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NY Governor to Target Violent Video Games 306

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the answer-to-all-the-worlds-evil-obviously dept.
NoMoreGuns writes to tell us that Governor Eliot Spitzer is planning to target violent movies and video games in a new bill. "Spitzer said he wants to restrict access to these videos and games by children, similar to motion picture regulations which prohibit youths under 17 from being admitted to R-rated movies without a parent or adult guardian. Under Spitzer's proposal, retailers who sell violent or degrading videos or video games to children contrary to the rating would be sanctioned."
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NY Governor to Target Violent Video Games

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  • by TomRC (231027) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:46PM (#18784119)
    Back to focusing on trivial things, while important problems go un-addressed.
  • Bad headline! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:46PM (#18784121) Homepage Journal
    Unless I'm really misreading this, he isn't targeting the violent games at all. What he's targeting is the sale of violent games to minors, in the manner of R-rated movies.

    I expect that sort of misleading headline from the mainstream press, but Slashdot should really have fixed it.
  • by SilentChris (452960) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:49PM (#18784167) Homepage
    Maybe I'm missing the big picture, but what's the problem with preventing minors from buying games specifically market for adults? I know legally there's been no teeth in it up until now (and parents should really be watching out for their kids) but what's the objection to this? The only group I would think could possibly object is minors.
  • Re:Bad headline! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqlrob (173498) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:50PM (#18784185)
    *NOT* in the manner of movies. That's the problem.

    Movies do not have this regulation. All media or none.

  • by Jarjarthejedi (996957) <christianpinch@g ... com minus author> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:54PM (#18784249) Journal
    So he wants to make sure that certain violent games, let's presume for the moment he means M rated for the sake of argument and then deal with T, cannot be bought by people younger than 17...does New York not already have this law? I know for a fact that in Arizona selling an M rated game to a minor is illegal and actually punishable by some law, I had to show my driver's license to buy Counter Strike.

    The only thing I can see about this bill that might concern people is the definition of violent. If, by that, the bill means M rated then who cares. M rated is supposed to be sold to 17 year olds or older, so now it'll be enforced by law, that's nice. Now then, if by violent the bill intends for all games with violence, with no care to the rating, to be sold to 17 or older then we have a problem, especially since every game has violence except the most absolutely boring arcade games.

    That's all I'm concerned about, how is a violent video game defined? I'd presume by the movie part as well that it means M rated but hey, it's politics, they could very well mean to ban all games in one fell swoop.
  • by Khaed (544779) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:55PM (#18784269)
    I'm an adult, and I have a problem with it.

    If the law just targets video games, then that is unfair. Other than pornography, there are no laws about content being sold to minors.

    Video games, like movies, are voluntarily rated. There is no law to enforce the movie ratings, as far as I am aware, and so there shouldn't be one for video games.

    Another poster here said, "All media, or none." And I agree.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:56PM (#18784309) Homepage
    Parents have been basically regulated into the ground by governments like this one. They can't punish their kids without social services show up, can't buy their kid a handgun and let them carry it in their own car to a range, even if the kid is a 100% balanced eagle scout, can't let them drink, can't let them do that. All the while the parents shoulder most of the blame if their kid does anything wrong.

    That's why I say fuck the "community." The only person raised by a village was a feral, tribalist, not a civilized human being.
  • Re:Bad headline! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Barny (103770) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:58PM (#18784335) Homepage Journal

    No, he is targeting game stores.
  • gamestop (Score:3, Insightful)

    by otacon (445694) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:58PM (#18784337)
    Gamestop's new policy seems to be working, I'm 23, about 6'2'' 210lbs...and definatley look older than 16...and I got IDed at gamestop buying F.E.A.R. and I don't carded for cigarettes or alcohol.
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @12:59PM (#18784353) Homepage
    So when "Spitzer said he wants to restrict access to these videos and games by children, similar to motion picture regulations which prohibit youths under 17 from being admitted to R-rated movies without a parent or adult guardian." Either Spitzer is ignorant about the law, he is lying just to get headlines, or just possibly he knows there aren't any such laws and so it would be technically correct to say that there will be regulations "similar" to film regulations.

    Either way he is an ass.

    There are no laws in the USA regulating the sale of any entertainment medium. There are regulations on things like porn, but those are a genre and they are notoriously vague in that at least once a year a comic book store gets busted for selling comic books with drawings of boobs.

    If videogames were to be singled out there would have to be a mountain of evidence that shows that they are dangerous to children. No such mountain exists. Therefore, it is just singling out videogames because it is an easy way to look like you are "looking out for families."
  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:05PM (#18784477) Homepage
    Wouldn't it be novel if, instead of telling us how the poor children need to be protected from violent video games or movies or comic books or sinful negro music, a politician who claims to be concerned about our children's welfare has a major campaign to get them better medical care and education?
  • Correction... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:07PM (#18784499)
    "Kids should not get their hands on these games, but that's the responsibility of the parents. They have the tools."

