Violent Games, Legislation, and You


Mid Boss
Alright, so that War on Iraq thread sucked the life out of the board. Here's a new topic, fairly controversial, and may be applicable to some members of this board. Thoughts?


Violent Video Games Face New Legislation

A new bill has been passed in the state of Washington that could see retailers facing fines for renting or selling violent games to minors.

Following the passage of Washington State House Bill 1009 earlier this week, employees of businesses who knowingly sell or rent violent video games to minors could soon be fined up to $500 by police officers. The legislation was introduced by Mary Lou Dickerson, chairwoman of the House Juvenile Justice and Family Law Committee in Seattle, after she reportedly made numerous attempts over a period of some months to instigate a voluntary program that would see games publishers taking responsibility for educating retailers on how to properly sell games of a violent nature.

According to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer report, Dickerson claims that she reached an agreement with various video game special-interest groups, as well as Nintendo of America, that would ensure that both retailers and the public alike would be properly educated on the voluntary rating system employed by most games publishers. When her subsequent phone calls to Nintendo of America went unanswered for five months and no progress was apparent, she decided to introduce the new legislation, which, should it pass into law, will likely be challenged by game-industry organizations.

Aware that the games industry will challenge the legislation in court, Dickerson has specifically targeted games that depict violence toward law enforcement officers, such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. According to Dickerson, this is because previous legal challenges in other states suggest that's what's necessary for the legislation to hold up in court.
Well, I believe that adult gamers should be given access to the games they want to play - be they violent or pornographic or whatever. It is a choice the individual must make. When it comes to children, it becomes a little murkier.

When is a child no longer able to differentiate between real and un-real? Do violent games make any difference to their behaviour? More importantly, is the particular child susceptible to violent imagery?

I think a lot of it comes down to so-called "responsible parenting". At some point, someone needs to make a judgement that says "this is not suitable for my child". Blanket restrictions on content rarely do anything positive - it just creates a black market - and individuals are...well...individual. I think you can't just say "no-one under the age of 18 shall play this". At the same time, the guidelines need to be there so an informed decsion can be made.

yeah I would have to agree.

but I'm getting sick of hearing 7-8 yr olds talking about how great Vice City is

It also disturbs me to see M-rated game commonly on as demos in stores and seeing a line of elementary school kids lined up to play it
"Violent video or computer game" means a video or computer game that contains realistic or photographic-like depictions of aggressive conflict in which the player kills, injures, or otherwise causes physical harm to a human form in the game who is depicted, by dress or other recognizable symbols, as a public law enforcement officer.

Does this mean that you have to be over 18 to play Final Fight or T2: The Arcade Game now, or are those not "realistic" enough?
why is it just a "law enforcement" individual?

does that mean it's ok to just kill or injure civilians?
The dumb thing is that the whole game industry could avoid a lot of grief if stores just started following the existing recommended ratings. In Europe, almost every game has an ELSPA rating on the back and even though shop assistants sometimes ask the customer's age I've never heard of a case where a shop refused to sell a game. Parents also ignore the ratings on games even though they wouldn't buy a movie rated "18+" to their children.
Originally posted by ExCyber@Mar 26, 2003 @ 05:20 PM

Does this mean that you have to be over 18 to play Final Fight or T2: The Arcade Game now, or are those not "realistic" enough?

You raise an interesting question. On the one hand you could argue that those are nothing compared to what they have today. They only made a stink about them back then because they were the worst we had seen to date. But that doesn't really make sense because games like Vice City are simply "the worst" we have to date. These will be replaced in the future with much more disturbing images I'm sure.

Another, perhaps better argument as you said, is that might be made is that these games are simply more realistic than they were back then. Now kids look at something like Mortal Kombat or Doom and only see the poor, now laughable graphics. It's hard to take them seriously because they don't meet the realisim expectations of today's youth. Because they are easier to distinguish from reality, they don't have as much of an impact. The games themselves obviously haven't changed, but how they are viewed in terms of "realism" has. Could MK have as much of an adverse impact today as Vice City? Probably not. Those aren't people, they're crappy graphics.

Now, I'm not saying that violence in the media is to blame for violence in life. I think it's up to the parents to figure this all out. Yes, IMHO, children shouldn't be exposed to too much sex or violence. Even with proper supervision it would be hard to explain certain things to children because they simply don't posses the ability to comprehend them on an adult level (duh). That's why we have rating systems. They're good faith ways to label the potential content of any given media. But parents are also free to exercise their right to assess the validity of such rating systems. Which is why it becomes easy to target parents when shit goes wrong. I'm not a parent, so I can't really get into these things in detail. I can't really comment on how much responsibility a parent has when their child sprays their classmates with a Tec-9.

I don't have a problem with my girlfriend's 13 year old brother playing Vice City. He's not gonna be warped by it in any way. He knows better. He's had the proper parenting and upbringing to know its just a game. But not everyone is as forunate as he is. There are far too many factors at play as to why some people get warped and others don't.

