Court to hear appeal on California game law

Overturned bill preventing sale of violent titles to minors gets a second chance this week.

The wheels of justice turn slowly. It's been more than three years since California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB1179, a bill restricting the sale or rental of violent games to minors. Despite that span of time, the state's fight with the industry trade group Entertainment Software Association over the bill continues.

While a judge declared the law unconstitutional in 2007, and just last August the state paid the ESA more than $280,000 for legal fees accrued in the initial court case, AB1179 still isn't quite dead. When the law was initially overturned, California appealed the ruling the following month. That appeal is finally ready to be heard as the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will consider the matter at the McGeorge School of Law this Wednesday, October 29.

The bill sought to ban the sale or rental of "violent video games" to children. A "violent" game was defined as a "game in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being." Under the law, retailers that sold such games would be subject to a $1,000 fine. It would also require "violent" video games to bear a two-inch-by-two-inch sticker with a "solid white '18' outlined in black" on their front covers. That's over twice the size of the labels that currently adorn game-box covers and display the familiar Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rating.

The bill's original author, California Senator Leland Yee, continues to stand behind the measure. Yee released a statement today saying the bill was narrowly tailored to pass Constitutional muster, adding, "I am hopeful that the 9th Circuit will overturn the lower courts decision and help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder."

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Discussion

123 comments
The_Wolf22
The_Wolf22

Depending on the level of violence, yes, we should make it harder for minors to get a hold of games with insane amounts of violence or sexuality. But really, the only games you can ban are M-rated games. T-rated games include the word "Teen" right in the rating, saying that teens should be able to play it. Arnie's a smart guy, he knows this. There's a difference between letting your kid know what violence and reality are really like, but when you openly subject them to things they are only going to see in video games because they're so unrealistic, that's just wrong. A kid's probably not going to see a guy's body parts blown off right in front of his eyes, with gore all over the walls. Come on. We all know there's a fine line between what is realistic and unrealistic.

DJ_Quack_Quack
DJ_Quack_Quack

exactly what kind of world are we living in where parents can't even handle their children?

Kevinpa1
Kevinpa1

I remember reading an article where in one country, they made it illegal for adults to purchase violent video games for their kids. I also remember reading that if they bought a violent video game for their kid, they would have to pay a $10,000 fine or something. I think we should do the same thing here. The problem is not the stores, it's these stupid, ignorant parent's who buy these games for their kids who nag the holy *bleep* out of them. Eventually, the parent's crack and give their kid the game.

Kevinpa1
Kevinpa1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Kevinpa1
Kevinpa1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Kevinpa1
Kevinpa1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Kevinpa1
Kevinpa1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

dj_b02us
dj_b02us

as a democrat and a san franciscan, i am embarrassed of leland yee.

XXMadManVII
XXMadManVII

Not everything needs to be a "law" so to speak. I am of the opinion that most "laws" are around just to so stupid, irresponsible idiots can function in the same enviroment as the rest of us. The problem with this of corse is the fact that the laws hender the smart people too. We need to get away from the practice of assuming everbody needs to be told how to function in society. Most of us can already do that without having laws to tell us how. It the lowest common denominator types that f**k things up for the rest of us. Resposiblity is the key, from parents/gaurdians, to the employee at Gamestop. The State should not hve anything to do with it. My rents had no problems making me sell MK when I was a kid after they found out how violent it was... and that was waaaay before the ESRB was around.

sieg6529
sieg6529

What's the big deal? If you're under 18, just wait or find someone old enough to get it for you. It bans the selling and renting, not the owning or playing.

zombey1333
zombey1333

So any amount of realism what-so-ever in a game means that someone under 18 won't be able to have access to it? What, so we're teaching our children that if you shotgun blast someone in the head, then rainbows shoot out (like on ATHF)? Will someone please grab these people by the head and tell them it's not the games, but the parents, which are at the core fault for how a child reacts to violent scenes?

Royas
Royas

BlueFlameBat and theone86: Both of you seem to be working with mistaken information. At least in the United States, it is NOT illegal to sell tickets to an R rated movie to a minor. The movie rating system is an independent, voluntary, industry standard developed to prevent the government from getting involved with censoring movies. The ratings don't have a legal bite to them. In order to get movies to show, movie theaters have to agree to abide by the ratings rules, but that's a private contract between them and the studio. It's just like the ESRB rating system: voluntary and independent. And just like the movie system, most retail chains are part of a professional organization that has, as part of their bylaws, a requirement that they abide by the ESRB ratings.

