Congress holds at-times-contentious game hearing

[UPDATE] Industry representatives, critics engage in debate before House subcommittee; blow-by-blow inside.

While bills regulating the sale of violent video games have been signed into law in states across the country, the issue hasn't been as high profile on the national level. Last year, senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) proposed the Family Entertainment Protection Act to prevent retailers from selling games rated M for Mature or AO for Adults Only to minors, but FEPA hasn't managed to get the traction of its state-level counterparts.

That may be changing. Earlier this year, the Senate's Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights held a hearing to discuss the issue of laws restricting game sales. Today the US House of Representatives followed suit. The House Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee held a hearing on objectionable content in games today, titled "Violent and Explicit Video Games: Informing Parents and Protecting Children."

Testifying before the Subcommittee were Lydia Parnes, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection; Gary Severson, senior vice president of merchandising for Wal-Mart; Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association; Patricia Vance, president of the Entertainment Software Rating Board; Kimberly Thompson, Harvard associate professor; Warren Buckleitner, editor of Childrens Technology Review; and David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family.

More than half an hour after the scheduled start time, subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) opened the hearing by dishing out statistics providing some scope on "the spectacular rise of the video game juggernaut." He talked about the fun they offer to people, "especially children, still the core market."

It was then that Stearns segued into the topic of the hearings, bringing up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and noting the numerous objectionable actions players can perform in the game, finishing with the ability to fly a plane into a skyscraper. Stearns chastised the industry for defending itself on First Amendment grounds, calling games like Grand Theft Auto "cultural pollution," and saying, "this sort of twisted, homicidal imagery is more akin to hate speech, not free speech."

Stearns then yielded the floor to other members of the subcommittee in turn. Like a number of his fellow Subcommittee members, Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) commended the industry for setting up a self-regulatory system before he raised his concerns. His laudatory comments even went further than most, in that he said parents now have the tools to regulate what comes into their homes. However, he still had misgivings about what the ESRB was doing to protect kids whose parents don't monitor what they play.

"There's almost certainly a child somewhere in America who's going to be hurt by [Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas]," Pitts said, suggesting this child's dad might be in jail or his brother selling drugs. "This game could be all it takes to nudge him onto the other side of the fence."

Not all the members were focused on the violent and/or criminal activity in games. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) focused her comments instead on the sexual aspects of games. She mentioned that an alarming number of teens are exploited by sexual predators over the Internet, adding that there's a generation of kids being desensitized to "aberrant sexual behavior" and the subcommittee "would be remiss to not discuss how games are contributing to that problem." Blackburn said there should be no sexual content in M-rated games and expressed interest in the industry's position on requiring age verification only for games with sexually explicit content.

In Lowenstein's opening remarks, he acknowledged that retail enforcement of the ratings system is not where it should be, but he noted that it is getting better. He also compared it favorably to retail enforcement rates of R-rated movies and music that carries a parental-advisory label. Comparing games to other entertainment media was a running theme of Lowenstein's remarks, notably when he cautioned against making generalizations about the industry based on the Grand Theft Auto series.

"Defining this industry based on its most controversial titles would be like defining the film industry based on Kill Bill, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Natural Born Killers," Lowenstein noted, "or the music industry based on Eminem, 50 Cent, and The Dixie Chicks."

Ultimately, he said, it's up to the parents. "No rating system, no parental-control technology, will work unless the parent is engaged," Lowenstein said. "But if the parent wants to be informed, the tools are there."

While they might have disagreed on how much work the industry ratings system needed, the panel members offered different ideas on how to improve it. Vance talked about recent changes to the ESRB's enforcement policies that will soon allow it to levy a $1 million fine against publishers that don't disclose all of a game's objectionable content during the ratings process.

Dr. Thompson suggested that the ESRB actually play the games it rates (currently ratings are determined based on a video tape of the most extreme content in a game provided by the publisher). She also called for more transparency from the ESRB in regards to its ratings policies and standards for assigning content descriptors more transparent.

Buckleitner said there was no better way for the industry to handle the ratings system than it already does but suggested more prominently associating the people who make the games with their products. His theory is that developers wouldn't want to put their name on a violent or unsavory product if their parents can see they were associated with it.

When it came time for Walsh to address the subcommittee, he suggested a universal ratings system, saying parents often complain to him that the current industry-specific ratings systems are too confusing. He also talked about labeling games in the same way as medicine. "We all know that there are medicines that are very helpful to children," Walsh said. "There are also meds that are very toxic. So part of what we do is we label them--we talk about side effects."

Walsh's idea of a universal ratings system resounded with the subcommittee members, who asked panel members to address the idea. As the game-industry representatives, Vance and Lowenstein both acknowledged the idea as a potential solution, but held out reservations. Vance said she wouldn't have a problem with a universal rating system but wanted to make sure the ESRB's system didn't get watered down in the process. Lowenstein said such a system was a wonderful goal, but "the devil is in the details."

