NY senators to intro game law

Lawmakers from Staten Island and Brooklyn want to establish advisory council and awareness program, making it illegal to sell unrated games.

With the recent revelation that Grand Theft Auto IV will be set in a transparent stand-in for New York City, the state's politicians are already touchy on the subject of violent games. More are raising their voices, as today state Senators Andrew Lanza and Martin Golden called for a "crackdown" on violent games and said they would introduce legislation to keep kids from being exposed to inappropriate games.

The pair revealed three specific measures that their legislation will include. First of all, the senators want to establish an advisory council to monitor the effectiveness of the Entertainment Software Rating Board in keeping adult games out of children's hands. The members of that council would also develop policies for education on youth violence.

The second specified measure would make rating labels mandatory on all games sold in the state, new or used, either in stores or online. Those who sell unrated games despite this would be fined and penalized, with the revenue derived going to fund the senators' third proposal.

That proposal is a Parent Teacher Anti-Violence Awareness Program, "which will empower parents and teachers to work with students and children on issues related to violence in video games." In addition to increasing awareness of the ESRB ratings, the program would advocate proper parental supervision.

Earlier this week, New York governor Eliot Spitzer said he would introduce legislation to restrict children's access to "explicit and excessively violent" games.

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303 comments
Pakaru
Pakaru

I find this most troubling, as I do live in NY. I have no issue with the government trying to protect children, but the way they do it is just wrong. For some reason, the government keeps insisting that video games will be the end of the innocence of children. If they stopped singling out the VG industry, and looked toward the media industry as a whole, then progress might be closer to achievement. Giving the ESRB, MPAA and the FCC the force of law, might help. But all in all, it is the job of the PARENTS to regulate what their children do and do not do. If such a law was placed, then there should be some sort of exception rule, like making it still legal for an adult to purchase the game for a kid. ************************************************ Now this part could never come true, but given the state of our educational system it would probally make everyone try harder. Like, imagine a law that said " If you reach an average grade of so-and-so on so-and-so amount of state tests, you are eligible to apply for a special card with points to gain and hold to be hable to put them towards a certain amount of games at a certain level above the ratings category you are currently situated. The higher your average score, the more points you recieve. If this were put in place, you'd get higher scores, and children supposedly smart enough to know right from wrong.

BetMonty
BetMonty

You can't do this, this way. It restricts free speech. As soon as the government legitemately bans selling unrated games, the government then has a mechanism for censorship - refusing to rate, or recognize the rating of, a game. This law won't stand up. It's a waste of time and money. I suppose as a developer I should be happy that yet another politician has elected his constituents as the next group to supply a victory to the ESA, while simultaneously paying the ESA's lawyers, with your tax dollars. *sigh* So why am I disappointed, instead?

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

"Look at me look at me! I'm a Senator and I can announce that later on I will waste everyone's time and tax dollars writing stupid laws that will only get shot down by the courts in 6 months!!" How about we stop all the idiotic political posturing and actually do something CONSTRUCTIVE? Maybe try throwing a couple bucks at the ESRB so they can get their @#$% together and fully commit to what they set out to do instead of half-@$$ing it all the time.

Otaku-RP-Gamer
Otaku-RP-Gamer

This all looks great. Finally, polititions are doing something constructive about the ratings. It would be awesome if all states took this opportunity, and even Canada. I'm really hoping for this to come to fruitation.

Darth_Tyrranus
Darth_Tyrranus

NA3D No, the burden of proof rests on you to provide the evidence, since you are the one making the claim. Since you have provide absolutely no evidence, only claims, you really don't have any argument at all. Furthermore, as Beserker_Gamer brought up, I'm pretty sure 27 out of 28 states is indicative of a majority.

Drathyl
Drathyl

Did you guys read the third proposal?It's spot on with what you say should have done. It is there to make parents aware of what their kid is playing and what kind of games he should not be playing. As long as any game can get a rating, I don't see what is the problem here. It would be different if some games couldn't get rated.

