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Eleven States Join To Support California Game Legislation In Supreme Court
Eleven States Join To Support California Game Legislation In Supreme Court
July 19, 2010 | By Chris Remo

July 19, 2010 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

Eleven U.S. state attorneys general have banded together to support the California law that restricts the sale of violent video games to minors, which was struck down by an appeals court but will be reconsidered by the Supreme Court of the United States.

An amicus brief obtained by Gamasutra was filed today by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia. The brief is comprised of arguments to the Supreme Court that the states hope will inform its upcoming decision.

According to those officials, their states are "vitally interested in protecting the welfare of children and in helping parents raise them," but believe that the decision of the appeals court to strike down the law "unreasonably restricts their authority to do that."

They claim that it is "consistent with the First Amendment and this Courtís longstanding precedents" that laws can constitutionally "prevent minors from buying or renting without parental approval a defined class of video games which invite players to commit digital homicide, torture, and rape." Similar laws have been struck down numerous times on constitutional grounds.

In addition to his participation as an amicus curae, Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who hopes to move to the U.S. senate after this year's midterm elections, issued a press release explaining his state's involvement.

"Protecting children from digital danger requires proactive parents -- but they need and deserve help," Blumenthal said. "The video game industry should act responsibly -- play nice, not nasty -- and agree to sensible self-imposed restrictions that block children from buying the most violent games. I am calling on the video game industry to follow the leadership of the motion picture industry, which sensibly stops unattended children from viewing violent or graphic movies."

In fact, the video game industry already maintains "self-imposed restrictions" in the form of the Electronic Software Ratings Board, which was recently praised by the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the FTC, the "video game industry outpaces the movie and music industries" when it comes to "restricting target-marketing of mature-rated products to children, clearly and prominently disclosing rating information, and restricting children's access to mature-rated products at retail."

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Jason Pineo
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Why do I get the feeling that by "agree to sensible self-imposed restrictions" he really means something more along the lines of "Yeah, keep struggling, the voters *love* this stuff!" or "Stop trying to run your own industry! Submit to the will of busybody outsiders!".

Here's hoping that our commitment to empowering parents/guardians with our rating system continues to shine!

Chris Elwyn
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This seems to be a law to offload responsibility from parent to government as regards the material that the child is exposed to. There are already warnings, age recommendations stamped on the boxes. I wouldn't want a five or ten year old to play a game clearly marketed or intended for an adult market, but I think the industry is already doing a huge amount, in the form of the ERSB, to educate parents about what is and is not appropriate material for their child to be consuming.

Surely it's time for parents to share a bit of the burden in raising their child; taking an interest in them. You only have to look at someone like Gamer Dad to see what's possible (with specific regard to gaming).

Or am I misunderstanding this, and it's yet another cynical attempt to jump up and down on video game companies due to misjudged and preconceived ideas about what they *should* be about. I'm vaguely reminded of the American comics industry post-1945.

Tom Baird
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It's kinda odd that he calls on us to follow the Movie Industry, who are currently similar to us(with a self rating system and adult restricted ratings), and then talks of adding self-imposed restrictions, which we have, all the while promoting a system that is about government imposed restrictions.

I think it's perfectly fine to enforce the ESRB's M ratings by legal means, but I think that Mr. Blumenthal is either someone who practices his doubletalk well, or is very ill-informed for his crusade.

Kevin Reilly
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Blumenthal is the same guy who "forgot" the particulars of his service during Vietnam. Like the fact he never went:

Funny how 4 of the listed states (LA, MI, TX and FL) have passed tax incentives for game companies to set up shop there at the same time their AGs want to pursue restrictions on sale of the products that would fund those companies. Irony is alive an well.

John Trauger
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Those who can, do

Those who can't, teach.

Those who can't teach, write textbooks

Those who can't write textbooks, write legislation.

David Tarris
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"The video game industry should [...] agree to sensible self-imposed restrictions"

Sounds like a contradiction in terms to me. There's nothing "self-imposed" about being forced to do something.

Regardless, the condescending tone they're using towards the games industry speaks volumes towards their purpose. Sounds like they're trying to attach the same stigma McDonald's wears these days, fiendishly roping in children for the sake of turning them into wastes on society.

It's been said a number of times before, but you'd think these moral crusaders, seeking to save the poor children from their parent's gross negligence, would have something more significant to worry about in this day and age. But, as Henry IV once said, "Be it thy course to busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels."

Brett Stuart
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Since when do video games invite players to commit digital rape? The verbiage used here is just another example of how the proponents of this type of legislation really have no clue. They'll believe any outlandish claim so long as it supports their cause.

Glen Isip
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I'm all for making the ESRB more accessible and popular, especially if plain ignorance is the cause for this law. Game ratings aren't necessarily well-known outside the gamer demographic.

Mike Lopez
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And of course NO one knows better as to what's good for the public than Government. Yeah, right, Big Brother...

Patricia Ferrete
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Just do it like the movies: M-rated games are R-rated movies. No buy without ID. That simple. People want to attack the video game industry because it's supposedly ruining our children, but lots of games out today are tons more engaging than the talking rodents and other nonsense we subject our kids to on the big screen.

Still, if kids under 17 can't watch full-frontal nudity without parental permission, they shouldn't be able to watch sex in games (a la God of War, GTA, etc...).

E Zachary Knight
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Almost all retailers already card people for m rated games. In fact, the games industry is more successful at turning away unaccompanied minors who attempt to buy M rated games than they are at turning away unaccompanied minors from buying R rated movies.

