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Author Topic: Violent Games and Minors  (Read 3006 times)

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Offline SabbyTopic starter

Violent Games and Minors
« on: November 02, 2010, 09:13:57 PM »
Okay, I'm a gamer, and I try to keep up to date with what's happening, but every other day I see there's a political issue along the lines of 'state tells store not to sell 18+ game to 13 year old, free speech stifled!' Now... I am a supporter of video games, and do not agree in the least with anyone who wants them banned or strictly regulated or censored.

But I cannot for the life of me understand why so many pro-game movements are fighting so hard for the right to sell violent media to children :/ I just don't get it... Sure I've seen video games rated for adults that weren't so bad for young teens, and I've seen kids mature enough to handle most adult rated games, but the reason we have hard age limits on the packaging is because it's easy with no room for manipulation... The games industry fighting tooth and nail to be allowed to sell an 18+ video game to a 13 year old isn't standing up for free speech in my backs, it's just embarrassing to me as a gamer :/

Fight to have the laws changed, educate people on the issue. Don't fight simply for the sake of looking oppressed :/

Offline Serephino

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2010, 09:17:05 PM »
I don't get it either.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2010, 09:45:53 PM »
Principle and precedent.

1) The games industry perceives the attempt to pass state laws regulating it as the state saying that the self-imposed rating system doesn't work. Further, they think it is unfair that they would be the only entertainment medium singled out for such treatment.

2) The admission that the state can regulate video game sales based on violence sets precedent for extending the arm of the state to tinker in other aspects of video game sales and production.

3) One of the specific issues currently being discussed in the US Supreme Court is that under the proposed state laws any specific game would be  found fit or unfit for sale to minors on a case by case basis via jury trial after the game is already on the market. This would mean that game-makers would not be able to be certain of the demographic they could sell a game to until after a game retailer has been taken to court over selling the game to minors and that their available demographic would then vary by state. And game retailers would have no way to know what they could and could not sell until after they had been taken to court for it. This is clearly an inferior system to the one already in place where games are rated for content by a review board at the time of production. I think there would be much less backlash if that were the States' proposal.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131018355
« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, 09:50:51 PM by DarklingAlice »

Offline Brandon

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2010, 09:56:16 PM »
I dont get it either.

In the supreme courts case the idea that games sold to minors would be illegal isnt the real issue. The real issue is whether or not games can be regulated by the first amendment simply by calling them obscene or saying they harm minors. As I understand the argument of California state they believe that minors lack the capability to make reasoned choices. No really thats their point of view paraphrased, I thought it was a joke too when I first heard it. It makes me wonder what California is teaching kids

Offline Jude

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2010, 09:57:45 PM »
Having read a transcript of the arguments from the Supreme Court case today, I can provide some insight.  This is what the sides are arguing.

California:  "Violent video games are obscene and can be damaging to a child's development.  Therefore, we want the state to make it illegal to sell violent video games to children.  We don't care if parents choose to purchase them for their children, but it shouldn't be legal for them to buy it for themselves."

Opponents:  "There is no scientific consensus that shows that violent video games are damaging to development.  Furthermore, even the few studies that conclude it might be agree that all forms of violent media -- even something as simple as bugs bunny -- are equally as damaging.  Since the introduction of video games to our society, violent crime has decreased drastically -- if video games were a source of actual harm, wouldn't that have trended the other way?  Furthermore, parental controls exist for a reason.  Why legislate something into law that already has a non-legal fix?"

There's a few problems with both points of view.

1)  The science isn't conclusive either way and probably won't be anytime soon.  There's too much methodological bias.
2)  There is no crisis here, so the law is intending to fix something that isn't there.
3)  Parental controls can be circumvented by most teens with ease.

What I took from all of this is California's law is dangerous because:

1)  It's vague.  Rather than using the ESRB's rating system to prohibit the sale of M rated games, California wants the judgment made in some other way.  They are trying to render the ESRB impotent, work around it, and ultimately destroy it because opponents of video games want a non-voluntary rating system.
2)  It's a step towards censorship, because they're setting up government framework of judging these artistic works on whether they are obscene, art, and then the level of vulgarity in them.  Based on that judgment, individual games will then face more legal challenges, scrutiny, and protection.

If the law was simply "no retailer may sell an M rated game to anyone without checking their ID and making sure they are over 18" that would be fine with me too.  The problem is, there are ridiculous penalties attached to this that can punish both the companies who sell these games and the developers of the game.  These fines can reach atrociously high numbers.  Larger publishers will be afraid to distribute games which could potentially result in law suits and problems for this exact reason -- thus the chilling effect of free speech in video games.