In sum, preventing kids from buying/renting violent games or from entering R rated movies is probably a good thing. This (at least in theory) forces the parents to be more involved in what their kid is exposed to. They can rent the game in question for the kid if they feel that's an okay thing to do. But then... blah.. this shit is too complicated to get into. ah well, I'm 22, I can do what I want. Screw the kids

Not everything here really represents what I think. It's somewhat difficult a thing to discuss on a message board. There's a good chance I f'ed something up or didn't explain myself well. It's just fodder for a conversation. Don't hate me

Besides, I think the real concern is why them kids can't read these days.
Originally posted by Quadriflax@Mar 26, 2003 @ 07:15 PM

But that doesn't really make sense because games like Vice City are simply "the worst" we have to date. These will be replaced in the future with much more disturbing images I'm sure.

I hate to think....
You ever notice that whenever these kind of things come up, the one who starts it all is either a stupid-ass Republican, or a woman? Just thought I'd like to share that with you. These people don't know crap about gaming. Now I DO agree with the store clerks asking for age and stuff when buying (my mom got "carded" when I bought Half-Life: Initial Encounter a couple of years ago, I was 14 then). Now later on in the article (this part is just laughable):

Aware that the games industry will challenge the legislation in court, Dickerson has specifically targeted games that depict violence toward law enforcement officers, such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

To quote something I read on a website many a month ago:

"Saying that violent video games teach people to kill, is the exact same as saying I could be an expert Nascar player, so that means I'd be able to drive one to perfection in reality" I'll never forget that line.
Originally posted by Cloud121@Mar 26, 2003 @ 09:39 PM

You ever notice that whenever these kind of things come up, the one who starts it all is either a stupid-ass Republican, or a woman?

Actually, it's usually Joe Lieberman, who is a Democrat

remember the whole Mortal Kombat and Night Trap thing? You can thank him.
from article: A video game that prominently features the rape and mutilation of young women and the assault of police officers is 13-year-old Mike Tibbetts' favorite, even though he has never played it.

Within the lunchrooms of Ballou Junior High in Puyallup, Mike explained, students are pulling "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" out of their backpacks and showing it off to friends.

"Everyone's talking about it," Mike said. "I don't need to play it to know that it's my favorite. It's got to be good."

hehe -- what a dork

"I don't play it, but it's my favorite!"
Wow man wow... 13? Try 7. God now I'm gonna have to type so Goddamned much since this is a topic that interestes me a great deal ever since I was 6. Ok here goes...

Now, I have yet to see a scientific study that shows how all violence in the world (or just America in this case) is caused by videogames. Before videogames were of a high enough quality to depict graphic violence to a someone realistic level, movies were the cause of all the violence in America. Before that, music was (Judas Priest anyone?).

And as someone said before, it usually is a white house official or mother whose kid stepped on a grasshopper, but did it because he was recieving subliminal messages from Vice City. It seems to me that these people are just trying to find an easy way out here. People are violent because people are just violent. Videogames are not to blame, WE are.

Ok now another point: Why in good FUCK are parents letting their kids play violent games. Look, I understand that parents can't control every piece of media their child is exposed to, but it's not that freaking hard. Here's how I'd think it would (or should) go. P is parent, K is kid.

P:Go pick a videogame to buy

K: I want this one *grabs vice city*

P: Let me se what it is rated

P: Sorry, it's rated M, go get a teen or E game.

K: *gets dark cloud2 and everyone's happy*


Ok see that's about how hard it should be. And I know that kids play games at their friends houses and whatever but if this is still the least you could do. It isn't up to the stores to protect the children it's up to the parents.

I know I probably left a whole lot out here but I have homework and my mini mexican pizza is done.
hehe I felt bad for these two kids I saw at Funcoland a few weeks ago.

They were brothers they were each around 8-10 years old.

They wanted this one X-Box game that was rated T (for teen) for "violence". I can't for the life of me remember which one it was, but it wasn't anything that I would consider very violent.

Anyway, they really wanted this game, but the mom insisted that they needed to find a game that was rated "E" or they weren't getting a game at all.

They tried pointing out that the Jet Set Radio Future that came with their XBox was also rated "T" for violence. If you have ever played that game you know that the violence isn't really violent. But the mom didn't care.

Didn't stick around to see how the whole situation turned out, but the kids were pretty bummed especially since the XBox's selection of "E" rated games are pretty slim

poor boys....
Videogames are pretty tame compared to what's in films and on the TV. I mean, in the vast majority of games you play the good guy out to save everybody. Even stuff like Grand Theft Auto doesn't really reward merciless slaughter (it just gives you the tools to go that route if you wish, the choice is down to the player), the people you do have to kill to advance the game aren't exactly innocent civilians themselves.

