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04/19/2003

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jane

what's most disturbing is how they aim to stop online sites like Amazon from selling these games. it sets a dangerous precedent - and threatens online privacy issues. will this force Amazon and other sites to run age verification, like porn sites do now? will this mean *no person* under the age of 18 will be able to buy certain games because of the law of one state??

lord help us from the people who try to save us.

nowak

Stupid question: would this law cover games in which the player is the police officer? In essence, you would dictate how much violence there would be against an officer by how badly you play. It's a bit more indirect than the obvious "use gattling gun against cop cars" that is possible in GTA, but really, where is the line drawn?

But yeah, you can't pick and choose what is allowed and what not if you are preaching free speech. I hope the IDSA gets some balls and fights this.

Chris Woj

Parents don't check the ratings my arse! My friend Ben got a Genesis game when he was 10 years old, I think it was some kind of Primate fighting game? I can't remember the name for the life of me, but less than a year and a half ago, since he was 16, his mother FINALLY gave him the game.

All because it said the game wasn't recommended for people under 16 due to violence. So I beg to differ, plenty of parents check the ratings.

What we need to weed out are the ignorant excuses for adults that blatantly IGNORE the ratings because they just DON'T CARE.

Thank you.


-Woj.

twifkak

Also from the P-I... an awesome display of illogic. I don't know what to do.

Oh, btw, I'm holding a permanent grudge against GGA for putting trance vibrators out of my price league.

Another Mike

Has there been a rise in Grand Theft Auto 3 based cop killings? I haven't heard of any. If anything, I would think legislators would be better off passing a law that fines retailers for selling 18+ games to kids under 18(I believe there's already some law of that sort, and if so, there should be more enforcing of it). It might be true that you are able to disguinish the difference between a real cop and a GTA3 cop, but some kids aren't as lucky.

0x00

nowak, I had the same thought.

Also how do we define "law enforcement officers?" Do the obviously parodic depictions in Duke Nukem 3D count? What about the futuristic jack-booted police in Syndicate? Does this law finally offer some protection to the ill-fated zombie police in Raccoon City?

Obviously, the law has to extend beyond depictions of actual police forces, or the fictitious "Liberty City Police Department" would be exempt.

galiel

Interesting that in all these discussions in the game community, there is never any suggestion that developers might want to take responsibility for the content they choose to produce. There is no law of physics that requires developers to make games that demean women, glorify violence, minimize the painful consequences of violence, perpetuate bigoted stereotypes, and in general do everything but use this powerful tool in a socially responsible way.

Note that I am not talking about censorship, or legal restrictions, nor am I blaming the parents. To put it in simple comic-book terms, I am saying that, as developers, we can choose to use our "powers" for "good" or "evil".

Why don't I hear my colleagues willing to take responsibility for the content they create? Why does this always degrade to a debate where each side distorts the positions of the others into useless caricatures that avoid addressing the real problem. The only people truly responsible for the content created are the creators of the content.

And don't give me that tired argument that games fo not influence player's behaviors. If that were true, then why would game companies pursue advertising dollar for product placement and advergaming, and why would political groups use games to promote their political agendas?

What we really need in the industry is an end to self-serving hypocrisy and double-speak, and an honest discussion about how to use our artistic medium in the public interest, not just in the shareholder's interests.

Incidentally, a side-effect of creating more humanistic games might just be the expansion of the market beyond the niche of those who think killing others and looting their corpses is the ultimate in entertainment.

Unimaginative Pseudonym

Games do not influence balanced persons in an extreme way - product placement is one thing (you see a Coke machine in game, it reminds you you're thirsty - whatever) and going out and killing someone in the same way you kill characters in a game is entirely different.

Computer games do not create sociopaths - that's societies problems. They will certainly affect sociopaths & may well inspire them to go on a killing spree - but when you have someone who doesn't believe that anyone except himself is 'real' then it's only a matter of time anyway.

I'm all in favour of certification - we should, as a society, take responsibility for the upbringing of our children. Sad to say, many parents are incapable of doing this.

But downright censorship is very, very wrong.
As a responsible adult, I expect to be able to make my own, informed decisions on things. I do not want governments telling me what entertainment I can and cannot do - what recreation I can and cannot enjoy.

Protecting society from itself is one thing - but when these things do no harm to anyone - and, realistically, they don't - then it should be up to each individual to decide what's right for them.

Have warnings/descriptions on the packaging by all means - the more information the better.

But banning forms of entertainment?

No.

0x00

Games are escapist entertainment.

One aspect of that is that they allow players to experiment with transgressive behavior without real-world consequences. This sort of experimentation is one of the things that makes games so neat.

That said, there are a number of compelling games which do not feature car crashes, gun battles, or hookers. The games are artistically complete without those elements, and their absence does not improve or detract from the game.

