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Why the California Video Game Law is Dumb

Posted by Stradden Friday May 22 2009 at 4:09PM
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So, the governor with the wacky accent is at it again. This time, the state of California is trying to overturn a US District court ruling that a new law to fine game retailers $1,000 for selling inappropriately violent video games to people under the age of 18 was unconstitutional.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that even as someone who makes their living in the video game industry, I agree with the principle of this law. I really do think that some games just aren’t appropriate for younger audiences. I wouldn’t say 18 necessarily, but that seems to be the arbitrary age at which this side of the world believes you’re an adult so I’ll accept the premise for now.

I will grudgingly admit that there are studies out there that support a link between violence in video games (and TV, and movies, and music and probably cave etchings if you go back far enough) and violence amongst young people. I’ve read (and sworn at) enough articles to admit that this might actually have some basis in reality. I’m not willing to go so far as to say that video games deserve to shoulder the blame every time some teenage wacko picks up a gun and shots up a building from their past, but I’ll stipulate that some games are made for a mature audience.

So yes, Mr. Terminator, sir, when all is said and done, I will agree with you that something needs to be done to enforce age ratings on ultra violent games. You’re just going about it the wrong way.

Now, here’s where I get up on my soap box and talk about the reasons why I disagree with this law. If you know the song, feel free to sing along:

There’s a lot of stuff out there right now that should be a lot higher on the list of priorities for preventing the corruption of minors: guns, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, porn, HBO and anything else we as a society deem unfit for minor consumption all pose a much, much greater risk to young people and in many cases are just as accessible, as inappropriate video games.

The impression that I get here is that video games are being targeted now not because it’s best for the kids, but because video games are the hot buzz word and easy scapegoat for almost everything these days. It’s not like there’s any historical precedent for this kind of over-reaction to something “new” other than the coming of ages of radio, movies, rock and roll, television and other entertainment media… but why let history get in the way of a good scapegoating? That Presley kid probably needed to stop swaying those hips lest our young ladies turn to thoughts of a sexual nature.

So, ignoring the fact that video games aren’t the root of all under age evil, let’s move on to looking at the original law itself and its effectiveness at protecting YOUR children (because after all, this is supposed to be about YOUR children). Setting aside for a moment the fact that more often than not it’s Mom or Dad who actually goes into the store and buys the M rated games for the kids and not the kids themselves, the bottom line is that the law sucks and doesn’t even begin to address the many different ways that under age kids can get their hands on inappropriate games.

It’s the bloody internet age people, and online game sales are on the rise. If kids can’t get the games from the schmo at the local GameStop because of a fine, all they need to do is get a credit card, or paypal, or any number of other online payment methods and get it themselves with no middle man to fine that’s to say nothing of illegal downloads… And I’m nowhere near as talented at getting things online as your average 12 year old. If little Jimmy can get online and download Girls Gone Wild, he’s not gonna have a problem getting GTA IV.

What this law proposes is akin to trying to stop a horde of zombies by locking the front door. Sure, it seems like a good idea at first, but you’ve forgotten about the windows and the entrance to the cellar and before you know it that dude who used to be your accountant is munching on your brain.

No, the solution isn’t a fine that it’s going to be more effort, time and money to enforce than it’s worth. The solution is simple: Education.

Education for kids: We send kids of English class, and in those classes they’re often bored to tears reading novels they have no interest in. The reason that we do this, and have been doing this for decades, is to teach our kids how to take meaning and context from the books that they read. So, why not do the same thing with video games? Why can’t English classes have a unit that teaches kids how to read video games? Why can’t we teach them about video game violence and how it can affect them? Why can’t it be a part of the curriculum to sit these kids down and explain to them the difference between running down a hooker in GTA and stealing Dad’s car and doing it in real life? I know what you’re thinking: the kids should know that, the parents should teach it… This brings me to my next point:

Education for parents: The sad fact of the matter is that parents are often the ones doing the buying of many these violent games for their kids. Whether it’s a lack of knowledge or a lack of caring is on a case by case basis, but if you talk to the average parent of a 13 year old, you’re more than likely going to find out that they have no idea what the ESRB is. They don’t know what M for Mature and E for Everyone mean. In part, you can’t really blame them. For some reason, the ESRB (the group currently in charge of putting ratings on games) has taken these warnings that are meant to be taken very seriously and used names that sound like they came out of a marketing buzz word meeting… Rated E for Everyone, Rated M for Mature, rated A for Awesome… it all sounds the same. This doesn’t excuse parents who should be going out of their way to find out what these ratings mean, but it sure doesn’t help.

Parents need to be made aware of not only the rating system, but of what games are out there, what they’re about and how they can affect their children. I don’t mean in the reactionist “look how bad and evil these things are” way that information has been presented to them in the past, but in an honest and upfront way. If you feel like you have a valid point to make about the dangers of video games, don’t try to scare parents into taking you seriously (we’ve all had quite enough of THAT practice), just present them with the honest facts. “No, Jimmy’s Mom, your son playing GTA IV probably won’t make him steal Dad’s car to run over hookers in the park, but studies have shown that children who play violent video games are often more prone to violent thought or violence for a time after playing the game. “

That’s just my two cents. I think that educating the people involved (including the kids) about the real facts behind a situation is preferable to two sides going off half-cocked in a baseless Hatfield and McCoy style feud.

