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Follow PlayStation’s Lead and Help Protect Video Games

Rich Taylor's Avatar + Posted by Rich Taylor on Nov 02, 2010 // Entertainment Software Association

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger v. EMA/ Entertainment Software Association. They’ll decide whether a California law, which would restrict the sale of “violent” computer and video games, is constitutional.

What does this mean to you, PlayStation fans?

This case could have huge implications for the industry. No one is sure what counts as a “violent” game, so the California law would suppress game developers’ imagination and right to self-expression. It would also prohibit retailers from selling the games that might be perfectly legal, “just in case.” It could mean an environment where “God of War” is banned from retail shelves, but the sometimes violent written works detailing Greek myths are still available on bookstores shelves and taught in classrooms.

It’s a slippery slope, and the California law is similar to what Congress tried to do to comic books over fifty years ago. In a letter of support for video games, comic book legend Stan Lee explained:

“A Senate subcommittee investigated and decided the U.S. could not “afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror and violence.” Comic books were burned… Looking back, the outcry was — forgive the expression — comical. Substitute video games for comic books and you’ve got a 21st century replay of the craziness of the 1950s.”

If the Supreme Court sides against the video game industry, developers could experience a creative chilling effect, because the government could essentially tell determine what games could and could not be created. It would also open up states to pass a patchwork of legislation around the country, requiring publishers to release many different versions of each game they publish. And, these same restrictions could eventually be applied to other creative mediums like movies, books and music. The result would be a huge foot on the brake for innovation in one of our nation’s most dynamic economic sectors.

But there are common-sense reasons to oppose this law as well, most importantly this: The decision over whether to buy a video game or a book or a movie should be made by responsible parents, not the government.

Fortunately, the courts have historically aligned themselves on the side of video games. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals already ruled that the California law is unconstitutional, and every other state and federal court case has ruled in favor of video games as protected speech.

Video_Game_Voters_Network

But what can you do while we wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling?

The most important thing you can do is join the Video Game Voters Network.

The Video Game Voters Network is a place for voting age gamers to organize and defend against threats to video games. Video games are fully protected speech under the Constitution, and receive the same First Amendment protection as books, movies, music and cable television programs. The VGVN opposes efforts to regulate the content of entertainment media, including proposals to criminalize the sale of certain games to minors, or regulate video games differently from movies, music, books, and other media.

Join the VGVN today, tell your friends to do the same, and stay current on your gaming rights.

//Add Your Own

86 Comments

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51

+ imtooseryas on November 2nd, 2010 at 11:06 am said:

This is because some people who commit heinous acts and look for a scapegoat, and the easy is VIDEOGAMES. OH gta made me steal a car, oh mortal kombat made me beat a person to death. Oh I am an irresponsible parent, but so the people wont judge me, I will just blame it on videogames! Which we all know is false.

The few cases that do actually do that, are the ones with real mental issues, that wouldve done something like that anyway, and shouldve been better supervised by their guardians.


52

+ Sponge-worthy on November 2nd, 2010 at 11:07 am said:

@48 imtooeryas:

You’re missing a logical step that all of these slippery-slope doom-sayers seem to ignore: that this law will not, in any way, alter demand for the product among adult gamers. So even if Gamestop has to take down the giant “Dusty” poster for EA’s “Medal of Honor,” people will still buy shooters and other violent games regardless.


53

+ imtooseryas on November 2nd, 2010 at 11:14 am said:

@51 sponge-worthy , actually it will, ofcourse games like CoD will sell still sell like gangbusters because the fanbase is still that big but games with smaller budgets and less advertising will have a harder time breaking through.

Its just here in my country, movies are very heavily regulated here, because its illegal to show a movie anything higher than R13. So all movies here are super edited to oblivion, or not even shown.

Obscure movies, indies, etc dont even have a chance in hell of making money.

So the whole movie industry has shifted to really… bad.. fantasy Z list type of movies..