    Correction... it should read "My Kids should not get their hands on these games, but that's the responsibility of the parents. They have the tools."

    When you state that universally "kids" should not get their hands on the games, you validate the idea of creating a law. After all, if it is an absolute truth that "kids" should not get their hands on the games, then the only time the law would go into effect is when a parent is not doing their job. Add to that, that what a "kid" is, is a political mess. The government still considers people kids up to a decade or more ofter reaching puberty.

    Also, no disrespect intended with this, but, I'm not any more comfortable with you defining what my child should and should not be exposed to than I am with some politician making the same decision.
  • by theantipop (803016) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:07PM (#18784519)
    You're seperating the act of buying the game from the act of playing the game. The goal of laws like this are to stop a kid from playing the game, not from buying it per se. A parent definitely has the tools to take this game away and return it if they don't approve.
  • Re:Bad headline! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oblivionboy (181090) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:18PM (#18784719)
    I think we can call this the digg effect. .o.
  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Russ1642 (1087959) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:20PM (#18784741)
    The point I want to make is that Grandma doesn't look at the rating. Junior said he wanted GTA and for all she knows it's a fun, happy video game - which she equates with pong. Make Grandma play GTA for five minutes or give her a sense of the gameplay and she'll realize that her eight year old grandson isn't ready. South Park is another example. I know a couple that had young children when it first came out. They saw it was animated so they assumed it was for children. Whoops. When they got the question, "Dad, how does licking carpet make you a lesbian?" they took a closer look. A little rating in the corner of the box or in the corner of the screen won't be enough, and these parents will blame others and not themselves for exposing their young children to mature matters.
  • Re:Bad headline! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:20PM (#18784749) Homepage Journal

    There are legal restrictions preventing sale of porn to minors, but no legal restrictions for violence. If your blockbuster won't let twelve year olds rent "Death-Death-Death-And-Blood 7" it is due to store (or corporate) policy, not due to regulation.

    It's a matter of local and state laws, not federal laws. There are no federal laws banning the sale of any movies to minors, AFAIK. However, most states have laws regarding the sale of pornography or movies with strong sexual content. Surprisingly, most states do NOT have laws concerning violence.

    So what we as a society are saying is that it's okay for kids to see people shooting, stabbing, kick boxing, or whatever else to each other in a violent rage, but HEAVEN FORBID if any minors see NAKED PEOPLE or, worse, two people engaged in a perfectly normal act that is part of our biological survival process as a species. Hmmm, I wonder which would inhibit the development of a child more...?
  • Little late... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KyoMamoru (985449) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:30PM (#18784923)
    But, this guy evidently has failed to look at what most corporations are doing such as Gamestop. If an employee sells to a minor a Mature game, he's fired. Truthfully, if the kid wants the game, he's going to get it. I wanted Mortal Kombat when I was a kid, and so I sat down with my dad, and we talked it over. He asked what it was, I explained to him that it was a combat game that involved blood, and beating up other players. I even mentioned the fatalities. My dad, simply asked if I realized the difference between reality and fiction (I was seven at the time), and so we had a discussion about it. Once he realized that I wasn't going to Back-Back-B my sister, it was agreed that I could get the game. The only stipulation was that if friends came over, they couldn't play the game unless their parents allowed them to (who were called by either my dad or mom). I turned out fine, right? =P
  • Re:Bad headline! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ngarrang (1023425) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:33PM (#18784975) Journal
    And here I thought it was the parent's job to monitor the video game habits of their children. Silly me. Thank goodness the government is here to save me.
  • by parkrrrr (30782) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @01:56PM (#18785345)
    Unfortunately, in many cases, neither are the parents.
  • by Convector (897502) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:10PM (#18785601)
    I might add that this was before the gunman's NAME had even been established, and there was no way to know if he had ever played a videogame of any type.
  • Wouldn't fly here. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:16PM (#18785721) Homepage Journal
    It depends where you are. Every Canadian province has laws regarding film and video classification, with penalties for non-compliance (including exhibition, sale or rental of "unclassified" materials.)

    I think we were talking about the U.S. here. On the whole, Canadians seem to accept a much higher degree of government interference than I think would be acceptable in the U.S. (This may or may not be due to a greater degree of trust in their government, but I'd argue anyone who trusts any government is a fool, since all governments are corrupt, some are just lacking in subtlety.)

    Attempting to codify the MPAA rating system into U.S. law, in a way that's similar to Canada's, would probably run into substantial (and not at all unreasonable) First Amendment objections. Nobody has ever really realistically suggested that the government should be involved in censoring movies and other media, at least not recently. The MPAA likes to use it as a bogeyman, a sort of implied threat -- "hey, you may not like us, but we're better than having those monkeys in Congress do it" -- but I'm not sure if there's really any serious risk of it happening.

