Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Virtual Judiciary

From ZDNet:

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of a California law restricting violent video games, saying it violates the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte ruled late Wednesday that the state law, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October, unconstitutionally restricts minors' rights to information and granted the video game industry's request for a preliminary injunction.

Over at Wrandom Wramblings, Cap's posted this article. Click on over to his site to read his initial post.

My feelings on this are mixed, actually. As violent as video games are nowadays, most kids can't buy them without the consent of their parents. In this way, I see games as similar to R rated movies, or parental advisory music. Granted, kids can find ways around the movie rating restrictions, and music is often bought without parental knowledge, but minors aren't banned from watching R rated films, or from buying flagged music.

So, on that level, I don't understand why video games should be treated differently.

on the other hand, I resent the way that graphically violent games (some of them endorsed by the US Army) pander to the youth demographic. I believe that video game violence may not cause violence, but it does deaden your emotional response to violence. No business is moral, really, so I can't expect the gaming industry to be, either.

The real issue comes down to parenting. Maybe it's overly strict of me (and I don't believe it is), but a parent should be policing their children about this sort of thing. Your kids may not always like the rules you set, but sometimes those rules are necessary anyway.

Be parents. The government shouldn't babysit your kids. That's taking jobs away from thousands of teenage girls with a need for petty cash. Codemorse is firmly pro-babysitter.

Of course, there's the entirely separate question of whether the judge was interfering with legislation. The judge bases his opinion on the right of "Free Expression," and that seems justifiably open for debate. Is it free expression to play a video game?

Maybe there is, if it's the same kind of Free Expression that allows access, on a limited basis, to films. If that's the case, then the judge is right in his opinion. But is that the case?


At 2:41 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

I was a little succinct over on my site and wrote it in a fit of pique. I don't know if their should be laws requiring stores and theaters to enforce ratings on movie/video games or not. I do think they should be enforced though.

Too much violent/sexually explicit material falls into the hands of young people and I believe it to be detrimental. And that's just the stuff on broadcast tv.

Parents aren't doing their jobs fo sho and if someone else has to step up and do it for them I don't want it to be the gov't but who else would? Retailers are just interested in that dolla' for the most part (though I know there are stores that do refuse to sell without parental approval). There was a video store near my house that would refuse to rent R rated flicks to minors. Parents could sign a card to waive that policy. I wonder how BB handles that.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

I agree that violence in the media is a problem. But I hold us accountable for that shift. If people didn't watch it, networks wouldn't air it. If economics dictated kinder, gentler programming, that's what we'd get.

I think the demonization of the "liberal media," which releases all this violent crap, has actually helped the industry, and I think they know it. Controversy keeps them in the spotlight, and imagining them as a force that releases this stuff almost against the people's will gives us an excuse to rail against it and continue watching it at the same time.

If there's a "right" group of people to demand this law, its parents. I disagree with the idea of lawmakers deciding what's best for the people, so the only way I'll accept that there's a "legitimate" reason for this law is if parents demand it.

But if it's the parents demanding it, aren't they essentially saying that
a) They can't police their own children, or do not want to do so.
b) Can police their children, but have the desire to police other people's children by proxy?

If they are saying A, then parents are admitting that they are incapable of, or too lazy to, parent their children.

If they're saying B, then they're attempting to interfere with the parenting of other adults through the government, which seems wrong to me.

And your video store is a perfect example of how the situation should be handled. Take the regulatory power out of the hands of the government, and demand responsibility from the individual outlets. Put consumer pressure on these companies to market appropriately, and insist on approving, as a parent, the games your children play.

Is it a lot to ask? Of course. But parenting is difficult. And the government has little business interfering unless its to get funds from said video games.

Ultimately, I think that's the motivating factor behind attempts at this sort of regulation - to tap into a vast stream of revenue under the guise of governmental oversight.

None of the above is meant dismissively. Violence is a problem. I just don't think the government should be sticking its nose into this when there are non-governmental alternatives.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Of course they might be saying c) I can police my children for the most part, but given the nature of today's media it is a practical impossibility to do it "by myself".

I mean with PSP's and the like if a kid can by a rated "A" video game how will the parent ever know? Can we expect retailers to be "responsible"? I'm not saying no just I'm not sure.

At 9:17 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Any thoughts on my comic?

At 11:21 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Hi there. Is there new comic stuff up?

And to answer you, I think that "c" is a legitimate answer, too. But I still don't believe that the government has a significant interest in involving itself.

Can retailers be trusted to be "responsible"? Of course not. But if parents insist on retailers selling appropriately, and refuse to buy from them if they do not, then economics will dictate that they behave responsibly. How much are these games? Surely the kids need money to buy them? Where is that money coming from?

If they are old enough to earn that money, then I'd argue that they're old enough to buy more mature games. If they aren't, then they are getting it from their parents, no?

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Kids get "allowances" (free money from the 'rents) these days and buy whatever they want typically. I do blame the parents for that. There needs to be some accountability. In any event I don't know what can change the trend of kids having more and more access to stuff they need less and less. Since that access is difficult to control.

And I was asking if you had had any thoughts on helping me. I shot you an email through CHUD.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

My apologies. I never recieved it.
Try again, but use the private messenger function.

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Scott Roche said...



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