Games' Day in Court: Science, Violence, and the Law

A look at the debate behind the debate and what the Supreme Court's decision could mean for the future of games and beyond.

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It was more than seven years ago that California Assemblyman (now Senator) Leland Yee first introduced a proposal to ban violent game sales to minors. The fight over that proposal--signed into law in 2005 but legally contested before it could take effect--is finally ready for resolution, as the US Supreme Court is set to hand down its decision on the matter in the coming weeks.

Before the court releases its decision on Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (formerly Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association), it's worth taking a closer look at the factors that have helped fuel this fight for the better part of a decade, as well as stepping back for a look at the larger implications here for gaming in specific, and culture in general.

The case currently before the Court deals with the First Amendment and freedom of speech, specifically whether the government is allowed to limit that freedom to protect children from being exposed to violence, similar to the way it already does with sexual material. A major point in that debate has been whether or not the state can demonstrate a compelling interest in keeping violent games away from children, with both the government and the industry claiming the science supports their side.

That's a conflict beyond the one spelled out in the case title of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, one between a pair of academics who have spent their careers researching the effect violent games have on people and contradicting each other at every turn.

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The suitably imposing steps of the Supreme Court.

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Tale of the Tape

Iowa State University researcher Dr. Craig A. Anderson has been publishing research on the effects of video games since 1986. Anderson has found that violent games increase aggression (behavior intended to harm another) in children. His work has been pointed to by proponents of gaming restriction laws as evidence that their measures are necessary. In Senator Yee's amicus brief to the Supreme Court, he cited 17 articles from scientific journals; Anderson was an author on seven of them, with his previous collaborators authors on six more.

For an article published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2000, Anderson had 210 university students play either Myst or Wolfenstein 3D, completing a series of tasks after each of three sessions with the game. After the first session, participants took surveys designed to measure their hostility at that moment and perception of how dangerous the world is. Following the second session, they took a test that measured "aggressive thinking" by how quickly they were able to read aloud words deemed aggressive ("murder") versus those dealing with anxiety ("humiliated") or escape ("leave") or neutral control words ("consider").

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Wolfenstein 3D was among the first games used in research on gaming violence.

After the final play session, the students took a competitive "noise blast" test to measure aggressive behavior. The participants were told that upon prompting, they had to press a button in front of them faster than another student was able to do the same. The loser of that race would then receive a noise blast at a length and decibel level determined by the winner, which was the data used to quantify aggression. The outcome of each race, as well as the actual volume and length of the noise blast delivered, was computer-determined to ensure the win-loss pattern was the same for each participant.

Anderson found playing violent games was correlated with a short-term increase in aggression, in both the hostility survey and the noise blast test. Additionally, students who reported playing violent games regularly also engaged in more aggressive behavior, according to the study. Given the results, Anderson determined that "concern about the potentially deleterious consequences of playing violent video games is not misplaced."

Standing opposite Anderson is Texas A&M International University criminal psychologist Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson. Since 2004, Ferguson has been researching the issue (publishing articles on it since 2007) and has dismissed the notion that violent game exposure leads to violence in real life. Ferguson is a comparably popular person to cite for the Entertainment Software Association, with the trade group's own Supreme Court amicus brief citing seven research papers, four of which were authored by Ferguson.

As an example of Ferguson's research, last year he had a paper run in European Psychology in which he surveyed 103 university students who were given a test designed to increase frustration and then spent 45 minutes playing violent games (Hitman: Blood Money, Call of Duty 2), a non-violent but still action-oriented game like Madden 2007, or no game at all. The participants then took the same "noise blast" test Anderson used to determine aggressive behavior (although Ferguson tweaked the process of interpreting the data), as well as quizzes designed to measure hostility and depression.

Ferguson found no evidence that exposure to violent games changed aggression levels, or that the short-term exposure of his test impacted hostility and depression levels. However, participants who reported playing violent games regularly showed reduced hostility and depression. That led Ferguson to suggest violent games could actually help frequent players better manage their mood and tolerate stress, though he was careful to note it would be difficult to infer causality from his study.

