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Help Defend Gaming: Sign the Gamer Petition

Hal Halpin's Avatar + Posted by Hal Halpin on Jul 15, 2010 // President, Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA)

Sign the Gamer Petition here.

ECA: Entertainment Consumers Association

This winter, the game industry — developers, publishers, retailers, et al — will face the single biggest legal challenge that such entertainment, broadly, has ever been up against and in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The State of California had appealed the U.S. Ninth Circuit decision to strike down the so-called CA “video game violence” law in Schwarzenegger v EMA, which every court had done in every such “violent video game” case. But this time was different; For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case (via “accepting certiorari” aka “cert”). To be blunt, none of us expected it and we were all taken back by the decision. Just 1% of cases filed are granted cert — one percent!

At stake: gaming in America. Yes, you read that correctly.

California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) is the former child psychologist who championed the “violent video game” bill from inception and is coordinating with California Attorney General, Jerry Brown (D-Oakland), and their legal team to muster forces representing the anti-game side. In the pro-games corner are trade associations which represent the corporations which make and sell games and other groups which have skin in the game, such as First Amendment rights organizations. Both sides have an impressive roster of academics, researchers and legal teams committed to a decisive win. Forget 800-pound gorillas; this is more like armies going to war. And the reason is simple: all legal precedent can go right out the window. The slate is cleaned.

In the time since the Court’s announcement there has been a lot of media coverage, both from the enthusiast outlets and the national press. A disturbing theme that you’d find too often in the consumer comments is one of apathy. Perhaps it arose from winning in each of the violence in video game cases. Maybe because, from our perspective, it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea that we could lose — the logic seems pretty obvious. But this is the U.S. Supreme Court, the only court in our country where the Justices don’t have to “follow the law” because they make the law that everyone else follows. And here’s the rub, as industry executives will openly admit: a loss wouldn’t just be limited to any one demographic, such as minors; or any one area, such as California; or even to any one art form, such as video games. It wouldn’t solely change how games are merchandised and sold. Should the U.S. Supreme Court determine that games may not necessarily enjoy the same First Amendment protections as music and movies do now, it would be catastrophic and the implications for gaming and gamers, and entertainment consumers generally, widespread.

Many states and legislators across the country will be watching the outcome of this case closely and are eager to see that there may be an opportunity to re-start their regulatory efforts. Developers are anxious because their rights as artists and creators may be substantially diminished. A loss would have a chilling effect on the medium as a whole — not limited to the United States. Other forms of media could quickly follow, with movies, music, books and all other previously protected First Amendment free speech on the block. Foreign governments often fashion and amend their own laws after SCOTUS decisions. Retailers and publishers, who presently employ a self-regulated ratings system (ESRB), not unlike movies, may be forced to comply with a regulatory environment, like alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. This case may significantly impact the rights of minors, as one of many First Amendment points to be debated will likely be whether minors have them or deserve to keep them. The age of majority is also inconsistent from state to state… The business, legal and cultural implications are mind-boggling.

In most SCOTUS cases, the perspective of the citizens is represented by the politicians — who are presumed to be representing the will of the people. The industry and its trade organizations represent the business. The idea of abdicating our personal consumer representation to the political figures in this case was and is unfathomable.

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is the non-profit membership organization which represents the rights of gamers in the U.S. and Canada. Our members pay an annual dues fee and in exchange receive advocacy representation, affinity benefits and discounts on games-related goods and services. We will be submitting a Friend of the Court document, called the consumer amicus brief, in support of the industry. That move, while it may appear obvious, is very uncommon. Similar membership organizations such as AAA or AARP are among the few that have the resources to bring such a document to bear. Additionally, ECA will be attaching a consumer petition, which any American of any age can sign on to. It simply, but emphatically, states:

We, the undersigned American video game consumers, purchase, rent and play video games the way we do other entertainment content such as movies and music. We respectfully request that you hold that video games are indeed free speech, protected under the First Amendment, like other entertainment media.