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

I don't mind making it illegal to sell M-rated video games to people under 17 (not much different than not allowing people under 17 to go into R-rated movies without an adult), but the larger stickers are ridiculous. Parents who can't recognize disturbing images (eg San Andreas) or obvious game titles (eg Killzone) aren't going to notice a larger sticker. I think it's bad enough that rating usually obstructs the art on the cover, the game disc, and the instruction booklet; we don't need to make it even bigger.

scottiescott238
scottiescott238

Well if Arnie says it, then we must follow. That man is god

TehUndeadHorror
TehUndeadHorror

"a "solid white '18' outlined in black" on their front covers. That's over twice the size of the labels that currently adorn game-box covers" That's just unnecessary...

PoondockSaints
PoondockSaints

in NJ you have to be 17 to buy an M-rated games. it sucks

-HaloHitman-
-HaloHitman-

I think that the law is lame, I think that if you are in the high school age range or older you should be allowed to play these games, am I right? I mean we see R rated movies and they are alot worse, but you dont see anybody bothering me about the R rated movie.

seriousjoker93
seriousjoker93

So that would basicly ban nearly every game out there.... I mean how many games are there that dont have violence towards humans?

artistry_
artistry_

We already live, work, and play in a world of violence and murder - what do you think war is, race war, gang war, mafia war, iraq war, world war .. get a clue Yee you are not protecting any one .. and empowering no one .. no such thing as violence in games, it's virtual and nothing remotely like actually killing or maiming someone in real life. - Murder Simulators !! get the F out .. thats dishonest and unintellectual. Does playing Madden make a gamer a pro football player ? No ? Then wrecking a virtual character in no way makes you Jeffery Dahmer. Keep your censorship BS out of the US. Thank you.

elmstterror
elmstterror

Parents dont buy their kids cigarettes if their not 18, why would they buy them a videogame, they off someone because of it, then the parents blame the game. It's parents that make bad kids, not videogames.

Thats_Bull
Thats_Bull

If I can go to buy tickets to an R rated movie, I should be able to buy an M video game without people getting in my face about it. This law is total bullcrap.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

Wow, so basically this means that any game involving any sort of violence towards humans is off-limits to anyone under 18? that's so completely dysfunctional. Pretty much all T-rated games would have to be re-rated "18". Though I do think that the British games ratings system works better than ours, with its flexible age-specific ratings. Here in the US Halo 3 was rated M and I had to get a parent to buy it with me. In the UK it was rated 15 and I could have bought it myself.

1blissofdeath
1blissofdeath

I agree with NA3D on this one, we seriously need Judge Dredd to police these politicians. That would totally kick nuts.

paragon12321
paragon12321

I'd be a little more open to it w/o the 2" label. Think of how' that would fit on a DS box. You'd barely be able to fit the title.

Mystoksor
Mystoksor

Minors can just order online, use steam, or just pirate it. Glad to see tax dollars hard at work on this obsolete bill

quietguy
quietguy

Well at least they're informing us how our tax payer treasury is being wasted.

1rish
1rish

Theone86... I definitely agree that this particular bill is far too open-ended. I believe the ESRB system works fine and is a welcome filter to be used by the retailers and parents alike, I dont think we need more control.

theone86
theone86

I agree that games with questionable content shouldn't be sold to minors. In fact, despite having what I see as a pretty liberal view towards censorship, I'm usually one of the more conservative people posting in these types of topics. Still, I disagree with some of the bill's wording. It explicity states violent video games. Not M, not T, violent. This means it's completely up to the interpretation of a state official if a store has violated this law or not. The ESRB exists for a reason. It rates games, it does a farily good job of rating games, and I see no reason to suddenly turn that over to the state. Second, the $1,000 fine. It wouldn't be so bad, except that again it seems like it's totally up to the state who gets this fine. They could say anything is an 18+ game regardless of ESRB rating, at least if I'm readin this right, and give the fine out. That's basically saying the state could impose a fine on a store any time they want. A better idea is mandatory no-tolerance policies for employees. You sell to a minor, you get the disciplinary action. That's the way it works for cigarettes and alcohol. If a complaint is filed, the employee on-duty at the time gets a fine. If it happens multiple times in one store, corrective action is taken, possibly even revoking liscences. Imposing a blanket fine is MUCH harsher than alcohol and tobacco regulations. Lastly, I hate all these, "we have to make warnings more transparent," arguments. It's RIGHT THERE ON THE BOX, M FOR MATURE. I see no reason to make these warnings bigger. It's not that parents can't read them, it's that they don't. It's not that I don't believe in transparancy and regulation, but the way they're doinf it with this bill is wrong. Instead of passing things like this into law, they should step up regulation and enforcement of existing laws. The laws to combat sales to minors are in place. Kids can't buy M games on their own, they need a parent as it is. This bill just puts a bunch of unnecessary extra regulations on top of existing laws.

