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Common Sense Media Claims 72 Percent Support Violent Game Bill
Common Sense Media Claims 72 Percent Support Violent Game Bill
September 13, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

September 13, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
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    28 comments
More: Console/PC



As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider California's violent video game legislation, parents' group Common Sense Media is claiming that almost 72 percent of adults are in favor of the law.

The group, a nonprofit whose activities relate to the intersection of children, families and the media world, cites a Zogby poll of 2,100 adults surveyed over three days in August to arm its stance that the sale of "ultra-violent" video games to minors should be illegal.

The video game industry in the U.S. has been adherent to a self-regulatory method, under which the Entertainment Software Ratings Board uses package labels and education campaigns to inform consumers about which content is solely intended for adults and which is suitable for kids and families. Modern consoles also feature parental controls that allow parents to restrict and monitor their children's gaming time.

But Common Sense Media says its poll respondents "feel the video game industry is not doing enough to protect kids from accessing these games," according to group founder and CEO James Steyer. The Supreme Court will begin hearing the case on November 2, 2010, and Common Sense is asserting that stricter legal provisions to enforce content consumption is something most parents want.

"What we’ve learned from this poll is that parents want to be the ones who decide which games their kids play, not the video game industry," Streyer adds.

According to the Zogby poll, 65 percent of parents say they are "concerned about the impact of ultra-violent video games on their kids," and 75 percent of parents have a negative view of the ways in which the game industry protects children from unsuitable content. Common Sense says that more than half of parents and adults in the poll rate the industry "poorly".

To advocate its message, Common Sense has assembled an example video it's uploaded to YouTube that collages extreme footage it calls "the type of video game under discussion in [the Supreme Court] case." The video montage opens with a section specifying violence against women, opening the now-infamous example from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas wherein the player can solicit a prostitute and then kill her to reclaim his money. It continues through a violent beating scene from Running With Scissors' Postal 2 that ends with the female victim doused in gasoline and lit on fire as she attempts to escape.

It also highlights violence against law enforcement, with clips from 2005's controversial NARC, again from Grand Theft Auto, and from 50 Cent: Bulletproof; all the games in the montage are Mature-rated titles.


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Comments


Jacob Barlaam
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I think the system in place is fine, parents need to stop whining and do some research about games. The system is similar to the movie rating system, parents just don't seem to make the connection for whatever reason. E = PG, T = PG13, M = R, AO = NC17. Stop blaming others for your sub standard parenting and actually try and check what your kids are playing. Too many times i have seen a 8 year old playing the airport mission of MW2 with parent having bought the game randomly because they didn't seem to have any kind of common sense. In my eyes, this is exactly the same as the movies. If you want to know about the movie and if it is going to be good and appropriate, you go online and do some research. I feel no sympathy for these stupid parents.

Scott Southurst
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Again, someone that's missed the point. It's not about "stupid parents" that don't research what the game is that they're buying. It's about the fact that the 8 year old could wander into the store and buy the NC17 rated game. Even if the fact the sale was restricted a "stupid parent" could still go and buy the game for the 8 year old.

Luke Smith
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Most legit video game stores do not allow the sale of M rated games to kids unless there is the kid's parent with them and the parent says it is ok. My parents werelike that.

Dorica Prostel
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@Scott Southurst



If the government thinks that such a parent is screwing up his kid they can take the kid away... but they won't do that because everyone would agree it would be stupid. Why should video game sellers be held to a higher standard then parents?!



As long as the games are properly labelled there is enough information for the parents to know what little Timmy should be playing or not. If they don't care enough to pay attention to the labels it's not anyone else's problem.



I mean it's even in the article that the parents want to determine themselves what their kids play... easiest way would be to actually pay attention...

Tom Baird
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I'm curious if they think the same about the Movie system.



If they want to regulate what their child is doing, they are going to have to actually pay attention to what their child is doing. The ESRB is doing everything it can, but you can't teach ignorant people with a refusal to take responsibility.

