March 4, 2005 4:52 PM PST

More states target violent games

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Lawmakers across the country continue to propose legislation that would safeguard kids from the supposedly harmful effects of games that depict violence or are rated M for Mature by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

This week in Arkansas, state Senator Shawn Womack authored a bill that would require shops that rent or sell M-rated games to display them at a height of at least 5 feet from the floor. The bill, introduced on March 3, would allow the Arkansas Department of Public Health to fine vendors up to $500 each time they violate the law.

And three Washington State representatives--Mary Lou Dickerson, Jim McCune and Jim McDermott--have authored a bill that seeks to hold game companies accountable when minors commit violence seemingly inspired by a video game they've played.

Their bill cites the "increasingly realistic depictions of violence" in games, particularly torture and sexual assault, as well as the killing of women, people of color and police officers. "These games choreograph violence in a stylized and romanticized way that encourages children and adolescents to associate violence and killing with pleasure, entertainment, feelings of achievement and personal empowerment," the bill states.

That bill also references studies that correlate the playing of "violent" games with hostile behavior among children and adolescents, arguing that exposure to these games desensitizes young people to real-life violence, perhaps inspiring copycat activity. "Throughout the country, law enforcement officers report that offenders committing violent crimes admit that they are intentionally copying the types of violent acts they play out in video or computer games."

Recently, an Alabama family filed suit against Take-Two Interactive and others, saying the publisher's " Grand Theft Auto" games inspired a young man to kill three police officers.

Though Dickerson, McCune and McDermott's bill seeks to hold game companies partly accountable for allegedly inspiring such criminal acts, others feel it shifts the blame from where it belongs--the perpetrator. "We're removing the responsibility from the person who committed the act to somebody else who's completely removed from the situation," Washington Software Association member Lew McMurran told Seattle-area television station KOMO News.

California Assemblyman Leland Yee has authored a bill that would prevent vendors from selling or renting violent games to children under 17. Legislators in Indiana and Missouri have proposed similar bills, but courts in those states have blocked them, saying they violate the free-speech rights of game publishers. Measures are pending in other states, as well.

Beth Winegarner reported for GameSpot.

9 comments

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5 feet?
Most teenagers are at least 5 feet tall, what would this accomplish?

So it is OK to kill white men? Of course, they are forgetting, that no one gets killed in video games.

We don't need more legislation. We need more responsible parents, and lawmakers need to stay out of areas that they have no clue about.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
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are game ratings law or just a suggestion?
Are the game ratings actually backed up by any state or federal laws that prohibit vendors from selling M-rated games to minors? If not, all these parents should be suing their legislators instead of the game manufacturers. The fact that the industry implemented the ratings system at all shows that even they knew that certain games shouldn't be sold to minors (though they were happy to do so), but is there anything to actually encourage vendors not to sell them as there is for tobacco, porn or guns?

Though, I still firmly believe that any parents that bought the "offending game" should automatically have their case thrown out and be required to pay all court costs for being stupid.
Posted by DaClyde (96 comments )
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The parents are idiots
EXACTLY,
Parents who bought the game for their kids are idiots if they turn around and sue. The ESRB is the best rating system even considered better than the MPAA's rating system so if the parent is too lazy to check the back of the box but is willing to go out of their way to sue game developers and distrubutors then that is really really appauling that they should be sued and put in jail because we don't want crazy people running around are streets do we?
Posted by (5 comments )
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I remember when i tried to buy a M rated game
This was several years ago while i was in highschool. On the last day of school i WALKED! several miles to goto toys R us to buy a nintendo 64 game called "Perfect Dark" (if that game is M rated then this world is HellXXX rated)...anyway they wouldn't sell it to me...i was pissed...My exact words to the guy at the register was "You gotta be s****** me!"...then he told me that stuff how the law was being enforced and i said ok...bought the expansion pack (needed to play this game due to heavy memory needs) and left. Next day i asked my mom and she let me buy it and she said ok, because i had the money.

My little brother likes playing M rated games to...but he doesn't play them all the time if at all...he thinks "kingdom of hearts" is more fun. Seeing this behavior proves to me that some people are born more prone to violent acts then others, and although the environment they are born into affects them...it does not create their pre-disposition. Pollution, a bad gene pool, and living in a VIOLENT! world does that.