Advice for politicians: Sure, the video games industry is fighting you on this law. I don’t blame them, it’s dumb. That doesn’t mean that they don’t believe that keeping inappropriate games out of the hands of under age people isn’t in everyone’s best interest. Contrary to popular belief, video game makers aren’t actually evil. The thing is, they know very well how Jimmy’s getting his hands on those games. They’ve done extensive research on their demographics, who’s getting their games and how. They know all of the ways that people are obtaining their games, legal and not so legal and if you worked with them, I’m sure they’d help you to come up with a law that actually makes sense and doesn’t end with a brain eating accountant.

The whole industry isn’t against you. Many of us like the spirit behind what this law is trying to accomplish, but the way you’re handling it, it’s like you’re itching for a fight here and that’s just not cool… video games are big business in California, better to work with them than against them.

Advice for the industry: I don’t really claim to speak for the video games industry, I’m not that self-important (close, but not quite). The thing is though that there’s no point in getting mindlessly adversarial about the whole situation. I’m sure you agree that if a game is made for an adult audience, that it shouldn’t be played by minors. In principle, you probably agree with what the California government is trying to accomplish, so maybe it’s time to offer alternate solutions to a problem that, like it or not, does exist.

/steps off soap box.

masterbbb26 writes:

There are evil people in the world......but most of the horrible things that happen are rooted in the lack of education and the sheepish nature of humans.

Unfortunantly politicians would rather put a bandaid on a gapping wound  then spend the time educating the person on how to be safe.


Fri May 22 2009 4:45PM Report
zymurgeist writes:

Education? Seriously? Have you read the deranged ramblings of these teen age terrors? If they can't teach English any better than that how do you expect them to teach them responsibility?

Fri May 22 2009 5:18PM Report
Inktomi writes:

 great article and this legislation is proving itself to be a huge waste of taxpayers money. It seems the Ahh-nold has nothing better to do than to target the abused video gaem sector meanwhile half is state is going up in smoke. Literally! I feel that there should be ratings on these games, at least for the young, young guns but to enforce it in a business is messing with the first amendment. 

Fri May 22 2009 5:24PM Report
Soupgoblin writes:

 Actually from everything I have read and seen on this issue, the blame falls squarley  on the shoulders of the parents.

The parents are the only ones who can allow their child to play violent games, watch violent TV shows and listen to vulgar urban music. Making a law that punishes a business for someone elses bad parenting is obsurd.

It is a parents job to teach morals and enforce proper ethical behavior in their children. It is the parents responsibility to monitor their children's Computer/Console access and TV habits and place restrictions when neccesary. I find that law distasteful and if the state of California feels the need to fine someone they should be fining the parents for child negligence.

I never have understood why you need to purchase a license to fish, yet any moron can make as many babies as they like.

Fri May 22 2009 5:31PM Report
Doomsayer writes:

Well, Arnold also likes to come up with pathetic attempts to fix our state budget, and then go crying to Washington when we shoot it down at the voting polls. The guy isn't cut out to be a politican. Seriously. So its no suprise he's doing something like this. He has barely any time left in office and has really accomplished nothing. In fact, things have only gotten worse. He is trying to cement some kind of legacy. Anything. He knows there are problems, but his solutions are just moronic.

Fri May 22 2009 6:26PM Report
TheHavok writes:

While I agree that this law really doesn't stop people that are younger than 17 from getting their M rated game by online downloads, I personally have no problem with the law.  I worked at a retail store in the videogame and electronic section.  My job was to ask for I.D. when selling an M rated game.  I performed my job just like any liquor store clerk would ask for I.D.  I have no qualms with it.  Sure, I played all the GTA games growing up and witnessed the horrors of life that the internet possesses, but that doesn't mean that im for those things. 


Fri May 22 2009 6:32PM Report
Shreddi writes:

Being his tax bills were defeated he might be trying to raise money any way possible.  With all the cuts going on maybe they should cut the dept. who is in charge of video games.  Imagine having that job.

Fri May 22 2009 6:39PM Report
Brenelael writes:

Maybe Arnold should be fined each time a minor gets caught watching The Terminator or any of the other ultra-violent movies he's made... Amounts to about the same thing in my book as this stupid law.

Fri May 22 2009 9:41PM Report
Equilibrium_JW writes:

That's the difference between LIberal and Republican. Liberals want to rule the world and control you with laws and government, and republicans believe in limited role of government. While I agree with kids not purchasing, it's a matter of government controlling stupid S&$t.

Fri May 22 2009 11:19PM Report
Equilibrium_JW writes:

Also get your crap straight before you post. You now look like a retard, because you're blaming something on the wrong person. The governor CREATED THE LAW, a judge turned it down.