Jonathan Jennings
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exactly what I came here to say the industry can't monitor every game your child plays, but you definitely can.

Scott Southurst
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Interesting concept. But not what the article is about. This is about controlling the sale of unsuitable games to minors. Do you stand next to your children every minute of every day when they go shopping? Are you naive enough to think that your kids won't/can't play games when you aren't looking? It's opinions like yours that show what is wrong with the "Industry is doing all that should be done" point of view.

Luke Smith
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Your right when you say that kids MIGHT play M rated games when you aren't looking but that can also happen with movies, porn drugs, sex, alcohol and just about everything else, you have to trust your children not to do those things. Would you rather your kid play an M rated game or do drugs and get a girl pregnant?

Doug Poston
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@Scott: But they can buy 'Unrated' and 'R-Rated' movies, books, and music?



I disagree with the double standard as much as I disagree with the censorship.

Tom Baird
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@Scott

You are right, a child can somehow manage to get his hands on an M rated game.



However, they can get their hands on an R rated movie as well. They can walk into a Shock art exhibit, an explicit lyrics CD, or go get the newest season of South Park. They can also open up a browser and see all sorts of ridiculous material. Kids sneak in to see Saw, or Hills have Eyes, or whatever horror gore-fest is in theatres, and they remain self rated and regulated. Why should we be treated like some mind-corrupting filth, while other mediums get the respect and freedom to police themselves?



The ESRB is a shining example of a descriptive and explanatory self-regulated system.



The ESRB provides details on the box as to it's rating (something TV and Movie ratings do not provide).



The ESRB also has an online database containing both the short details and a full descriptive review explaining the specific instances of content that gave it it's rating.



The ESRB got the right to block downloadable demos to minors on sites such as Steam, XBLA, Wii Channel, and PSN.



The Movie Ratings system has it's Un-rated content special edition for just about every DVD release. While Saw may be rated M, Saw: Extended Edition is Unrated, and is therefore even within the voluntary system not breaking any rules renting or selling to a minor.



So yes, the ESRB is not only doing what it should be doing, it's doing it well and a leading example for consumer entertainment ratings.



But, as I said you can't teach ignorant people witha refusal to take responsibility. You can ignore the ratings and parental systems put in place, but don't pretend they don't exist or are not substantial.



Edit: Also want to mention that the Wii, Xbox360, and Playstation 3 all have Parental controls to restrict any M rated game from running at all, regardless of where or how he got it.

Ian Uniacke
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@Scott: If you are letting your young child go shopping alone than you are a bad parent.

Mark Houck
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Scott, I think the true issue here (as it is with a lot of topics like this) is the real world EFFECT of playing 'unsuitable games', and this is something no one seems to have mentioned or considered closely enough. If you're going to try to protect people, it's useful to know what you're actually protecting them FROM. Not from the game itself, but what you think that playing the game is going to cause someone to do. Commit a similar violent act. Phyllis Schlafley, a conservative pundit stated in a public post the other day that:



"Every mass murder committed by juveniles can be traced directly back to violent video games".

J

ust because she says it doesn't make it true (it's not), but she's an opinion maker and people will listen. She's mounting the conservative charge against the games and she's just plain wrong.



The real fact is that there's no compelling weight of evidence on either side of this debate to warrant such a clear re-imagining of the First Amendment, and until there is such a weight of evidence, action of the type proposed by Mr. Swarzenegger and his allies is unfounded and in a way even dangerous. It's the First Amendment for a reason- it's REALLY important, and passing a law like this will have implications that reach far beyond the realm of violent video games.



No one wants to harm kids, but with the volume of misinformation and outright emotional thinking pervading this topic, everyone just needs to take a deep breath and look at the facts. The fact is, we just don't know what effect violent games have on people and until we do, we should study the situation and take action only when we actually know what we're doing.