The direct questioning of panel members was mildly contentious at times, with plenty of misunderstanding between participants, culminating in an exchange between Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PN) and Vance. After expressing concern that the ESRB's raters were all New Yorker and thus not representative of the nation as a whole, Murphy and Vance struggled to straighten out ESRB stats about how many parents were aware of the ratings and how many actually used them. Murphy pointed out that of those who are aware of the ratings, not all of them use them as a purchasing guide, and not all of those parents actually watch their children play the purchased game.

"Would you accept a babysitter service that said 75 percent of the time we're correct in screening these people to make sure they're not pedophiles," Murphy asked.

"We can't force parents to use the system," Vance said. "Is that what you're getting at?"

Murphy then asked Vance point-blank if games, "repetitively played, with violent content, affect the behavior of some children."

After several false starts and some badgering by Murphy, Vance replied that the research was inconclusive as the representative from Pennsylvania let out a heavy sigh.

After that exchange, Rep. Stearns adjourned the hearing, thanking the participants for their patience and saying it was "overall a balanced hearing."

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161 comments
sieg6529
sieg6529

these are your tax dollars at work, people! Weep for our futures!

tarmadadj
tarmadadj

is useless! Im playing grand theft auto since 11 or 12 and i dont feel like killing or robbing, in the oposite side those games make me feel better when im down

MrSickVisionz
MrSickVisionz

""or the music industry based on Eminem, 50 Cent, and The Dixie Chicks." LMAO. Is bad mouthing the president really as bad as making songs about raping your mother, selling drugs and killing your wife? OnlyTbone: "What about R movies, or books with violent/sexual stuff in them......." Actually, retailers only sell porno mags to adults and you have to be 17 to see an R rated movie. Thats all this bill is advocating. Its not aiming to make all games into pokemon, but simply to get adult games only sold to adults. Nothing to really complain about. Most gamers are old enough to buy their own games (ie, 17 or higher) or their parents by their games for them anyways. This only effects that rare 12 year old who is some how able to save up $50 and goes out to get Grand Theft Auto.

inYuashiaZero
inYuashiaZero

have you ever read a something that describes violence rape or sex? let me tell you its exponentially more vivid then a vid game. you wana take those off the market too? what about movies and tv shows and adds? the government should not have its hands in things. and the only reason the esrb is "confusing" (which it really isnt) is because poeple keep wanting to add things. E T M and AO is damn good anough we don t need E-10 or anything else! and playing the video games in their entierty?....can you say Final fantasey, The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Xenosaga, Kotor, WOW, Fallout (and the list goes on) WE NEED TO SPEAK OUT. how much longer till we have the government like big brother in the book 1984 (is the date right...cant remember entierly)...ok that might be exagerating but never the less. its the parents duty, stop treating children like ther retards, and tell the parents to buck up and do their own damn job, teach you kids right and wrong teach them morals AND BE GOD DAMN PARENTS! and restricting video games is not the answer. kids are still going to be able to get em all it would do is make things a little more difficult for the good little good and boys and leave the adults in a false sence of security. dont stop on my first amendment right. video game dont inspire violenct. u mr jack thompson, and u miss clinton and u to govenator, are the ones that inspire violence.

OnlyTbone
OnlyTbone

I can't stand this, I think the rating system is fine. If for any reason M rated games get taken off the market then there will be an uprising. What about R movies, or books with violent/sexual stuff in them.......ofcourse, that doesn't matter right because its not just mostly teens and kids that do that. All these protesters never play games so they can easily protest. While they dont protest against movies and such because they actually watch those....

ihma
ihma

sometimes i wonder if a group of flunkies just sit around and make suggestions on what topic their politicians will argue over for the next election

Merl57
Merl57

I am against this in every way shape and form.

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

these bills still don't stop the stupid parents from buying the casual games for their kids.

maverick21311
maverick21311

Wheeloftime. First off we are all feeling the pinch of high gas prices. I live in Upstate New York and believe me the winters are quite cold. I do have sympathy for people who have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. That still doesn't exempt them from their parental responsiblility. You are so quick to blame the violence in the media and saying it needs to be regulated. Well what needs to be regulated is all of the liberal programs that breed that violence. Welfare, Entitlements, Afirmative action, activist judges, broken families. These are the things that cause the true problems in our society. I am sorry but the government should say out of the private arena unless there is something going on that is a genuine threat. The golden rule is once government is in your life they won't get out. I too believe we need to protect our children but that is the parents duty and the government should not have the power to take their place even if they are bad parents. There is NO EXCUSE. If you have children then you have to arrange your life so you can take care of them. If they turn out to be a psyco unless they are mentally ill you ARE resposible period. Suck it up. Take resposiblity and admit you goofed and shut the hell up.