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Weird Science

While Anderson's and Ferguson's varying conclusions have put them in conflict, the dispute goes far beyond peer-reviewed scientific literature. Anderson said one of the biggest public misconceptions about the gaming violence issue is that a disagreement exists in the scientific community at all.

"In fact, there really is no controversy among reputable scientists," Anderson told GameSpot, likening the issue to creationism or global warming. "There are certainly a few people with very loud voices who make outrageous claims that simply aren't true."

Ferguson told GameSpot that idea was "utter nonsense," saying that sort of heated rhetoric should be a red flag for observers.

"When scholars are making those kinds of comments, it's starting to get involved in identity politics and that sort of stuff," Ferguson said. "It's basically an ad hominem attack against anybody that criticized him, and Anderson's got lots of people that criticize him. That kind of comment has no place in science, quite frankly."

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At the very least, anecdotal evidence suggests disagreeing on the effects of violent games really does increase aggression in researchers.

Ad hominem attacks were specifically cited by Anderson as a tactic the gaming industry had used against him and his colleagues, but it's one he doesn't entirely shy away from himself.

"Dr. Ferguson gets his name in the paper all the time because he's willing to make outlandish remarks," Anderson said of his academic adversary. "It would be more appropriate to compare him to people like Jack Thompson in terms of outlandishness and deviation from accepted scientific practice and conclusions. You can just look at the number of high quality publications of original empirical articles. Ferguson has none on violent video game effects in what would be considered a top research, peer-reviewed journal."

Anderson's critique on publication history isn't limited to Ferguson. He teamed up with frequent collaborator Dr. Brad Bushman (currently with Ohio State University, formerly with Iowa State) to produce a study for the Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy. The study--which is under embargo until later this month despite being publicized by OSU itself--compares the publication history of academics who signed on to separate and opposing amicus briefs in the Supreme Court case. According to OSU's recap of the study, the 112 academics who signed the brief saying gaming violence was harmful to children (including Bushman and Anderson, who helped author the brief) "published over 48 times more studies in top-tier journals" than those who signed the opposing brief (like Ferguson).

"It's night and day," Anderson said of the differences between the two groups of academics. "Just claiming to be an expert, being willing to say outrageous things and get on the news does not really make one an expert, except perhaps in the age of the Internet. For the average listener, viewer, reader, or web surfer, they don't know the difference. I'm not saying there aren't some good scientists in there, but you wouldn't ask a foot surgeon's opinion about brain surgery. The Supreme Court itself needs to understand who the real experts are in this area versus who the people are who are so afraid of restricting freedom they can't believe there might be some harmful effects."

Tom Goldstein, Harvard Law School lecturer and cofounder of the Supreme Court tracking SCOTUSblog, told GameSpot Anderson's paper would be "pretty worthless" now, as the justices would have reached their decision in the case within days of November's oral arguments, with the intervening time spent writing opinions.

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Only Human

Although this sort of back-and-forth isn't always the subject of public scrutiny, Ferguson suspects pointed remarks and mudslinging are a pretty common occurrence between researchers who find themselves on opposing sides of an issue, noting that scientists are still only human. For example, Ferguson acknowledged that researchers could be drawn to trendy topics--like the fight over violent games--that bring a higher profile and more attention to those who study them.

"Being able to draw attention to your work, being part of a societal debate, of course it enhances the prestige of your own work," Ferguson said. "As opposed to studying the bacteria that live in the gut of an earthworm, studying something everyone in society is really excited about can fuel the prestige, the importance--or self-importance perhaps--of individual scholars. That's something unfortunate in some ways, because that can fuel the potential for ego to get involved and people to make extreme statements that can be difficult to back off of."

It's not just statements that can be difficult to step away from. Ferguson said it's not uncommon for academics to become invested in the theories they study the longer they use them.

