Defeated Anti-Games Senator Laments Loss

By Alec Meer on June 28th, 2011 at 9:55 am.

I've never seen a better picture

Yesterday, US politicians attempting to have grown-up videogames be made exempt from Constitutional law regarding freedom of speech and be treated on a par with hardcore porn lost their six-year battle. The industry was hugely relieved, but inevitably the losers are not going gentle into that good night, with Californian senator Leland Yee, author of the defeated bill, posting a rebuttal of the Supreme Court’s verdict. He’s continuing to toe the line that games are turning our children into psychopaths:

“Unfortunately, the majority of the Supreme Court once again put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children. As a result of their decision, Wal-Mart and the video game industry will continue to make billions of dollars at the expense of our kids’ mental health and the safety of our community. It is simply wrong that the video game industry can be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children.”

Yee also draws attentions to comments made by lone dissenting justice Breyer, who commented in the ruling that “What sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting the sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?”

At this point, I have to question which games Breyer has been playing, or which forums he’s been reading. What on earth is he talking about? I can only presume he means Manhunt, in which case as well as exaggerating it somewhat he’s confusing one nasty game that nobody likes very much and which very probably won’t see another sequel with every game ever. Because that’s the thing: these guys aren’t interested in researching the medium well enough to single out and combat the stuff that arguably does go too far (or at least to the point where more stringent efforts are necessary to further ensure it’s kept away from kids) and thus fight a righteous fight. They just want to nuke the whole lot and sidestep any debate whatsoever.

Adds Yee, “Every major national medical association – including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – has concluded that exposure to violent video games causes an increase in aggressive behavior, physiological desensitization to violence, and decrease pro-social behavior. Thus, society has a direct, rational and compelling reason in marginally restricting a minor’s access to violent video games.”

He’s neatly ignoring a whole lot of evidence to the contrary, once again dismissing the US games industry’s own ratings system and enforcement thereof out of hand, as well as seeming to insinuate that small behavioural changes shortly after playing an interactive electronic entertainment product are exactly the same as transforming into John Wayne Gacy on the spot. Again: I’d question the wisdom of anyone who denies that there are studies to be done and precautions to be taken regarding children and violent games. The march of technological progress and the march of research into its effects don’t seem to go hand in hand, sadly enough. It’s such a shame that the anti-game lobbyists aren’t interested in improving that and being absolutely sure that their opinions are backed up with science before they embark on their witch-hunts.

Incredible photo via SFCitizen.

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129 Comments »

  1. mkultra says:

    funny, all i saw when i clicked on this article’s link was http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQVB9jdU8wo

  2. MrMud says:

    All of this is pretty interesting.
    I mean its great for the industry that “we” won the case but honestly why shouldnt shooting someone in the face be treated as something worse for minors than watching porn? Sex is a good thing, shooting people in the face, not so much.

    • Baboonanza says:

      Yeah, I don’t quite understand it. It seems to me that all they want is a legally enforceable rating system (you know, like the one we have here). That sounds like jolly good idea to me.

      Of course the bullshit they spout constantly does not help their cause. Parents are still free to restrict what their children buy and play. They are the one providing the money after-all.

      And to be fair it IS ridiculous that porn should be held to a different standard, because by America’s free-speech rules porn should not be controllable and I suspect that if the porn case was brought today it would get a similar judgement. And while I don’t entirely agree with the ‘free-speech trumps all’ position it still annoys me that this stupid inconsistency exists.

    • Calneon says:

      A 13 year old isn’t allowed to buy an 18 rated game in a shop, just like they aren’t allowed to buy porn. Can somebody explain this argument of his for me?

      “What sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting the sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?”

    • godgoo says:

      I’m not sure applying the maxim ‘sex is a good thing’ to porn is necessarily right, it’s a little bit like defending a strict diet of junk food by proclaiming ‘but food is necessary for survival’. I have no particular problem with porn but it’s hardly a handbook for good sexual relationships.
      I think there are definite problems with comparing the two industries, specifically that by definition Pornography is something of no artistic merit so it doesn’t sit comfortably to compare this industry with what is probably one of the most creative media (i.e video games).
      Secondly and again by definition all porn is equally ‘damaging’ (as suggested in this case) in the same way. To lump all ‘adult games’ as equally damaging in the same way is ridiculous and would likely lead to unnecessary censorship by government and publishers and therefore further suppression of creativity.
      what I’m trying to say is: Disagree.

    • MrMud says:

      “A 13 year old isn’t allowed to buy an 18 rated game in a shop, just like they aren’t allowed to buy porn. Can somebody explain this argument of his for me?”

      Yes they are. The american rating system is not legally enforcable. This means that shops dont have to follow it. Most do because thats a good way to keep legislation at bay but this does not mean they have to.

    • Lambchops says:

      I think the point is that American politicians seem to see this in a black and white “ban” and hence remove the games from any major retailer ever) or “don’t ban” in which case they are letting kids get their grubby little mitts on content they probably shouldn’t be.

      The good old middle ground of a decent certification system (albiet one that any remotely determined kid will easily circumvent – I know for sure I did!) aided by parents keeping an eye on what their kids are doing just doens’t seem to enter their heads as their too busy with over the top rhetoric. That’s politicians for you.

    • Calneon says:

      I see, in which case I think it would be a good idea to be able to legally enforce it.

    • gwathdring says:

      The worst part about that analogy, oddly coming from a Supreme Court Justice, is that it ignores how complicated a relationship that between pornography and the U.S. Legal system is. From the Comstock Law to the famous “I know it when I see it” opinion, porn has a complicated legal history here in the US. And I personally don’t believe the government has a compelling state interest in banning sexual material either–I think that is the responsibility of good parents and perhaps even the responsibility of good shop owners. But in both cases, they just don’t seem like important laws to me when phrased in terms of protecting our children’s mental health and safety. When you put it in terms of opening the flood gates of exploitative marketing to impressionable youth, it becomes a whole lot more interesting as a moral and philosophical issue to me.

      Personally, as a parent, I would be much more comfortable with my child being exposed to sexual content than violence. I would prefer to decide when it is most appropriate to introduce my child to certain levels of both types of content for myself, and would have a right to do so either with or without laws preventing stores from selling these products directly to my kids.

      So I guess, in that light, I’m impartial. On the one hand, this sort of law does sort of enhance the right of parents to control content received by minors making sure they are the legal purveyors of all such content, not the local game shop. But at the same time … I still don’t see a compelling state interest. I still don’t see how this is preventing some sort of mental health catastrophe from striking American children.

    • sonofsanta says:

      @MrMud: the film ratings system in the USA isn’t legally enforceable either, but you don’t get movie chains breaking it. The chief contention here is that video games would be classified alongside porn as “needs federal regulation” and not alongside movies etc. as “self-regulates”. As much discussion as there is to be had regarding the benefits either way, the truth is that had SCOTUS not overturned this attempt, it would have had an enormous chilling effect on the US videogame industry, both in production and consumption – and, with the US being such a key market, that effect would have been felt internationally.

    • Baboonanza says:

      The porn issue is largely symbolic now anyway. What are the chances that a today’s children’s first experience (or any experience in fact) will be with porn bought from a shop. Banning it is entirely futile at this point.

    • JFS says:

      Well, this is an American thing. You can’t really explain it. It’s like trying to explain why Americans love peanut butter, while Germans prefer salami on their sandwich. It’s simply differing philosophies that are neither right nor wrong (although I also think that violence is worse than sex, by far, but that’s the European way).