Demandred24
Demandred24

CLupula You know porn isn't protected by the 1st ammendment and I don't see how violence is either. Actually, as someone who has been part of the porn industry, it is protected by the first ammendment. If it wasn't, we all would've been locked up in prison by now. you are mistaking pornography with obscenity. Obscenity is based on local community standards. Living in Utah, I am sure you think the two things are the same, but living in New York City, like I do, one of the bastions of free speech, in America, and having seen the government try to entrap people who make porn, I am very aware of the difference. Obscenity is defined as whatever the local community finds objectionable. That is why you can have the sort of things we have in New York and Los Angeles, when they would be completely unacceptable in Utah. Oh, and before we go any further, I'm actually older than you by a year, so you can't accuse me of just being some kid who doesn't know what he's talking about. No mistake is to be made here, this is a direct assault on the First Ammendment. Games, like movies and books, are protected speech. The government has no business regulating what their content is when a private organization has already agreed to establish guidelines. I agree that there are some games that children should not be playing, but that is NOT the government's job to handle. If you are too busy to watch your kids and monitor what they can and cannot play, THEN YOU SHOULD NOT BE HAVING CHILDREN! Period. Do not create another human being and then expect the government to step in and do your parenting for you. As for movie regulations, is it the MPAA that establishes the guidelines of movies or is the government? Will a child be arrested if he goes to an R rated film or will he be refused entry and/or possibly kicked out of the theatre? If it were actually ILLEGAL for a child to view an R-rated film without his parents present, then there could be legal action taken against theatres and videostores. It is not actually illegal. The MPAA, like the ESRB, provides a suggestion that it is up to the industry itself, NOT THE GOVERNMENT, to enforce. Theatres do not allow children into certain movies without a parent or guardian more out of fear of lawsuits by their parents, then by any binding legal obligation. Once again, notice what I said...IT IS THE PARENTS THAT ARE THE ULTIMATE JUDGE. Keep the government out of my entertainment choices, thank you very much. First off I do not expect the government to come in and take care of me and my son. I had a nice job and I left it to raise my son at home. I try very hard. This isn't about censorship to me. Its about protecting our children. I know you might think oh he is from utah his view of the world is messed up. I don't see how it is. I live in michigan now and I hear about all the crap going on around us. I lived in S. California I constantly heard about cops being shot at and what not. You can't turn on the tv music or anything without it being full of sex. You know In the long run you and I pay for this with our tax dollars when these kids start having their own kids and they dont' even have a job. Anyhow that is beside the point. I still say alcohol porn and smoking is regulated. I feel that any violent media and sexual media should be as well. I am not saying make the games illegal. Thats not what I am saying. I am selling mature games sell to adults or with a parent with their child so the parent can educate the child. I feel it should be the same way the theaters are setup. Id the kid if they aren't of age they dont' get it. Yes the parents should be the ultimate judge I would agree. However again I know I am going to get flamed for this but a lot of parents had kids they could afford and the cost of living has sky rocketed big time. So parents have to work long time hours to support their family. Up here people get hit with 500 dollar gas bills, and gas is now 3.00 a gallon. Plus michigan us upped its minimum wage so all of the places have up their prices as well but 18-20 percent on groceries and goods at walmart and shopko. I know many a family up here with the parents both work doubles to support their families cause upper michigan has nothing in the way of jobs. Its a sad but true fact. Society is running itself into the ground. I still don't see how killing someone in a game is freedom of speech. Its an action not verbal. Oh well. Good statement btw.

CLupula
CLupula

You know porn isn't protected by the 1st ammendment and I don't see how violence is either. Actually, as someone who has been part of the porn industry, it is protected by the first ammendment. If it wasn't, we all would've been locked up in prison by now. you are mistaking pornography with obscenity. Obscenity is based on local community standards. Living in Utah, I am sure you think the two things are the same, but living in New York City, like I do, one of the bastions of free speech, in America, and having seen the government try to entrap people who make porn, I am very aware of the difference. Obscenity is defined as whatever the local community finds objectionable. That is why you can have the sort of things we have in New York and Los Angeles, when they would be completely unacceptable in Utah. Oh, and before we go any further, I'm actually older than you by a year, so you can't accuse me of just being some kid who doesn't know what he's talking about. No mistake is to be made here, this is a direct assault on the First Ammendment. Games, like movies and books, are protected speech. The government has no business regulating what their content is when a private organization has already agreed to establish guidelines. I agree that there are some games that children should not be playing, but that is NOT the government's job to handle. If you are too busy to watch your kids and monitor what they can and cannot play, THEN YOU SHOULD NOT BE HAVING CHILDREN! Period. Do not create another human being and then expect the government to step in and do your parenting for you. As for movie regulations, is it the MPAA that establishes the guidelines of movies or is the government? Will a child be arrested if he goes to an R rated film or will he be refused entry and/or possibly kicked out of the theatre? If it were actually ILLEGAL for a child to view an R-rated film without his parents present, then there could be legal action taken against theatres and videostores. It is not actually illegal. The MPAA, like the ESRB, provides a suggestion that it is up to the industry itself, NOT THE GOVERNMENT, to enforce. Theatres do not allow children into certain movies without a parent or guardian more out of fear of lawsuits by their parents, then by any binding legal obligation. Once again, notice what I said...IT IS THE PARENTS THAT ARE THE ULTIMATE JUDGE. Keep the government out of my entertainment choices, thank you very much.