Fri May 22 2009 11:20PM Report
ArcAngel3 writes:

Well, it sounds like you and Arnie agree on principle: violent video games can have an adverse effect on the social/emotional development of children.  The effects are most pronounced, according to some correlational studies, when children already see or experience violence personally.  Media violence then seems to normalize the experience, and the children are then more likely to accept extreme violence as acceptable.

As for education being a good idea, I agree.  Any kind of education that helps children and adults recognize the negative impact of violence is beneficial.  Helping people learn non-violent methods of expressing emotion and resolving conflicts is a worthwhile endeavor.

However, there are a few people, sadly, that know violence is not good for children, but don't appear to care.  They seem most interested in hooking kids (and adults) on the adrenaline rush of extremely violent interactive media.  For these few, education seems to be a wasted effort.

What motivates them to cast social concern aside?  Profit, greed, cold hard cash, and nothing more.  In this case, a sobering fine for violations makes some sense in my mind.  If some people want to knowingly turn a profit at the expense of healthy childhood development, maybe they should take a monetary loss instead.

It works for cigarettes here.  No store in town will be caught selling cigs to a minor simply because they cannot afford the fine.  The result?  Fewer minors smoking.  Of course this law is also supported by education about the dangers of smoking and its addictive nature.

Seems to me that education AND punitive fines for people who put cash before kids might be in order.

Fri May 22 2009 11:22PM Report
Equilibrium_JW writes:

Sorry I misread something there.

Fri May 22 2009 11:28PM Report
mackdawg19 writes:

This does really boil down to parenting. If adults are going to allow their children to play violent games without any disregard, then they should be the one's fined.

Sat May 23 2009 1:06AM Report
Sanguinia writes:

The funniest part about all this was the guy who got on his political horse and was calling somebody a "retard", and then had to take it back due to general failure. Yet was fine with calling another person a "retard". Classic! A+

Sat May 23 2009 3:20AM Report
DarkPony writes:

I still don't get why America doesn't take away the means .... rather than fight these very hypothetical causes of violence.

9 out of 10 times the availability of fire-arms in the childs vicinity is to blame for a tragedy. (Same goes for a lot of grown ups).

Take away the guns, and you take away most of those tragedies since people get the opportunity to count to ten a thousand times while they have to do much more effort to finally obtain a lethal weapon.

So many shootings or stabbings happen in a fit and would have been prevented by guns not being for grabs in your closet, or for sale at your local mall for that matter. And having to register it won't prevent your son, wife, or the boy next door from taking it while you are away.

In that regard, the "right to bare arms" stems from a time, long ago, when you could stumble on an angry  bandit / grizzly bear / native american in your backyard.

Those days have gone now, all that remains is a bunch of gun wielding fools who defend the existance of the direct cause of so much tragic incidents and the anual proffits of weapon manufacturers.

As a European, I think that's really, really silly.

Sat May 23 2009 1:08PM Report
DarkPony writes:

* "right to BEAR arms", that was. Sorry/

Sat May 23 2009 1:14PM Report
BlackWatch writes:

They can't balance their budget in Cali, so they may as well pick on something that they can 'fix', in their own eyes. 

Sat May 23 2009 2:04PM Report
Taswavo writes:

You have an age at which you can marry - not before

You have an age at which you can buy cigarettes - not before

You have an age at which you can buy alcohol - not before
You have an age at which you watch a certain movie - not before


I'm sorry but the last one of these says it all - it's totally sensible to not allow a shop to sell something offensive or as shocking as and 18/R rated movie to a twelve year old kid. With modern games being what they are the graphics can be too realistic to treat games and movies differently.

I don't always agree with the rating a game is given but my son does not get to play frightening or realistic violent games. Kids perhaps need to realise that they don't always know best and they don't have many rights until they are adults.

Sat May 23 2009 3:28PM Report
Gen_Mayhem writes:

I wouldn't let my child play half the games out there, personal development requires interaction with real people.  I think age restriction is a must and enforcement needs to be appropriate but nothings stop bad dad buying it for his kids.

On the other had $40 on GTA is better than a knife to stab another child with and at least their at home.  I think a massive change in society is needed, but I think there is little point in closing the barn door when the horse has kicked your neighbour to death. If I had the solution I would stand for office but at the moment it escapes me. Anything to stem the tide is good in my book even if it's impotent.

Sat May 23 2009 5:00PM Report
jlayer2000 writes:

Okay, this issues sits heavy with me.

1. I am okay with the law, though it will not solve much because they will just get someone else (parent or other) to buy them. I do not believe it will lower any number of underage players from playing the games, but like I said I am okay with the law though it is a "bandaid" to the real problem.

2. Teen smoking is down not due to laws pertaining to underage sales.  Teen smoking is down due to public opinion and also the fact less adults smoke for kids to steal cigarettes from and get addicted too. I attribute it more to the cost of cigarettes than the laws.

