The Future of Video Games in the Courts and Visions of an Apocalyptic Alternate Universe

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patrickklepek

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Edited By patrickklepek

The U.S. Supreme Court decided to protect video games. This decision was largely expected, as this Supreme Court has become known for being stalwarts of the First Amendment. Mess with it, mess with them. In the case of California's case for violent video games, the court said no.

But what if everybody was wrong? Was there a backup plan?

"Ha!" is not the response I would have expected, but that's exactly what Entertainment Consumer Association president Hal Halpin told me, just hours after the court made its decision public.

"Well, if there was a plan--from the perspective of all of the orgs [organizations] and entities involved on the EMA [Entertainment Merchants Association] side of the case--I wasn’t aware of it!" he said. "But seriously, I’m not sure how one could plan for that contingency. That alternative would be so horrific that it’s difficult to wrap your head around the more you consider the potential negative consequences..."

If you're someone who was afraid one version of Monday's outcome would result in the possible collapse of creative freedom in game development, you have Halpin and his group to thank. Halpin and the ECA are gaming's public defenders, men and women fighting for industry rights.

You could tell the tension was thick, based on Halpin's nervous tweets prior to the decision. And though the conventional wisdom suggested a decision in favor of games, he was surprised.

Above: an artist's depiction of government legislators fighting off armies of angered game fans.
Above: an artist's depiction of government legislators fighting off armies of angered game fans.
== TEASER ==

"I was certainly blown away," he said. "I don’t think that even the most optimistic of us expected a 7-2 decision. It was also worrying that it was taking so long to hear back from the Court, so the timing too was surprising."

California state senator Leland Yee was the chief architect of the California bill. Lee held a press conference in San Francisco, revealing his disappointment in the decision. In the decision itself, however, was a silver living for Yee. Justice Alito didn't vote against the industry, but did not agree with the majority opinion and even outlined, in broad strokes, a path to a new bill.

"I would hold only that the particular law at issue here fails to provide the clear notice that the Constitution requires," said Alito. "I would not squelch legislative efforts to deal with what is perceived by some to be a significant and developing social problem. If differently framed statutes are enacted by the States or by the Federal Government, we can consider the constitutionality of those laws when cases challenging them are presented to us."

Yee said he'd be looking down this new path, but when I asked his office whether there was a timeline on a revised bill, Yee's chief of staff, Adam Keigman, responded with a flat: "no."

It's key, Texas lawyer and self-professed video game fan Jerry Hall told me, that Alito voiced his opinion and was not the "court opinion." There would have been less cause for celebration.

The original Mortal Kombat was one of the games responsible for the ESRB's formation in the 90s.
The original Mortal Kombat was one of the games responsible for the ESRB's formation in the 90s.

"We'd probably see several more states trying to craft laws in keeping with the logic used in his opinion," said Hall. "On the other hand, if the law had been declared constitutional, there wouldn't be a lot the industry could do to challenge the law through the courts, and we'd be staring at some terrible precedent for future cases."

Hall brings up a question that Halpin dodged: if things went sour, what options did games have to fight back?

"The best option would be trying to convince lawmakers to change the law in question, because the courts wouldn't be able to do anything to change it if it were declared constitutional," he said. "Lawmakers could always repeal it if they wanted to do so, but they wouldn't be forced to do it--and the landscape of the First Amendment would be a lot murkier, depending on the logic they used to uphold Yee's law. "

Basically, it'd be hard as hell.

Though Alito provided a ray of sunlight to Yee and his supporters, convincing the public that it makes sense to spend taxpayer money, especially in today's political climate, would be tough.

"It does more than leave the door open there," admitted Halpin. "And absolutely that’s the concern. Just a few years ago, we had legislative terms where we were battling over 100 anti-games/anti-gamer pieces of legislation and that is not something that we’d want to revisit. That said, I believe that this decision makes it very prohibitive for politicians to rationalize spending the public’s money on substantially similar efforts going forward."

This won't be the end of the fight, but it's an important victory. For now, its supporters can rest easy. The fight was expected to go their way, but crazier things have happened. Maybe it didn't, and in some alternate world, we're headed towards a future with creatively gimped games.