    • gwathdring says:

      Sonofsanta:

      Actually, it already failed in the state supreme court, the US District Court AND the US Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court had no obligation to review the case, and had the not done anything, the law would have been overturned anyway.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Noone probably says not to, but it’s a far fetch calling it illegal. Why should it be illegal? It’s not as if it’s provably damaging like smoking or drinking. Porn probably can be said to be more damaging in its portrayal of women as objects and that degrading them with brutal sex acts like modern porn is all about is far more damaging than playing with toys in a videogame.

      Shooting a guy in a videogame is about as gruesome as playing that same scene with actionfigures. Is my oppinion. The aggression relates not at all to violent content in the game, but to frustration from playing the game. Any game pretty much can make me want to punch something out of frustration if I continually lose or put myself in stupid situations where I should’ve known better. It has nothing to do with the fact that stuff in the game tries to sort of approach something that could be called realistic violence.

    • sonofsanta says:

      @Gwathdring: given all that then, how has Mr Yee not been taken to court by the citizens of California for so colosally wasting their money and his time as their representative flogging this dead horse? He must have known all along that he would get this result anyway, but given all the above, surely his continued actions are just contemptuous of public finances? An example needs to be made so politicians don’t continue to launch unfathomably stupid campaigns at the expense of the taxpayer just to look good and keep their name in the news.

    • gwathdring says:

      First of all, fair point on the public finances. California, is after all, legally considered bankrupt. Second of all, because the voters got the bill passed in the first place and as such they support him … I’m sure California conservatives are going to give him a free pass on money they don’t see as wasted at all. He was working to defend a bill they supported with their votes.

      Finally, spending additional money in court to make up for money lost in court battles only makes sense if it ultimately injects money in the the micro-economy operated by the plaintiff. When the plaintiff is the state of California and the defendant is … the state of California …. oh dear, we’re losing money right any left on this one.

      How about a good old fashion vote-in-somebody-else approach instead?

    • Nick Ahlhelm says:

      FYI, movie ratings systems are not legally enforcable either, nor are comic book or DVD etc.

      That doesn’t mean that any business cannot enforce them if they will and deny the sale of them. Most companies do because 1. it’s good to avoid any frivolous legal situations and 2. it keeps them in good graces with the companies that set up the ratings systems to begin with.

    • gwathdring says:

      @sonofsanta

      I think what you really want, and what I want for that matter, is sensible voters that elect sensible people and elect new people when the old people stop being sensible.

      That’s hard when education is falling by the wayside and children aren’t being taught critical thinking anymore and our best response to children who aren’t leaning because we aren’t teaching them at home is “OH GOD! The math motor in her head! It’s broken! Quick, call the doctor. Or the congressman. Just do something and stop these damn teachers from ruining our children!”

      I think a lot of this comes back to education. Education of adult through news media, and education of children through their families. We like to blame teachers for declining test scores and international standings, but the reality is that we have some damn incredible standards for teachers in most states and still end up with low scores and poor education. Over-paid school administrations that make bad curriculum decisions and abandon their employees whenever angry parents make so much as a rude gesture aren’t helping either. Idiots in legislature, hearing the anger of their constituents, impose even WORSE curriculum decisions on administrators and teachers, expect even better results, and punish schools that are doing poorly due to lack of funding and low resources by cutting even more funding and closing schools and moving kids around and GOD !@#$(@ DAMNIT!

      Someone needs to sit them down with a class of seventh graders. Once hell breaks loose, hopefully they’ll realize that the people who can handle a class full of humans in their least human state probably know more about curriculum than the typical state legislator.

      Parents, emboldened by media telling them how dangerous the world is for their children and egged on by catering school districts and elected officials, take the battle to teachers (and video game retailers, to get marginally back on topic) instead of holding themselves and their children accountable.

      They are angry. They are scared. They care about their kids. And they are misinformed. Given all that, can I blame them? Mostly.

      When we stop punishing our teachers for trying desperately to work with kids who grow up in an environment hostile to education, and start paying them something even remotely respectable for the amount of expertise and education required of them in every state in union and start working with schools to make education last beyond the chime of the school bell, then we’ll start seeing more sensible, educated adults.

      Then we can come back to this discussion about rational politicians and wasted money. But unfortunately we’re too busy trying to save our kids from bad teachers and violent video games.

      Oh yes. I almost forgot about video games. We’ve got declining education. Parents are scared, have let media consumption get out of control in their household and want to blame something since blaming the teachers isn’t working. The kids are always playing these horrible games, and Fox News say games rot children’s brains so clearly video games can be blamed at least as much as bad teachers.

      It’s a bit of a winding rant, but I really do believe this issue comes back to education of adults through our news media, and children through our schools and even more importantly through at home continuations of education.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “Yeah, I don’t quite understand it. It seems to me that all they want is a legally enforceable rating system (you know, like the one we have here). That sounds like jolly good idea to me.”

      Thank you, someone finally seeing the same side of this as me, and why are all the games sites seeing this as a good thing? We have regulation over here and its not that bad tbh, we even have both legal and option age ratings and it seems to work ok, we have banned 2 games in the past that got overturned anyway. Its not like they were suggesting a germany like approach.

    • sonofsanta says:

      @Gwathdring: the problem with democracy is that half of all people have an IQ below 100. Taking an interest in politics should be an absolutely essential part of any adult’s life, but sadly most just cannot be bothered, and so the vocal minority and up being the political majority, and we get madness like the above performed in the name of “the people”. I fear, however, that this may be a larger issue outside the scope of an RPS comment thread.

      In short though, you are correct: education and involvement is the only solution, and the only defence against scare-mongering. Working as I do in a British school I see all too often the interference of politicians trying to make an impression, when modern politics is filled with career politicians who have no experience of anything except Whitehall, making ill-informed decisions on how professionals should do their job. Ideally you should be barred from being an MP until you have worked at least 20 years in another – any other – job, public or private sector (although perhaps not civil service).

      Anywho, this has gone plenty off topic now. In short: hurrah SCOTUS (and boo two dissenting voices who apparently missed the point entirely).

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Why stop with legally enforcable ratings systems? Why not just take half my paycheck and start a federal daycare service?

    • gwathdring says:

      @sonofsanta

      Technically, half have an IQ AT 100. It’s a standard normal cuve.

      But point taken.

      Edit: Retroactively stripped of credit for Advanced Calculus, Basic Calculus, Pre-Calculus and pending further review basic Functional Analysis. :(

    • malkav11 says:

      1) Establishing legal restrictions on the sale of videogames would be to treat videogames as a media as being inherently different than the rest of the media, which the government does not regulate. (Broadcast television uses the public airwaves, which the government administers, but television itself is not regulated, only that form of it.)

      2) The government is explicitly not allowed to regulate those media because the First Amendment to the Constitution states that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech (along with several other clauses), and all such media are considered constitutionally-protected speech. The Supreme Court just confirmed that yes, videogames are as well. As they should be. My understanding is that freedom of speech is considerably less broadly applied in Britain, which is why, among other things, a governmental ratings board is allowed. We’d rather stick to our version, thanks.

    • GeneralERA says:

      @gwathdring
      The normal distribution is continuous, it cannot be said to have any elements ‘at’ an exact number like 100. You have to define an interval over which to integrate if you want a percentage, and if you define the interval from -infinity to 100 as sonofsanta did, that interval is defined to contain 50% of the population. (Since the mean of the normal IQ curve is 100.)