    At best, without substantially changing the U.S. legal framework, you'd have to redefine "obscenity" to include violence and sexuality (and anything else you wanted to restrict), in order to carve out an excuse for government regulation. Or you might be able to threaten stores who sell such materials to minors with prosecution under one of the vague "injurious to the morals of a minor" statues, in order to 'encourage' "voluntary" compliance. (That's probably the most realistic scenario, and it sounds close to what Spitzer is trying for.) I'm still not sure how far it would fly in court though.

    This whole thing is just a political football; Spitzer is dragging it out in order to make himself seem more appealing to conservatives, because he has an election coming up in 2010 and he needs to have some resume lines for it. Since he can't 'protect the fetuses' (he is, after all, a Democrat), 'protecting the children' is a pretty safe alternative that ought to buy him some soccer-mom votes both in the downstate (liberal) and upstate (moderate to conservative in some places) districts.
  • Re:M-Rating? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by amuro98 (461673) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:21PM (#18785799)
    It's clear that it idiots involved here don't know anything about the video game industry. Reminds me of how Hillary Clinton went public with her anger that video games weren't under the same sort of scrutiny as movies were. Apparentally no one had told Hillary about the ESRB, or the fact that video games are under MORE scrutiny than movies, with requirements to put ratings on the front of boxes (do you see DVDs with ratings on the front?), as well as requiring stores to carry huge cardboard cut-outs of the ESRB ratings to be publically posted around the store, in addition to other flyers, post-its, etc. that are plastered on the shelves...

    This is just another politician trying to do a popularity grab by decrying "Its for the children!"

    Nowadays it's video games. Before it was D&D, comic books, Rock&Roll... You'd think the generation that went through having its music heavily criticized and outright banned in some places would have learend a thing or two.
  • Re:Bad headline! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by omeomi (675045) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:21PM (#18785809) Homepage
    laws in this country, at least in theory, represent the collective will of the people.

    A fair amount of them represent the collective will of the small percentage of the people who speak the loudest and most often...
  • Re:Bad headline! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mister Whirly (964219) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @02:58PM (#18786395) Homepage
    Yeah, we better fill that hole with a useless law. My God, for a second there parents were almost responsible for their own children's actions. I will feel much more relieved when the government is raising children again!

    On a side note, does anyone else recall that in the 80s a 14 year old kid had no problems renting R rated movies? I would do it all the time. Only one place I rented at actually required parental permission for kids to rent R rated movies. If mom and dad said it was okay, they would rent them to you.

    But then again myself and all my age related peers ARE all psychopathic serial rapists and murderers now due to this very fact.... Damn you Jack Thompson you were right!
  • Re:FOOD LABELS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ElleyKitten (715519) <kittensunrise@gm ... m minus math_god> on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:42AM (#18796987) Journal

    Parents are responsible but its not just solely them children are also raised by their environment. Unless your children are isolated from their society in a 'cave' they are also being raised by the society they live in (which includes their peers.)

    WE NEED A REAL RATING SYSTEM so parents can realistically exercise their parental rights.I should be able to set my TV, computer, and consoles with detailed instructions on exactly what I will allow shown. I don't care who applies ratings but I do think federal government is needed to define and require a smarter ratings scale.

    Why do you need the government to do that? There's detailed reviews of most mainstream media, so you can figure out what's appropriate for your kids before buying it for them. If they're old enough/independent enough/rebellious enough to buy the game and play it in your living room without you noticing, then what else are they doing without you noticing? Probably things a lot worse than playing videogames. Go watch your kids. TV you might say is an issue since it's broadcast live into your house, but between TV on DVD, Tivo, and other media, your kids won't be traumatized without live TV. Computers? If you're posting on slashdot you should be able to figure out something, and if your kids get around that they're probably learning more than they're finding hardcore evil stuff. If you're really paranoid, disconnect from the internet. I know one family that didn't get internet access until their youngest was 16. The government can't tell you what's appropriate for your kids. You have to decide.

    We don't know most the junk on our food labels but if we have to avoid something we look for it by name on the label.

    Until the government imposed a labeling system on food we didn't really have one and it would have totally sucked if the industry was pushed into defining it, taking a never ending string of lawsuits to get each ingredient listed after it hurt some group of people.

    Media is different from food. Media is not a set of ingredients mixed in a bowl. If you eat a cookie, you're probably not going to be able to taste minor amounts of peanut in it, but if you watch a movie, you can hear if they use the word 'fuck'. Peanuts can also kill people, but hearing 'fuck' won't hurt any adult, and there's not even a consensus among parents that it even hurts kids. Also, while you can list profanity used, what about other situations in the game/movie/whatever that a parent might view as more inappropriate for their child? A literal "ingredients" list of a movie/game/whatever would be a play by play of every scene in it, so what would be more effective than trying to print that out on the box is for parents to either watch it/play it/whatever, or for them to get together with other parents on the internet or wherever and tell each other what in it (which they do []). So what is government intervention needed for?

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.