Demandred24
Demandred24

Imavnas "What I don't understand is the governator, in california, set a bill stating that retailers can't sell "M" rated games to children, and the ESA stepped in and swatted the bill down claiming that it violates the first amendment rights of kids. Are you kidding?" Actually your looking at it from a consumer point of view but not as a game developer. If they ban the sale of M rated games to Minors, many stores will just NOT carry as many M rated games (or perhaps none), just like AO rated games are nowhere to be seen. Sure theirs plenty of adults who would purchase an AO rated game at a Walmart for example, but because of its supposed content, no big stores carry it, and this would happen with M rated games if their sale would be banned to minors. This would hurt sales immensly, and in turn affects every gamer. This is the reason the ESA is fighting so hard against these bills. So why not fine the retailers that sell M rated games to minors? Again, its a matter of money. With a fine imposed for every unlawful sale of an M rated game to a minor, many store chains will just choose not to carry them, to avoid dealing with fines caused by reckless or ignorant employees, a factor that large chain stores can only control to a certain degree. Basically, if you want your children to steer clear of these games, then be a responsible parent. If you want these bills, youd better get ready to see alot less of what you like at your local walmart as an adult. To the point where you might never see an M rated game again. Well that was a well thought out argument, but I disagree completely. Rated R shows are regulated and it hasn't slowed the purchase or sale of them at all. Porn is regulated and it made more money last year then hollywood did. I went to a toys r us in GREEN BAY WI. They had all of their mature games behind the counter. A minor couldn't go and pick them up. You had to have a parent or gaurdian there with you. Mature games will never stop selling to adults. Its kind of funny though with walmart they won't sell explicit cds in their store, but they will sell movies like hostel and saw II. Kind of strange isn't it. I do not see how this is going to hurt sales to adults. The Esa cares about this, because the software industry will lose a big chunk of their revenue when kids aren't allowed to buy these mature games without a parent. It is also kind of sad that the software industry has run out of ideas so they have to spam the game with sex and violence to sell it anways. Oh well..

Demandred24
Demandred24

burnsound wheeltime stop blaming the kids parents, i mean sure not many 50 yr. olds know about violence in videogames.However, it's their call to make.Not yours.so stop stereotyping the kids parents and realize that its the choice of the people not the government.Also not all parents don't know about videogames. I mean sure their probally alot older than you but that doesn't mean thier ignorant or know less about the topic.Wheeltime when you have children of your own and they are old enough to play videogames do what you want with them but don't go telling other parents what to do.That goes for everyone else too.There! I said it. Um well actually I am 30 and I have kids of my own. I am not blaming parents. I am blaming society as a whole. My whole argument is porn, smoking and drinking is regulated. The whole argument that these games are an expression of ones view or what not is garbage. I could argue that porn is an expression of someones desire for someone else. Violence is not free speech. Why is it wrong to murder someone, but you can turn around and watch it. Why isn't violence and sex in games. Again tell me how it is good for kids to see this crap in games. Why is it good to see kids see other people cut with a chain saw, or again seeing sex on in games. If you go to your local park you will see what this kind of crap has done to children. They have all of their crap written all over the playground and school. I am not telling what other parents to do. If you are of age lets say 18 then its up to you, however a big chunk of people playing these games are kids. Im going to give you a little story here and i don't know if it will make sense but I am going to try. These wonderful scientific minds of our world once taught that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun revolved around it. These same scientific minds that the the earth was flat. My point is our minds are limited and our knowledge is limited. The same people told people to smoke for years and years. The cigarette companies knew about the dangers of smoking and they still peddled their wares saying not enough research has been done on it. While a whole generation of people are hooked on that stuff. I would say the same about violence and sex in video games. I would say 30-40 years down the road when we have so called enough evidence the damage is going to be done. If you think the violence and sex in games is going to stop its not. Its going to get worse and worse. Sorry to go off on this little story, but my point is if you haven't noticed society has a lot of social problems, and its not getting any better, and these younger kids grow up playing this stuff isn't going to exactly fix the problem. To sum it up Smoking, Drinking, and porn is regulated why isn't violence and sex in games regulated. Why can a theater stop a child from going in and watch a rated R show, but we can't regulate a game with the same kind of stuff that kids are actualy doing. I don't mind if a parent goes and buys the software with the child knowing full well whats in it, then they can educate the child, but I do mind a child going in and buying it behind their parents back knowing full well what it has in it.

Murad1
Murad1

what i am seriously worried about is not the fact that younger kids cant play games but the fact that the government will tyr to regulate games THAT ADULTS PLAY

Murad1
Murad1

Hey respawn66 I agree with all of your statements,if you go and reas a psychology book it basically says what you say.I mean social environmet and genetics and family have far more influence on the person than videogames.