As long as lawmakers are hostile towards the industry and the ESRB, they can't be trusted to create a fair system that actually works to keep kids away from these games while protecting the interests of the industry itself and its loyal consumer base.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, 10:01:49 PM by Jude »

Offline mystictiger

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2010, 10:02:07 PM »
Maybe I just have odd taste in games, but... which games promote the graphic torture?

And yes, I know one law clerk working there and he -definetly- played Mortal Kombat. Thank you for the link, 'Alice. It prompted facebook abuse.

Offline Jude

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2010, 10:05:36 PM »
There's a torture scene in Fallout: New Vegas -- at least you can choose to torture.  I went with interrogation, but it was of a prisoner, and hardly graphic.  You can't even kill kids in Fallout 3 or New Vegas (though you could in 2, and possibly 1).  I think they were using Postal 2 as the example of the worst of the worst.

Either way, such graphic, disturbing scenes and imagery aren't normal.  It's mostly laughable.  I've never seen anything too egregious in all the years I've played games -- though I can see how some of it is worse than what's offered by film.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2010, 11:17:26 PM »
Condemned series has some very realistic graphics and scenes of torture and post mortem abuse, though I don't think you're ever the agressor in the situation... your the victim once, but it's mostly the aftermath you see, or footage of it, or from a distance. So with the exception of choosing forensics tools (blacklight, camera, ect) it's never interactive.

Offline Sinner

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2010, 04:37:09 AM »
No matter what happens their is no way to stop a say 13 year old from getting a m rated game its as simple as having someone else buy it. The only way to truly stop it would be the altogether outlawing and banning of said style games and that i think would be more trouble then it was worth for all those involved. This is the same as the issue of young children watching programs on tv deemed a bad influence and it ends the same. All of this can be solved by one thing and one thing only.

PARENTS NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

That is the only solution I can think of if their is a problem with a kid watching or playing something deemed inappropriate by parents then they should take the responsibility and discipline their own children. As to the controlling of who it is sold to yes they should regulate it but if a parents buys a child a game them they are saying their child can handle it and it is nobody else's business.

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Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2010, 08:55:01 AM »
To my understanding, the gaming industry's stance on this is simply 'We don't need a new law, we just need to have stores willing to follow the rating system we have in place.'  Once it leaves the store, the burden currently (and properly) falls on the parents, and I'm saying this as a parent.  My little one likes watching our roommate play video games.  (Okay, she likes watching me play video games, too.)  She's watched a number of T-rated games, including the remake of Gauntlet (with the 'blood' option turned off) and parts of FF 10.  Recently, our roommate asked if the little Oni could hang out while she was playing RE4.  I forget what part it was, something about collecting stuff, zombie dogs, and a sliding puzzle.  I told her no, because I watch out for my kid, and I knew that would a) exacerbate her unease around dogs and b) probably cause nightmares. 

Offline dominomask

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2010, 10:15:30 AM »
They're not objecting to the concept that 13 year olds should not have access to games designed for more mature audiences, they're objecting to a bad plan based entirely on political posturing that provides no real additional protection to children and just allows politicians to punish game designers to curry favor with people who want to blame all of society's problems on art and technology (neither of which they understand and both of which terrify them).  Yes, this is an extremist way to put it, but this issue really ticks me off.  And Jude already posted a good more-rational rundown anyway.


Offline mystictiger

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2010, 02:34:54 PM »
I am aware that this is going to be a very contraversial position, but it's one that interests me at a theoretical level.

What benefit do we gain from shielding children from the violence, the cruelty, and the unpleasantness that real life has to offer? Friends of mine have a small kid, and also a puppy that recently got hit by a car. When asked whre the puppy was, they said that the puppy had 'gone to sleep' or 'gone away'. The key difference between death and going away is that you can wake up or come back.

Life has its mixture of ups and downs. Things happen in life that are blatanly unfair. Why lie to a child?

Why, for instance, is it acceptable for my government's employees to watch someone being tortured, but not for a child?

The vast majority of humans end up having sex at some point, and seeing another human being naked. Why say that they can't see this at 17 years and 364 days, but suddenly on the 18th year it becomes acceptable?

My visceral reaction is 'because it is wrong', but I was hoping someone else might have a more sophisticated answer.

Offline Jude

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2010, 02:59:01 PM »
I think the reason why it's considered not okay is because it's assumed to interfere with the development of a normal, healthy individual to face stimuli and situations that are beyond their capabilities to comprehend, understand, and cope with at that age.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 03:00:10 PM by Jude »

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2010, 03:22:43 PM »
I think the reason why it's considered not okay is because it's assumed to interfere with the development of a normal, healthy individual to face stimuli and situations that are beyond their capabilities to comprehend, understand, and cope with at that age.

Agreed. Although whether that view is accurate is hotly contested.