      If IQ followed a STANDARD normal curve, its mean would be 0, and that certainly isn’t the case.

    • gwathdring says:

      Right. Sorry. I’m a bit brain dead at the moment.

      I guess it was more of a gut-reaction based on what happens when you do the integral from left to right. Which is exactly why what he said is right but in my head it works. Don’t ask. I shouldn’t do math while under the influence of political discussions. :P

      Sorry about that.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      A “legally enforceable ratings system” as you call it does not exist in any other medium except pornography, which only has one rating, 18 or older. Currently, the US has a voluntary system of rating which is used by every major vendor. If you buy a game at Gamestop, Best Buy, Target, Wal-mart, or any other place in the US, anyone under 17 can’t buy a Mature rated game. What they were asking the court was not for a rating system, but for video games to be declared obscene. Obscenity is determined if the content, whether it is violence or sex, by whether the content is outside the norm for the society, is gratuitous, and is devoid of artistic merit. A ruling like this would not have created a rating system of any sort, it would have just ment that almost every major retailer in the US would stop carrying the product, because obscenity carries with it a lot more rules and regulations. If you think that video games represent a legitimate medium of expression, this was nothing but an absolute victory.

    • NateN says:

      @Milky1985: Most video game sites I’ve seen want video games treated the same as any other media. In the US almost all media has age ratings enforced via the industry they are part of. Is a video game THAT much different then a book, movie, CD or comic book that it needs government ratings enforcement while all those other forms of media do not?

      I would also like to add that the video game industry was found to be better at self policing itself when compared to both the film and music industries. A recent government run undercover investigation found only 13% of underage shoppers were able to buy an M rated game. I would argue that an industry that is doing well at regulating itself does not need government intervention.

      http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/157017-ftc-video-game-retailers-stricter-on-age-rules-than-music-film

    • Grape says:

      Degrading [women] with brutal sex acts [is what] modern porn is all about.

      That has got to be the single biggest piece of utter bullshit I’ve read, today. Do you even have a fucking clue what you, yourself, just wrote, there? Porn is all about being brutal to women? Just… what? What? Are you fucking stupid? Or just ignorant?

      Yeah, you could say that playing violent videogames is like playing with action figures, if said action figures would react realistically to bullet wounds and collapse, screaming in pain, in a shower of realistic blood. But this still boils down to one thing: The idea that violence, (something destructive, potentially traumatizing and universally negative), is more acceptable for a kid than sex. (Something incredibly healthy, the single most positive experience in the life of most average persons, and the one thing we humans are programmed by nature to desire and need since puberty.) On the vague, nonsensical basis that “modern” porn is about being violent. (Again, WHAT?!)

      Admit it. You’re grasping for straws in order to defend the stupid, idiotic and destructive taboo against sex and sexuality that your culture is plagued with. And it’s not doing anybody any favours.

    • Psychochild says:

      gwathdring wrote:
      “Actually, it already failed in the state supreme court, the US District Court AND the US Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court had no obligation to review the case, and had the not done anything, the law would have been overturned anyway.”

      The difference here is where the case can be applied as precedent. Since the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the case and overturned the law, the precedent can be applied to any laws in the U.S. instead of the jurisdictions of the District Court or Court of Appeals. (At least, that’s my layman’s understanding. I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve been known to hang out in a bad crowed… and wrote a book about legal issues in the game industry.) This is good news in that it should hinder the casual “we’ll outlaw those evil games!” laws from the states we previously saw on a regular basis.

    • gwathdring says:

      No, I’m aware. It’s definitely a good thing. :) I just thought I read a comment that sounded like the person was glad the supreme court stopped the law from happening, when what they really did (and what is indeed more important) is enshrined games as one of the most protected classes of speech in US law.

      I was just making it clear the law was grasping at straws anyway: this was not a near miss for games, but rather turned a clearly favorable outcome into a smashing victory. I was tired, maybe I presumed to much from the post. I’m not going to bother hunting for it.

      But yes. Super important awesomeness, indeed.

  3. LarsBR says:

    Gacy! Very topical, Mr Meer.

  4. Theoban says:

    In all fairness they’re right, games should be banned. Why the other day I played Proun on recommendations from this very site, fifteen minutes later I awoke in a daze, blood on the walls and DIE BYTCHES scrawled on the ceiling in excrement. Not only did this drive me to wild acts of violence, I lost the ability to spell. Ban this sick filth.

  5. The Sentinel says:

    America seems to breed a never-ending stream of these reactionary, ill-informed morons, doesn’t it? While there are clearly some very lovely and intelligent people over there these other…people…do a very good job of being louder and more visible, which is something of a shame. The art of rational debate isn’t dead, it’s just been shoved in a dumpster somewhere to quietly bleed out.

    • Sardaukar says:

      It’s a good thing we have more people that aren’t as described, seeing that the thing was defeated.

      Statements like the above really confuse me; There are nations where red blood is banned, mature games are banned, or violent games are banned on a selective basis. Why does no one talk about them?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_video_games

    • johnpeat says:

      This is the same Supreme Court which recently ruled that Law Enforcement can kick-in the door of a property and search it (without a warrant or probably cause) is they can

      a – smell marajuana
      b – hear sounds which may be people disposing of said marajuana

      I’ll repeat that because it’s mind-numbing…

      Police can kick in ANY DOOR THEY LIKE with NO WARRANT and NO PROBABLE CAUSE so long as they can say they could smell something and hear something (2 things we could not ever prove or disprove).

      I’m astonished this bunch of dullards didn’t ban games – and breathing…

    • Sardaukar says:

      The Justices state that probable cause is needed, and that they must knock first. Even then, the citizen can remain perfectly silent, or greet them at the door and refuse them entrance without a warrant. If the police actually do this to someone without probable cause or in defiance of refused entry, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to defend their actions in court because by definition of the scenario there will be no drug evidence seized to prove they had cause.

    • johnpeat says:

      You’re assuming they won’t find anything – or that if they do, that kicking-in the door was justifiable because they did.

      That law enforcement would need to kick-in doors over marajuana (a harmless substance) is bad enough – that they can do so on the basis of what they say they can smell and hear is farcical…

    • gwathdring says:

      @OP:

      We aren’t all that unreasonable when it comes to censorship, sir. I’m sure I could dig up some crazy reactionary weirdos from Britain as well. But I won’t, because I’m fairly sure they aren’t the norm. It is disingenuous to, as a way of showing how mad America is, focus on an attempted ban that has failed at every single step in the judicial process surviving only by appealing to the higher-ups. The Supreme Court for whatever reason decided to use this case to make a point–they could have ignored the appeal and the law still would have been defunct anyway.

      @johnpeat

      I have lots of issues with the current court, but I do believe you are exaggerating on that particular court decision.

      If not, I blame Clarence Thomas but mostly because I have so little respect for the man, I no longer capable of rationally describing the well reasoned, principled trail of thought that led me into this pit of remorseless censure. Even if he dissented. Still his fault.

    • metalangel says:

      @OP: That coming from a country with the BBFC, Mary Whitehouse and The Daily Mail? I dread reading any games-related news article from the US because I just know the sort of xenophobic generalizations that will be contained therein. Britain’s fascination with American culture but hatred for the actual people is baffling.