Murad1
Murad1

First of all,I agree that SOME kids should not play games that are rates M,but like i said before-ofiicial research has found only correlation between the kids growing up more aggressive and playing violent games...but correlation does not prove causation. IN THE OTHER WORDS,kids who are violent in nature will play violent games and kids who are not violent will not be into them as much. I hate when the government tells me what to do. And yes i agree government needs to protect us but NOT from videogames.And to any parent in here if you are worried about your kid getting messed up with the videogames-you can relax games do not have such effects on kid as the government says it does.

nirvana_2
nirvana_2

glad that i don't live in the US...

ZeldaMaster32
ZeldaMaster32

"There's almost certainly a child somewhere in America who's going to be hurt by [Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas]," Pitts said, suggesting this child's dad might be in jail or his brother selling drugs. "This game could be all it takes to nudge him onto the other side of the fence." It was then that Stearns segued into the topic of the hearings, bringing up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and noting the numerous objectionable actions players can perform in the game, finishing with the ability to fly a plane into a skyscraper. What kind of BS are they trying to pull off?

respawn66
respawn66

I'd like to add in my own 2 cents. I know GTA is really bad in terms of its content but this game was really targeted towards an older audiance. Like say 17 and above as it says on the box. Lots of these politicians are freaking out over this game because there was some "unlockable hidden content" this hidden content was made by some dudes in the modding commitee. It was added much later, after the game had sold a lot. I agree that younger kids shouldn't be able to play this game but I think because of this unfortunate event that a bad picture has been painted on all M games. I think parents need to step in a little more. I played doom at 5 and resident evil at 12-13 and I am fine. My mother did everything she could to keep me right. Now some will say that these video games cause little kids to act violently or will potentially make people hurt others. well the real issue is what goes on in the home. If a kid experiances alchoholism at home from his dad or is abused he or she is very likley to snap and hurt someone, pedophile, that sort of thing. The video games alone do not cause this violence. often the violence is more present at home when they learn to hurt other people. The video game simply acts as a catylyst to add to the anger or violence that is already there. I find it impossible to shield a child from violence since we are currently at war with a bunch of nomadic crazies, but we need to attack the real violence(violence within the home) instead of finding something to blame it on so we can get enough votes next time we run for office. I have one last question, how come fable or FALLOUT didn't get this much attention when they came out. I remember while playing fallout you were able to marry someone beat your wife and sell her into slavery. And in fable you were able to get hammered, have multiple wives, beat your wives, and sell your house to kick your wife out. That is horrible but it was a fun game. I dont see a diference between this and GTA. I personally think it's a bunch of politicians trying to jump on the band wagon.

respawn66
respawn66

well it seems that this whole hot coffee stuff has really put a wrench in the videogame industries gears. I am 17 and I feel that yes younger kids should not be permitted to play games like GTA: san andreas or manhunt(which was a horrible game). Though I feel this is more of along the ages of 10-13. If a kid is like 15-16 then I think its alright only because I was aloud to play M games. Some rated M games are not as bad as others. Halo is not along the same lines in terms of violence as say GTA but as a parent people need to try and understand what is in the game better. Take for instance the blues brothers was rated R and came out in 1981. It was rated R because of certain language, but blade(wesley snipes) has a whole bunch of crap in it liike real graphic violence and lots of f bombs. Two entirley different degrees of rated R movies. This is why parents should go the extra mile and understand the specific game better.

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

You should all be thankful that a group of politicians is sitting down and at least TALKING about it before SIGNING/VOTING on a new law. It sounds to me like these hearings are going to produce the same kind of shared knowledge about the topic that we all hope for, and weed out the crazy extremist views. (Notice that Jack Thompson did not get an invite? I am sure he is super pissed off and planning on sueing someone for it.) Face the facts, our government creates laws around anything and everything, just be happy that this whole thing will probably land right smack dab into the middle ground instead of banning all video games altogether. And I especially like that fact that nobody could conclusively answer wether or not video games have a negative impact on the people that play them. That is the ROOT of this issue. No law will ever get passed or upheld until someone produces a huge pile of scientific research indicating that these games are going to change the people that play them in a negative way. This means that the research will need to be provided, double checked, verified, published, built on top of, and double checked again before it gets a stamp of universal acceptence. This is why bunk research funded by "The Organization to Prevent the Rotting of our Nations Youth by Video Gaming" will never stand up. If it can't be repeated, and you can poke a bazillion holes through it, it is BUNK. Did anyone stop to consider that violent games don't make violent people, but maybe violent people just buy violent games? (Chicken or the Egg?) "Little Timmy shot up his entire school and had a copy of GTA at his house. The game made him do it!" Ok, so everyone that plays GTA is gonna go shoot up there school. But wait...that game sold 30 gazilion copies? And how many school shootings have there been? This makes more sense "GTA is a violent game. Little Timmy shot up his school because he is a violent kid, who also played GTA." Little Timmy would have shot up his school regardless of wether or not he owned GTA. Does anyone here even realize that the number of school shootings has NOT increased since the 1950's? We just hear about them because our news media has turned into a form of entertainment, so they just give these shootings a ton of coverage. Infact teen violence and crime has actually been on a steady DECLINE per capita since the 1980's (When did video games become a common household occurence...uh yeah the 1980's) The absolute BEST thing that ANY parent in this country can do for there kids is to make sure that they can not watch any public television.