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Underneath the facial hair, the HEV suits, and the crowbars, scientists are still just people after all.

"Theories do become our little babies, and it's very easy to shift from a position in which you are trying to objectively study a theory and perhaps falsify it--which is what science is supposed to try to do--to more of a defensive position where you're trying to protect your theory from any and all contradictions in the data. It's human nature. You have the people who've invested 20 or 30 years in a particular theoretical position begin to defend it, even against the data. It usually takes a newer crop of scientists who aren't really invested in that theory to come along and challenge it, and that's where you see a paradigm change."

However, Ferguson acknowledged that he could be seen as having a different--and in some ways more personal--investment in the topic than Anderson. For one, Ferguson said challenging Anderson's "clearly irresponsible" public comments about the impact of media violence was what prompted him to get into game research in the first place. On top of that, he's had a lifelong interest in morbid subjects, which initially led him to enter the field of psychology.

"There's that old stereotype about psychology majors getting into psychology because they want to find out what's wrong with themselves, but there's also that subset of people that really just like Silence of the Lambs," Ferguson said. "I probably fit more into that category, being interested in serial murder, mass murder and that kind of stuff. I was just curious about what got people involved in those kinds of activities."

Despite their jabs, there is one point upon which Anderson and Ferguson would likely agree. In an ideal world, the scientist should take a backseat to the science.

"A good scientist has to be willing to go wherever the data go," Anderson said. "I would rather the truth was that violent video games were not only not harmful, but somehow good for you. I would rather the catharsis hypothesis [that games actually vent aggression] was correct. And if I could show that was true, boy would that be a coup. But it's not true."

"All of us scientists are humans," Ferguson said. "We're all to some extent informed by our pre-existing ideas of how the world works. It's not unique to video game research. I think that the cautionary note to the people in the general public is to not believe the scientists; don't take us at our word. Go look at the data. If what people come out of this with is a skepticism for both sides, that's great."

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Place Your Bets

While the fight over California's violent game restriction does have significant implications, it may not be the most important First Amendment case this year. In March, the court sided with members of the Westboro Baptist Church in a dispute over whether they could legally protest soldiers' funerals as a way to express their belief that God hates the US because of its tolerance for homosexuals. The court ruled 8-1 that even "particularly hurtful" speech was still afforded full First Amendment protection.

Last year, the court had the same 8-1 majority siding with a man who sold videos of pit bulls engaged in dogfights, saying the law he was indicted under was an overly broad restriction of the man's First Amendment rights. In both cases, Justice Samuel Alito was the lone dissenting opinion.

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Titles like Postal 2 have provided politicians with plenty of fodder for the fight against gaming violence.

Having argued nearly two dozen cases before the Supreme Court himself, Goldstein should have a fairly developed sense of how cases play out. But even with the court upholding the First Amendment rights of such unsympathetic parties as the aforementioned two, he said the case isn't a slam dunk.

"There's some chance [for a ruling against the game industry]," Goldstein said. "This Court has been very protective of children. [But] it looks like the court will probably say that violence is not like sex, that there are voluntary systems in place here that do the job well enough, and that the state didn't have any actual evidence that video games will cause children real harm, but it's not out of the question."

As for how the Justices are expected to accurately assess rival bodies of science at the heart of a heated debate that researchers have been studying for decades, Goldstein brushed aside concerns.

"It's the system we have," Goldstein said. "It works pretty well. It's true that they don't have real experience in the area. It'd be surprising if they played much in the way of video games and their children are all grown, so this is generationally distant from them. But they're very experienced at adapting to new circumstances and getting lots of input and lots and lots of briefs. This isn't a case where I worry they'll miss the boat. They seem to have a very solid handle of what's going on."

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The Fallout

So what's really at stake here? Given that a Federal Trade Commission secret shopper survey recently found that children were able to purchase games rated M for Mature only 13 percent of the time, would it make that big a difference if the government simply enforced policies most retailers already have? Entertainment Software Association CEO Michael Gallagher certainly believes so.