3. Guns.  Criminals do not own legal gun.  If you take away guns from average citizens that legally own guns and are responsible with them, then criminals will be the only one with guns.  Maybe 10-15 years down the violence would stop, but how many hunters/gun lovers will go to jail just for owning a gun that is an heirloom or holds some meaning to them. Which would just feel up the already full jails with even more nonviolent criminals.  Long term good idea.  Short term living hell.

Back on topic.  When I was underage to buy alcohol, I drank every weekend for a few years till I was legal.  How?  I had older co-workers, friends, etc... that would buy the alcohol for me.  Are they soon going to make gaming laws to punish/fine adults (including parents) that buy 'M' rated games and give them to minors? Don't laugh my friends.  It is all too real a possibility.

Sat May 23 2009 7:28PM Report
vknid writes:

Teaching it in school.. if done right, would be a very cool subject.. and I think kids would flock to. Hell I'm 30 and I might want to check it out =P

I think one of the problems with Parents is.. most might not be of the "video game age" and have no clue what a given game might contain. So really have no tools to combat the problem.

Along with a class for kids, there needs to be one for Parents too. I would suspect that the class for parents would be a short lived class because that generation will move on.. and the kids become parents with .. hopefully the skills to know about video games already.

Good read though, thanks!


Sat May 23 2009 8:32PM Report
Firedorn writes:

Great read.  I pretty agree with (almost) everything you said, spot on.  There needs to be more education, especially to the parents.  Problem is, the reason why this is currently a problem is the great fad of blame-shifting that goes on in North America.  The parents would rather blame the first one to come up and slap 'em in the face than to take responsibility for the lack of care and education they provide their children.

However, as much as there is a law and fine in selling tobacco/alcohol to minors, I don't necessarily disagree that the same should not be applicable to other types of inappropriate goods sold to minors.  It works and it doesn't, but retailers should be doing their duty in protecting the industry they work for and not allowing inappropriate media to get into the hands of minors.  Does the tobacco industry get blamed for underage smoking?  Does the booze industry get blamed for underage drinking?  Not really...these are controlled substances, so the manufacturers don't get the bad rep...the politicians do, because their methods of controlling are ineffective.

First amendment?  Please...the only time the first amendment is being violated is when the product is banned, completely.  If a game's target audience is adults, why is there a problem stopping the sale of said game to minors?  Does the porn industry cry when their content is controlled and policed?  Do you hear about them crying "freedom of expression"?  Not really. (And if they are they should shut up...some of that stuff is not even appropriate for me).

That's it...I've said too much.  Laws need to be passed and education needs to be given.  Only with both can anything related to video game violence succeed.

Sat May 23 2009 11:27PM Report
Prankster writes:

This law like so many others designed to "protect" our children are playing to the pew's full of mostly American parents who are either too busy or simply  to lazy to raise and educate their own children.

This is also why California cant balance their budget. The cost to enforce this new law will cost far more to implement and enforce then it will ever net in fines or positive results.

Generation Jones has finally reached the podium and we will see in the future many such attempts to legislate moral behaviour while eliminating the need to sacrafice anything for its sucess.

Generation Y now steps up to the plate of  parenthood of adolescent children without a clue that in order to get the best from your children you need to put your best in.


Sat May 23 2009 11:38PM Report
brostyn writes:

How many of these teenagers that are being recruited by paramilitary groups in the underdeveloped countries are getting their violent tendencies from video games or t.v.?


We need to take a step back, and use our heads. There is no violence caused by video games. Do kids get pumped up, and hit their little brother? Sure. Do they pick up an AK-47 shoot their neighbor for being a different ethic group, and rape his neighbor's wife before putting a bullet in her head? No. Video games didn't cause that. These idiots in Washington need to get off their soap box.

Sun May 24 2009 12:38AM Report
saohc writes:

I do have to say that this law is rather dumb, for one in particular. People could just go off and say this store sold this game to my child and cost that store money even more, when infact the parent bought the game for their child and had no idea what it was. But i don't agree with education of the child. But it is a good idea to make sure the child understand this is just a virutal is not real and you should never do any of this kind of stuff in the real world..ever. The parents are more at fault for this then anyone else.

Sun May 24 2009 2:43AM Report
mrcalhou writes:

I think that it is mostly about money. What are people interested in? I would imagine it is protecting our children. What do the politicians promise? To protect our children. Politicians get paid to be vocal, to put things into motion, to make it seem like they are doing things in society's best interest. As much as I hate politics, politicians aren't stupid. Okay, I'm not Political Sciences major. I'm a Chemistry/Biology Secondary (high/middle) Education major. For the most part, my grammar sucks, my semantics are passible, and my syntax can use some work.