Petitions, historically, have not made or broken any SCOTUS cases; they have little legal bearing. The vast majority of what will determine whether we win or lose is predetermined. What a consumer amicus, and attached petition, will do is inform the justices, staff, clerks, historians, members of the Bar and Supreme Court press corps that consumers, in this case, are represented by consumers — not politicians. We will be showing that the will of the people is present, is not “covered” by a few select elected officials, and that we are making our case via the consumer amicus and also backing it up with the convictions of petition signatories. A petition that is viewed as successful may or may not be impactful, but one that is not successful could in fact harm the case. Maybe the amicus and petition will only change the game by one percent. Maybe it’ll be the same long odds that led to it being heard in the first place.

If you care about gaming and your rights, please, consider signing the petition.

//Add Your Own

221 Comments   20 Replies

151

+ ironhead32 on July 15th, 2010 at 6:52 pm said:

Signed


152

+ ironhead32 on July 15th, 2010 at 6:53 pm said:

New Page


153

+ VINNEAS on July 15th, 2010 at 6:53 pm said:

I can see the Irony of this whole situation.
Thousands of kids everywhere breaking out int violent outbursts because the government took away their violent games.

I know what makes kids violent. Not getting what they want…and lack of discipline.They’d have a better case saying that games cause kids to slip behind academically. Oops…shouldn’t have said that. Sorry guys… I just put another nail in our eventual coffins. Thanks a lot govenator.


154

+ Wise_Maniac on July 15th, 2010 at 6:54 pm said:

why not have violence? what does that do? makes us want to do it more. what happens when you learn? you know what you want to do. i learned.. how bout the world? nah


155

+ Wise_Maniac on July 15th, 2010 at 6:57 pm said:

saying that DOESNT mean anything.


156

+ bleweyes on July 15th, 2010 at 7:03 pm said:

Its seems as the yrs go by. There always trying to take away more of our freedom. I signed it. Its the parents who need to act. On what games there children should or shouldn’t play. Thats why we have our content rated. What more do they want. So not right.


157

+ mrbarker18 on July 15th, 2010 at 7:15 pm said:

Singed


158

+ Lord_Rinja on July 15th, 2010 at 7:45 pm said:

I just signed this as well. This is a Hypocrisy. Arnold supporting this after all of the violent movies he starred in. Some of those movies even spawned off Violent Video Games of there own such as The Terminator Arcade Game. The government has too much on its hands to be worrying about stuff like this. And think of the waste of tax payers money that will go into this if the law is passed. We are in an economic crisis people. Game sales are helping to keep the economy going. Stop wasting our time and trying to limit our already limited free (ain’t free) speech.


159

+ Zoomguy53 on July 15th, 2010 at 7:50 pm said:

This is freaking me out!!!
This is why I hate politics. Especially American politics.


160

+ stimey1 on July 15th, 2010 at 7:55 pm said:

Why don’t the game stores have a seperate area for mature level games that can’t be entered by the underaged? Having MA17 games on the shelf right next to the games rated for younger minds doesn’t make sense to me. I rememeber plenty of the ancient video rental shops would do this, especially for the “adult movies”..they had their own area in the back.


161

+ tdarb on July 15th, 2010 at 8:04 pm said:

“But this is the U.S. Supreme Court, the only court in our country where the Justices don’t have to “follow the law” because they make the law that everyone else follows”

ummm…..no, they do not “make the law”. Get your facts straight.


162

+ JimmyMagnum on July 15th, 2010 at 8:07 pm said:

The supreme court judges the law, not make it, and they only judge based off of a law’s constitutionality. Who makes the laws? Either Congress on a federal level, or state legislature on a state level.


163

+ Cheater87 on July 15th, 2010 at 8:17 pm said:

If this passes then all M and some T rated games would be banned from stores and consoles. This would treat violent games the same as the ESRB’s AO rating. The forbidden and banned rating. They would then be heavily censored and released back in stores in a form that would rival the censored games in Germany.


164

+ xxnike629xx on July 15th, 2010 at 8:21 pm said:

As a gamer and a college graduate with a B.A. in psychology, I have some comments on this issue.

The whole issue of violent games CAUSE violent behavior is so overdone and overblown. What I mean by this is these politicians probably are not gamers and probably do not have any psychology background. They’re going by popular vote (i.e. majority ruling) because it’ll make him/her (the politician) look nicer in the views of the voters. More voters mean better and or continued position in politics.