Berserk_Gamer
Berserk_Gamer

Exactly, kappareign, and we don't need the government to try and tell us to do it,

kappareign
kappareign

"...in keeping adult games out of children's hands" uh, like thats even a big problem? how many adult games are there? not very many. and older games that dont have ratings dosent really mean they are hiding adult content somewhere in them either... this is really stupid. just card kids who try to buy M rated games, thats all that needs to be done

Lucifer013
Lucifer013

MORTAL_MEDIC When I think of "Unrated" games, I think of games that were made before the ESRB, like the old games. Super Mario Bros. didn't have a rating on the original cartridges so would that be a "Unrated" game and would be illegal to them?

Berserk_Gamer
Berserk_Gamer

I'm pretty sure 27 state amendments means a sizable poll of the country. We don't do simple popularity polls here because then the big states dominate. (its why we have things like the electoral college). But if you want to, why don't we let the states vote on Roe v Wade as well?

NA3D
NA3D

Poll the US population, and see what it says. Majority will support same sex marriage. Though some guys support it because it means more girls from them, haha.

BikerPunk
BikerPunk

considering that there is already a rating system at work, and its the stores fault for selling M Games to a 13 year old, and that its really on the shoulders of the parents not to be idiots, and maybe check what your kid is playing. My parents were nuts about that kinda thing, and it worked. they woulc check and stuff when i was like 10 so i wouldnt be killing anything but a goomba here and there. Ofcourse, eventually i got my Unreal Tournys, and such, but i was older by then. If the parents really care, they will get involved, and stop thier kids from playing games that are "too violent"

Moleculor
Moleculor

*sigh* When are they going to learn that legislation involving ratings is unconstitutional? The right to free speech also stands in as a right not to say anything at all that you don't want to. -Requiring- ratings on games -requires- speech of some form. Which is unconstitutional. (You can see a famous example of the right not to say anything in the famous line "You have the right to remain silent.") In addition, how the hell are NY Senators expecting to put "oversight" in place over a private company? The government can't do that to a company who's entire purpose is speech (ratings). Drugs? Sure, you can regulate drugs, because that's not speech, that's health. But ratings? That's opinion. And the government can't legally regulate opinion. And one state certainly can't regulate it for the entire country, either.

Berserk_Gamer
Berserk_Gamer

Actually, MrSickVisionz, I consider myself as conservative as they come. The reason I can say this is conservatives are for PERSONAL responsibility. The reason I oppose this is it allows the government to step in and take responsibility out of your hands, and put it into theirs. Seeing how EVERY governmental body abuses power, I reason that the less they have, the better. Its also not that far fetched to see it as a slippery slope. If you actually knew what you were talking about, and a little about history, you'd know how the German people and their legislative branch signed over power to Hitler and we all know how that turned out. If you know history, you'll see that every time government has had power (or money) it has been abused (or wasted). There is nothing worthwhile about bureaucracies, so we should try to keep them as limited as possible. Also, video games are NOT controlled substances. They're a form of expression, something the government has no right to regulate in any way. And NA3D, don't tell me this country isn't free. If the people behind the gay agenda had any idea of how things really were, they wouldn't be advocating for gay marriage. They would be advocating us to protect them from people who will saw their heads off for being gay Also, I agree with Darth_Tyrranus. Don't make claims unless you have facts to back them up.

Darth_Tyrranus
Darth_Tyrranus

NA3D "The majority of Americans are in favor of same sex marriage." ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Do you realize that 27 states have passed amendments defining marriage between one man and one women? Arizona is the ONLY state that has not passed this amendment after it has been proposed, and this was by a narrow margin. Why don't you do some research next time before spouting off such outrageous claims.

Mr_Saturn26
Mr_Saturn26

im for raising awareness, im for trying to encoureage stores to id people, im for stoping the selling of unrated games (hey all games should be rated for the parents to see), but serously it all comes down to the parents who buy some of these games to the kids. We shouldent punish everyone by banning violent games like some countrys, blame the irresponible parents. like a previous poster before me, if u cant raise children then dont have kids. These irresponsible parents is one of the causes of why our world is today (especially with lawsuits)

