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Washington Violent Game Legislation


The Washington state legislature announced on 1 March that they will seek a bill this term to hold video game companies responsible for any violent acts perpetrated "in any part due to playing video games," according to Seattle's KOMO (with secondary reporting by Games Are Fun). We've seen similar rumblings before over the years, of course, so this is merely presumptive at this point. However, the bill is currently in committee in the Washington State House of Representatives; upon approval - which is not at all unlikely - from its committee, it will be brought to the floor of the full House for a vote. (For more, locate a torrent of that one episode of "Conjunction Junction" that everyone's heard of.)

The implications of this Washington bill are potentially far-reaching. After all, two of the big three console manufacturers/first-party developers, Microsoft and Nintendo, find their American headquarters in Redmond. Whether the presence of these juggernauts is a contributing factor to the emergence of the bill is currently and will likely be forever unknown - however, if the developers can be held responsible for the actions of the gamers who play their games, it stands to reason that those who sell the platforms on which the games are played could be next.

Video game censorship and regulation has been an issue ever since games truly broke into the forefront of the American culture, over twenty years ago. So while it's easy to say that this bill is an offshoot of the swing toward conservatism in the last election, it's hard to make that case when the bill arose in the perennially blue state of Washington. Without a easy target for the issue, then, what potential reasons are there to introduce this legislation?

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Rangers51

Comments

Del SComment 1: 2005-03-08 18:03
Del S Knee jerk reactionary moves to blame something other than the actual cause... again. Except this ones a little odd. Some slow reflexes.I'm assuming it's a backbencher putting forth a motion to make him/herself look good and get his/her name in the papers, noticed by the federal league, whatever.

The real causes are numerous: the parents who do not raise their children right, and the irresponsible parents allowing the weapons to be available easily, or the fact the person may be trying to find some excuse for thier actions, for example. It's all part of the 'lets blame the easy target!' culture that has pervaded America, and the western world, since the end of WW2. Communists, rock music, comic books, punk music,television, videogames... if you don't like it or understand it, sue it or ban it!

Nice to see nothing changes.

My main question is: why JUST videogames?

What about Hollywood, showing REAL people acting like they are horribly maimed, what about Television? Hey, what about those Cartoons? You know, the ones they made in the 50s, 60s, 70s...Why the heck has no child blew up the car trying to get it to transform into a robot?

Actually, what about the NEWS with all those reports about events really happening?

Lets hold CNN, FOX, Paramount, MGM, ABC, HBO, etc.. lets sue them!
Oh no, wait, they have an awful lot of money don't they? My mistake...

Illogical politics at its best.
MogMasterComment 2: 2005-03-08 20:26
MogMaster Let's go with- If your kid emulates Grand Theft Auto- Then he's probably a moron.

I can't think of possibly emulating anything a video game character has ever done. Personally I think it's downright retarded. Midwestern housewives need something to blame because their kids were raised by idiots though. Shoving a child in front of Jerry Falwell and Seasame Street until he's 18 and goes off to college is probably a good way to make a homocidal maniac. More so then allowing him to release in the form of torching a few cops in vice city, or fragging some people in UT.
DjibrielComment 3: 2005-03-08 21:33
Djibriel To quote: "It's not that this game will turn you into a murderous predator. It's that YOU ALREADY ARE ONE."

Here's a nice exampe of a situation that would lead to such a discussion; I'm sure I've mentioned it at CoN a few times. Also, Tiddles? This is no proof that FF VIII is Satan's game, although I know you grab any excuse you can find wink.gif

A Dutch guy is a big fan of FF VIII. Also, he's in a relationship with another guy who's also a big fan of the game. However, the father of this another guy is strongly opposed to the relationship. As a solution to this problem, the first guy dressus up like Squall, self-inflicts the famous scar on his own face with a shard of glass, and sets out to kill the father with a claw hammer. He fails. Then, it's in the newspapers, and he in trouble.