    • Gepetto says:

      @metalangel

      I Think you misunderstand the role of the BBFC, and also misunderstand the current alive/dead status of Mary Whitehouse.

    • metalangel says:

      @Gepetto: As examples of reactionary “think of the children” loons (Whitehouse) and banning stuff (BBFC)? I don’t think I have. Video nasties, strict anti-violence rules, no hardcore pornography until 2000.

    • Matt says:

      Zombie Mary Whitehouse, campaigning against Left 4 Dead? That’d be a sight to see.

    • Gepetto says:

      What has the BBFC to do with banning? I merely classifies films into various age ratings (PG, 12, 15, 18, etc…). If something was banned it’s a political and legal issue. The BBFC is not a govermental body.

    • metalangel says:

      Perhaps ban is the wrong word, but it’s not far off. HM Government designated the BBFC as the authority that issues ratings, and without a rating you can’t legally sell a video (or games with mature content) in the UK. If they refuse classification of something that’s as near a ban as you can get.

    • Nick says:

      Not really, all they have to do is sufficiently edit whatever bit they found particularly bad, which doesn’t tend to happen anywhere near as much as it used to, and usually its to do with graphic sexual violence, which frankly I don’t care about because I don’t particularly want to see that anyway.

    • metalangel says:

      I’m not talking about the BBFC or its criteria. What I was trying to say was the OP was wrong to use this article as a means (as gwathdring said) to say how crazy Americans are, when Senator Yee is self-appointed moral crusader which hard makes him unique regardless of his country of origin.

    • James T says:

      “Statements like the above really confuse me; There are nations where red blood is banned, mature games are banned, or violent games are banned on a selective basis. Why does no one talk about them?”

      “No-one”? Germany and Australia are typically the only nations mentioned when it comes to censoring and/or banning videogames.

  6. Phoshi says:

    Back in my day, when we defeated a video game enemy they exploded! None of this rebuttal stuff.

  7. Akura says:

    Man, some people never learn. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

  8. Batolemaeus says:

    Coming from a country that has way over-the-top regulations on games, I still believe that some regulations regarding the availability of games to children are sensible. I don’t think manhunt-esque games should be legally available to minors.

    That position is hard to maintain when the people who arguing for more regulations are dimwit moral guardians with not even a token familiarity with the medium. I wish they’d stop shouting misinformed drivel, and I wish they’d stop being listened to in favour of a more rational and educated well informed debate.

    Yeah, like that’d happen..

    • wu wei says:

      I still believe that some regulations regarding the availability of games to children are sensible.

      Based on what? How is this belief any less unfounded than that of Yee?

    • johnpeat says:

      In the UK we have that – it is an offense to sell a game rated BBFC 18 to anyone under that age.

      Makes little difference – I’ve lost count of the number of parents I’ve seen buying BBFC 18s for kids CLEARLY under 18 – but the law exists and STILL people complain about the games (and not the moron parents).

      Watching someone buying Bayonetta for a kid who’s clearly about 8 (and a pretty stupid 8 if his behaviour in-store is a measure of him) is a grating experience…

    • goettel says:

      Why not just let parents decide what’s good for their children ?

      I doubt any parent would care much for my opinion on what they should or shouldn’t buy for their kids. I’d thank them to do the same.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Based on having been around children (and “grown ups”..) enough to know that they’re easily manipulated. The underlying problem is that media conveys a lot of ideas and concepts that, without critical analysis, are not exactly the best to be taken at face value.
      How to properly deal with media needs to be learned; parents need to teach that. I’d prefer something a little less harsh to teach children before I let them experience the full range of everything media has to offer.
      Obviously, just shouting how media corrupts the youth and rock&roll makes them all into satanist terrorists is hugely counterproductive. Media itself isn’t the issue, the issue is that each new generation needs to be taught how to handle such influence gracefully until they are mature enough to call bullshit on people like Adds Yee as well as the game they’re currently playing.

      If media that is “unfit for minors” can only be legally acquired if a parent is involved, we can at least say that a parent had to consent and had some control.

      Or, to go analogy crazy: There’s a reason why you start with easy stuff when you enter school, and there’s a reason why the niveau will slowly rise. And for the same reason, it might be a good idea to start not with Caligula, but a smart kid’s movie.

      Sadly, when I look at actual implementations of such simple restrictions, it seems that the idea of only gradually exposing children to all that life has to offer hasn’t quite caught on. Instead, red blood is replaced by grey blood, or curse words are bleeped out as if that changed anything.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I don’t know. Arguing that Manhunt is dangerous to kids or whatever sounds a lot like people who claim Der Untergang is dangerous because it “humanizes Hitler”.

      I am not sure what world people who make arguments like that inhabit, but it seems to be one which has successfully divorced the human condition from the nature of a man, and which is deathly afraid that letting people make their own minds about things will make them promptly descend into rabid, frothing beasts. A veil needs to be kept in place, it seems, to avoid any permeation of the outside influences which will promptly pollute the sanitized conditions which keep our werewolf-people from shape shifting and committing horrendous crimes only a human being would be capable of.

      I’d hate to oversimplify but I blame this mainly on various Abrahamic teachings. At least we get good horror movies which use this paralyzing fear to produce neat and enjoyable entertainment. Just don’t let people know that zombies and werewolves are a metaphor for something, surely they will argue that Teen Wolf should not be viewed by minors.

    • goettel says:

      @Batolemaeus: keys in your argument are “I’d prefer” and “I let them”.

      So, who’s stopping you from applying those values to your own kids, and leaving other parents to apply values of their choice to theirs? Freedom is beautiful like that.

    • gwathdring says:

      As I said in the other thread, I do think the discussion is more fair when we start to talk about impressionable minds and marketing that targets children.

      Where things get nasty though is when you stick an age on it. Sure, the most reasonable line to draw from a legal standpoint is adulthood. But at the same time, is it really fair to suggest that 17 year olds are not old enough to watch Braveheart and play Counterstrike? What about a 17 year old who is an apprentice butcher and sees blood all the time? Or an amateur film buff who no longer sees blood, but the specific special effect in use? The question is far too complicated, I feel, for such a black-and-white law. I think the rating system is excellent. Enforcing it through criminal law is pushing what I feel comfortable with.

    • gwathdring says:

      @ gottel

      That’s the argument that has me on the fence. Parents who want to give the games to their kids can. Parents who don’t want to have to trust retailers to honor the ratings system.

      But than I think for a moment: how are kids playing these games without their parents noticing? Do they play at a friend’s house? Couldn’t they do that without buying the game if the friend had lenient parents? Do they play when the folks aren’t watching? Isn’t it the parent’s prerogative to keep track of what their children do in the privacy of their own home, not the government’s? There are so many holes here. What is being provided does not prevent children from being exposed to games, or even prevent marketing games towards children. What is being provided is a weak security measure that makes parents feel more in control without forcing them to actually pay attention to what their children do on computers and televisions.

    • MrMud says:

      “I don’t know. Arguing that Manhunt is dangerous to kids or whatever sounds a lot like people who claim Der Untergang is dangerous because it “humanizes Hitler”.”

      Why is that?
      I have not seen any research on the topic of hyperviolent games (as we can all agree manhunt is) being played by children. Lacking that research I dont see how we can abandon the hypothesis that it may be dangerous. That this research will never happen because it is unethical just strengthens the believablity of the hypothesis. Its not truth, but it is not implausible either.

      I dont see how it has any relation to Der Untergang.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “Why not just let parents decide what’s good for their children ?”