"It would be a devastating blow to the First Amendment," Gallagher told GameSpot. "It would be a very significant setback to the rights of freedom of expression for artists and those who practice expression in a high level and professional way. It would be starting down the road of censorship, which is completely inconsistent with the American history with speech thus far and our nation's commitment to freedom of speech…It would be an abdication of those rights and those strengths as a country to the nanny state and to government authority."

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The Supreme Court's decision could point the way forward for additional violent game restrictions.

"If California wins, then a lot of states would adopt these laws," Goldstein predicted. "They'd be very popular. It's very easy to point a finger at some extreme examples in gaming and make political hay out of them. In a lot of parts of the country, there's a trend toward conservatism, and it does seem to override libertarianism, which would let parents handle the problems themselves. There's a sense, particularly with the Internet, that the parents need more help."

Unless the justices specifically limit such a ruling to games, Goldstein cautioned that movies, comics, and even books could be the target of violent content restrictions in the future.

"Absolutely the Court's decision [could] spawn many little children and other legal disputes that last for decades," Goldstein said. "There's every reason to believe that the Court's decision, if not written in a particular way, would be very consequential. If the basic point is that states can help parents with their children and doesn't need evidentiary basis to do that, if you believe that, then you probably are pretty comfortable with movie restriction."

While Gallagher is confident that the ESA made its case abundantly clear, he acknowledged that going before the Supreme Court is risky for any industry or business and is something he would have been happy to avoid.

"It's an environment where nine individuals--or a majority of nine individuals--can determine the fate of your industry or your business, so it's not a calculated strategy in most circumstances," Gallagher said.

One factor that might mitigate that risk somewhat is the relative maturity of the industry. Had this fight come much earlier, video gaming's cultural footprint would have been much smaller, and possibly easier to marginalize. Gaming is nearly ubiquitous in American culture now, as Gallagher is only too happy to rattle off the various stats: the average gamer is 34 years old and has been playing for 12 years; the average game purchaser is nearly 40; consoles are in two-thirds of American homes; virtually every consumer device with a screen has become a gaming platform.

"That breadth of penetration into the cultural consciousness of our country is a very different backdrop for the argument and a demonstration of the real value of the speech that goes on in our industry," Gallagher said. "If you look at the cultural environment in the '80s, it was very hostile to numerous components of freedom of speech. If you look back on arguments of the time, it was a much more closed prevailing mind-set relative to content. And that would obviously be a very difficult environment for us to be having this argument. Not that those elements don't exist at all today, but they're not as controlling as they were in the '80s."

Goldstein agreed that the industry is in better shape to come out on top now than it would have been in decades past, saying there used to be more widespread concern about the influence objectionable song lyrics and games had on children.

"We've become acclimatized, and Call of Duty doesn't seem to have sent kids off on shooting sprees," Goldstein said. "I think that the longer games have been around and there doesn't seem to be any actual effect on kids that's negative, then there will be more literature and more proof that it's not a problem. Then the concerns will seem more like hysteria than reality."

Ferguson said it's "inevitable" that people will come to the conclusion that games aren't harmful, but argued the Supreme Court case will determine how quickly that happens, comparing it to Groundhog Day.

"It's just a matter of how long it'll take. If the Supreme Court sees its shadow and decides to uphold the California law, we'll have six more weeks of winter, basically," Ferguson said.

By the same token, Ferguson's and Anderson's antagonism may also be coming to an end soon. A quarter century after he first published a paper on the effects of playing "aggressive" games, Anderson said he's about ready to move on.

"I've already spent more research time on the violent video game topic than I usually spend on any one topic," Anderson said. "And all of the major professional societies related to children's health (such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association) have reviewed the work of hundreds of media violence scholars around the world and have come to the same conclusions as my research team and my professional colleagues. I'm happy to move on to other interesting research questions regardless of what the Supreme Court decides about the California Law."