Going back on topic…


165

+ xxnike629xx on July 15th, 2010 at 8:22 pm said:

My personal belief is that a young child engaging in violent video games may increase the odds of violent behavior and thoughts, but I don’t think it necessarily is the only cause. At best, it’s just a possibly contributing variable.

What I think is more important and has a bigger effect is the level of parenting instituted on the child.

There’s a reason why the ESRB was formed; it was to get parents more involved in what video games children play.

In this day and age, video games are being scape-goated as the reason for many violent crimes/incidents performed by young children to young adult. It’s like years ago when this scape-goat was movies and music.

Video games, movies, music, etc may oontribute, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of parenting in many of these cases. Parents go around saying things like, “I can’t believe this!” or “My son would never do something like this!”

Well, the parent(s) obviously was not paying attention to the things the child gets involved with.


166

+ xxnike629xx on July 15th, 2010 at 8:22 pm said:

I mean this is saying like all of us who are now adults (age 18 and above) are all psychopaths and killers because we played violent video games, listened to music with explicit lyrics, and watching movies that had a lot of violence, gore, etc.

This is not the case (for most).

Yes there will always be a few that do “crack”, but really, to be labeling video games as the sole reason for so many of these incidents is just plain wrong.

Like I’ve said many times now, parents need to start being more informed of the things the child gets himself involved in. You can’t just let the kid do whatever he wants and then be like “I can’t believe this is happening!” That’s just lazy and ignorant parenting.


167

+ wU-sOLdiEr210 on July 15th, 2010 at 8:28 pm said:

i signed the petition
they regulate movies and shows before they touch games. there are more tv’s in the world compared to consoles.


168

+ mxt333 on July 15th, 2010 at 8:31 pm said:

LOL you think this is just about Video games?
This is about THE NWO! THE G20! look at the bigger picture.
They just want to control us.


169

+ DarthBrady on July 15th, 2010 at 8:48 pm said:

I have to agree with tripellex in #29. Not to mention Hal completely avoided his point in the reply.

Sony creates back compatible consoles. Then takes it away. Sony Creates alternate OS installations. Then takes it away. Sony even tried the same thing with dualshock. Then they start a new ad campaign boasting “It does everything”.

No, it doesn’t. And No, I shouldn’t be thanking anybody. You no longer support me as a loyal customer, I can’t support you as a loyal supporter. Not this, not anything. At least until I get the features I paid $529.99 USD back.


170

+ GOODKyle on July 15th, 2010 at 8:49 pm said:

Hmm…this issues was brought to the public’s knowledge months ago. Then all of a sudden I advertise this vid

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtmRlwPqpG4

all over Sony’s vid comment pages all this week. Suddenly they put this on their blog a day later! Holy Crap O.o


171

+ TallCrowe on July 15th, 2010 at 8:49 pm said:

I’m curious about a couple of things. First is how this post happens to be right before the Mortal Kombat one, kind of funny/ironic…both. Secondly are “The Big Three” teaming up on this issue, or are all the large game companies fighting this battle separately each in their own way? I probably missed the window for a response, but wanted to pose the question anyway.


172

+ Conrad_Max on July 15th, 2010 at 9:02 pm said:

Signed.


173

+ NDubbaYa on July 15th, 2010 at 9:19 pm said:

Little kids shouldn’t be playing violent video games, but that’s the parents responsibility not the government’s

Signed.


174

+ death_vader301 on July 15th, 2010 at 9:19 pm said:

If the bill pass i will sued the goverment and since my lil bro a game designer ill tell him make the most violence game to date from streets of fresno ca to city in minkato mn and from gangs such as bloods to crips and raging from surenos to nurtha and much violence gangs such as m.o.d to wa chang then ima sell it boot legged NOW THATS SUM REAL SHIZZLE MAI NIZZOL but for reals i dont mind if the bill pass cuz im most certain all the psycho path be hideing in there houses while nerds gonna run the streets dress in cross play with replica weapons from swords and guns acting out a real life world of warcrap NOW that will be sum funny SHIZZLE just because thay took our games away.