      Thats what currently happens in the UK , but we have a legal option to go down if a company consistantly breaks the regulations on selling to underage kids (so if a shop is not even bothering to check ID and just handing out COD to every 12 year old then they get prosecuted, actualyl thats a lie, the teller is the one that gets prosecuted to give an extra push to actually check the damn things)

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I base my position on the fact that nothing strange, weird or bad happened to children who watched porn and violent movies when they were young. Some things kids don’t understand. Some things can disturb kids. This is all normal. A kid first shown how a farm animal is killed, or how an animal is hunted down and killed in the wilderness, is likely to be disturbed. This is just the first step toward accepting it and moving on to normally performing these tasks as part of everyday life. That modern society has largely moved away from such tasks as part of the everyday society does not mean people who are able to perform them are in any way damaged, nor that they are in any way abnormal. I am talking here, of course, of things which are light years away from simulated violence for the purpose of entertainment. Which is accepted as a baseline for entertainment in our society. If anything, more extreme examples of violence which have less of a “safe fun!” wrapping around them make people contemplate the implications a lot more than cartoonish violence or implied/abstracted violence. They are less comfortable and more likely to provoke. Which is good and makes people actually care about it.

      Killing Trolls and Orcs for XP with pastel colors and bright flashes is fun. You do not stop to think about you being a genocidal kleptomaniac. This is “safe”, for whatever reason. Killing people for entertainment of others is a lot more visceral, a lot more real and a lot more likely to provoke thought. That the game was crap is another thing altogether. Dungeoneer: The Beautiful Escape drives this home perfectly, and isn’t crap. Classic Disney characters all being distant relatives of each other and no one living in a stable, nuclear family is “safe” as well (because it sidesteps sex!), yet people will react violently to less shiny, pastel representations of disjointed families. And the latter, rather than former, have the capability to teach a child something about the world they live in.

      If I could in any way present my position as a philosophy (which it really isn’t), it’s that people are a lot more robust than what people who present these arguments assume. Also, I am sick and tired of all the “think of the children!” cries whenever someone is at odds with progress. Children are not all idiots and the fact that a couple might be does not mean we should treat ‘em all like that. I am not at all surprised that people who want any kind of content restricted are the most notorious liars who keep insisting their children believe fairy tales. Because it is “safe”. Children come from cabbage, or a stork brings them, or whatever. Let’s then be amazed that they can’t properly handle sexuality in adolescence.

    • gwathdring says:

      The fact that such research would be considered unethical is a result of social mores and longstanding biases, and has much less bearing on the scientific hypothesis than you imply, and none for the reason you imply.

      I don’t think the game is harmful. But I feel that the game is counter to the social narrative I want to instill in my children. I don’t want them to access video games with that level of violent content until they’ve demonstrated an ability to think both “playing with fake swords is fun” and “how could anyone kill another human being over such petty issues as these?” as we re-enact a battle from the War of the Roses with a combination of Playmobile and my Warmachine miniatures. More importantly, I’d rather expose them to that level of interactive violence through a game that’s actually good or maybe even tries to say something interesting.

      I despise the “no evidence is evidence” form of argument. But I see your point about exposing children to certain media. However I also recognize that it is born entirely out of the environment I was raised in and the way I was socialized to treat violence. With proper parenting, I can get my child to the point I’m at: morally opposed to violence but playing Team Fortress and Assassin’s Creed in the same mind set as one would play Paintball or battle imaginary pirates or watch Star Wars.

      I’ve learned to separate it. I almost didn’t want to. The first time I played counter strike, at a LAN cafe with friends, I loved how everyone cried out together when something cool happened and how much fun they were having … so I took a break from crushing Walkman and Steel with a Mordor army entirely made out of trolls, two Nazgul and an Oliphaunt. The gameplay was fantastic. The community at the cafe was great. The visceral nature of the game made me physically cringe. I stopped after a few minutes. It took a while before I was able to properly distance the two, and I react no less strongly to real violence than I used to–I have learned what virtual violence is and what it isn’t, or at least learned when there is a message to be taken from it and when it’s just tag with bullets. I was a minor at the time, an when I finally got hooked I had to have my mom with me to buy the game. But she wasn’t in the café all those times. I still played the thing.

      That said, she knew how I felt about violence and had watched me go through the exact some process with movies (Braveheart was sort of my milestone there for a long time) and was fully aware of the media I was consuming and the way I was consuming it.

      I think parents just need to watch, discuss, and listen to those sorts of things. Labeling these products as dangerous gets us nowhere because of our inherent socialized biases.

    • gwathdring says:

      Well said Dawngreater. :)

      I especially like that you brought up the bit about sexuality. I think our fear of corrupting our children leads to the most harmful misinformation and confusion, and is utterly inexcusable let alone by the feeble excuse that pornography and sexual content tends to be degrading and objectifying. The degrading and objectifying begins and ends far and beyond pornography. Only through proper education and a willingness to discuss and approach sexual topics and material (including pornography) can we actually start to instill a healthy understanding of the differences between unhealthy sexual views/practices and sex as a healthy, enjoyable part of life and a necessary part of society. Trying to quickly hide all of our violent and sexual material in a box and pretend nothing was happening leads to unguided curiosity which leads to healthy exploration but also often to misinformation and confusion.

    • MrMud says:

      “I base my position on the fact that nothing strange, weird or bad happened to children who watched porn and violent movies when they were young. ”
      You are basing this on what evidence?
      I would love to see the study that in a randomized trial subjected children to virtual violence and then somehow tracked how that affected them.
      Im not saying it must have changed them all into murderers. But the prevailing attitude among many gamers and game journalists that games cannot possibly be harmful is baffling. Because we simply dont know yet.
      There have been studies but they are not conclusive and they are not going to extremes either (such as having very young children play very violent games).
      I love games and I love violent games but I can not keep my scientific integrity intact and still claim that we know for sure that they are safe to children.

      As to the “no evidence is evidence of the contrary” argument. Yea I dont like it either and I dont really want to be seen as proposing it. I am however trying to say that we dont really know and as such it might be prudent to apply the cautionary principle.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      “But the prevailing attitude among many gamers and game journalists that games cannot possibly be harmful is baffling.”

      So, here’s me getting angry. You’re marching up and down the bullshit alley and it makes me angry. So I stop to take a deep breath and not be angry. So now I’m just annoyed because, that bullshit alley? Still marched upon. But that’s fine. I know there are many others like it. So maybe I’m not so annoyed anymore but I’m questioning whether I want to acknowledge people who frequent bullshit alleys.

      Then I realize, hey, I already posted two lengthy posts. I’ve got 20 minutes of doing nothing. Might as well post a reply. Only now, I’m not so sure I have any real desire to go around explaining the whole thing once again. So I figure I might just post about how I got to the point where I don’t have the stamina to engage in bullshit crossfire.

      I do wonder, though, if you have the data and whatnot to define what ‘harmful’ means, accord to which standards, and how that applies to, say, cell phones. Stuffed animals. And female shoes with high heels. Especially the last one. I’ll get back to you when you provide those data points I can refer to in order to determine the scientific baseline.

    • gwathdring says:

      Actually there’s some interesting data about cell phones and brain tumors and some incredibly solid data about late-night cell phone usage by young people and poor sleep. So it’s a whole lot more reasonable to attack cell phones at this point than games. Still not bulletproof, but it’s a lot better than the thin air of speculation.