54

+ FJ1100_rider on November 2nd, 2010 at 11:33 am said:

ok , I don’t agree with government rules on what can be in a video game – that’s what ratings systems are for
but I do think creating a law making it illegal for retailers to sell m rated games to kids under 16 is fine . sure , it’s a parents responsibility to ensure their kids aren’t playing those games but come on , that’s not happening . if it were there wouldn’t be kids playing mw2 and other games . making retailers follow the rules and stop selling to kids isn’t that big a deal . seriously , it’s no different than asking parents not to buy these games for underage kids , it’s just making sellers as responsible as the parents buying them

it’s illegal in Canada for stores to sell m rated games to kids and it hasn’t meant the downfall of the industry or that retailers don’t carry or advertise games with violence . it just means that if a store does sell a violent game it’s to an adult – if that adult allows his/her kids to play then they’re bad parents and that’s all we blame it on , not the government


55

+ gamer_dame81 on November 2nd, 2010 at 11:34 am said:

I am sure it already been said, but I’m going to say it again: It is the responsibility of the PARENT to raise (read: monitor, take responsibility for, be accountable for etc) the CHILD. If the parent does not want their child playing “violent” video games, then the parent needs to be the one in charge of that. Why should I have to suffer because you don’t want to raise the child you created? I understand it is hard to raise a child in today’s world with today’s influences. However, you knew when you had them. So if you didn’t want that responsibility, there are more than a few ways to have prevented it. It’s pretty lop-sided to think it’s okay to censor one aspect of media and not the other. If CA is going to censor violent video games, it would only make sense that if you have children in your household, you shouldn’t be able to watch violent movies or TV shows… or listen to violent music…or read violent books. I mean, let’s not half a** it, right?


56

+ BPatches701 on November 2nd, 2010 at 11:46 am said:

@46 Like others have said this bill is not really a right/left dem/rep issue but I must digress, Arnie is quite the joke of a Conservative and shouldn’t be re-elected.


57

+ GameBreak68 on November 2nd, 2010 at 11:47 am said:

I’ve been a part of VGVN for a while now. However, I also recommend kotaku.com to stay up to date with all of this. They did a great job covering today


58

+ CaruthK on November 2nd, 2010 at 12:14 pm said:

Two words… Prenatal Control. It’s on every console. All they have to do is read the manual it’s on the front page gees.


59

+ Rhez on November 2nd, 2010 at 12:24 pm said:

@19 It is not illegal for minors to have access to R rated films. The MPAA which rates movies is not a government agency. Movie theatres and retailers voluntarily self regulate the policy not to sell to minors. This is opposed to the ban on cigarettes and alcohol which are government enforced. It is illegal in the U.S. to buy cigarettes or alcohol for minors. This includes parents buying them for their kids.

As far as parents or older friends buying games for kids;
The law would make it a crime to buy or otherwise provide “violent” games to minors. It doesn’t mean M rated games. This would be a new government issued rating. And yes it would set a precedent for regulating other forms of media. That means a parent could be fined or arrested for allowing their child to play a (V-rated) game or seeing an R rated film, even in the privacy of their own home.

This is why it is a freedom of speech issue and a big deal. Unfortunately this has come about because of parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children. Now for some reason we feel it is the governments responsibility to raise our kids.


60

+ Spinout209 on November 2nd, 2010 at 12:48 pm said:

If this piece of crap law passes then it will ruin the gaming industry. So many great game series will be ended, and those already in the works will be shut down meaning a HUGE loss of money for many gaming companies. Why the heck would they need to target us gamers, we did nothing to them. They need to worry about the state budget before they even think about starting something new that will cost money.


61

+ StarFoxMania on November 2nd, 2010 at 12:54 pm said:

What a bloody hypocrite that ignorant Austrian is. Like his movies are not violent, WOW!


62

+ crudd101 on November 2nd, 2010 at 1:20 pm said:

Yet this man plays action hero movies and there all violent i remember them making a game of one of his movies called Last Action Hero he seem to be fine with it then and all the game was fighting. Fighting equals violence ur two sided and for that u wont being wining this trial NEXT!!!


63

+ BlindMango on November 2nd, 2010 at 1:26 pm said:

California never gets it do they? That’s why their country is SO far in debt I guess, well I’m very happy that you guys at the ESA are persistent at reminding gamers about this situation, keep it up!


64

+ KILLZONE79 on November 2nd, 2010 at 1:41 pm said:

haha good thing i dont live in california


65

+ Rhez on November 2nd, 2010 at 1:42 pm said:

well OK I just read the entire transcript of today’s proceedings and my mind has changed just a little. In the case of ultra-violent video games perhaps a law does need to be made. BUT, this is not it. So I still cannot support the current ban that our state is trying to pass.

It is going to take much longer to define exactly what makes a game overly violent or not. Since this is a form of expression it is difficult to define.