SagradoLeon
SagradoLeon

http://www.videogamevoters.org/ Stop complaining and DO something about it already. If you won't stand up and make yourself be heard then you deserve whatever gets done to you and your precious games. Join Up and petition.

quietguy
quietguy

*Sings "American Idiot" by Green Day* Just do the same thing they did with R rated films. M games = R films

buruburu
buruburu

the leaching narrow minded politicians are pandering to the parents/voters, who never had such a fun, entertaining, toy that Vgames are. Unfortunately the dimwitted parents had kids. That is the problem. We need a permit system to make kids. Sterilize folks at birth, then have a surgical procedure to activate it again when the permit is acquired. yeah, that's the ticket. From one meatbag to another. I'm beginning to favor not existing. A conclusion reached only after 31 short years. I like the Canadian's comment...~ Video games is the problem? what about the guns?~ It's liek W said in the State of the Union way back... ~Baseball players need to become better role models. ~ baseball..WTF! BASEBALL! ummmm, what about the politicians? or better yet the CIA! When a species is so far into the twilight zone... where is the League of Shadows to destroy it all? Batman sucks. what is the goal of this species? any target objectives? possible markers of improvement? ....and they come up with Vgames. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa S.hip H.igh I.n T.ransport!

gamerchikrpg
gamerchikrpg

eminem, 50 cent, and..... DIXIE CHICKS? wtf? last time i checked dixie chicks weren't NEARLY as explicit as 50cent or eminem. of course, i'm also not a big fan of any of those people...

jobeesh
jobeesh

What about the news? What about movies? What about Eminem and 50 cent? All of these media convey messages to people that they absorb, whether or not they think they are. We are all affected by the media we participate in or watch. Stricter ratings is not the solution to the problem. Not showing violence in games will never happen because video games are a way to have fun via experiences that could never happen in real life. The responsibility to me is on, first, the developer. Developers have to realize that the most violent game is not the best game. Game designing is an art form and "shock" does not constitute good art. It never has and it never will. The same principles that make "Pulp Fiction" a piece of art work should be applied to games while shock value, in a movie like "Hostile", should be avoided at all costs because of it's harmful and irresponsible use of shock value. The media like to place blame on individuals or groups. Often the problem is much wider than blaming somebody. I don't think violence needs to be removed from games and I don't think it's the developers' or the government's job to tell people what to buy and what not to buy. Games need to take responsibility for what they put in their games and what their games are really saying. Any artist will tell you that art is all about theme. Shock value is not a theme. Watch "Resevior Dogs" and you will see art because of a theme that is conveyed through violence. Games need to mimick this behavior.

vega528
vega528

"There's almost certainly a child somewhere in America who's going to be hurt by [Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas]," Pitts said, suggesting this child's dad might be in jail or his brother selling drugs. "This game could be all it takes to nudge him onto the other side of the fence." So according to Pitts even though your dads in jail and your brother is selling drugs, its the video game thats gonna hurt you.

MysticGenie
MysticGenie

Has anyone else actually thought about what the entire process of selling mature games to minors entails? I mean, I'd always gotten hung up on the whole "Minors playing mature games causes them to become criminals" concept. But if you think about it, railing against the act of selling games to minors is also absurd. Because how many minors can acquire sixty bucks cash, get a ride to the store, purchase the game, come home and play it for hours upon hours for days, all without the parents knowing? If you give your child wads of cash with no interest in what they spend it on, let them get driven off without any care about where they are going, and allow them to do something you don't want them to do, in your own house, all day long , without you ever noticing... there are problems there that far surpass M rated video games. But we all know this realm of legislation is an abortion of reason, so, whatever.

mccoy26
mccoy26

This is sad. Let me give everyone a clue. SEX/VIOLENCE in games = NOT REAL. It's all starts and ends with the parents. TALK TO YOUR KIDS. Don't freakin shelter them. They are the future. And lest us not forget TELEVISION. Is there no talk about CENSORING that. Nope. Why? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

dukerav
dukerav

Im with Spiderfreak on this issue.