Supreme Court decisions for each term are typically published by the end of June. The court ordinarily releases new decisions on Mondays, with no forewarning about which cases will be included each week. With dozens of cases left to settle in the coming weeks, Goldstein expects that the court will soon switch to releasing decisions twice a week.

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Avatar image for Lord_Python1049

This article should be front page AGAIN

Avatar image for Cybrian

Governmental oversight of exposure to violence in video games would carry much more weight if governments were less willing to endorse violence when it suits their own agenda.

Avatar image for Unfallen_Satan

I know it's been a while since this article was published (I just followed a link to it today), but I want to thank Brendan (way to let the facts and the interviewees do the talking. Bravo!) and Gamespot for a great article. It's rare for a piece of this length and depth to appear on a gaming site, especially on a topic that's pretty far removed from the usual daily affairs of us gamers. However, before we were gamers, we were first citizens of this country or at least of this Earth. We cannot forget that what we do as gamers have tangible effects on the greater society around us, and just as important, events in that society do substantially impact our gaming. The biggest stones in the pond might be thrown by people whom we dismiss as not knowing the first thing about games. With that in mind, I thank the writer and Gamespot once again for bringing this issue and others like it to our attention. And I hope all gamers remain conscious of social welfare and exercise the rights we are granted to make our voices heard.

Avatar image for Dradeeus

I'm actually slightly on the side of regulating sale of mature games to children. But I think the anti-video game "experts" naturally grate on gamer's brains, due to their lack of knowledge on the topic they claim expertise, and often-used strawmen they often develop.

Avatar image for WackedWilly

It's disappointing to me to see that our government actually cares this much about violent video games. The only thing that will come out of this is more kids getting involved in drinking, drugs, gangs, and whole load of crap. It's funny because some of the biggest dumb asses on this website (including myself) even understand violent video games are a way for kids to occupy themselves.

Avatar image for sasa_furian

enough everyone this is totally bull$#$#.Nothing is wrong with the rating system or the law.The only thing needs to be done maybe a lil bit of publicity regarding responsability on self or the parents of the kid.Ok if ur 10 and ur goin with ur parents in a shop to buy u a game..check the friggin rating if its for everyone or mature ..or etc and comply to it and that's all.And if ur over 18 or 21. Just play whatever game ! no need for further discussion! it's a waste of time and money of what they're trying to do here.

Avatar image for tennaj46

He probably got tired of getting his ass kicked on Call Of Duty :]

Avatar image for s4sutler100

I like the idea of a newer game rating system, you would have to be at least 18 to play this game. I don't like the censorship part. They should adopt the rating system that Europe has. You have to be carded to play the game.

Avatar image for random515

Really interesting article, Brendan. Perhaps the Supreme Court should restrict exposure to research on violent games, as judging by Anderson and Ferguson's comments (and the comments section) that seems to inspire a much greater level of aggression that playing violent games ever has.

Avatar image for Mysterieux936

Anderson's a moron. I, and every other gamer I've ever known, has seen violent video games as a stress reliever. I can't count the times I was in a blind fury, put on a violent game, and felt better after turning it off. Anecdotal evidence aside, I have to go with the obvious fact that AGGRESSION IN HUMANS IS NOTHING NEW. Used to be that if a law passed that people didn't like, they'd take to the streets raping and lynching. Do you really think we've evolved beyond that in less than a few hundred years? We're still the same exact species with the same exact minds. And guess what? More aggressive people are more attracted to more aggressive entertainment. Ever hear the phrase 'Correlation does not equal causation'? For Anderson to compare his opponents to creationists or global warming deniers is just irony in its purest.