      Back to the point.

      Psychological damage is not accrued through neutral stimulus. If hunting for food were a more routine part of our lives, violence against animals would not be as much of a sign of social distance and violent behaviors. Social pressures would separate more strongly than we do now violence against animals and violence against people. I think the social distance issue is an important one: in society at large, it is reasonable and without need of justification to step on small insects. There is no inherent connection between stepping on an ant and being violent. The same people that wouldn’t ever dream of doing harm to kittens and rodents squish spiders and flies with impunity. Violence is defined in large part by these sorts of social norms. In a society where play-fighting is normative and socially distant from actual fighting, wrestling and stick-fencing can be non-violent activities. Even fencing with foils can be dueled with in non-violent ways. There are social traditions of non-violent gun use at target ranges and less directly through paint-ball and laser tag.

      There are all sorts of war games and mock-fighting that are not only considered ok by society but are specifically taught as separate from violent behavior. This is important. Because if we establish a clear connection between video games and paint-ball rather than video games and gang fights … we can start to see a path towards non-violent violence in video games.

      I can certainly understand weariness when approaching this concept. Some adults have trouble distancing themselves from mimicry of violent behavior. Society at large is conflicted between privately using games as non-violent entertainment and publicly scaring themselves into thinking violent games are real violence. And there will always be games that cross the line, just as there will always be sports that cross the line between violent mimicry and violence with violent intent. At the same time, we need to give ourselves credit for a little more ability to compartmentalize these sorts of things. Blood sports like boxing, wrestling, and even dueling are very very old and have only been kept away from children for a relatively small part of their existence. In a society comfortable with sex and violence, these sorts of things can be kept properly in their spheres such that violence even for violence’s sake does not prevent individuals from living psychologically healthy lives.

      So here we get to the biggest hurdle, which I’ve already mentioned at least once: we are not in a society that is comfortable with sex and violence. But there’s only one way to get there and that is to make your home as healthy a home as possible without sheltering it from reality. You don’t have to let kids play violent games and beat each other up to make them well rounded. That is not what I mean here at all–nor do I condone bloody sibling battles in the slightest. What I propose is that you form a picture of the sorts of things you want your child to be comfortable with as an adult and try your best to introduce the heavier or more complicated and socially controversial sectors gradually and with grace WITHOUT resorting to outright censorship. I think outright censorship leads to misunderstanding and ignorance which leads to the wrong sort of curiosity and more misunderstanding. I think violence has to be treated with care, the younger the child the more care, but I also know the power of socialization and know that proper exposure to things typically thought unfit for children can make those things, at least, far less dangerous, confusing and corrupting than the current social narrative implies.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I support gwathdring’s reasoning.

      Also, I’d like to add that we expect people trained for government-sanctioned killing, who actually go and perform unspeakable acts of violence for a living, to be fully functional elements of our society. And that’s fine. It’s more than fine, it’s awesome. They’re gorram heroes or some such. But playing Manhunt is bad. Right.

  9. Theodoric says:

    Well, games are like hard-core porn in that you can find them for free on the internet just by using Google >.>

  10. Firkragg says:

    Am I the only one who looks at that picture and thinks “Thats not a thumbs up” or am I in serious need of Tea?

  11. Nallen says:

    No danger of parents preventing their kids looking at all this inappropriate content then?

  12. zeroskill says:

    I wonder what the space baby thinks about all this. *plays dramatic music*

  13. I LIKE FOOD says:

    If you want to ban other peoples interest you´d better be ready to show some facts that support your arguments. Obviously he didn´t, so gtfo outta our games you stupid slime ball.

  14. sonofsanta says:

    Politician in burying head in sand shocker!

    At this point I think selection bias is playing its role, and Mr Yee is in for a penny in for a pound. He can’t possibly gracefully accept the decision of the highest court in the land, a decision based on reason and evidence, not when he’s been banging the drum for so long and so loud. Maintaining appearance rules all in politics, sadly.

    I am continually grateful that for all the madness of so many conservative US politicians, the SCOTUS does continually appear to take its time to understand issues and make the sensible, considered decision.

    And you’re right – that is the most appropriate picture that has ever existed. The only possible improvement would be a troll costume in place of the werewolf.

    • gwathdring says:

      Don’t be. This particular court is a bit odd. Supreme Court justices often have their own political … niches that don’t fit into the political narrative of the rest of America. Scalia sides with US liberals on one issue, libertarians on the next and conservatives on the next three …. I think I got the ratio about right. He has a very consistent and predictable ideology but as with most judicial “niches”, it is based on a constitutional interpretation more than a political and moral slant and as such looks more or less conservative depending on the case.

      The language used is even different. A conservative judge is much more literal than an American conservative politician. They interpret the constitution more literally and adhere to the text and to past decisions as often as they can. They tend to limit the power of the federal government and strengthen the state and local governments (usually bolstering rights of the people vs. the federal and shrinking them vs. the states in the process). They tend to be be far more radically in favor of free speech than liberal justices, something you would not necessarily expect from looking at American political discourse about liberals and conservatives.

      Clarance Thomas is an oddball here: he’s a strict textualist and as judicially conservative as they get. But he strongly favors power of the executive, despite weakening the federal government in general. This seems odd in conjunction with his textualist leanings since the Constitution works so hard to limit the executive in practice and in theory.

    • WJonathan says:

      Whoa, whoa, that’s enough nuanced, considerate analysis. Just call them all a bunch of reactionary idiot Americans like everyone else here and be done with it. Keep it simple, America=stupid/Britain=smart! HUUURRRRGGGH!

    • gwathdring says:

      Does that mean I can ignore the rational, well-researched part of my brain and just call Clarence Thomas a discredit to his Judicial office? I really don’t like Clarence Thomas. Scalia I can understand a bit more because he’s not a textualist and he’s more consistent and he’s hilarious even when I think he’s dead wrong. It doesn’t help that Thomas was officially replacing Thurgood Marshall who believed in treating the Constitution as an initially flawed, but evolving document more like a basis for common law precedent than a way of vetoing that precedent. I like Thurgood Marshall. So I’m so heavily biased I really can’t trust that opinion even when less biased people share it with me.

    • malkav11 says:

      Clarence Thomas is a strict textualist in that he makes up a lot of self-serving bullshit about what the “Founding Fathers must clearly have intended”.

    • sonofsanta says:

      Reading the Ars article, Thomas’s dissension is based on the idea that he wants to uphold parenting in the style of 17th Century Puritans. One might argue this is not particularly relevant when discussing a modern development such as video games, or electricity.

      One might also argue that this view, of the father’s word as absolute law in his family, is also a little bit male-centric and, frankly, sexist, stupid and based on him always wanting his way, dammit.

    • gwathdring says:

      But I feel bad when I say it that way …. :

      I despise textualism. It’s ridiculous, it’s archaic. I distrust Clarence Thomas. He’s a textualist. He’s overly friendly toward Monsanto and Monsanto is Bad. He has made comments that hint at sexism and through the sorts of arguments he makes makes me feel like I disagree even when he votes for my favored side of a court case (something I like to call the Michael Moore Effect, only the number of times I agree with Clarence Thomas on an issue by issue basis is way smaller).

      But in the end I’m pretty damn far left of center for an American. And Clarence Thomas is a hardline conservative on and off the bench. Maybe he and mainstream America are more right for each other than I like to admit. It’s hard to be objective about these things.