NA3D
NA3D

Wow, now this is a long way from what should have been done when video games started in the first place. If you can't handle having a kid, raising it, and keeping it from things that you dont want them exposed to, then dont have kids. During all this bull our nation started a with mortal kombat, back in the day. It has ALWAYS been the issue of parents not doing their job as a parent. So how about all the stupid law makers go beat the parents up side the head instead of complaining to the wrong person who is not really at fault. It is the parent's fault, not the game makers. If the kid got it without the parent there, it is the retailers fault. Overall, if you raise your child right, get them help when they need it, and well.... do your job as a parent. Your kid wont get up screwed up. Ofcourse in many of these cases where the child turns to a nut case, they were abused by their parents in one way or another. So the real cause was the parent. Berserk: This country isnt free. Yes, we are better than most other countries, but not all. We are not the country the founding fathers wanted it to be, or else same sex marriage wouldn't be a problem, we would be at peace with a lot more countries, and most of the people in the political scene would be no where near it. They do NOT represent their people. The majority of Americans are in favor of same sex marriage. So it is not a free country, they do not do what is best for us, nor represent what we want, and our current political structure is a joke.

AGG1
AGG1

Wow. Give them credit for being different, I guess, but this legislation will fail quickly and completely if it's anything close to what's described in the article. For the state to REQUIRE narrative content in games to be rated is the most blatant violation of the First Amendment we've seen in the last five years of anti-game legislation. Furthermore, as has been demonstrated in earlier cases, the ESRB ratings and symbols are the copyrighted property of the ESRB, and there is no way the board would allow them to be used in support of this new legislation. MrSickVisionz: Regarding your response to Berserk, you sound like a timid paternalist who would prefer to have the government decide what is and is not safe. I will assume it is your good intentions that have lead to your short-sightedness, but I am disheartened and disgusted whenever any American equates controlled substances to free speech.

sevvo73lasvegas
sevvo73lasvegas

Thank goodness! Now that we've restored order in Fallujah we can finally turn our efforts inwards and get our house in order! Oh wait. . .

Rickettsz0780
Rickettsz0780

soon they are just going to get rid of all video games damn

darkdragonmage9
darkdragonmage9

MrSickVisionz the thing is it's just one more thing the goverment has it's hand in the goverment shouldn't control everything hell they shouldn't even control themselfs that our job the usa was made to get away from totalitarianism so why are we puting up with our goverment trying to start it back up

MrSickVisionz
MrSickVisionz

Berserk, you sound like an over-caffinated liberal. Nobody is calling for a ban of violent games. All of your doomsday, "citizens, citizens, go toyour viewing screens" scenario are sliding down a slippery slope coated in cooking oil and crisco. In fact its not even a slope, its just a straight up vertical drop. The rule isn't even suggesting that parents can't buy games rated 17+ for their children. Nor is it calling for the end of all violent games. Its not even considering making a minor with possesion of a M rated game a crime. Its just saying that when a game gets a rating thats says its for 17+ year olds, retailers should honor that. Its not saying that parents can't buy violent games for their children. Actually its giving parents the right to make the choice on what they feel their children can handle. There are many laws like this, (minors can't sign legal contracts, child labor laws, minimum drinking/smoking age, etc).

darkdragonmage9
darkdragonmage9

hvac it's simple to teach kids the diffence between make believe violence and real violence all the 5 year olds i know know the difference real violence hurts make believe violence doesn't best way to teach them is to spank them when they are bad and to let them play games

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

they should just put all of this money they are spending on making up BS legislation and dump it into a teen violence class that all the states schools are required and are used to teach children the difference between make believe violence and real-world violence. This would not only help in teaching children about violence in video games, but also in other forms of media (music, movies, et cetera). Money could also go towards a brief, twice-a-semester seminar for parents to come and learn about media ratings. The legislation needs to stop and the teaching needs to begin. If all parents and children were informed, we would have less of a problem. Of course...as Chris Rock said: "What ever happend to 'Crazy'?"

limafoxtrot
limafoxtrot

I don't care so much about the non-rated games sales part, but as fro monitoring the ESRB's effectiveness - it is their job to rate a game - it is the parents job to enforce the rating with their child - just as it is with an R rated movie. To many politicians and anti-gaming groups give the parents a free pass. Its just like with movies - in fact I think games have stricter ratings - but if the parents ignore them - that is their fault.