Avatar image for spoonybard-hahs

@ whothewu What the hell are you talking about? Tipper Gore? That woman hasn't been relevant to anything concerning politics in the last fifteen years. As for California being a red state, may I remind you, this is the same state that passed, and then revoked, Gay marriage rights. If anything, California is politically schizophrenic. It's also worth pointing out that this bill is being supported by Republicans AND Democrats. And sorry, but you missed the entire point of what's going on. This is a freedom of speech issue, not property rights. The government does have the right to determine what does and doesn't require a card (read: MINIMUM AGE) on goods and services. The government has tried this before, with films and comic books. And even back during the 16-bit wars. And what has always happened is that a self-censoring body of the industry had been created (MPAA, Comics Code Authority, and the ESRB), which the government had always been fine with. The is a freedom of speech issue because a system like what this bill proposes is already in place, and would require an entirely new method of rating video games.

Avatar image for spoonybard-hahs

@ Daragon2007 Schwarzenegger isn't governor anymore, so I have no idea what you're saying he'd be returning to.

Avatar image for majin_lebeau

I wish they could just let the people who actually purchase these games have say. Like all of us, the millions of us, just bombard them with the truth. "I have never a committed crime because I play video games." This is the sad truth about us gamers, we all know that it is just a game, the people who do not play them don't understand that.

Avatar image for DCSchark

I just have to say this: Look at the picture of the Supreme Court. Now, look to the right. :P

Avatar image for foxfacer2d2

yeah, the media is a lie. TV is a lie

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It is a load of bollocks that violent media cause violent reactions in people. The real world is what causes violent reactions in people. In the news (where I live at least, South Africa) we are constantly bombarded with crimes that have happened, so our viewpoint of the world around us changes, we become defensive, untrusting because the news said that someone's neighbour killed him over a cell phone or something ridiculous like that, not because I kill a thousand people in a video game. If the news started reporting on the good things that are happening around us our outlook would change accordingly. It is just that simple. I am not implying that when you are young that you are not suggestable, you probably are. Although I have been playing video games all my life and have had no willingness to hurt my fellow man because of it. Am I that different from everyone else. I don't think so.

Avatar image for Neyska

Violence in literature has been around longer than most of us have been alive. Violence in movies has been around for a long time as well. Games are no different. If their fears that violence in media caused violence in reality were founded, most of us would have died in violent crimes by now.

Avatar image for mario-nin-freak

I understand their concern, and I agree that games can cause some people to become more violent. But it shouldn't be only about violence, they need to consider ANYTHING that makes a game M rated. They should treat it like they do movies, only a little more(since it's interactive and easier for kids to get ahold of). But, the law really isn't made right and needs re-done.

Avatar image for Daragon2007

I just hope that this law wouldn't apply right before PSN gets back up, then I will assure you Schwarzenegger and the rest wouldn't be back.

Avatar image for Daragon2007

Games don't cause violence if you are aware that it's just a game. And videogames are the only places that I can shoot my "friends" without getting screwed by the police. I don't think people who play mario would believe they'll grow bigger by eating a mushroom if they thought it was just a game. And if I can't play violent games, then social services, take me away! (after a fight of course) I can find way more things to ban then violent games that the goverment allows.

Avatar image for evilbanana7

if video games did cause violence then shouldn't america be a wasteland by now

Avatar image for whothewu

@spoonybard-hahs Tipper Gore is well known to be a staunch Republican, right? Also, California is a deep red state, right? Oh wait... Personally, I think this is a case where private property rights should be the focus. A place of business should decide whether or not to "card" customers buying M-rated games, not the government.

Avatar image for spoonybard-hahs

@ ptown58 First, Schwarzenegger isn't governor any more, so no, he can't sign anything into law. Second, you seem to be completely unaware of the hypocrisy that is the Republican party (there is no such thing as the Tea Party). They want less government involvement in American's lives, but want to pass laws that make sure they are in as much control as possible.