175

+ death_vader301 on July 15th, 2010 at 9:24 pm said:

NERD RAGE


176

+ inverseion on July 15th, 2010 at 9:30 pm said:

Why doesn’t California do what they do with everything else that’s good, fun, or interesting- tell everyone that (known to the state of California) it causes cancer.


177

+ hjason1 on July 15th, 2010 at 9:32 pm said:

I signed, this has gone on to long.
weather is violent. why don’t they ban that?
games don’t hurt or kill people, people do.

They need a better rating system for games.
Stores, and parents need to be fined heavy.
For selling, and buying adult games for kids.

You know a game is for an 8 year old.
When you hear him dad their is bfbc2 can we get please.
Then they buy it.
kids buy m rated fames and don’t get id’d.
Fix these issues games won’t be messed with again.


178

+ Adraeus on July 15th, 2010 at 9:53 pm said:

@159: Should there be separate rooms for alcohol, tobacco, and firearms where you must prove that you are of age to peruse the products? How far do you want to take this? You have to be at least 14 to obtain a permit to drive. Should we also hide motor vehicles from those who are underage?

@160: If the world worked like your textbooks, I guess there would not be any problems or conflicts in the world. SCOTUS has a long history of judicial activism and infringing upon the powers of state governments. While SCOTUS may not have intended to be a legislative body, the court certainly is now.

@162: Popular ideas are not relevant to politicians; they go where there’s money. Usually there’s a lot of money in popular ideas, but wealthy constituents or special interest groups with minority views can determine political directions. In this case, we have a governor and a senator who want there names on a SCOTUS case. That’s a pretty big deal in politics.

@167: ESA represents 35 member companies, including Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony.


179

+ THE-D1RTY-77 on July 15th, 2010 at 10:25 pm said:

Signed…Dated…and hopefully pwned


180

+ UrFriend27 on July 15th, 2010 at 10:58 pm said:

*signed* n i hope they actually listen 2 us gamers


181

+ S-E-G on July 15th, 2010 at 11:04 pm said:

At stake: gaming in America
lol
spoken like a true politician
can you be more specific?
what is going to happen exactly?


182

+ DiscoJer on July 15th, 2010 at 11:53 pm said:

As another one of those people burned/scammed by the ECA, all I can say is: don’t have anything to do with them. They are very shady. Google the problems they’ve had – it’s not pretty.

And they never actually stick up for gamers. They stick up for the gaming companies. Abusive DRM? Sure, no problem in their minds.


183

+ Turnip on July 16th, 2010 at 12:24 am said:

Leland Yee is a scumbag. Hi, I’m Leland Yee and I don’t think you are a good parent so I have aligned myself with other like-minded individuals and am going to wrench control of another aspect of your life. You will shut up and take this because you have let the government steal most of your other freedoms anyway so you should be used to it. So sit back and smile, we’ll do the thinking for you.


184

+ Bigmouthkid on July 16th, 2010 at 12:39 am said:

signed


185

+ Darkpen on July 16th, 2010 at 12:55 am said:

I don’t understand where Leland Yee is coming from. Statistically speaking, hasn’t youth violence actually been on a constant decline since the late 80′s? I can’t help but think that videogames (along with other socioeconomic factors) have contributed to this steady decrease.


186

+ hjason1 on July 16th, 2010 at 1:41 am said:

@ 181 exactly.
When kids has something to do they stay out of trouble.
Here where i live the kids come last sort of speak.
I.e we had famous people live her they wanted to build family fun centers.
Our local government said heck no.

The famous people said well that’s not right we will pay for everything.
And you turn it down?
So they packed up and moved away.

They wanted thing’s fun to keep kids out of trouble.
See my point government doesn’t care.
kids get into trouble government makes money incarsurating them.
It’s a lose win situation.
Were on the losing end.


187

+ Bionicle123 on July 16th, 2010 at 2:04 am said:

Hal do you really think they will take it away?