Anyway, In my experiances and observations with the school systems, it's not video games or movies individually that is the problem with kids, but rather the emphasis on a "me-first" attitude. It is no secret that drugs, sex,  and money are being glamourized. I think that that is the problem with kids. They are being brought up in a culture where anyone can be special if they take what they want, and then for many, the punishment for getting caught isn't steep enough to warrant trying to do right. Here in New Orleans, murder is a 60-day jail sentence if no witnesses come forward. Witnesses never come forward. If anyone has read this far, I don't think that this is a racial problem because I have never observed a school that was predominatly African-American, Hispanic, or Asian. In my attempt to avoid driving further than I have to, I mostly went to schools where I grew up, in a mostly Caucasian neighborhood.

Sun May 24 2009 3:53AM Report
xenogias writes:

DarkPony dont act like America is the only one that has problems with violence. People like you seem to think that if you take away guns problem solved. If people kill, for whatever reason be it rage or mental issues or in the name of a god they will kill. Yes guns make it easier but as an american I cannot forget what a plane can do.

Ok back on topic. Its on the parents plain and simple. Overall I have no issues with wanting to fine companies for selling M rated games to little 13yr old Jimmy but the problem is the government is trying to controll TO much. Lazy adults are the reason behind this.

Sun May 24 2009 10:29AM Report
Brawlking writes:

I really believe that the parents should take a more active role in their children's lives. Rather than just going out and buying their kid whatever game they want, they should look at the game and find out about it before letting their child play it. When I was younger I remember looking over my older brother's shoulders as they played Doom, and Doom II, and my parents wouldnt let me because they thought it would give me nightmares (which it actually did once, lol). Educating the parents, and parents taking an active role rather than letting the PS3 or PC babysit their kid is a much more effective way than trying to scam money out of people trying to make good entertaining games.

Also, someone said something about fining the Governator when a kid watches Terminator, I think that would teach him a lesson as well. You cant just pick one industry and try to impose a fine on it, while letthing other industries that do it get away with it. So lets just go ahead and take this fine and slap it on every industry or person that uses violence or sex to promote their products or make a profit. Now we're fining ALL the major TV and Movie studios, most TV networks, and any actor/actress, or producer that has made a movie with violent or sexual content. Heck lets fine the makers of Mouse Trap (its a board game, holy crap!) because it promotes cruelty towards animals. Does this sound silly yet? Good, then you've gotten my point.

Sun May 24 2009 11:13AM Report
Honkie writes:

It's california.  They love enacting unconstitutional and/or absurd laws (often knowing that they won't stand up to a constitutional challange, but the cost of the fight is enough to keep most average folks from fighting them through a multiyear court battle to get them struck down).  In my opinion it's the most beautiful state, and has the most idiotic politicians.  Glad I moved.

Sun May 24 2009 11:41AM Report
mokoleus writes:

I see no problem with fining a store for selling something like MadWorld to a minor. If a game is made for adults, then it should not be sold to minors. Fining them is perfectly fine. I use MadWorld as an example for this reason

"For some reason, the ESRB (the group currently in charge of putting ratings on games) has taken these warnings that are meant to be taken very seriously and used names that sound like they came out of a marketing buzz word meeting… Rated E for Everyone, Rated M for Mature, rated A for Awesome… it all sounds the same. This doesn’t excuse parents who should be going out of their way to find out what these ratings mean, but it sure doesn’t help."

MadWorld is rate M for Mature... casually flipping the case brings you to this write up.

Mature, Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Sexual Themes, Strong Language

That took me less then two seconds to retrieve from my game shelf, and check. If your in the store, buying this for a minor(every store I buy from, would never sell this game to a minor... at least from the way they asked for my ID), it should require nothing from a parent to see that it isn't suitable for children. the ESRB doesn't use these ratings cause they sound like marketing buzz words, they use them because they instantly give you the general idea, if whats in the game. If parents can't understand a rating system as simple as this one, what the hell are they doing with children? Of all the things you will have to protect your children from in this world, this is a easy part. Education for children is pretty much un-needed, but maybe if we send these parents back to english.... and it would seem, they just need to learn how to read again, or, learn to care about their children before, instead of after.

I know some will say, even educating parents, will not stop children from getting mature rated games.... but you know that  you will never be able to stop that, only limit it. It's illeagal to sell smokes, beer, porn, to kids, and all street drugs are illeagal period, yet look how hard it is for anyone, of any age, to get any of it.

Sun May 24 2009 12:11PM Report
Sortis writes:

It is my personal opinion that people shouldnt need blood, gore, alcohol, nudity, drugs, and curse words to enjoy a video game. We all enjoyed the older video game systems we had in the 80s-90s and didnt need the above to have a good time. In my experience the only age group that actually makes a big deal of it is the ones that arent old enough to buy the games in the first place. What kind of bleak lives do teenagers live in this day and age to say something like "Oh thats awesome did you see the insides of that guy just go flying!? Thats awesome! Did he just say "Oh shit" when i shot him in the leg?!" I mean i'm in my 20s the days of cursing and the foul behavior listed above being "cool" are beyond me. Ive grown up, i think its time america did the same. IMHO

Sun May 24 2009 1:49PM Report
umbrorinku writes:

I think your all retarded telling us what to play and what not to play and what to watch and what not to watch what you people dont realise is that nowdays kids are smarter than your average 80s kids. We know damn well that the things that the game does is not supposingly correct. And we know that it is not real. But with the life that we lead every day being made fun of constantly the pressure of school. The teachers that piss us off. We have to burn off steam. And video games is our solution. We all rather live the life of the video game than the one one we are living that aint no shit. But we all know it aint gonna happen. Sometimes life is so dramatic that it turns out that we snap in the process and all that we wish we could do becomes a reality. Kids steal cars and murder people and even that shitty incedent at school where kids were shot and killed may happen. Honestly blaming the parents and the games and the children will not solve the problem. You people are to lazy to even work with the bigger problem. The real problem is our life. The way we live it , The people that piss us off , The people that find joy in making us  miserable are the problem. And when i say the people i mean all of us. We are all to blame cause we are all humans and we all have human nature. We dont want to listen to the other person. We want to do what we want to do regardless of the law or the 10 comandments.  Yeah that is the sad truth humans are distusting people we are all evil by nature. We destroy each other till the very end. sad but true. So taking away what prevents this from hapening wont solve anything . Now i might be just speaking out of my ass here but think about it. If we blow off steam in killing virtual people we dont have urges to kill real people. Same with porn. Porn is what today is keeping us from rape. We have less urges. It is so hard to find real love nowdays because of this reason of course but it also prevents it at the same time.  Please dont be idiots and realise this just live your life dont bother every one else just because of something hapening. You people always need to blame someone well blame everyone especially yourself. Cause no one is innocent when something bad happens. That is the rule of life.

Mon May 25 2009 2:06AM Report
iHolyElement writes:

$1,000 Doesnt really effect huge retailers...

Mon May 25 2009 8:15AM Report
jacobuj writes:

No, $1000 does not effect huge retailers, but if you are the one selling the game you are out of a job. I work at a game store and have seen co workers get the boot because they can't bring themselves to ask for ID.

The ESRB does secret shops/stings to make sure all game retailers are doing as they have agreed.

Also, working at a game store, I take it upon myself to educate the parents. It's easy, always ID for M games (even if grandpa is farting dust) and when they ask why you tel them. Show them the ESRB rating and when they see "Intense Violence, Strong Language, Drug Use and Partial Nudity" their willingness to purchase such games either ends there or they just don't give a sh*t (which is the part that really worries me). The kids you have to watch out for are the ones with parents who could care less. "oh, Bobby has played it at his friends house, it's ok".

Mon May 25 2009 12:28PM Report
jacobuj writes:

@ the kid above my original post. That's part of what scares me. "porn is the only thing keeping us from rape" is a very scary statement. Self control is what keeps us from doing these things. If one can't control oneself from acting out such evils then expect someone else to step in and do it for you... (ie) the ESRB

Mon May 25 2009 12:32PM Report
uncus writes:

First:  No study has shown a CAUSAL link between TV or Videogames and violence in children.  There is only a CORRELATIONAL link.  Ask any statistician or scientist - correlation does NOT PROVE cause & effect.  Children who are violent are violent regardless of what they watch, those who aren't, aren't.  Violent children may prefer violent games, but this doesn't provide cause.

Second:  Teach this in school?!  When, how???  The US has already become morally bankrupt due to lack of parental responsibility and some of you want to push more "teaching" of morality onto schools?  Due to NCLB, schools already have too much to do trying to get all children, regardless of ability, to pass yearly tests.  You can't teach a pig to fly [though with improper medication and Pink Floyd, you might think you can!]

@ zymurgeist:  Have you ever tried to teach English or anything else to today's teenagers?  Their self indulgent parents have already taught them that there are no consequences for their actions; that the child will be defended regardless of their actions; that it is the school's fault or the cop's fault that the kid doesn't act in a socially responsible way.

Tue May 26 2009 9:39AM Report
Horusra writes:

My personal opinion is the same as Dennis Leary...stop protecting children so much.  When they do something bad smack the shit out of them.  Make parents accountable...punish kid harshly when they do wrong and stop treating them like little china dolls.

Tue May 26 2009 11:56AM Report
outfctrl writes:

I remember leting my kid play Diablo, Counterstrike, Quake, Unreal Tournament and Doom 2 when he was eight years old.  He is a junior in high school now with a 4.0+ average.  Those are violent games and never drove him to any violence whatsoever.  

He did master the gaming twitch and is practically unbeatable in Counterstrike.  I remember hearing constantly from the next room "HEADSHOT" , "UNSTOPPABLE", "GOD LIKE"  LOL

Tue May 26 2009 12:55PM Report
Soultice writes:

My sons and I play video games, guess what if it was inappropriate for them I took the game.  One son is 31 the other 32 and they have killed no one nor are they violent. 

Who is the deciding factor on what a child should play?  The parent is and not the government. I cannot help some parents that allows their  child to play a game all day and night and then blames the game.  Sorry you own the computer or the game system they are playing on.  They are paying for the internet connection, you are paying for.  Get a clue and be a parent and take the stuff.  I did if it interferred with anything.