Avatar image for spoonybard-hahs

A mighty fine slippery-slope. If the Supreme Court upholds the decision, it won't be long before other states adopt these laws (several have already tried passing their own). But it won't end there. It will snowball into print, television, film, and the internet. The thing that sickens me the most is the "science" involved. The studies detailed in this article deal only with university students, not actual children. Not only that, these studies can be taken out of video games and put into any other sort of activity and will practically get the same kind of results. Plus, anti-games critics have changed their arguments constantly since the '80s. First it was it turns kids into anti-social creeps. Then it was they grew up to be murderers or rapists. Now it's "violent games has an immediate effect on kids."

Avatar image for Apathetic_Prick

This is totally unnecessary, given that the video games industry regulates itself far better than the film industry. Furthermore, the North American video game industry ratings system has no agenda, which is why the rating justifications of one game don't differ wildly from another of the same stripe. I think if there should be a law set against something that needs rating, they need to go after Hollywood, and make them follow the same practices as the North American video game industry. The ESRB is by far one of the best ratings panels in the world due to not only its objectivity, but its volunteer panels. If anything, this is most likely a backdoor attempt for the MPAA to attack the video games industry because it's eclipsing hollywood.

Avatar image for land_of_tears

I live in Ireland and I'm 20 so this doesn't affect me but I will lend my support to the pro video games side because I've been playing violent games since I was 7 or 8. Abes Oddysee, GTA and now I still play them the likes of Fallout etc... and I've never assaulted anyone or even attempted or even wanted to assault anyone. Never been in a fight in my whole life(besides schoolyard scraps) so I turned out fine. I don't think you can blame games for promoting violence in individuals because people who cite games as what drove them to violence are more than likely already violently inclined people anyway.

Avatar image for cheater87

@ shnull it will be only California for now. Then more states will adopt anti free speech in video game laws. Soon America would have censorship that would be the same as or rival that of Germany/Australia. Violent games could be outlawed or government censored by each state. Laws could be passed banning blood and gore in games, making it illegal for minors or even adults to possibly have these games. Video games would have no freedom at all in the US. If this passes violent games won't be made anymore. Only happy family friendly games and casual games. They would be a thing of the past. Maybe a violent video game black market will emerge and boot runners will be going around like in the days of prohibition.

Avatar image for shnull

Lol, how to detect you're on an American site ? : "some words in your post were automatically censored" because they make baby jesus cry ?

Avatar image for shnull

Some bits i don't get still? Is this about California only or about the whole of the U.S. ? Will it ban violence in games all together or just enforce what retail already does (as the article states) for minors ? It's complete and utter bullsh*t and a waste of time and money either way. It does look like it turned into a clash of ego's somehow. I find myself more agressive after 8 hours of labour or even after watching political news for about 30 minutes so why not ban work and politics while they're at it? Another generation M -thing i guess. It's normal for people to fear what they don't understand so internet and video games must be a work of the devil since they're mostly intelligently designed ??!?

Avatar image for ptown58

The Tea Party must be outraged about this .... ha ha ha ha ha (govt telling us what to do and all)

Avatar image for ptown58

Since the Terminator is a lying pos wouldn't that void him signing this law ? ha ha ha ha

Avatar image for ptown58

Liberty = Freedom from Govt control and/or coercion.Doing the pledge of allegiance goes against liberty and so does telling people what video games to play or not to play...stay out of Americans homes.

Avatar image for soulless4now

Califonia is still in a budget crisis and they're still thinking about this game law, seriously?

Avatar image for cheater87

@ spKeeper20 games would be found to be too violent slapped with an adult rating and stores will not sell them because its the same as an AO rating also consoles won't allow the games on their system. So adults would be banned as well from playing violent games. All in the name of "protecting the childrens".

Avatar image for cheater87

@ EliOli How many AO games are allowed to be released...oh wait NONE AT ALL. Since NO store will sell them and NO CONSOLE will allow them. This would make M and T games AO in a way and BAN THEM FROM SALE TO EVERYONE OF ADULT AGE!!!!

Avatar image for SoreBastard

In other news 89 are dead from a tornado in Missouri. No word whether or not there will be a ban on tornado's.