Cobra5
Cobra5

You can't sell tobacoo to 18-... and where I live (dunno about elsewhere) you can't go in a rated R movie without being accompanied by an adult... so I don't see why this should be different. For people saying it should be up to the parent, that's exactly what this does: Only parents can buy 18+ games for their children... right now, kids can buy it on their own.

Toro_Nev
Toro_Nev

It should be up to parents..... Waste of time.

bottaboomstick
bottaboomstick

Lol at his last quote. "....and help empower parents with te ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder." That is funny for two reasons...empower them...they have always had the power...and maybe he should have said uducated...second is games are ultimate decisions ROFL

thePhoenix13
thePhoenix13

Woooowwwww... how 'bout the parents control what their own kids do

zarum_666
zarum_666

Great, Lets start sheltering every kid and not explain the difference between Reality and Fiction... shesh This is just like the whole condom bull in schools. NO IF YOU LET KIDS NO THEN THEY WONT DO STUPID #@*%! BECAUSE KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

EvilLlama600
EvilLlama600

@decoy I disagree, it should be up to the parents what their kids play. While I do agree that 12-year-old kids shouden't be playing a GTA game, I don't think its the retailers place as arbiter to govern who can play what. Let the parents decide what is appropriate and inappropriate for their children, not clueless lawmakers. I don't live in California, but I still beleive that arents need to decide wat their kids play, not rely on retailers or the government to tell them what their kids can and can't play. What's more, the age group that this is targeted to protect probably dosen't have a job and relies on their parents for their game money. If parents were to go into the store and look at games with their children, they could look at the ESRB ratings and decide weather or not the content is suitable for their children, not just handing their kids sixty bucks and going "OK BAI WUTEVA". Even the kid at the desk (who, if hes or shes working in a games store or behind an electronics counter at wal-mart and such) should be able to describe to the parents' what is in the game.

mhamilton22
mhamilton22

Scrubs. Most stores don't sell "M" rated games to people under 17. Secondly, retailers can't just guess at what authorities will consider too violent for minors, they'll be getting fined left and right. Third, I wrote a paper for my Psychology class on video game violence and it's effects...a HUGE majority of parents never checked the rating for the game they purchased for their kids. So parents, quit being lazy and take some responsibility.

djmillard2
djmillard2

lol this is so funny that in spite of all that is going on, the govenator focused on video games. i wish i could buy M games without a parent here in philly.

necronaux
necronaux

None of this will matter. Cigarettes can’t be sold to anyone under 18 years of age. Yet ‘minors’ have them. No one under 17 can see a R movie. Yet they do. No one under 21 can buy alcoholic beverages. Yet they do. What will this legislation really do to stop “under age gaming”? Nothing.

bschroth
bschroth

HAHAHA. Sorry I can't help but laugh at the retarted American law makers waste your damn money and time with this kinda bullhonkey.

Scorpion16
Scorpion16

"I agree with this law especially if it gets some of the pre-pubescent kids offline for games like HALO3!!! MAN, THEY ARE SOOOOO ANNOYING!!!!!" Oh of course lets make an unconstitutional law because your too dumb to use the mute button on XBL, that's GREAT Logic(sarcasm)

Dark-Overseer
Dark-Overseer

I agree with this law especially if it gets some of the pre-pubescent kids offline for games like HALO3!!! MAN, THEY ARE SOOOOO ANNOYING!!!!!