Not being a parent and your child kills themself or is not social, or is failing school is not the games fault.  But that is what some parents will claim and actually they failed to supervise and set rules for their children. 

I get so tired of the media demonizing game playing and those that play them.  The main reason for it is television and hollywood are losing money. Advertisers have approached several MMORPG's wanting to spend some good hard earned money to advertise in game. 

 I can turn on televison during anytime of the day and see nudity, violence, war  and I could go on and on. 

OH and guns do not kill people, people kill people.  But then you probably never read why we have a right to bear arms.  Typical lets blame everyone else instead of taking responsibility for our actions.  Not having guns stops nothing.  Hmm go check countries whre the private citizen cannot have a personal firearm  and come back here and tell me how they are doing with crime.  You will be singing a different tune.  But then some of you probably can play a game and do all sorts of macro's but will not really check on the internet for real facts.


Tue May 26 2009 5:07PM Report
Cochran1 writes:

According to most non-gamers, we just sit and play video games all day. If that's the case then we don't have time to commit violent/debauched acts directed towards society, we're too busy trying to open the next island in GTA4.

The government needs to stop trying to protect us from ourselves and let parents be parents again.

Tue May 26 2009 8:52PM Report
ArcAngel3 writes:

Well here's your chance to ask a social researcher about the correlation between media violence and aggression in children.  Does the correlation exist?  Statistically, yes.  This means simply that increased exposure to media violence coincides with increased aggressive behaviour in children.  To say that media violence causes children to be violent is an oversimplification.  Media violence is one factor that is linked to aggression.  Other factors have stronger correlations; like domestic violence for example.  The more factors you add to the mix, the more you influence behaviour.  I say influence because choice still plays a role, so does cognitive development.  There are lots of factors, and violent video games happen to be one of many.  I could go on to explain how this actually works regarding social learning, reinforcement,  role-modelling, desensitization, mirror neurons etc., but most of you would be bored to tears.  The data is in.  Media has an influence on violence in children.  As a result, governments tend to take a multi-modal approach to prevention.  This includes education of children, education of parents, promotion of healthy family relationships, promotion of adequate parental supervision, and yes a level of control regarding the distribution of violent media to minors.  It's this multi-modal approach that has been effective in reducing smoking for minors.  The same approach is likely to succeed with violent behaviour.  Attempting to reduce distribution via a law like Arnie's may be one piece of an effective prevention strategy, but it is only one piece.

Wed May 27 2009 11:28PM Report
ArcAngel3 writes:

While I'm at it, re. the O.P., the age related restrictions of many activities aren't arbitrary at all.  They relate to the stages of neural development in the limbic system and the frontal lobes of the human brain.  The frontal lobes don't fully mature until the early to mid-twenties.  The closer you get to this biological maturity, the better equipped you are to regulate the drives and emotions of the limbic system, which happens to mature faster.

This is why children have magical thinking and have a harder time distinguishing fantasy from reality.  It's why they are so impressionable, and vulnerable.  It's also partly why teens can experience emotional instability and have difficulty managing their drives.  Their limbic system is having a growth spurt, while their frontal lobes are not.  Of course this is only one of many complex interrelated factors that influence childhood and teen behaviour.  However, it is clearly one factor that is well understood and well documented.  As a result, many activities (driving, voting, drinking, gambling, joining the armed forces, watching violent media, watching sexually arousing media) have age related restrictions.

Wed May 27 2009 11:40PM Report
krieblood writes:

My question to this is. when will they fine people for selling Rap music. which can be far more violent and have more sexual referances then like GTA. Another thing all the Celebs in Cali = high on herion so fuck cali.

Fri May 29 2009 10:01AM Report
krieblood writes:

oh and one more thing Hasnt mankind hated and killed eachother for the dawn of time? what do we blame that on? Pac man?

Fri May 29 2009 10:03AM Report
LocoGunner71 writes:

Yes PAC MAN is the cause, lol, or is it Pong???

Well news, politians and others love to point the finger at video games to blame them for the violence in young people, I laugh at that, jusk ask the people at PC Gamer magazine, they once published an article about an study on violence in young people and found out that Violence has actually been lower since the NES generation... why? kids are too distracted playing videogames to be doing IRL crimes.

I live in a small country and most plp dont have acces to videogames, even then violence here is getting more news coverage everyday (last year the murder rate was down), why? because violence sells news... so the news are about violence..., or MJs death... or whatever sells. Ignorant people like to blame what they dont understand. I accept there are games that seem to go too far, this must be adults only, but censorship must be applied by the fathers.

Examples: a friend of mine let her 6 yr old play GTA (against my advice), the result? the little one got frightened everytime he heard the sound of a helicopter passing near their house!

I forbid by niece to play GTA since she started looking for old ladies to punch for money, because she was afraid of being killed by the other plp and didnt understand how to do the  missions. Last year she finished RE4 after two months of screaming playing the game in the dark (its cooler that way, I do it since my Doom days)

Its parentship what saves/loses kids, not videogame content.