Berserk_Gamer
Berserk_Gamer

darkdragonmage9, if you think there is nothing free about this country, you should go over and live in Iran or other countries in the Middle East where you can be stoned for adultery, or murdered if you fail to pay crippling taxes if you don't belong to the religion of the state. We're one of the freest nations in the world. We can choose what to do and think, and we won't be punished for it as long as it doesn't interfere with any other person's rights. We just shouldn't let our legislators forget that as they try and "protect" us from being hurt by "threats" such as violent video games. We didn't fight the revolutionary war so our government could take care of us, we fought it so that we could take care of ourselves, and the government COULD NOT interfere. But you're right that there's not enough people who care about this. We've gotten so used to our freedom that we take it for granted and are willing to let parts of it erode in exchange for what we view as benefits from the government. Maybe if people actually remembered that freedom isn't free, we'd be more willing to defend what we have, rather than lose it and have to fight for it all over again.

danof76
danof76

I've never been against selling violent games to minors... if they're to play them it should be their parents decision, not theirs. But to make it illegal to sell unrated games in the state? Once again, I must ask, when will these people realize it's unconstitutional? Video games don't count just major developer-publisher titles, which all have ESRB ratings anyway. Video games also account for several independent games both violent and non-violent that you'll find on your cell phone, over the internet or even on X-Box Live. This isn't even something worthy of debate because these politicians take nothing into factor about the culture or business of video games, they just see something they don't like and wage all-out war against it on a whole.

Forelli_Boy
Forelli_Boy

This - and the support it could gain - are somewhat expected given peoples' sensitivities after the Virginia shootings. Only the second one makes some sense...though I can't name any games that aren't "rated" save for perhaps the imports. And that's only if ESRB labels are considered legal. "Issues RELATED to violence in video games" actually sounds less threatening than it is though. It's sensible to make retailers properly enforce the ratings system, but it's also the parents' responsibility to keep their kids from buying them too. Maybe that's where the "Parent" part of the program comes in.

Riverwolf007
Riverwolf007

Politicians do not want young people exposed to lewdness unless they themselves are doing the exposing.

Psychlopesis
Psychlopesis

I wonder if they remember that there is an unjust war going on and that we have a war criminal as president...

Mortal_Medic
Mortal_Medic

This is pointless. Underage kids get into movies all the time, yet I have always had a parent with me while purchasing an M rated game. The problem isn't with ESRB. They are rating games in an almost unbreakable system. The real problem is with the stores who sell them to underaged kids, but the special interest groups take care of the senators looking at them... My question is who even sell "unrated" game? I have never heard of them, nor have I ever seen them. This is more hate by the poeple higher up against video games.

darkdragonmage9
darkdragonmage9

Berserk_Gamer there is nothing free about this country and it seems there isn't enough people who care to do anything about it at this point

jimbo102671
jimbo102671

As to the first provision, there's no way the ESRB's effectiveness can be properly measured when parents either don't pay attention to or don't care about the game's rating as they buy it for Junior. As to the second provision, the ESRB has only been around since 1994. Games released before then that have not since seen a re-release will likely remain unrated. As the NY politicians want to include used game sales online, it would become illegal to sell those old games to NY'ers on eBay. As to the third provision, it will likely become an unfunded mandate as all games you buy at stores today are rated. Heck, even the TV Games and Atari FlashBack units are rated. This bill is flawed in all three aspects and is a complete waste of all kinds of effort. If I lived in NY, I would certainly know who not to vote for there in '08.

halomaniac03
halomaniac03

the violence is alredy out there i think this "law" is just gonna cause more violence lol

Berserk_Gamer
Berserk_Gamer

Don't you guys get it though? Its not that keeping violent games out of kid's hand's is bad, its that the government has no right to tell us how to do it. It's not the government's right to come in and say that they have the right to legislate video games. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? How come movies aren't forced to put ratings on? They all do, but there's no law that I know of that says they will be fined if they don't. Its the same for music. CD's that have explicit content stickers on them are at the decision of the record company, not the government. If gamers like us are willing to sit down and allow the government to control video games and use them as scapegoats, we might as well ask them to install telescreens in our rooms and start advocating for INGSOC. It is sick how we can just let down and let the government control personal aspects of people's lives. The government's job is to protect us from threats, not to create advisory councils to tell us what we can and what we cannot play (and soon watch or listen to).