I agree that designers should be experimenting with humanistic games. However, they should be making these games because they're interesting, fun, or thought-provoking. Not because there's a moral imperative to ban transgressive play in video games.

Chris

Here's a URL to the bill, which the Governor has not yet signed.

http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2003-04/House/1000-1024/1009-s_pl.pdf

The bill doesn't make it illegal to sell those games, it makes it illegal to sell them to minors (regulating them as liquor is regulated).

The bill establishes "civil" penalties, but is really a criminal bill in spirit as it cites the welfare of society / the state as the reason for the legislation and doesn't identify an aggrieved party.

For those who don't know, the State of Washington has state-run liquor stores; perhaps one day they will have state-run game shops?

If you are a Washington State resident, and of voting age, consider writing the Governor to tell him your thoughts on this bill. Be rational, and persuasive!

http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/govemail.htm

jane

thanks chris, for the text of the bill.

it cites studies which show "a correlation between exposure to violent video and computer games and various forms of hostile and antisocial behavior."

anyone have an idea of which they're talking about?

Jared

I wholly agree with all you guys, this is beyond stupid, and if that bill passes, it will be a huge blow to freedom.

I have a counter example for them, though, how many games have we all played where soldiers (like real-world soldiers, not Halo or other "imaginary" world soldiers) fought and killed each other?
Tons! Heck, even the ol' Atari and C64 had games like that, and then, it was usually obvious that it was US soldiers killing Soviet ones.
So, my question is, because I've played games like RtCW, and heck, even Half-Life, do they really think that I might assault the next GI or Vietnam Vet I see on the street?

Heck, GTA3 is ONE game, and the only one that comes readily to mind when thinking of assaulting police, but we've had soldiers killing soldiers for years. I guess that's ok though...

Chris

http://lieberman.senate.gov/~lieberman/press/03/04/2003409855.html

There aren't direct links to the studies in this, but you at least see the shape of the argument being made by Senator Lieberman and others.

agentm

Ah, but would they pass a bill not allowing games to depict killing of so-called 'terrorists'?

I thought not.

Lisa

"a correlation between exposure to violent video and computer games and various forms of hostile and antisocial behavior"

The only correlation I know that's been fairly well demonstrated is that antisocial people tend to prefer violent entertainment (movies, specifically). This was determined with some authority after the Bulger case in the UK, I believe.

jane

correlation, yes; but causality? has anyone published research into this?

Bat-Winged Boy

It's a classic correlation-causation error.

The chair of psychology at Stockholm University (Cecelia von Feilitzen) did her own study on violent media. She said that it accounted for approximately 5-10% of violent behavior.

In other words, it's not violent video games that make violent people; it's violent people who play violent video games. An aggressive person is going to listen to Metallica, not Barry Manilow. I can't sit Mary Kate + Ashley Olsen down in front of GTA3 in the hopes they'll become sociopaths; just like how I can't make a Hell's Angel watch Britney Spears videos long enough to have him shopping at Abercrombie.

defenestrati

Things I Learned from Reading this article :

1. Video games are rated G, PG, PG-13, R, X, and XXX -- just like movies.

2. Game retailers are responsible for people's children-- not parents.

3. Shopping malls are safe places for children to hang out unsupervised during weekends.

4. A few weeks of any child's allowance can pay for a $50 computer game.

5. You can get a six-pack of beer and a Hustler at an electronics store.

6. It's astonishing when retail gaming employees show apathy toward whether a given child is honest to his or her parents.

7. Some people cannot take a joke (see #6).

8. Violent games are as harmful to children as alcoholic beverages.

9. People cannot make decisions for themselves-- they must have on the spot instruction in the form of abundant signage, such as "Paying attention to games with violent content is important."

A final thought:
In Washington State, it is illegal to play a computer game involving violence against cops, but it's legal to play Cops and Robbers with capguns and toy handcuffs in real life-- even if the "cops" are "shot".

defenestrati

In response to the well-expressed comments of galiel:

Curses. If I can't indulge in the catharsis of violent video gaming, I might have to mass murder some cops.

Video game designers produce what sells. What sells is what people want; if they didn't want it, they wouldn't buy it. Sure, designers can censor themselves... but why should they?

Much as self-censorship of adult-targeted content on the Internet (because a child might see something inappropriate) would be silly, so would such self-censorship in the computer game development community.

One more thought: consider the possiblity that there is no "public interest," because the public is comprised of a multitude of disparate interests. Some people want Strawberry Shortcake, and others want Strawberry Shortcake with a machine gun (I'd buy it!). In assuming that your view is that of everyone is- honestly- rampantly egotistical. As a member of "the public," my opinion does not match yours, and it would still count for something, even if yours were the opinion of the majority. In a pluralistic society, majority rule can often amount to tyrrany.

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