I also think a distinction should be made between not giving a child access to entertainment media revolving around these things and denying their existence. For instance I think it is wholly irresponsible not to frankly discuss topics like sex with children (indeed the failure to do so is what gives us epidemics of venereal disease and unwanted pregnancy), but at the same time would not advocate for them to have access to pornography.

EDIT: Indeed, apparently one of the problems for the State position in the current Supreme Court case is that the State has admitted that violent video games aren't psychologically harmful to minors and don't promote violent action. Or at least not more so than comparable violence in other media.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 03:33:37 PM by DarklingAlice »

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Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2010, 03:38:59 PM »
For instance I think it is wholly irresponsible not to frankly discuss topics like sex with children (indeed the failure to do so is what gives us epidemics of venereal disease and unwanted pregnancy), but at the same time would not advocate for them to have access to pornography.

I'd go on to say that the discussion should be tailored to the child's age and maturity.  Giving the mechanics of sex (even in a clinical manner) is probably more info than a pre-10 would require, but saying that it involves Daddy (or the doctor, if you deal with IVF) putting a baby in Mommy's tummy would satisfy the curiosity with 'just enough' facts.  Storks and cabbage patches lead to more confusion.  (For what it's worth, last night the little Oni asked about what the name of the cell was that we all start out as, and was terribly amused when I told her it was an egg.)

Offline mystictiger

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2010, 06:08:15 PM »
What got me thinking about this matter was reading about the experience of children in other times and places. You could go to sea on a British warship at the age of 11 or 12 in the time of Nelson. There are also cultures, religions, and timeperiods that allow(ed) children at that kind of age to get married.

On the topic of VD and unwanted pregnancies, I was amused at the relationship betwee the 'Silver Ring Thing' (or whatever it's called) and the practice of unsafe sex.

Thank you for your answers. It's allowed me to put my thoughts into a more intellectual context.

Offline Jude

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2010, 06:34:45 PM »
They all had different cultural standards that children were expected to one day measure up to, so it's no surprise that they had different paths to get there really.  'Psychological damage' generally includes deviation from normality, so it's unsurprising that as the norm changes, so does our definition of damage.

It's entirely legitimate to wonder whether our norms actually promote objectively positive outcomes, but it's the sort of question that's lost on the average American.

Offline mystictiger

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2010, 08:06:37 PM »
Indeed. And I doubt you'd ever get ethical committee approval to experiment on children:

"Ladies and gentlemen - I propose to expose one of these identical twins to hardcore sex and graphic violence from an early age..."

Offline Jude

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2010, 08:22:46 PM »
If I could go back in time, I'd volunteer myself?

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Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2010, 08:26:00 PM »
Indeed. And I doubt you'd ever get ethical committee approval to experiment on children:

"Ladies and gentlemen - I propose to expose one of these identical twins to hardcore sex and graphic violence from an early age..."

'Paging Dr. Mengele...'  (Honestly not trying to go Godwin on the thread, but experiments on identical twins were common during the whole misguided eugenics thing.)

The best you could do ethically is if you had identical twins that happened to be separated during an adoption situation, and then there would be the question about whether there were other variables.

Offline mystictiger

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2010, 08:47:51 PM »
Oh, I wasn't seriously suggesting such a research programme. And I simply suggested twins so as to limit genetic factors.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2010, 10:05:07 PM »
Indeed. And I doubt you'd ever get ethical committee approval to experiment on children:

"Ladies and gentlemen - I propose to expose one of these identical twins to hardcore sex and graphic violence from an early age..."

Put them in front of the TV and that's about all you need to do to test that ;)

Well, certainly for the violence part at least.

Offline Serephino

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #22 on: November 03, 2010, 10:08:06 PM »
What I find odd is that now violence is unsuitable for children, but as a kid I watched Looney Toons, and turned out just fine.... *whistles innocently*

Seriously, the coyote guy tries to blow up the road runner with bombs.  Tom is always trying to eat Jerry.  Elmer Fudd is always trying to shoot Buggs Bunny.  These were cartoons for kids and nobody ever gave it a second thought. 

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2010, 10:11:42 PM »
We also played in the mud, rode bikes without helmets, stayed out after dark without our parents knowing where we were, and talked to strangers ... all taboo now.

Offline Wolfy

Re: Violent Games and Minors
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2010, 10:17:08 PM »
Ahem:

WATCHMEN -The Times They Are a-Changin Mason Jennings

For the comments of Looney tunes and such.

It's not the fact that we want to sell Violent Media to kids (Movies and Television do that for us. :D), it's that once you ban the sale of video games to minors, that opens the doors for other possibilities.

It's also the fact that gaming, as it stands, is in limbo over whether it can be considered a form of Art or not, and thus protected by Free Speech.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 10:18:52 PM by Wolfy »