MrSickVisionz
MrSickVisionz

Nothing in here has a negative affect on the typical gamer, who isaged 17+. 1) Don't selll games restricted for people 17 and older to people aged 16 and younger. Makes sense. No effect on the typical gamer. 2) Every game i've played in the last like 8 years has had a ratings sticker on it. I wasn't even aware that unrated games even existed for console systems. 3) Its a measure designed to bring parents & teachers together. A big issue in my opinions are parents who expect schools to raise their children. Anything that brings parents, children, and teachers together is a good thing. Plus, your typical gamer is either in college or old enough to not be in a school where this will be taught. It has no effect on him whatsoever. Bottom line, these 3 things have zero effect on the average gamer. Only that 12 year old who's able to buy M games will be effected... and honestly he should be.

roxomega
roxomega

WhoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo! Yea! Bring it on Sukka! This my kinda of SH!T!!

hunter8man
hunter8man

Seems that N.Y. hasn't learned its lesson either. The government should not be determining what's right for our kids. Great way to spend our tax dollars instead of helping our guys in Iraq.

LessThanMike
LessThanMike

I'm so sorry new york, you have fun with all of that though really...

Salemiscool
Salemiscool

Is leaving games alone even an option? Please, just leave'em alone. Do they shoot people? Do they harm people? Do they fling children's innocence across the room like a good game of PONG? I doubt teachers even want to teach this stuff. What class would hey teach it in? Heath Class, Math, Science, Business class?

hector1313
hector1313

Isn't the ESRB's job just to make sure they rate the games properly, rather than "keeping the adult games (which are quite clearly marked already, I imagine) out of chldren's hands?" I thought it was a store's job to make sure they don't sell adult products to underage consumers... as it is a bar's job to make sure alcohol products aren't sold to underage drinkers, and a movie theatre's job to make sure underage movie-goers don't see adult movies.

SilverGuy999999
SilverGuy999999

All I have to say to this is, thank god I live in Canada :)

Junji-Hiroma
Junji-Hiroma

I think a universal Ratings system is in order.I wish the Music And Gaming Industry asked the MPAA to use and make their system universal.If we HAD a universal ratings system from the MPAA then politicians wouldn't be jumping on the ban video games wagon.

Runningflame570
Runningflame570

You all think this is bad? Get a load of J. Smith's proposed legislation about regulating the internet in Canada. Arstechnica probably explains it best, though you can find the information other places as well.

MJ22see
MJ22see

They should censure the news first. Just trying to stay informed about the world today and you'll hear about someone being shot, raped etc. every 5 minutes. And with the Virginia Tech massacre, there was just way too much detail about the massacrer. They went so far as to basically show another idiot how to pull it off somewhere else. And the news is something everybody should be listening to. But unfortunately everything seems to come down to money nowadays, whether its some company trying to improve revenue or some congressperson trying to get elected. It just makes me sick!

redgopher
redgopher

Wow, okay... what a waste of taxpayer time and money. The first measure wants to make a ratings board that simply rates games accountable for the STORE selling them to minors? That's about as useful as suing a grape farmer for selling wine to a 16 year old. The second measure is pointless due to the fact that if a developer or publisher wants to sell games at all, they HAVE to have the ESRB rate it, simply because most stores will not cary unrated games. You'd have to go into a porn shop to get an unrated game. The third measure isn't so bad... awareness is always a good thing. But honestly, I think that taxpayer money would be better spent on basic psychology classes for the senators. Games don't kill people. Psychopaths do.

white_baller86
white_baller86

The issue isn't that the politicians are trying to censor games in this legislation, they're trying to make the ESRB more than just a show. The ratings are there and they do their job, but the enforcement of the rating is basically non-existent. So I agree with this - while it might not sound that great right off the bat, I would like to see the onus put on the stores that sell the games, as well as on the parents to monitor what kids are getting into. You're a minor and you want to buy GTA 4? Convince your parents that you're mature enough to handle the content within the game, or else find another game to play. It's that simple. This isn't about limiting the rights to create great games, it's about making sure the games end up in the right hands.

Flint247
Flint247

Here is the same bull****!! Everyone is ONLY attacking Video games!! Damn, attack the music and movie industry for once instead of us!!