My point is, look at the example. The character Squall would have done none of these actions, so he wasn't personifying himself with the actual character (unless he thought he was, but Square did not *intend* to create this kind of character and cannot be held responsible in such a case). He just a random character he thought was kick-ass to steel himself for what he deemed necessary. FF VIII was not the trigger of the crime, it was a...mould in which it was poured in. It would have happened either way.

I think the law is unnecessary and lacking of any kind of historical knowledge. People have always been afraid of new stuff. They thought writing stuff down would be harmful to your memory. They thought reading drove you insane. They thought plays were harmful to your morale. Back when Goethe's 'Die Leider des jungen Werther' was released dozens of young males around Europe killed themselves Werther-style because they identified with his feelings.

It's in the people, man. Not in the media.
RacthohComment 4: 2005-03-08 22:18
Racthoh I guess parents don't realized what the ESRB rating on the bottom of every game nowadays means. The M on GTA for example. I hear my younger brother always talking to his friends about playing the game at school. My younger brother being 13. It doesn't take a genius to figure out a game called Grand Theft Auto is going to be unsuitable for elementary students. I put the blame on the parents who buy these games for their kids. Learn some restraint from buying the hottest new video game without first doing some research or at the very least watch your kid play the game.

Wow, my 10 year old kid just beat a hooker to death with a baseball bat. This is a great game for my kid. Seriously...

Some people are just messed up in the head in general. If someone can't separate fantasy from reality, then a video game is not the best thing to introduce to them.

But again, why just video games? Not like rap is the best place to find a solution. Think I'll kill someone and smoke some pot. Great rolemodels the youth of today have. You can't have a quiet walk around the town with someone driving by with their music blaring with their message echoing in these kids' brains. How about the schools? What are they doing to fight this issue?

Well Mr. and Mrs. Smith,Timmy drew several pictures of angels being slaughtered by men with pitchforks, he is showing a lot of promise.

Seriously, I don't understand why the rest of us should suffer because of someone else's mistake. I can tell you one thing, if I was denied video games and every other escape from my reality... I would probably go nuts. I need them to relieve myself from a hard day at school and dealing with all the morons that bug me as a cashier.

For one of my classes this year, I had to read an article called "Video Games for World Peace". I was provided a hard copy of the article in class so I don't have a link for it. It was in the globe and mail though if anyone is interesting in looking it up.
RujukenComment 5: 2005-03-09 01:23
Rujuken Del S said exatly what I think.

Such intelligent polititians we have in the US no?

They protest violent media but only certain types of violent media. 'Cause we all know that a video game with senseless violence is worse than a movie or book with senseless violence. I mean the sub-par graphics in GTA surely make it more realistic than a gorey movie.

No doubt they have the mental impression that video games are "a kid's toy". I wonder if they have even bothered to run any scientific tests to see if violent videogames actually affect children. And if they did I'd like to see them. Probably not because every video game test I've seen seems to indicate that games are good for you in one way or another. Even if they did effect children...THATS WHAT THE RATING SYSTEM IS FOR!!!...DUMBASS!!!

O well...I doubt very much they are actually doing this to try and protect america's youth. Even if they were. Kids don't need to be protected nearly as much as they need to be educated. If you be responsible with children and make sure they know the difference between fantasy and reality and make sure they take out their aggression in a healthy way you aren't going to have too many problems. But I guess its just too easy to stick them in front of the boob tube and let that raise them. I know I did more bonding with the TV than I ever will with my parents.
SilverlanceComment 6: 2005-03-09 02:29
Silverlance It's a sad day indeed when people become too stupid to accept responsability.

Anyone remember the woman who sued McDonalds because she got scalded by their coffee? Her argument was that there was no indication that the coffee was hot and that she would suffer burns if it were spilled in her lap. Well, duh. Very bright, missy. Very bright. What's really say? She won her case.