66

+ ericscolon on November 2nd, 2010 at 1:50 pm said:

books had the same problem long before movies

In the 70′s-90′s movies where attacked especially in the 80s with horror films but theyre still around and much worse in every way story, blood, gore etc…
Why is the Terminator against violence in an entertainment medium, he has no right doing so since his movies came under the same type of attention. hes shot people, beat the crap out of people, killed Predator, foul language,and beyond in his movies. oh lets not forget he let his likeness be used in violent video games on the sega Genesis and Nintendo products long before he join Jack thompson and the other floaters in the punch bowl.
so if the steriod govenor wants to atack something he may as well go after the film industry too,his movies sucked anyway.
Same thing has happened to music.
with that said arnold is just a super popular jack thompson and should be ignored by everybody


67

+ ericscolon on November 2nd, 2010 at 2:00 pm said:

for the parents against violent video games, take five minutes to check out a review or gameplay footage on youtube or something. They have the tools to make a decision about what thier kid(s) can and cannot have. STOP BEING LAZY!!


68

+ AcesZERO-RAZGRIZ on November 2nd, 2010 at 2:13 pm said:

if i remember correctly.. there are these movies called Terminator and Predator..
you may be getting old and have forgotten your past there sir.

so in your own words, violent video games.. WILL BE BACK


69

+ rochha on November 2nd, 2010 at 3:21 pm said:

I really don’t care unless the game sucks, if its a good game its OK but they should ban the games that suck


70

+ jimbobb23 on November 2nd, 2010 at 3:23 pm said:

@47

Arnie a conservative republican? That is the funniest thing I read today. Where do the kids get their news these days?

Its Arnie because it is a state law and in almost all states you cannot sue Congress (just like in the federal government). The democratic congress of California passed this law. But, again, this is not a clear right/left issue. Conceivably you could make it a libertarian/statist issue, but it really is not clearly that either – but its closer than right and left.


71

+ jimbobb23 on November 2nd, 2010 at 3:27 pm said:

@58

Prenatal control is a little early to screen for video games. But, with guys too busy playing video games that may be a form of prenatal control.


72

+ RapidfireRay on November 2nd, 2010 at 4:13 pm said:

They’re missing the pint with this law.

Parents raise kids and guide them to be responsible, not video games.
I have 3 kids who have all grown up in the “video game age”. Hell, my son has probably killed a few million bad guys in just about every conceivable way over the years going back to the NES system, yet somehow he hasn’t wound up in jail. Big surprise there.

Bottom line…the devs have every right to make video games any way they want to. They have that freedom under the constitution. The underlying issue, as always, is the government trying to pass laws that govern individual choices based on ONE set of moral principles and that inevitably treads on the constitutional rights of everyone.

In a free country, that should never be allowed.


73

+ CONTRABAND on November 2nd, 2010 at 4:23 pm said:

think its funny how the government can spend time/$$$ on this while kids are dieing of starvation… what a joke.


74

+ Razorback on November 2nd, 2010 at 5:33 pm said:

How can someone such as Arnold want to create a ban on violent video games? Excuse me Mr. Terminator/Predator Killer, how violent have your films been?


75

+ Jeigh on November 2nd, 2010 at 7:27 pm said:

Alright, whatever arguments you want to make, let me assure you, the “He’s the Terminator, ergo he has no right!” argument is just as sad as it is wrong. Plenty of people here have made legitimate points pro and con, but far too many like to “consider the source”- hypocrisy is a beloved target of Americans.

Because, of course, a person who’s been in a violent movie couldn’t possibly oppose violence, just the same as an unintelligent person can’t possibly right, the same as a non-swimmer can’t save a drowning Michael Phelps, the same as fat person can’t possibly be tell you how to lose weight, the same as a smoker can’t tell you you should quit.

There are plenty of good arguments here. Going for the “He’s the Terminator!” card just shows you have none.


76

+ JeneralG on November 2nd, 2010 at 7:58 pm said:

God of War is going a bit far in “violence” but all other games are fine. I would say that they should stop including stuff like strong language or nudity. That messes it up to where hardcore fans like me won’t be able to get it.


77

+ Skidmark_2010 on November 2nd, 2010 at 8:21 pm said:

If your going to do this to video games, the same could be done to movies.
Therefore Arnold should have to return any money made via a violent movie


78

+ b00kthree on November 2nd, 2010 at 9:17 pm said:

“But there are common-sense reasons to oppose this law as well, most importantly this: The decision over whether to buy a video game or a book or a movie should be made by responsible parents, not the government.”

Common sense? Are you nuts?

A law that prohibits selling M-rated titles to minors puts the decision solely in the parents’ very hands, where it should be! Parents can still buy M-rated titles for their kids, if they’re that daft. Hopefully most won’t. If you can’t see this angle, it’s because you’ve put so much spin on the news that you don’t even see the intent of the law anymore.