  15. aircool says:

    Two young lads (under 10) regularly play CoD:Blops and the like on my dads PC when they come and visit him (family friends). Doesn’t affect them in any way at all. However, their own father, who returned from Afghanistan in a wooden box will have a lasting effect on their lives.

    Time for a little perspective perhaps?

    • cliffski says:

      How do you KNOW it doesn’t affect them? I guess you think the advertising you watch doesn’t affect you?
      I KNOW that I am a rational person who makes sensible purchasing decisions not based on fluff like advertising. Nosiree…

      And yet…

      When I recently bought a new car, only AFTER buying the car did I notice that those 4 boxsets of Spooks that I had been watching like mad in the 2 months leading up to me buying a car, obviously and clearly promoted the good guys driving the same make of car in every single episode…

      What we see influences us. What we participate in, colors our feelings and attitudes. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t play games, but it’s silly to suggest that magically games have no effect on the players.

    • gwathdring says:

      Yes, but that’s much more of an issue with advertising and specific elements of conditioning than something as general as “violence” or even “violence in games.” If we want to start talking about advertising and children, then I start becoming much more friendly toward government regulation. Playing the games certainly have an effect on these children. But not necessarily to turn them into unbalanced monsters. Perhaps instead dooming them to a horrible life of brand-recognition slavery and a shelf displaying the utterly horrible Call of Duty: Ultra Modern Warfare 34.

      That’s a different issue, not really related to this law directly, but one which I would love to discuss.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I can’t speak for how games effect other people, but I started playing them basically the moment I came out of the womb (1977) and don’t feel like I’m a threat to society as a result. It may have helped that I had parents who made sure the amount of time I spent playing was regulated and who paid attention to what I was playing (even if it meant having my copy of Leather Goddesses of Phobos tossed in the trash – damn it, mom).

      We also have a full generation of adults who have been playing videogames since childhood with no apparent ill effect on society, which probably means more than anything when it comes to evidence for/against restricting the access of games to minors. Of course, you could say the same thing about other media; god knows 12 year olds aren’t digging into their dads’ porn drawers or going to see R rated movies.

    • gwathdring says:

      Do dads actually have porn drawers? It’s a common trope, but is it true? I’ve had rather minimal exposure to straight up pornography, and I don’t remember any of the old boxes in the garage turning up stashes of naked pictures. Lots of spiders though. And utterly random tools that can’t possibly be useful for anything in this dimension. Is there and L-space for garages? I think there must be …

      Do I have some sort of cultural obligation to my children here that my dad never taught me? Maybe G-Space will take care of it.

  16. ArcaneSaint says:

    “an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?”
    Now THAT’s a game I’d like to see! (ps: american politicians, the previous sentence was meant to be interpreted as sarcasm)
    I really do wonder what kind of games he’s talking about, it certainly ain’t any of those games you can buy in regular shops. At least not in Europe,but then again the American political system is known for its inability to differentiate between sub-types (like normal games and porn-games)

  17. Xan says:

    I’ll just leave this here

    • PopeJamal says:

      Complete nonsense. I couldn’t even be bothered to watch the rest of the clip. You know what I love about this debate:

      The One Hand: Oh noes! Games are so dangerous because they’re interactive. They have the ability to get into someones head in a lasting and powerful way!

      The Other Hand: Games aren’t art and will never be as “good” as film because they don’t have the ability to get into someones head and affect them in a lasting and powerful way.

      It can’t be both, so which is it?

  18. JFS says:

    I fucking hate werewolves. Apart from that, the picture is indeed great.

  19. Kapitol says:

    Videogames are an electoral milieu for democrats or republicans wanting to appeal to voters across the isle/They turn children into psychopaths, they’re an artform and deserve protection.
    It’s a relief to see games protected. Now it’s up to Germany and Australia to overcome historical phobias.

    • JFS says:

      I wonder who is gonna win that race of snails. I don’t think it’ll ever come to an end, I have a feeling that we and the Australians would rather have even stronger laws.

    • thegooseking says:

      I heard that Australia might be finally on the way to getting an R18 rating, which will do a lot to prevent the Left 4 Unconscious type stuff.

  20. Kadayi says:

    Picture is tops. Big grin.

  21. Schmouddle says:

    I play games (and sometimes pretty violent ones, too) since I was 8. That is…at least 23 years. But still I had to take my legally owned weapon (or that illegaly held, for this instance) and go shoot up some shopping mall.
    Games spoling children? Bollocks.
    Lack of parental care spoils child’s behaviour in the first place.

  22. yamnivek says:

    Coming from a british perspective, it seems like a raging frothing madman exclaming all the games are bad. I feel the rating system is set up fairly well in this country. The combination of the PEGI rating system and the BBFC’s 18 rating for games give parents a very informed guide on the games to buy.

    Kids learn of these rating systems in school now, my 5 year old boy started talking about PEGI 3 and PEGI 7 when i loaded a few games to play on the xbox with him and he took me by suprise as he knew what the ratings meant. He knew that they were ages and he said he was too young for the PEGI 7 game (i think it was a Lego Pirates of the Carribean game). I used my parental judgement to let him play along with me.

    The ratings are not to stop kids playing games at all. Movies ratings never stopped me watching films above my age (of course without my parents knowing) but then we couldnt buy them from a shop. My mum wouldnt have bought me an 18 rated film at 11 years old. But a lot of parents assume games are for kids and buy these rated games (PEGI or BBFC) just to keep their kid quiet as they dont understand the medium. As an aside i was in a Game once were a parent was buying GTAIV for their son (had to be about 10-11) and the store assistant told the mum about the age ratinga nd explained the nature of the game. It didnt stop the mum from buying it for the moaing little git but the guy tried.

    Im generallising here but adults in the 35-55 range with kids 10-16 dont tend to play modern video games. But they did grow up with films and understand the ratings behind them, games are something the kids play.

    With the next generation of parents (those that grew up with gaming), an understanding of what this medium is about is already built in so parental policing of titles will increase.

  23. Samuel Erikson says:

    “Yee also draws attentions to comments made by lone dissenting justice Breyer[...]“

    Just a quick correction here: Justice Thomas also dissented.

  24. hamster says:

    What exactly does federal regulation of violent video games entail? Are we talking about in-house (the government, that is) agencies giving the ratings or is there something more?

  25. Nick Ahlhelm says:

    I wonder if his head would explode if he found out that Wal-Marts actually card for R rated movies and M rated games?

    • thegooseking says:

      And for that matter (not to beat this drum too often, but…) that significantly more places card for M-rated games than for R-rated movies.

  26. Zogtee says:

    “…an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?””

    Where can I *find* these games? Godammit, I’ve been looking everywhere!

  27. frymaster says:

    I think it needs to be emphasised, for us brits, that all this is doing is restoring parity with games and films. In the USA, cinema film ratings are just industry guidelines too. If it were the UK, where film certification is regulated, it would absolutely make sense for game certification to be regulated as well. In the US, where it’s not, there’s no reason for games to be singled out.

    That’s why the comparisons with the porn industry are being made, for example.

    • gwathdring says:

      Yeah, but I think we should change that too. I’m not convinced porn ought to be considered separate except where there’s vested state interest (child pornography and it’s connection to illegal coercion of children etc).

  28. edit says:

    If the man really cares about our children, he could put some money and effort into an educational program which teaches sensible fucking parenting. It’s just amazing to me how anything and everything is blamed for the behavior of children EXCEPT for the real issues – Parents, school education, and societal ideologies including those in place to maintain a strong military and public support for war.

