whatever reason about the content of media they may be interested in. Big deal. Settle on a standard and let the people make their own decisions, and parents assume their responsibility. Leave the Children (TM) out of it.
  • Hey! Our president didn't waste his time with violence inspiring video games and look at how calm and relaxed and well adjusted he turned out!

    It's a joke people!
  • by Chocolate Teapot ( 639869 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:13PM (#5137680) Journal
    Yet again we see legislation completely missing the target. Although I agree that violent/sexually explicit games should be clearly labelled as such to help responsible parents monitor their children's activities, let us not forget the fact that ultimately it is the parent's responsibility to enforce the rules. Making it an offence to supply such games to children is simply shifting the responsibilty away from parents. With the increase in online gaming in recent years, it is not so much the actual game content that bothers me, but rather the language/behaviour of the opponents that my children may encounter during a gaming session. Kids are surprisingly aware of the difference between reality and fantasy when it comes to violence on the TV and in games. Tom & Jerry is gratuitously violent, but my kids never had a nightmare about it and I don't discourage them from watching it. I am, however, particularly careful to wait until they are in bed before playing UT online - it saves me having to explain some of the more colourful nicknames and language to an 8 year-old looking over my shoulder.

    Mod me down for being a boring old fart if you wish.

  • by M.C. Hampster ( 541262 ) <> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:25PM (#5137802) Journal
    Last year's proposal failed to get traction because of concerns about the scope of the bill and potential first amendment issues.

    I'm getting sick of any law being described as having "first amendment issues". Forget the flipping first amendment. Find me a clause in the Constitution that gives the Congress to make this law. This is where a good strict interpetation of the Constitution would do the Congress some good. And this isn't a Democrat/Republican or Conservative/Liberal issue. Each side ignores the Constitution when it suits them.

  • by tbonium ( 521815 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:27PM (#5137826)

    While the congress is hardly at work, they should also consider age limits on purchasing Fast Food. It would be inline with the current trend of suing food vendors and blaming them for their child's "weight problems" [], which supposedly kills alot more people over time.

    Other things that supposedly have a minimum age (in most
    • Guns
    • Driving Permits
    • Tobacco & Alcohol (when did you even hear of a kid smoking/drinking under age)
    • Legal Documents
    • Movies (note that music is NOT limited, so busta gang bang on dat RIAA ass)
    • Sex (some states)

    Where does a video game fit in with this crowd, while ignoring music and food? IANAL, but federal law doesn't seem to address any of the other items in my list (except sex).

    The next installment of Mortal Combat needs a Saddam character, so we can all do our part in the war on terrorism.

    Congresscritters, please protect me from myself, for I know not what I do

  • by The G ( 7787 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:28PM (#5137831)
    ...'cause that's what it will do.

    I can't think of anything better than a ban on sale to encourage people to pirate, and I can't think of any group more likely to pick up the software-sharing habit than 15-to-18 year-olds.
  • by isotope23 ( 210590 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:28PM (#5137835) Homepage Journal
    Let me guess. They will justify this "protecting the children" through some nebulous reasoning using the interstate commerce clause.

    Has this country just gone flat out insane?

    Must we protect everyone from everything which someone may find objectionable?

    What the hell ever happened to you mind your own business and i'll mind mine?

    I've come to the sad conclusion that my fellow
    citizens have forgotten that freedom, liberty
    and PERSONAL responsiblity go hand in hand.

    Let's blame Mcdonalds because I'm fat and eat their crappy food.

    Let's blame tobacco companies because I smoke and got lung cancer

    Let's blame the gun makers cause a "sniper" went nuts and killed people.

    Let's blame Iraq cause my gas bill for that new SUV is outrageous.

    Let's blame Islam for breeding terrorists.

    Whaaaaa Whaaa Whaaa

    You never hear :

    1. I'm the fat ass who eats burgers and fries
    2. I picked up a stupid habit which I knew was bad.
    3. The Sniper killed people not the gun
    4. Maybe we wouldn't care about oil if I supported
    alternate energy funding and drove a smaller car.
    5. Maybe my country has been poking its nose where it doesn't belong

    Why? Because these answers DON'T SELL. It seems if the truth doesn't make you feel good, we change the truth to make ourselves feel LESS bad.