188

+ fuzE_one on July 16th, 2010 at 3:14 am said:

this is crazy there is a reason games are rated and u cant buy a M rated game as a minor without a parent present im not even gana get into the termanater violence this shouldn’t even be a problem parents who dont want there kids playing violent games shouldn’t buy violent games for there kids instead of trying to make a law so they can be lazy and if in some magical way the anti-game people win i am moving to canada


189

+ Rikith on July 16th, 2010 at 4:10 am said:

Do they really think that this industry will still exists if they take out all violence in video games. The day games become care bear hug fests is the day i cap myself in the head, way to solve the violence problem now we have a mass suicide problem to deal with. =)


190

+ MaxxAmmo on July 16th, 2010 at 4:59 am said:

IMO a petition is weak at the Supreme Court level. The ECA should prepare and file legal briefs with opposing viewpoints. The opposition (anti-gamers) are going to pay the best and the brightest scholars to write briefs ‘proving’ how harmful ‘all’ video games are to young folks & society and that the so-called ‘violent’ games are the worst of the lot. The ECA needs to take all that membership money and fund some psychologists, criminal experts and even successful (pro) gamers who can file opposing briefs and possibly testify at the Supreme Court hearing. A petition alone is good for your PTA meeting but won’t cut it for these dudes in robes!


191

+ lonewolf1994 on July 16th, 2010 at 7:15 am said:

if they won.. (hope they dont) could they in some way.. find a way to do the same here in EU?


192

+ The-Sarge on July 16th, 2010 at 7:49 am said:

Why is it that the lazy and irresponsible tend to rule the world? So our rights and freedoms have to be pushed aside because some parents are too lazy to actively monitor what their kids are playing.

The games are rated. The rating is accurate. If a parent is concerned, don’t buy the child a game that is not rated for them.

How did raising their child become my responsibility?


193

+ Sponge-worthy on July 16th, 2010 at 7:56 am said:

The flip side is that if retailers are nudged into putting systems in place that age-verify certain purchases, that could open channels for more adults-only-type content to be sold in North America. Why does only Japan get the fun stuff?


194

+ colstripcapn on July 16th, 2010 at 7:59 am said:

“But this is the U.S. Supreme Court, the only court in our country where the Justices don’t have to “follow the law” because they make the law that everyone else follows.”

Umm, no, that’s not true at all. Congress makes US law, state legislatures make state laws.

If you have to resort to outright lying or at best bending the facts to the extream to make your point than I have no interest in hearing anything else you have to say, nor will I have anything to do with your organization.


195

+ F-minus on July 16th, 2010 at 8:18 am said:

Signed the petition a while ago, Stuff like this is insane, We cant let stuff like this happen!!! Glad to people are standing up fighting this :)


196

+ Noaxzl on July 16th, 2010 at 8:24 am said:

I signed this petition. This case may seem trivial and unlikely to go through, but don’t forget about that immigration law that’s about to pass in Arizona. You know, the one that stomps all over the Fourth Amendment. If one amendment goes, they’ll all go.


197

+ station3fever on July 16th, 2010 at 8:43 am said:

Signed :)


198

+ BananaFish on July 16th, 2010 at 8:58 am said:

This whole issue is giving me the uncontrollable desire to watch Schwarznegger’s “Commando” again.


199

+ AndyBeans on July 16th, 2010 at 9:03 am said:

Unfortunately there IS a need for something to be done to protect children; if today’s parents are too immature to be able to make rational and responsible steps to protect their own kids then the state must assume the “nanny” role and make those prohibitive decisions for them.

Agreed that violent material doesn’t make every child a psychopath, but kids learn by mimicking those they respect and if their brain-dead parents raise them by buying them whatever game they want to avoid confrontation instead of being proper role-models then the game industry will be made the scape-goat and all of us gamers will suffer.

I’m impressed that you get ID’ed for mature games in the US (although I wasn’t too impressed getting ID’ed for cigarettes at 27 when I was last there haha). Nothing like that happens in the UK so even if British parents wanted to act responsibly their kids can just go behind their backs anyway…


200

+ fsjustin1 on July 16th, 2010 at 9:06 am said:

So if this happens, big companies like Valve, Activision, Infinity Ward, and more companies will close down? This is a really bad idea at this time of recession.


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