1357900
1357900

How many times can it be said, that It is the Parents Fault! Not games! If parents were doing their jobs, & being responsible about their children/child, then this wouldn't be an issue. Furthermore, eventually, those who wish to get a "violent/sexual/or w/e else gets blamed" type of game will more than likely, have to eventually get id'd to get the game, I speculate. I know that to some extent, that's already in effect. & it may come to being id'd to buy any games whatsoever. Government is purposely wasting too much money on nonsense, than on real issues of actual significance. There is always going to be ways to "beat around the bush/tree/rock/ or w/e". Kids will always manage, some way, or another, to get their hands on "considered controversial" games. Part of the problem is making it know that the game is controversial. Just like trying to get a kid to eat spinach instead of cake. Tell him/her they can't have cake(just yet), & they want it, since they know they can't have it(until the spinach is gone, which they don't like). Give 'em the cake, instead of the spinach, tell 'em they can't have the spinach, & guess who wants spinach, since they know they can't have it? Same rule applies to games, & anything else in life. My point is: kids will always want these games, & will always have at least one way, of getting their hands on them. we taxpayers are watching our money go down the toilet for many reasons, including this one. This "bad game" issue could all be solved if parents were responsible, & do their job. I understand the argument against this is that parents are too busy, or too this, or that. But my returning argument, is that you(general use) parents had sex(should have used birth control, but didn't), have a kid now, & it is 100% your responsibility to raise, & care for your child/children. Not any governments job, not any facilities job, not any groups job, but 100% Your responsibility. Yes, I understand this would work in a perfect society, & that "perfect society" is not what we are. But, passing idiot laws that won't be correctly enforced, let alone make any real difference whatsoever, is not helping anything, or anyone. They're idiot laws b/c they're a waste of time/money, they don't get anything accomplished, & it just gives so-called parents(in name only) more "excuse" to not be doing their job as parents. If this law would work, that's good. But, I'm so certain it won't be successful.

Royas
Royas

AZisBacc: I agree that M rated games should not be sold to minors, I just don't agree that the government should be involved. Parents have the responsibility to keep track of their kids, period. decoy1978: The law says nothing about M rated games, just games with violence towards humans. That means pretty much every game made in the last 20 years. Retailers shouldn't be required to guess what games fall under the law and which games don't. Under this law, they have to make the call based on subjective definitions. Not exactly the picture of fairness I demand from my legal system. gDamascus: Actually, the law isn't currently in effect, it was struck down before it was actually implemented. This trial is to try to reverse that decision and get the law on the active books again. It was struck down for very good reasons, not the least of which were 1st amendment violations. They are going to lose again, and end up paying the ESA a lot more of the taxpayer's money for their lawyers. Idiots.

AZisBack
AZisBack

This is going nowhere because it is in the ninth circuit. If this were in another court I think the decision would be overruled. There are only two groups that thinks violent games should be sold to minors... Minors and the game industry. I do not think these games shouldn't be sold to minors.

decoy1978
decoy1978

I fully support this bill. Too many kids are playing M rated games as is and they can easily escape a parents watch when purchasing games. This way we punish the RETAILERS who sell M games to minors. It is NOT ENOUGH to just plaster a sticker that says 18+. Parents and now RETAILERS should take accountability for their actions...

tudyniuz
tudyniuz

who cares really,whatever they do,everyone plays M+ games...come on:P

Soldaten027
Soldaten027

Mr_Tweedy: the blueprints for the internet were made by the government. Seriously, without government we would not have the lives we have today. However, I do agree that government spending especially here in California is just laughable (One proposition we have on the ballot is to fund a railway system that has already cost the cost 58 million just thinking about it). Yes, they are pushing this bill, but plastering "18" on the entire front cover of a game is not going to stop kids from playing it, no matter what this Leland Yee character thinks.

jjdomo
jjdomo

it's not up to the theaters, it's up to the kids parents. you cant get into an R rated movie without a parent. at least, the theater isn't supposed to let you in, whether they want to or not.

gob__bluth
gob__bluth

Games should not be subject to laws different from movies. It is not actually illegal for minors to see R-rated movies, it's up to the theaters whether to let them. Effective labeling and pressure on businesses to act responsibly can achieve the same goal without infringing on free expression.

GrgSpunk
GrgSpunk

Getting kids to stop playing violent games isn't a bad concept. However, I woudn't want any of these bills to pass because they're often pushed by idiots who want make every effort they can to ban videogames containing controversial content, regardless of who they're sold to. I'd rather not enpower them by letting this bill stay alive. Like they say, you give them an inch and they'll go a mile.