Their maybe a day when unborn children are put to death because they are likely to commit a violent act...They are already killed in some countries for having birth defects. That's what the future will be, and the people will appreciate it which is the sickest part!
Posted by FocusedWolf (24 comments )
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What about parental responsibility?
Parents are the most effective way of keeping kids away from violent games. All the game companies can do is label their content as for mature audiences, it's up to parents and stores to enforce it. Making game companies liable does nothing but punish the publication of material that's more than likely protect by the constitution. The laws aimed at making stores check the age of the person buying a mature rated game are probably going to be the most effective and reasonable solution.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
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To think...
Honestly they should at least make a law that had a effect.Parents are blaming there bad parenting on they were lied to by there kids what the M meant and the like.Well why not make it like movie ratings?You know NC-17,R,TV-14,PG13,TV-7,PG,G I mean honestly.

Now on a test of a new law in Florida that makes you get carded when buying a M rated game,I,a 15 year old in 9th grade went to several stores and bought M Rated games in each,such as GTA SA,Halo 2,Devil May Cry 3,Manhunt,The Guy Game,and Leisure Suit Larry.Out of the 15 I went to I only had been HASSLED 1 and that was at K-Mart and even without a card I got it cause the manager was there and told the guy to just give it to me when I paid in cash without showing id.I understand 5 feet alittle you know when you were a kid you'd rent a movie or something just cause the cover looked cool but its kinda stupid if there gonna pick a violent cover and be able to do these violent actions at that age,they'd get lucky if they killed someone without dieing thereselves at that age(And if they were able to they would probally have enough sense to know not to pick up a machete and maim a few cops).I've played video games since I was 4 years old and the first game I played was Mortal Combat,the thing is I can talk to my baby sisters friend and they wont talk bout video games,hell if they even really know what it is,no they talk bout Power Rangers,some believe Power Rangers KILL the "bad" guys,now with all the corny "bad" guy plots whats to say Power Rangers isnt gonna have a 7 year old pick up a kitchen knife and kill his friend cause he wont share?I could go on but theres limited subject material to go on,let's get some pro censor video games people to post there opinons and arguments. =)
Posted by (1 comment )
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My dream M-rated game...
I have an idea for a new M-rated game: In it, you hunt down all the petty tyrant legislators who propse this kind of garbage, and slaughter them all any way you like. This game would let you get creative, even going so far as to tie them to a tree in the middle of the jungle, where they would be consumed alive by fire ants.

As sick as that may sound, it should be allowable. Penalizing game makers is not only ridiculous, it's illegal. Yes, "illegal". According to what? The Constitution. A little thing we call the First Amendment. Imposing penalties for game content is a violation of free speech.

But who cares, right? After all, this is America, home of the free*.

* Offer void where prohibited. Restrictions apply.
Posted by TimeBomb (70 comments )
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I dont think the mature games are the problem
The games your talking about are not the problem. It does deeper then that its like putting tape on a leaking dam. Why are the parents buying these games for them. Thats where the problem lies in the parents. I watched that junk on 60 minutes last night 3-06-05 to see them bash the gaming industry for there pratices then why did in NYC. The city expect ads on there buses for Grand Theft Auto your saying I dont want little johnny to play these games but your not helping when little johnny sees these ads and says mommy i want that. She buys it then you blame Take Two for your own actions when you signed a contract too prmote the games on the site of buses. Listen people the games are not the problem society is the problem theres no freedom of speech to play these games anymore. I've been playing doom,castle wolfenstein since i was a teen and nothing happened theres alot worse stuff out there.
Posted by nothappy (1 comment )
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Children and violent games continued
. As a parent and avid game player myself you fail to make note that its not the Video games fault that encourage kids to kill. Society has always liked to find that bad in things and point the fingers. For years I have heard and seen some really bad stuff where video games wasnt a factor or even related to the incidents that occurred. But no matter what it was society failed to point the fingers back at themselves. The point is, It is up to the parents to make the decisions for their children, not Mr. lumpy that sits behind the desk in the fancy clothes, not you or my next door neighbor. But me if I want to expose my children to some enlightening entertainment from time to time I have every right to do so. If my child turns out to be a menace well thats nobodys fault but my own. The point is stop the ******** about the games and the movies they are put out because everyone has the freedom to choose and nobody and I mean nobody has the right or the privilege to take the right away from them, I dont care if you are the president or some form of politician. But if you are; dont you think you should be solving the things that really matter like for example global warming, or the homeless. Other then wasting our tax dollars to ***** and moan about how violent video games are affecting our children. See that there is the key word to make my point, our not yours so do something useful with you time and help out the poverty stricken communities.
Posted by Kurtisknopf (1 comment )
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