My kids have a right to a childhood unexposed to vile and perverse media influences, even if they lack the wisdom to make those choices themselves as minors. Same with porn. Your freedom of so-called expression (it ain’t art, sorry) does not trump my children’s rights.

I’m disappointed in Sony (and the ESA) for spinning this topic into a matter of freedom of expression. It shows me that Sony would rather make a few bucks peddling M-trash than help me protect my kids. Gore never was innovation. It is age-old. It makes me want to go dust off my Wii. Don’t make me do it, Sony.


79

+ JKC31 on November 2nd, 2010 at 9:39 pm said:

The court seemed interested in helping American families that can’t be a 24/7 watch dog over their children. Children Rights or parental rights. I don’t think they took this blindly and have specific wording in the ruling. Shutting old doors and opening by mandating others in very clear terms.


80

+ dc4daniel on November 3rd, 2010 at 12:46 am said:

lol @ #13 and 29. The blog cannot get away from the hardcore GT5 fans.

Us Californians need to ban together and recall the governator. I think California has more important things to worry about than video games.


81

+ Fexelea on November 3rd, 2010 at 1:41 am said:

Stop posting on Playstation blog, you’re spouting misinformation and fallacies to no end in hopes that fear of oppresion will get people to act against their interests.
Your case is flawed, your studies and arguments are as flimsy as your opposition’s, and your continued attempts to make this into a “rights” issue is laughable: it is illegal to sell M rated games to minors in many countries, for example in the UK… guess where Rockstar is from? I don’t see that stopping them making a GTA.

Get out of here.


82

+ mikedo2007 on November 3rd, 2010 at 6:32 am said:

I’ve been reading Gamepolitics lately and I think some of you might want to have a look at the court transcript. It’s very interesting and the Supreme Court judges, Judge Scalia is breaking the California game Law’s BSes. I’m glad to see the Supreme Court judges are using their brain.


83

+ b00kthree on November 3rd, 2010 at 7:43 am said:

“But there are common-sense reasons to oppose this law as well, most importantly this: The decision over whether to buy a video game or a book or a movie should be made by responsible parents, not the government.”

Common sense? Are you nuts?

A law that prohibits selling M-rated titles to minors puts the decision solely in the parents’ very hands, where it should be! Parents can still buy M-rated titles for their kids, if they’re that daft. Hopefully most won’t. If you can’t see this angle, it’s because you’ve put so much spin on the news that you don’t even see the intent of the law anymore.

My kids have a right to a childhood unexposed to vile and perverse media influences, even if they lack the wisdom to make those choices themselves as minors. Same with p**n. Your freedom of so-called expression (it ain’t art, sorry) does not trump my children’s rights.

I’m disappointed in Sony (and the ESA) for spinning this topic into a matter of freedom of expression. It shows me that Sony would rather make a few bucks peddling M-trash than help me protect my kids. Gore never was innovation. It is age-old. It makes me want to go dust off my Wii. Don’t make me do it, Sony.


84

+ ericscolon on November 3rd, 2010 at 3:19 pm said:

@83 are your kids minors? if so they have to do basically anything you tell them until theyre 18. in your 2nd paragraph i think youre confusing your child’s rights with your parental responsibilites to filter what they can & cannot do or view.
Also this topic has been around for like 15yrs maybe more, Mortal kombat really lit the fire in the 90′s then the ruckus died down for a while until gta came around (specifically the ps2 gta’s). Its not sony’s, microsoft’s, or nintendo’s fault this issue is blown out of proportion. there is a ratings board for games just like movies and honestly ESRB ratings are far more descriptive than the ratings for movies, so if anyones to blame its the ones who make a huge deal out of it because they clearly neglected to do a little homework on what was being bought


85

+ Fexelea on November 4th, 2010 at 4:40 pm said:

@84

No, he is not confusing his child’s rights with his responsibilities. He is pointing out that there are a certain type of games that should not be directly available to minors… things like SAW and Postal should require parental permition for minors to access, just like alcohol or pornography.

Last time I was in the US, I saw a gamestop clerk selling SAW to a kid who could be no more than 9. That guy deserves a fine, and the store should be legally obliged to require parental permition (let the parent buy it!)

This is not about freedom of speech. This is about money… the industry is scared that, without teenagers to buy their “+17″ games, the sales will be catastrophic. Which tells you a lot about the ratings to start with.


86

+ cwbygmer on November 6th, 2010 at 6:55 pm said:

@85 I agree there should be a law in place that fines the stores and the clerks who sell T or M rated games to underage children. So far I have only been to one gamestop where they always check ID’s and refuse to sell games to underage children. We have laws against selling alcohol and tobacco to minors should be the same with games.


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