    In short the Republic is dead. Long live the Empire.....
  • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:32PM (#5137864)
    "Now they're thinking about banning toy guns ... and they're gonna keep the fucking real ones!!! "
  • by Kaz Riprock ( 590115 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:35PM (#5137893)

    3D Realms, maker of the Duke Nukem line of games, had only this to say on the matter:

    This bill, and not our inability to code, is why Duke Nukem Forever is taking so long to release. We want to be sure that our core target audience will be old enough to purchase the game if this bill were to take effect.
  • by snowpuppy ( 153096 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:39PM (#5137940) Homepage
    If parents would take responsibility for raising their kids, then these types of laws wouldn't be necessary (or "as" necessary). However, since people are content with allowing the government to decide for them, then hey, it sounds like a great law. [This obviously isn't meant for every parent, but there are plenty who fit the bill.]

    Today more than ever we are ready to trade our privacy for security (or the appearance of security), so why not let the government decide what's best for our kids as well. A nibble here, a nibble there.

    Who knows, maybe at least it will make it harder for parents to sue gaming companies because their kids commit terrible acts of violence while the parents claim ignorance.

  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @04:40PM (#5137949) Homepage Journal

    This sort of (proposed) law takes responsbility away from parents. This sort of law is trying to create a safe world where parents ignore their kids. Unfortunately you'll never succeed in creating such a world, there are too many loopholes and law breakers. As a kid I had relatively easy access to alcohol, illegal drugs, pornography, and tobacco. While the laws that strove to protect me from these things made it harder, it presents a very real danger to me. This sort of law creates a false sense of security in too many people. "I don't need to educate young Johnny on violence in games and explain why I feel it's wrong, since he can't possibly get access to violent games."

    A popular argument for ratings (or worse, limits) is that it gives parents more options and information. Sure it does, but where do you draw the line? Some parents who believe strongly in creationism will object to their children having easy access to books on evolution. Should we label those and keep them out of kids hands? Perhaps they object to their children having easy access to what they consider objectionable political speech (Gotta project Johnny from those evil (Liberals|Conservatives). Another label for that? We'll need to label news and history similarly, there is a lot of violence there. And for the extremely socially conservative a travel brochure showing men and women in swimwear at the beach would be shocking, so another label for them (perhaps, "Women not in burquas"?). Ultimately parents need to take responsibility and monitor what their child sees. A lack of a Violence or Sexuality label doesn't mean that the work is acceptable. The only option gained is the option to not review the work yourself and to trust the simplistic label judgements of someone else.

    Ratings and limits also limit what is available to consenting adults. Some businesses will simply decide to not carry works based on the rating (as opposed to reviewing the work itself). A particular rating may have a nasty stigma associated with it, discouraging potential customers. The NC-17 film rating in the United States is a good example. Many theaters will refuse to show such films, not out of a reasoned judgement, but for simple fear of backlash. Potential customers may be detered by a popular opinion that it must be smut. As a result of this many filmmakers chose to self-censor, carefully tweaking their work to fit into the target audience bin of G, PG, or R. Works beyond R are the exception as a result. Works that are a bit dangerous for their category (say, a relatively edgy PG work), get tamed down to ensure the desired rating. While it's still possible to make create films under this system, it does stifle some creativity.

    The responsibility for raising children lies with their parents. There were no laws limiting my access to various books, video games, and the like when I was a kid. I certainly had access to many illegal things (alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs). My parents didn't monitor me constantly, so I could have done what I wanted. But I didn't. Why? Because my parents took reponsibility for me. They paid attention to me, they kept an eye on what media I consumed, talked to me, discussed ethics with me, set limits for me, and punished me when I violated those limits. We don't need more laws, we need good parents. Laws can't create good parents.