hiredkiller2
hiredkiller2

Lets not forget that the government has had violent vidoe games made themselves. AMERICA'S ARMY ANYONE

maverick21311
maverick21311

With all due respect Leria I think you are misguided on calling our soldiers and police officers hired killers. As you so eloquently put it the the founding fathers did indeed find the first amendment to be the most important. How ever lets remember that it took a revolution to secure those ideas which had not been realized until founding fathers pened them. The military is nessecary for the protection of our freedoms. The police are the ones who enforce the laws and take the violent off the streets. The military is an honerable organizion that has defended our freedoms from the most tryanical morons in history. Lets be realistic. If we didn't have a military and the best one at that every two bit numb nuted moron with some anti democracy idea would come and enslave us. As I respect your opinions I as that you not make sweeping generalizations about the military and police because it just makes you look unintellegent. You are just regurgitating the liberal I hate everything american and democratic philosophy.

hiredkiller2
hiredkiller2

speedy2295 acutally you would get in trouble for saying F**K God in a church, it is called disturbing the peace.

hiredkiller2
hiredkiller2

How dare anyone say that video games cause TEENS to do crimes. I am 15 years old, i play video games, a LOT of video games. Most games i play are M, i have been playing them ever since systems went 3D (first M rated was Mortal Combat Trilogy). I am an AP student, i have never commited one offence in any way shape or form. They say video games cause violent behavior, but that will only happen to people that are IMATURE and INFULENTIAL. To me, video games actually have the opposate effect, for people that are mature, than what the government proclames. Whenever i get a violent thought, instead of making a public deal with it, i just play a game like GTA, Resident Evil, The Warriors, exc. Afterwards, i am calm and cool. Parents are uninformed thought, but i bet they were about Movie ratings when they first came out too. Here is a thought, why not use the same rating symbols they use for movies for video games to end the confution. Also, if they don't want that, the government should use what the always use to inform people about the media...THE MEDIA. How about a commercial on Fox about game ratings instead of the 'Click it or Ticket' commercial once in a while. If parents really want to keep kids from violent videogames, they should ask them what game they want before they go to the store, and then go online and check out screenshots and reviews from it to make their final decition. If they do make it illigal for minor gamers to buy violent video games (Which is just about every single one), then i will commit a crime. I will still buy violent video games.

idonthavedsl
idonthavedsl

Currently the average age of a gamer is in the 18-35 demographic. So do we make the videogame industry ok for the lowest common denominator? Should every game be made for an eleven year old just in case he/she gets their hands on it? The answer to that is NO. Videogames are no different then books, television, music, comic books or movies in that regard. None of those other media are forced to be regulated by the government using fines or other threats to make sure their freedom of speech is palpable to the masses. Books still don't have a rating sticker on them and there are books out there written by white supremists, nazi sympathizers and autobiographers that are more then casually interested in serial killers. Free speech is the ability to speak about any topic, even if that topic is not commonly respected. Even hate speech, which is usually directed at another person or organization is protected. That only stops when the free speech causes immediate harm to another person. One example would be inciting a riot. You are immediately telling people to hurt people or their property. Playing a game, reading a book/comic book or watching Cable TV in the privacy of your own home, that you had to pay for (the items were not widely available), is your personal right and can not be regulated expressly because you are exercising your free speech by buying it and the people producing the item for making it.

speedy2295
speedy2295

"this sort of twisted, homicidal imagery is more akin to hate speech, not free speech." saying racist comments is still allowed because it's your opinion and that's one of your natural born rights hate speech is the same as free speech and nobody should really care if they don't want to just as long as it doesn't get out of control and become physical acts of violence. i'm an atheist and i'm proud of it i can walk into the biggest church in america say f**k god and walk out they can't do anything to me because that's just my opinion. the bill of rights and especially those first ammenmants are what make this country special and so great because we cannot be punished legally for saying things against our government or other topics that's why the neo nazi's in idaho are not being arrested because they haven't commited any acts of violence except timothy mcvae but that was him not the main leaders of the party after ww2 we all said no nazi's and in terms of mainstream they don't exist anymore which is a good thing but a small group is still believing in that extremely flawed ideology. but because of the first ammenmant you can believe whatever the f**k you want and nobody can do anything about it. P.S. i'm not a nazi their queer and if you read all that thank you for taking the time to read it don't you just love america (well most parts of it the GOV. is alittle f**ked up)

ChaosHavok
ChaosHavok

I love the fact that the Dixie Chicks were lumped in with Natural Born Killers, 50 Cent, and GTA.

Sgt_So_and_So
Sgt_So_and_So

Gamers, this is a time of dire need. We, the populace who KNOW the truth, who UNDERSTAND it, and are hoping that we can educate these null brained politicians about it, need to stand up to this political bullying. We, the people, MUST flex our right to free speech. If we are to make a difference in this never-ending cycle of taking games out of context and not focusing on real problems, then the "Democracy" that was America will soon join the likes of the Persian empire, the Macedonians, and the Romans in the annals of history.

Scorpion16
Scorpion16

I would expect this kind of idiocy from an individual state but the fact that our federal tax dollars are being used to pay for this crap really says something about the state of our goverment. We have a war in Iraq, Terrorism, unregulated borders, and a social security problem that needs to be fixed. Somebody tell these idiots to get off thier moral high horse and start focussing on important issues that have a bigger effect on the whole country.