5 seconds of poking around on the internet will yield tons of similare cases. Such as the guy who won 17M (or something to that end) because he didn't know putting his winnebago in cruise and heading in the back to have a coffee was going to cause him to crash. Or the girl who threw a sprite at her boyfriend's head, slipped in the resulting puddle 5 seconds later, broke her pelvis, and sued the store because of it.

Now people are blaming video games because, hey, the ESRB rating probably has no idea what it's talking about. They can buy GTA for their kids. They're mature enough to play it, even though they're only 12. Heck every other kid plays it! Obviously the rating is wrong- oh, but wait, now Junior just used daddy's handgun to shoot grandma and steal her money. ...The game is obviously to blame. Forget the rating, it's not like it had anything to do with all this; the game was too violent for Junior! The game is wrong! Forget about the rating, it's not like it was any important, huh?

I'm reminded of a recent South Park episode where they made fun of Paris Hilton. She opened up a store called "Stupid Spoiled Whore" which basically promoted, well, spoiled whorish attitudes. The message in the episode was basically that parents should be more attentive to their children's role models and activities and should know when to put their foot down; just because everyone else is doing it, it's not a reason to make your child into a stupid spoiled whore. Or to have him/her play games they shouldn't.

...Back in my days, Tetris was cool. :/
KresinComment 7: 2005-03-09 03:36
Kresin
Moderator Edit
This entire post was useless to me due to the intense swearing. Didn't we already tell you a couple months back not to do that? -R51
The AncientComment 8: 2005-03-10 17:19
The Ancient As much as I'd like to get up in arms about the legislation, it's not something I'm particularly concerned about. I think people as a whole are more sensible than the media makes them out to be and this legislation will get batted down with ease. When it passes, I'll start to pay it some mind.

R51- Are you refering to the Schoolhouse Rock's "I'm only a Bill"? Cause "Conjuction Junction" was a different sketch entirely.

To comment on the issue, I think what needs to happen is add some weight to the ESRB ratings by holding Vendors more responsible for selling Mature games to little kids. It's what we do with movies and I think it's perfectly valid. A little awareness by the general public is always a good thing.
Glenn Magus HarveyComment 9: 2005-03-10 17:59
Glenn Magus Harvey I could rant on this for a while, but I don't truly have a well-formed opinion on the issue yet, so I'll say the following:

Quote
It's a sad day indeed when people become too stupid to accept responsibility.
(spelling corrected)

Aye.

Although I will admit to imagining what it would be like to shinespark down a long hallway at my school, shortly after finishing Metroid Zero Mission...
Rangers51Comment 10: 2005-03-10 18:11
Rangers51
Quote (The Ancient @ 10th March 2005 12:19)
R51- Are you refering to the Schoolhouse Rock's "I'm only a Bill"? Cause "Conjuction Junction" was a different sketch entirely.

Bah, yes. My bad.
Elena1999Comment 11: 2005-03-11 01:09
Elena1999 So I guess this means potentially that I can go to Washington and kill my step-mom Manhunt style, I can blame it on Rockstar? Yay! Let me pack! /sarcasm.
Dark PaladinComment 12: 2005-03-15 03:37
Dark Paladin My attitude toward censorship is that they shouldn't have to.
I like seeing an effort to get under control (whether I agree with the method is neither here nor there).

To those who ask why they don't go after other forms of media, there are a few reasons.
Those other forms are passive forms of entertainment. The consumer is more involved with what happens on screen when playing a video game. When you see someone on TV get killed, it is like you are a witness. If your character kills someone on a video game, it is like you yourself are commiting the act. Because of this, it is assumed video game violence has a greater effect than movies and televsion.
Rujukin: There are a few studies on the effect of video game violence on kids (tons on the effect of TV violence, which can be easily relateable). I did a research paper for a COM class on it, and the studies I pulled from reported an increase in aggression and shorter tempers among the group of older-elementary kids that they had play more video games than the group of kids they cut off from them.
Also, those other forms are more controlled than video games. My 8 year old brother could go into any video game store and get himself a copy of GTA. He could not get into an R-rated movie unless I bought the ticket. Television stations arrange their schedules so that the worst stuff will play when the least amount of young kids are watching, and there is the V-chip and cable box parental blocks. Don't anyone even try to say books. Books are written to the language of those they are meant for. An overly violent book will not be written for a 3rd grade reading level.