  • by fafalone ( 633739 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:23PM (#5138343)
    The entire age based system is completely arbitrary anyway. If I'm 17, I'm immature and shouldn't be allowed to play violent video games, but the day I turn 18 the maturity fairy visits me and I can realize I shouldn't actually go out and slaughter people? When I was playing violent games like Doom when I was 10, I knew full well there's a difference between games and life. More teenagers do than do not.
    Obviously alot of adults still don't realize what should and shouldn't be done.
    More credit should be given, by the time they're teenagers most kids aren't ignorant lumps of clay for the media to shape. Not only that, the fact that it's illegal will make it more appealing to some kids, as illegal acts encourage some adults. Oh, but that's right, all that matters to lawmakers is pleasing the extremely vocal minority group of negligent parents who think it's the governments job to raise our kids. Maybe if people raised their kids right they'd be less apt think video games are real.
    Indirect influence on violent behavoir? Maybe. Studies haven't considered the 3rd variable problem. Are violent adults violent because they played video games, or did they play violent video games because other factors made them violent. TV is just as bad in terms of violence, but it's not illegal for kids to watch violent shows.
    Welcome to the confused hypocrisy that is censorship.
    • The entire age based system is completely arbitrary anyway. If I'm 17, I'm immature and shouldn't be allowed to play violent video games, but the day I turn 18 the maturity fairy visits me and I can realize I shouldn't actually go out and slaughter people?
      There are two massive strawmen in this. First, nobody claims that at some age you gain magical understanding. We would really like to make laws based on maturity of action, conceptual ideas, and ethics. However, that isn't possible and the only factor that we can test is age, so an age is determined by then this behavior should have set in. Also, there is idea of aiding parental supervision and that legally stops at 18, so that seemed like a reasonable age.

      Second, nobody is claiming that viewing violent media will turn you into a killer. The claim is that violent media relaxes attitudes towards violence and detaches them from making a negative value judgement of it. This may in some trigger violence urges, however, that isn't the important claim.

      More credit should be given, by the time they're teenagers most kids aren't ignorant lumps of clay for the media to shape.
      That just isn't true, though. A multi-billion dollar advertising industry knows that images you feel people affect them. The often claim is that mass-media had induced shitty culture in people. That belief isn't harmonious with this one.
  • by inkswamp ( 233692 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @05:55PM (#5138571)
    I deeply dislike when lawmakers feel that have to step in and dictate rules to any industry, but I have watched for the last couple years as this issue has come and gone and I've watched the video game industry as a whole sit firmly and stupidly on their thumbs and do nothing in response. We've decided as a society that this kind of content should be regulated in films and elsewhere and if the video game industry can't step up to the plate and rise to those reasonable expectations, then I guess they need a governmental nanny to do it for them. My response is a great big shrug of indifference.

    And yes, anticipating the onslaught of "you don't play games," I've got a drawer full of very violent games next to me right now. I keep them locked up so my kids can't get at them. It's not hard to do. It requires a little maturity and responsibility. If the video game industry needs a bunch of pinheads in Congress to teach them the same, then it's nothing short of a major embarrassment for them.
  • by Chris Carollo ( 251937 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:42PM (#5138868)
    I'm coming to the discussion kind of late, but while reading through the comments it struck me that there's an important point that seems to be getting overlooked: If it becomes a crime to sell M-rated games to those under 17, we're entrusting a non-governmental organization (the ESRB) to decide what is and is not a federal crime.

    There are all sorts of checks and balances in government precisely because they have that power. What if this becomes law, and we're unhappy about the job the ESRB is doing? Do we get to know who's on the rating panel? Do we get to elect them? Are they subject to recall? Can they be bought or influenced? What recourse is there if they damage a business by unfairly rating a game because of baises? Etc etc.

    There are reasons we entrust the government, and the govenment only, to decide what should and should not be legal. This is an abdication of that responsibility, and one that I'm certainly not comfortable with.
  • Why sex? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vegan Pagan ( 251984 ) < minus painter> on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @06:59PM (#5139029)
    Entertainment rating systems and law enforcement have opposite priorities. Mass murder is a far, far worse crime than profanity or indecent exposure, but movie and game ratings feel just the opposite. It's true that all countries are too lax on violence; a game or movie with mass murder can get in the PG-to-T range as long as the viewer/player can't see the suffering, but only USA is so irrationally strict on profanity and nudity. Amelie got an R in USA, but a PG or PG-13 in the rest of the world.

    Only in USA do people prefer to see death more than life.
  • by orbital3 ( 153855 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2003 @10:34PM (#5140694)
    I know this is probably a little late to get read, but seriously... who's funding these kids? I know when I was 10 years old, I didn't have $50 cash that I could just go spend at will. Kids don't have credit cards, so they need cash. And on the rare occasion (birthdays, whatnot) that I did have that much cash, you could be damn sure that my parents knew where it went. No kid should be able to bring home a $50 anything without their parent knowing what it is. By the time the child can get a job and earn the money for themselves, I think they're probably old enough to decide what kind of games they can play.

    It's been said before, but I'll say it again anyway. It's the parents' job to take care of their kids, not the government's.

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.