    • gwathdring says:

      Bravo! More of this sort of thing!

      Thank you.

    • PopeJamal says:

      “effort into an educational program which teaches sensible fucking parenting.”

      LOL, not gonna happen. That would be what the conservatives in the US would call an “entitlement program”.

      “Stop giving my hard earned resources to deadbeats that don’t deserve it! Sink or swim! Pull yourself up by your own boot straps! Smaller government! Lower taxes!” and all that nonsense.

      They would rather monetize the situation by putting “bad” people into jails run by private for-corporations than to fix the “problem”.

      It’s not a problem when it ultimately generates billions a year for the top 5%. That, honestly, has more to do with this decision than any Constitutional precedent.

    • dhex says:

      If the man really cares about our children, he could put some money and effort into an educational program which teaches sensible fucking parenting.

      i like this idea! everyone does!

      problem being who gets to decide what “sensible” is. much like mr. yee*, we all have our favorite boogeymen for the kids these days and their clothes and their music and their overall shittiness, etc etc and so forth.

      * unlike him in that we generally don’t get buckets of ducats for our opinions and efforts – http://maplight.org/california/legislator/1361-leland-yee

      i guess the nicest thing we can say is that he’s at least somewhat sincere in his beliefs, as far as we can tell. i don’t see a lot of film and tv entertainment dollars hitting him, unless they’re being funneled in via california dmv workers or some such kooky konspiracy.

    • gwathdring says:

      That’s why “Sensible Fucking Parenting 101″ would best taught by career educators (elementary school/kindergarten preferred since those are the formative years) or a psychologist with special education in … education and psychology of development. Sure they’ll still have pet theories and biases, but at least those biases won’t alter the core principles of how to teach kids in the first place–what to teach them, ideawise, completely aside.

      Here’s an idea: how about all those child tax incentives we have here in the US require a Sensible Fucking Parenting 101, or a equal number of hours in a similar program like a child psychology course. That way you don’t get into the dangerous territory of confiscating children that are had under the radar. And fining unwed mothers sounds like a great way to make a bad situation worse.

      That’s a bad idea. How about we stick it in high schools. Hell, that also takes care of my other idea that all high schools should require a basic practical psychology class that talks about depression, conditioning, advertising, popular myths about mental illness, a little practical game theory and Sensible Fucking Parenting. Too bad that would never get to be the actual name of the course/curriculum segment. :(

  29. Novack says:

    Jeez, that man has big ego.

    Is as you said, every other media had to pass over this process to get rid of mad dogs trying to enforce tiranic, religious stupidity.

  30. mollemannen says:

    he totally forgets that he lives in america where it is a 50-50 chance you develop aggressive behavior anyway.

  31. MrMud says:

    mispost

  32. caliwyrm says:

    You know, senator Leland Yee, I played A LOT of SimCity 2000 as a child and I don’ t have any tendancies to do urban planning..

    • Odeon says:

      Twenty-odd years after my first experience playing Civilization (in DOS!), I STILL play lots of Civilization (I and IV these days – Civ I is still incredibly fun!), yet I’ve never gone off to some un-claimed portion of land in the middle of a forest/jungle/arctic waste to start a new civilization. I’ve never once even considered becoming a civil engineer, despite hours and hours and hours of play time, let alone a politician.

  33. nootron says:

    “the rights of parents”. Wow, this part blew my mind. If i understand the bill correctly, it would REMOVE parents rights, not grant them. Its fascism, albeit disguised as morality and concern for our children — but fascism nonetheless.

    These are troubling times when politicians try to take our rights away under the guise of giving us rights.

    • Odeon says:

      Does this law seem like the start of that trend to you? Because if it has, you need to be paying more attention. This sort of “take away civil liberties and legal freedoms in order to protect the people” crap has been going on for too many years already!

  34. nootron says:

    “Every major national medical association – including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – has concluded that exposure to violent video games causes an increase in aggressive behavior,”

    Nope. A central tenant of all social science is that CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION. You can never say that X causes Y after doing a psychology study, no matter how rigorous.

    This is just plain lying on Lee’s behalf.

  35. ezekiel2517 says:

    Odd. This is the second time ever and second time this day that I have heard of this “John Wayne Gacy”.

  36. screeg says:

    Yee wasn’t “neatly ignoring a whole lot of evidence to the contrary”, he was making shit up from whole cloth. I know you’re way over there in Englande, but there isn’t any consistent body of evidence, or psychiatric opinion, or even a single convincing study in the U.S. proving those wild conclusions.

    Not one.

    The only reason people think these studies exist is because of pandering by jack-asses like Yee. Personally, I would like it if games journalists kept that in mind when quoting these luminaries of philosophical thought.

  37. Grayvern says:

    The elephant in the room is that this is less an issue of protecting children who have far worse threats upon them, and more an issue of politicians playing out traditional western fears of youth as a force for change and rebellion.

  38. Taospark says:

    Senator Yee’s accusation of corporatism and especially of Walmart being behind this is way off the mark. Walmart is notorious for not carrying ANYTHING that’s not family-friendly from books to magazines to movies so they won’t sell many of the more controversial video games anyway.

    • Odeon says:

      Exactly, Wal-Mart doesn’t sell a single CD with the “Explicit Lyrics” tag on it. In fact, if any band/artist wants to sell a CD in Wal-Mart (a HUGE market by all standards, which also includes all Sam’s Club stores), they have to create a “clean” version of their album. No clean version, no chance in hell of your CD on any Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club shelves. I can’t recall right now if they sell M-rated video games, but my guess would be that they do not, and for the same reasoning.

      This is all just a bunch of political BS, just like every single other over-the-top-stupid bill/law/amendment that any other politician or political group may want to pass. They know it won’t happen, but it makes them look better to the extremists on whatever side of the line they happen to fall on. Personally, I can’t wait for all this extreme US political crap to go away and for some truly middle-ground people to take over. It’s been a loooong time already, so I hope it doesn’t take too much longer and I certainly hope it lasts a lot longer than the last short bout of it.

  39. Warboss says:

    Just as a note, the kind of game described by Senator Lee does exist but it would be difficult to get your hands on it if you aren”t actively looking for it. I am talking about some “eroge” ( japanese hentai game ) or visual novels where you bind, torture, rape and then kill a girl. For instance I saw preview picture of an eroge where you have sex with a woman with freshly cut limbs, meaning the arms “amputated” in one picture and in the other the leg cut at the kneecap level with the bones bare to see. I very well understand that this is only a special occurance among hundred of thousands of other games. I don’t think I need to say more but I hope most if not everyone agrees that it is really sick.

  40. wrath says:

    “…in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?”
    Those kinds of games are absolutely in the minority. Not even GTA is that brutal, let alone the fact that GTA and even Red Dead attribute barely any meaning to the violence. After all you’re not murdering solid, well thought out characters that may or may not be missed tomorrow, you’re slaughtering the faceless masses of a virtual world that will not be missed, and feature none of the penalties and consequences you face in real life. Hell I’d argue even Postal is not that violent. And btw Manhunt and Manhunt 2 where pretty much unsellable, and banned in most countries.

    This guy is full of lies, and is a joke. He should be paid no mind.

  41. zbeeblebrox says:

    Whenever someone uses the phrase “once again” in politics, I stop listening.

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