Only 20% of minors are able to buy M rated games compared to 50% of minors being able to buy R rated movies.

This proves the ignorance of these politicians.

Ben Gilbert
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Give me Liberty, or give me health care!

Alan Rimkeit
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It was Elvis in 1950's.

Then is was those damned hippies and the Beatles for the 1960's.

Then it was Dungeons and Dragons in the 1970's.

Then is was Heavy Metal and Slasher Movies for the 1980's.

Then is was Gangsta Rap for 1990's.

Now it is Violent Video Games for the 2000's.


Will Politicians EVER get tired of Scape Goats?

Mark Harris
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Actually, this Blumenthal guys is awesome for our side. His statements are an obvious giveaway to the Supreme Court that many of the people backing the bill are clueless and uninformed. If I were Leland Ye I would be pissed that this guy is one of my "backers". He's making those supporting the legislation look like extreme opportunistic idiots and that can only help us.

I also wonder what you parents out there think of his admonition that you need help raising your children. Personally I would be insulted by that garbage. How in the heck does the AG of Conn know how I want to raise my children?

Sylvester O'Connor
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I love what Patricia Ferrett said and I agree with her. I will be honest and say that I don't believe in big government. However, I do believe in making sense. Aside from actual numbers, I know of people that looked older than they were and that were able to buy God of War. They were tall or the females were developed so they passed.

Why is it that when it comes to moral responsibility, we always say that people should have the freedom of governing themselves when those very same people don't always make the right decision.

As far as I understand this law that they are passing, there are some absurdities with it and in passing it I don't know how they will enforce it. Are they going to start sending people undercover to watch different locations to see if someone is selling M rated games to minors? So I will say that I don't agrere with it. But as Patricia stated, if we have to show ID for R rated movies, then why not games as well?

You have some parents that are uninformed. Who's fault? Perfect example. In one hour I might see 5 ads for a popular video game. Why can't I see ads for the ESRB ratings too? They too have a responsibility to make sure that they let parents know that they exist and what they are.

E Zachary Knight
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Perhaps you missed my reply to Patricia, so I will post it again:

Almost all retailers already card people for m rated games. In fact, the games industry is more successful at turning away unaccompanied minors who attempt to buy M rated games than they are at turning away unaccompanied minors from buying R rated movies.

Only 20% of minors are able to buy M rated games compared to 50% of minors being able to buy R rated movies.

This proves the ignorance of these politicians.

I will add further, all those ads you see for those games, they all contain the rating for the game either before the ad or after. But the rating is there. The rating is featured prominently on the front and back of every game box. All consoles come with parental controls with the request to set them when you first hook it up and turn it on.

The ESRB already runs ad campaigns to get more exposure to the general public, but Public Service Announcements are less profitable for television and radio, so they don't air them as often as other ads.

I really don't see what else needs or can be done.

brandon brown
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I have to agree with mark harris on this one, this guy makes our side look better. I'm not a parent but having been raised by some i can safely assume that any parent is going to have some idea of what thier kid is playing.

Ken Kinnison
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I am a parent. I'm also a gamer. I'm fairly aware of what my oldest plays, and what she doesn't like.

I also know from talks we've had that even if she played GTA without me knowing, its not going to turn her into a psychopath.

I know who her friends are, I know about how much money she has, and I know she can't get to the game store without me. Doesn't matter, I play all the 'bad' games and they're sitting unlocked on the shelf (OH TEH NOES!) I don't think it'd matter if she was a boy, I'm pretty up on what my same age oldest nephew is playing as well. (Hey we occassionally play together! GASP!)

It's not that hard, trust me, I'm lazy.

Don't sell kids guns, don't sell kids alcohol, don't sell them cigarettes... fine. But QUIT equating video games with these things!

I realise as a gamer I'm biased... so I talk to my daughter's friends' parents. Joe sixpack A doesn't play games much, but he knows the rating system and knows what his daughter players. Joe 12 pack plays some games, plays them with his son. His kid is pretty solid, honor student etc etc.

When I'm in a game store I hear the staff tell parents about the ratings, I hear parents talk about the ratings. The games industry has gone out of its way monetarily to advertise this and enforce it. The big retailers all seem to enforce it.

What we have is what I think they call a strawman more or less... its a distraction from real political issues. Let's stop picking on toys for girls and boys, big and small and deal with things like public transportation, green tech, jobs, etc.

Ken Kinnison
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On another note, how many mass distributed games actually have rape as a player option? As is Red Dead is the only game I know of to even have it 'there'.

(Edit- it's also worth noting that marston find's it disgusting and politily turns down all the prostitutes because of his being married...)

David Glenn
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Well, looks like California is leading us down that path again! California, the state that has the most regulations in the US! California, that has the highest taxes in the land! California, the state of vegan, tree huggers. California, the state that is leading it self to certain bankruptcy. California, the state that will lead us all to be the poorest nation in the world if it can.

Oh pray for us all because of surge of Californiacation, we are doomed!

D Glenn

Doug Poston
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@Ken: If you read the arguments, they do a lot of comparisons between violent video games and sexually explicit media (porn).

I think they're hoping to make the connection in people's minds that "video game" == "porn". And, since you can restrict access to porn, you can restrict access to video games.

Tim Lang
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Of all the AGs that have thrown their support behind the law, I'd like to see which ones are facing re-election this year.