It's got to come down to parents in the end. Everybody I know saw countless 18-rated films when they were kids, and it's not like they went out and got the things themselves. My Dad used to get crappy horrror films out to entertain me on a weekly basis, just because I found them funny, not because I begged him to. You've got to make the judgement for your own kids, I guess.

A few shops around here were pretty vigilant when GTA: Vice City came out because there was all the controversy, but otherwise they could probably care less. If they don't sell directly to the kids, they'll only go and get their older brother or whoever to buy it for them.
Studies have shown increased arousal after exposure to violent media, but I think that's about it. From what I understand most show that it can lead to a greater probability, but doesn't cause it. Correlational at best. But something else has to exist for someone to actually cross the line. Hence why most of us don't go on murderous carjacking rampages after playing Vice City. I think we've actually got the right system here in the states. Stop kids from getting it directly, but not blocking it for the rest of us. Yes, there are some instances of censorship, but this is usually at the private level (ie: that BMXXX game, or whatever). Though I'm no expert. At any rate, I've got access to everything I ever need.
Japan's films, TV, and video games are far more violent than anything that gets past the censor boards over here, yet they do not have near the crime problem that we do. Why? They have a stronger family structure over there. Most of America's problems have been caused by the crumbling of the traditional family structure over here. This is the same argument as after that whole Columbine disaster. (And by disaster, I don't mean a couple of punk kids shooting up their school, I mean the media's coverage after said event.) Just because they played Doom and listened to Marilyn Manson (which they didn't, they were Rammstein fans judging by the Rammstein T-shirts in their yearbook photos and the "Manson Sucks" type comments on their website) did not make them go on a killing spree. They did that on their own. Violent media is simply an expression and reflection of our violent society. If we could alter society so that the next generation of kids would be brought up in a strong family environment, where abuse was eliminated and both parents cared for their children, the next generation would not create such violent art.

I have constant violent fantasies. In highschool, I fantasized constantly about going on a killing spree much the same as those two schmucks from Colorado did years later. Even today, I have a facination with blades; swords, knives, razors. I often imagine what it would be like to sink one of the two or three knives (the third one, I only use at work) that I have on me at all times into "that person" who just did something to piss me off. But I never have. And, unless it is in self defence, I probably never will. Why? Because when I grew up, I was taught that actions have consequenses. I was not exposed to the flippant lifestyle that too many of today's parents live. People don't plan for the future anymore. When they have kids, the kids are just there. People didn't used to get married two weeks after meeting one another, then get divoriced a month later, after the wife got pregnant. We didn't used to have mothers with six kids from five fathers looking to have one more so they can get a bigger check each month. That's irresponsible. That is simply living in the present moment, without thinking about what long term effects one's actions will bring about. And, sadly, there is no quick way to fix all this. Religion is not the answer. Religion may influence culture, so it could be a helpful factor, but people, as a whole, have moved beyond unquestioned faith motivating our daily lives. The change needs to be made to our culture as a whole, without religious motive.

Okay, and my brain is finaly slowing down and realizing that this rant just went way off topic. Oh, well.
I also agree that it has to come down to a parent's judgement and the way they bring up their child. If the kid has a firm grip on reality, sure, let him play it, if he's not so grown up, and they know he/she's gonna take it seriously to the point where they act it out in reality, then by all means, they shouldn't expose their child to it. I'm not a big fan of censorship or any type of rating system whose purpose is to tell what the consumer what age their child should be before playing it. Sure, it should warn you what the game is about, and the type of activities that are in it, but it shouldn't in any small way, make any assumption of how mature your children are based on how old they are.

Here in America, I really think that parents are being pushed around by their kids. Children are too spoiled, and they aren't really brought up with any discipine. Most parents aren't parenting, and it's starting to show with all these censoring legislations.

And one more thing: kids are getting too fat. Parents need to establish proper eating habits for them.
Originally posted by VertigoXX@Mar 27, 2003 @ 03:42 AM

I have constant violent fantasies. In highschool, I fantasized constantly about going on a killing spree much the same as those two schmucks from Colorado did years later.

During boring times in PE in middle school, I often imagined Crono and friends wooshing me away into some fun adventure in time.
I just read the post from VertigoXX and was going to quote parts of it in order to announce my agreement with them... and I find myself agreeing with EVERYTHING he said. Excellent post, some very valid points, I couldn't have put them better myself. I too often have had these thoughts of what if we could just start over with the next generation, with a clean slate, have healthy families, no grudges being carried from parent to kid, no abuse, no nothing. It would be great... but anyway I'm hoping that if not within one generation, it WILL eventually happen within many. We'll see.

Some parents are also alarmingly ignorant as to just what today's videogames are like. I remember reading this newspaper article a while back about some father whose kid murdered someone else at highschool or killed himself - I don't remember what really happened - but the one thing that stuck with me was that the father let his kid play Grand Theft Auto Vice City and had no idea that the game was anywhere near violent at all. He said "To me, video games are Pac-Man and Asteroids." It was kind of funny but also just sad for a parent to be so out of the loop.