Fri Jul 17 2009 2:26PM Report
LocoGunner71 writes:

 Actually the ESRB has been accused of being a Marketing trick directed at KIDS not parents. A kid knows what an M rated game means (total coolness, even if it sucks), a parent doesnt, so M rated actually sells more games... well actually no, cheap prices do (Deerhunter anyone?). The rating code needs to be rethinked to be actually efficient, but since is in the hands of the same industry it rates....

Fri Jul 17 2009 2:32PM Report
Trucidation writes:

@umbrorinku: grow the fock up, many other kids deal with worse pressures than simply performing in school, and since you're posting here there's a good chance you're american... you don't know how easy you have it in school there - try going to school in high pressure societies like in Asia (Japan, HK, etc).

School wasn't that long ago for me so I know the "challenges" (bleh) of modern living, but I got by just fine without needing stupid video games or porn to blow off steam. And btw porn is the only thing keeping you from rape? Ugh. Pathetic. Learn some freaking self control.

Tue Aug 04 2009 10:03AM Report
demarc01 writes:

@umbrorinku -


You need some serious help if that is really your view on life. I mean professional medical help. Some of your comments are very disturbing to read if taken at face value.

As for the main thrust of your message, as a minor (I'm assuming you ARE a minor from the tone of your post) you dont have unlimited rights. This is to protect you in your formative years. You may "think" you know best ... trust me you dont. You will go out into the "real" world soon enough and like all young adults (Myself included when I was that age) will make mistakes and learn from them. The restrictions placed on you as a minor are there to better prepare you for entering the real world with a decent tool-set to deal with and overcome problems that will arise in your life.

That said, the USA does a piss-poor job with parenting overall. Thats not to say that all parents here are bad .. just that the current trend (Generalization I know) is to blame someone else. Blame the schools. Blame TV. Blame video games. Blame thier friends. Basically blame anyone except the parent.

As a child grows thier most influential source is thier parents. The no-spanking laws that seem to be in place in most states here are terrible. Hell as a kid in England I was beaten with canes etc .. a healthy respect for dicipline was instilled at a young age. Kids here talk back to thier parents / teachers. They show no respect for the law or police officers (Again Generalizations - Not saying ALL kids are like this .. but it does seem to be a more common trend these days)

The CPS will probably disagree with me but IMHO most kids could be set right pretty quickly with a healthy dose of spanked-arse.

The main topic? The fine is just politicians trying to be seen to be doing "something". We all know that the fine will cost more to enforce than it will produce in income for the state. We all know the net effect will be near zero since most kids dont directly buy these games personally. Alot of hot air is what it basically boils down to. Can the law really be opposed tho? The bottom line is the "product" has an adult rating, same as smokes and booze. Therefore supplying it to minors is wrong and should be punished. The ESRB is not an "offical" body though so the ratings are at best "recomendations" unlike the age limits on Achohol and Tobbaco which are mandated by law. If the ESRB was to come under govenment control then there will be no way to stop a fine system comming into play. ATM as an industry standard .... I doubt a fine system will show up anytime soon.


As for the comment by an above poster about fines for actors involved in action movies etc ... get a grip? The movie is a product the same as a video game. By your standards the store selling the game should not be fined .. instead every coder / programmer / ad guy etc who worked on the game should be fined each time the game is found in posession of a minor.

The fine is about restricting the product. The product is made in good-faith for a target demographic. Be is adult or kids or everyone. You'd have been closer to the mark saying that "Theater owners should be fined each time an under age person is found inside, or video stores fined each time they rent to a minor" which of course .. they are!! Thats because the MPAA is an ombudsman though .. and not an "industry standard" like the ESRB.

Sat Aug 22 2009 1:37PM Report
korloth writes:


No offense, but maybe you should do some real research before posting something you know nothing about. Only playing devil's advocate here.

Gun Deaths - International Comparisons
Gun deaths per 100,000 population (for the year indicated):

Homicide Suicide Other (inc Accident)

USA (2001) 3.98 5.92 0.36
Italy (1997) 0.81 1.1 0.07
Switzerland (1998) 0.50 5.8 0.10
Canada (2002) 0.4 2.0 0.04
Finland (2003) 0.35 4.45 0.10
Australia (2001) 0.24 1.34 0.10
France (2001) 0.21 3.4 0.49
England/Wales (2002) 0.15 0.2 0.03
Scotland (2002) 0.06 0.2 0.02
Japan (2002) 0.02 0.04 0

Data taken from Cukier and Sidel (2006) The Global Gun Epidemic. Praeger Security International. Westport.


However I do feel it should be the parents responsibility to be involved enough with the child's life to know what games/tv/music they are interested in.  The problem is that most parents allow these forms of media to entertain the children so they don't have to be involved.  That being said, do you think it is fair that other people's children are hurt?

Mon Sep 14 2009 2:26AM Report writes:
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