Jordan Lynn
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Skewed.



1) The use of the phrase "Ultra-violent" automatically skews the respondent.

2) Not establishing whether or not participants KNOW what the industry is doing invalidates the percentage that say "they aren't doing enough."

3) The proposed law has NOTHING to do with media consumption, but rather restricting sales.



Also,

"What we’ve learned from this poll is that parents want to be the ones who decide which games their kids play, not the video game industry," Streyer adds.



The industry didn't hand your 12-year-old the 65 bucks it costs to buy the newest, shiniest gorefest.

Jacob Barlaam
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well said. the parent already can decide what their kids play, their are just idiots and choose to buy whatever and ignore the ESRB ratings. These parents have to realize, not all games are for everyone and if you do not do any research about a game, you may be sorry. I hope that point can be made clear in court because of it is, there should be no case, really

James Patton
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A video that shows "the type of video game under discussion in [the Supreme Court] case."



Well, no, not really! Those are extreme examples which show video games in an extremely negative light and would horrify any parent. The fact is, the court case deals with all violent video games: this ranges from games in which you cut people to pieces to games in which you fight through WW2. The video is entirely unbalanced and does not show games in anything like the light they deserve.

Mark Houck
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@James

Good point. If you take that thinking, you would never be able to have any kind of war simulation or interactive historical telling of a good chunk of the major events of the last 2,000 years.



Imagine the Battle of Thermopylae (AKA the movie 300) without being able to kill anyone. You wouldn't have to restrict it's sales- it just wouldn't sell :-)

James Trinklein
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I think that these parents should take a class on using the Parental Controls found on all the gaming systems. I'm pretty sure this is the exact reason why parental controls even exist.

Zach Grant
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Many parents are idiots and would like anything that takes responsibility off their shoulders. Many of them would have the state raise their children if they could (although teachers these days pretty much do have to act as parents in addition to teachers). How about watching what your kids are playing instead of using video games as babysitters when you aren't around.

Vin St John
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"What we’ve learned from this poll is that parents want to the government to be the ones who decide which games their kids play, not themselves."

Eric Cartman
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That about sums up my belief.

Alan Rimkeit
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72% of those polled don't care about their First Amendment Rights nor Freedom of Speech either, if they even really know what those things are in the first place are. The bloody sheep. BBBBBAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!.

Ian Uniacke
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Not that I'm American so it doesn't affect me (except maybe indirectly) but exactly. It's the people versus Larry Flint all over again.

Alan Rimkeit
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Yup. BBBBBAAAHHHHHH. Sheepleople. :D Follow the crowd good little sheepleople and feel safe.

Ian Fisch
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I'm guessing 72% of people don't realize that movie content isn't restricted by law (except for porn), and that the G,PG,PG13,R system is not enforced by the government.

David Tarris
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Even if the 72% figure is accurate, it just goes to show why America is fundamentally not a democracy. The Bill of Rights was written to protect those liberties considered fundamental from any act of law, even those imposed through the "tyranny of the majority".

jen travis
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I'm a mom. I don't agree with the sheep people. You cannot control everything that goes on in your kids lives without ruining their lives. The only defense parents have against the evil in the world is arming their kids with values and showing them love and positive attention whenever possible.

Jason Patterson
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The main group to blame for children playing ultra-violent games is not anyone in the industry. The ones at fault are lazy parents that don't take enough time to read a simple label on a video game before buying it for their children. It isn't a difficult task to do. Also, if a parent catches their children playing a video game that's far too violent the game could simply be taken away. End of problem. Government involvement is not needed for either of these solutions and both would be cheaper than adding a new bureaucracy to the mix that's good for nothing but providing an excuse to make a dedicated video game tax to fun the agency.

Micah Wright
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65% of Americans also thought invading Iraq was a good idea. Look how well THAT turned out.



Lawmaking via opinion polls is the worst possible governmental structure.


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