Avatar image for alexLmx6

@Ragnawind - There are actually no laws restricting sales, what you are experiencing is the industry self regulating itself, and doing a really excellent job of it.

Avatar image for tsunami2311

the government has better things to do then this.

Avatar image for mr_gibberish

LOL I remember being in a store once where a lady went up to the store assistant and asked him if this 18 rated game was entertaining enough for her 8 year old son who was standing right there beside her. These kind of peeps are the ones then complaining about violence and all that! Some people just don't think. You don't just walk blindly into a movie screening of some horror film going, "I hate all horror movies!" then walk out thinking I am going to sue that producer for making such a shocking film!!

Avatar image for bryan9247

screw the ersb

Avatar image for Fayt1986

this law will do nothing since its the parents that normaly buy children adult games...... a bad moment of this was when a mum got L.A noire and then handed it to a young boy who was with her. i also dont believe mature games would turn a nice person bad.....

Avatar image for Ragnawind

@X-7: There are already laws in most states at least that make it a requirement to have an ID confirming that you are over 17, so that you can purchase a Rated M game, which I last n=knew to be ages 17+. Every time I buy a Rated M game, I have to have my ID, when in a store, at least. They can't really confirm your age online, though. Also, violence and sexual material in media do NOT do what people claim it does. Most people that I have known to gone violent, at least, did it on their own without prior contact with violence in the media. Most of the time, if not all, it is brought on by what you see in public when you are younger. For Example, if your parents fight when you are younger, there is a higher probability of the child becoming violent as they grow up. There is no real solid evidence that media impacts violent behavior.

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@keech Did you read the law? I did. It doesn't say anything about limiting free speech, in fact it goes to great length to avoid impinging free speech. What it DOES say is that any vendor who sells a video game to an underage consumer is subject to a fine. Period. No part of the law tells developers to censor themselves. The developers, and not the government, are the ones saying that they'll have to censor THEMSELVES, but heres the thing: They don't have to. They can continue to develop the games that they want to and let the middleman assume the responsibility for any 'wrongful' distribution. Unless, of course, the developers and publishers are thinking, "We're counting on the twelve to sixteen year-old demographic to help us meet our bottom-line, so even though the game is rated M we know they'll be able to buy it." But that's a far cry from government censorship. In fact it's an affront to the ESRB. I may not be able to change your mind on this matter, and I can live with that. I just hope that I was at least able to illustrate that it's the developers and not the government that will be doing the censoring.

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Honestly I think that this law should pass as well as laws for other forms of media including comics, literature, and movies. I think all forms of media should have a "reccomended" age stamped on them and that anything rated 18+ (or M for games) should not be sold to minors. However, if a parent deems their child mature enough then they can buy the said piece of media for their child. But, if a store sells a said piece of media then the store should face hefty fines. Now, do I belive that all violent and sexually explicit media turns people into sociopaths. Not necessarily. Most people will be fine and this will do very little in the way of damage in sales but could POTENTIALLY keep a vulnerable child from obtaining media that may set them off.

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I hope that this does not kill or seriously hurt the gaming industry. My current job will be impacted as well as my future job that i am seeking. I have written a paper for my Law class in College about this case i hope this turns out for the best.

Avatar image for cokey78

@TheLamaKnows Beautiful point.

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Avatar image for cokey78

The government is controlling everything now.... It's actually kind of getting ridiculous. The fact that they can take the away the right to buy a video game that's m rated from a little kid is disgusting. I don't care how old they are, how are the aloud to say what we can and cant play or watch. Forget that. First it's with adult material(I'm not saying that kids should be watching it, i'm just saying they have the right to.), then kids cant watch R movies, and now... Play M games. What a great place this is!

Avatar image for calebcop

@psycho75 That's why they don't want people playing violent video games! LOL. But seriously. You're not helping them to see that people who play violent games aren't violent. The way you're acting is helping their case.