Quote (Silverlance @ 8th March 2005 21:29)
Anyone remember the woman who sued McDonalds because she got scalded by their coffee? Her argument was that there was no indication that the coffee was hot and that she would suffer burns if it were spilled in her lap. Well, duh. Very bright, missy. Very bright. What's really say? She won her case.

The McDonalds she went to had over 400 complaints about the the coffee being too hot, it was over 300 degrees, and she needed three skin grafts. When she tried to go to them about it, they were very rude to her, so she sued. She won the dollar amont that McDonalds makes from selling coffee in a single day (25 or 75 mill, don't remember which). She went back to the negotiating table after the trial and took exactly what she needed to pay medical bills.
But little details like that are meaningless, right?

Quote (Silverlance @ 8th March 2005 21:29)
5 seconds of poking around on the internet will yield tons of similare cases.

Most of which are going to be false.
Del SComment 13: 2005-03-15 21:03
Del S
Quote (Dark Paladin @ 15th March 2005 03:37)
Quote (Silverlance @ 8th March 2005 21:29)
Anyone remember the woman who sued McDonalds because she got scalded by their coffee? Her argument was that there was no indication that the coffee was hot and that she would suffer burns if it were spilled in her lap. Well, duh. Very bright, missy. Very bright. What's really say? She won her case.

The McDonalds she went to had over 400 complaints about the the coffee being too hot, it was over 300 degrees, and she needed three skin grafts. When she tried to go to them about it, they were very rude to her, so she sued. She won the dollar amont that McDonalds makes from selling coffee in a single day (25 or 75 mill, don't remember which). She went back to the negotiating table after the trial and took exactly what she needed to pay medical bills.
But little details like that are meaningless, right?

Three Hundred?! No matter what scale you use, thats physically impossible. Farenheit to celcius is around 150 degrees and Kelvin is a mere 25 degres celcius. That cannot be the actual figure.

Quote
Also, those other forms are more controlled than video games. My 8 year old brother could go into any video game store and get himself a copy of GTA. He could not get into an R-rated movie unless I bought the ticket. Television stations arrange their schedules so that the worst stuff will play when the least amount of young kids are watching, and there is the V-chip and cable box parental blocks. Don't anyone even try to say books. Books are written to the language of those they are meant for. An overly violent book will not be written for a 3rd grade reading level.

Then surely part of the solution is not to criminalise the videogames, but to control them in the ways all other forms of media are? All we need is UK law to enforce our ratings system, and the US Federal Law to introduce and control an official age rating system, with fines for any offenders parents. Parental consent would be required for any people under the age limits to own or play the games.

Of course, that might not work. It's too simple an idea for the complex legal systems of today.
AflyingWeaselComment 14: 2005-03-15 21:27
AflyingWeasel
Quote
It's a sad day indeed when people become too stupid to accept responsibility.

couldn't agree more.

Quote
Three Hundred?! No matter what scale you use, thats physically impossible. Farenheit to celcius is around 150 degrees and Kelvin is a mere 25 degres celcius. That cannot be the actual figure.


correct me if i'm wrong but i believe that water boils (at sea level) at 220 degrees F. I know for a fact that paper burns at 451 degrees F. So if they lit the coffee on fire...
DivineKnightComment 15: 2005-04-12 15:51
DivineKnight I have to agree that blaming video games for some idiot doing wrong is pretty stupid. Ever listen to eminem or 50cents? if anyone should be in trouble it should be those guys. The majority of they're music focuses on smoking weed or killing their girlfriends :s
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