Entilzha
Entilzha

Here's a quote i found years ago: "Take the median intellegence in the country and realize that half of the population is below that". These are the voters that the politicians are playing to with all of this. The comments atributed to Rep. Marsha Blackburn really get me thought. She says that "there should be no sexual content in an M rated game". Hello, but M rated means 17 and up. Talk about not knowing the subject of the hearings she's in. In her view the violence is ok, but no sex, oh no no no. I'm 48 years old and a life long gamer. My sons are now 23 and 20. GTA is the only game that I absolutely refused to buy (because of it's storylines). The bottom line is be the parent. Know what your kids are playing. If they want a game that you don't want them to play, explain your objections. They are much smarter than you give them credit for.

paradyme777
paradyme777

"HarlockJC: This kids is why you do not vote Democrat." ThePhantomVI: "Riiiiight. Because all of those Republicans just loooove sex and violence in media." Actually Phantom from what I'm seeing it appears that the Democrats are the ones spearheading this operation. I'm sure most Republicans don't give a crap about video game violence, they have more important things to attend to, terrorism, the war. Democrats tend to find everything but the important issues. Hey Hillary, lay off the video games and go fight for some real issues.

3_Simple_Words
3_Simple_Words

"Defining this industry based on its most controversial titles would be like defining the film industry based on Kill Bill, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Natural Born Killers," Lowenstein noted, "or the music industry based on Eminem, 50 Cent, and The Dixie Chicks." Well said that man

vamroc
vamroc

Gaming has only been an industry for about twenty. Rock and Roll started in the fifties and was blasted for being satan's tool for corrupting the youth of the world. LOL The Big Bopper is evil ha ha ha even better Country Joe and the Fish are the Four Horse Men of the Apocolypes. Humans are preditory by nature we are fools to think that writing a few laws here and there can change five hundred thousand years of of instinct. Violent movies, games, tv and even nudity in all of the aforementioned has it's roots in our past. We fed christians to lions for sport we drag chidren to art museums to see pictures and statues of you guessed it naked people. We tell them here look at these boob in national geographic and then scream at them when the buy Playboy. We give them guns to kill people with in times of war but scorn the violent games. Parents give kids these games shut them up on long car trips under the pretense that if there silent then there happy. Parents should just do there damn jobs and not let machines do it for them like so many do right now

cortot20
cortot20

For all this talk on games I have seen parents bring their kids under 13 to movies like sin city, saving private ryan etc. This legislation won't due a thing. Some parents just don't care. If a kid really wants an M rated game, an R rated movie, a cd with the explicit label, alcohol, cigarettes, porn, or anything else they can get it. There will always be a source and someone looking the other way. I don't know why this is such a huge issue now, the same sort of thing has happened and placed restrictions on the the things listed above, and the world didn't explode. Let them place restrictions on what a minor can and can't buy, thats why they are defined as minors. When I came of age I got access to all of this stuff, and the ability to die in a foriegn war and to vote (I still can't rent a car). So relax its not a big deal, the only law they could ever pass would be restricting sales to minors, which is fine. And yes I agree with what someone said above that having a law that gives the power to make law to one private party over another is unconstitional.

SolracSelbor
SolracSelbor

We should just rate games like movies. It would make it easier to understand than the current ESRB ratings. GTA, for example is no more violent or sexual that the movie Training Day; therefore it would get an R rating, and most parents know, "Hey, that game has an R rating? That must not be suitable for kids since R movies are not suitable for kids! YAY!" So, basically what is now an AO game (or adults only) should be none other than some kind of porn game to reflect X rated films. PG-13 will of course take the place of T games (teen) and G will take the place of E (everyone). R, incase you didn

coolcool23
coolcool23

^^^ Yeah, and guess what? Its thae parents fault for being in Jail and letting the brother sell drugs. Ultimatly the life of the child is greatly influenced by the parent, not the kid. Usually its not the son who decides to frame his dad and plant heroin on his bro because he did it in GTA or whatever.

warpuke
warpuke

"There's almost certainly a child somewhere in America who's going to be hurt by [Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas]," Pitts said, suggesting this child's dad might be in jail or his brother selling drugs. "This game could be all it takes to nudge him onto the other side of the fence." Only one child? Obviously we're not trying hard enough.

coolcool23
coolcool23

Lowenstien is the only one making any sense on this issue, which makes sense. GTA is overplayed almost as much as the race card is nowadays. I mean, comon people, its one game after all. I didn't hear anything about splinter cell, or Metal Gear solid....or how about Postal? Honestly these people are too far removed from any of this to make educated descisions on it. We need someone who plays videogames in the political system to help us. And not just Nintendogs. BTW...Microsoft flight simulator is what the terrorists used to train themselves for 9/11, not GTA and last I chacked that game doesnt include an 'M' rating. maybe it should have one for 'Ability To Commit Terrorist Acts Against The US'.