But, hey, that didn't happen.

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patrickklepek

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#1  Edited By patrickklepek

The U.S. Supreme Court decided to protect video games. This decision was largely expected, as this Supreme Court has become known for being stalwarts of the First Amendment. Mess with it, mess with them. In the case of California's case for violent video games, the court said no.

But what if everybody was wrong? Was there a backup plan?

"Ha!" is not the response I would have expected, but that's exactly what Entertainment Consumer Association president Hal Halpin told me, just hours after the court made its decision public.

"Well, if there was a plan--from the perspective of all of the orgs [organizations] and entities involved on the EMA [Entertainment Merchants Association] side of the case--I wasn’t aware of it!" he said. "But seriously, I’m not sure how one could plan for that contingency. That alternative would be so horrific that it’s difficult to wrap your head around the more you consider the potential negative consequences..."

If you're someone who was afraid one version of Monday's outcome would result in the possible collapse of creative freedom in game development, you have Halpin and his group to thank. Halpin and the ECA are gaming's public defenders, men and women fighting for industry rights.

You could tell the tension was thick, based on Halpin's nervous tweets prior to the decision. And though the conventional wisdom suggested a decision in favor of games, he was surprised.

Above: an artist's depiction of government legislators fighting off armies of angered game fans.
Above: an artist's depiction of government legislators fighting off armies of angered game fans.
== TEASER ==

"I was certainly blown away," he said. "I don’t think that even the most optimistic of us expected a 7-2 decision. It was also worrying that it was taking so long to hear back from the Court, so the timing too was surprising."

California state senator Leland Yee was the chief architect of the California bill. Lee held a press conference in San Francisco, revealing his disappointment in the decision. In the decision itself, however, was a silver living for Yee. Justice Alito didn't vote against the industry, but did not agree with the majority opinion and even outlined, in broad strokes, a path to a new bill.

"I would hold only that the particular law at issue here fails to provide the clear notice that the Constitution requires," said Alito. "I would not squelch legislative efforts to deal with what is perceived by some to be a significant and developing social problem. If differently framed statutes are enacted by the States or by the Federal Government, we can consider the constitutionality of those laws when cases challenging them are presented to us."

Yee said he'd be looking down this new path, but when I asked his office whether there was a timeline on a revised bill, Yee's chief of staff, Adam Keigman, responded with a flat: "no."

It's key, Texas lawyer and self-professed video game fan Jerry Hall told me, that Alito voiced his opinion and was not the "court opinion." There would have been less cause for celebration.

The original Mortal Kombat was one of the games responsible for the ESRB's formation in the 90s.
The original Mortal Kombat was one of the games responsible for the ESRB's formation in the 90s.

"We'd probably see several more states trying to craft laws in keeping with the logic used in his opinion," said Hall. "On the other hand, if the law had been declared constitutional, there wouldn't be a lot the industry could do to challenge the law through the courts, and we'd be staring at some terrible precedent for future cases."

Hall brings up a question that Halpin dodged: if things went sour, what options did games have to fight back?

"The best option would be trying to convince lawmakers to change the law in question, because the courts wouldn't be able to do anything to change it if it were declared constitutional," he said. "Lawmakers could always repeal it if they wanted to do so, but they wouldn't be forced to do it--and the landscape of the First Amendment would be a lot murkier, depending on the logic they used to uphold Yee's law. "

Basically, it'd be hard as hell.

Though Alito provided a ray of sunlight to Yee and his supporters, convincing the public that it makes sense to spend taxpayer money, especially in today's political climate, would be tough.

"It does more than leave the door open there," admitted Halpin. "And absolutely that’s the concern. Just a few years ago, we had legislative terms where we were battling over 100 anti-games/anti-gamer pieces of legislation and that is not something that we’d want to revisit. That said, I believe that this decision makes it very prohibitive for politicians to rationalize spending the public’s money on substantially similar efforts going forward."

This won't be the end of the fight, but it's an important victory. For now, its supporters can rest easy. The fight was expected to go their way, but crazier things have happened. Maybe it didn't, and in some alternate world, we're headed towards a future with creatively gimped games.

But, hey, that didn't happen.

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TheGTAvaccine

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#2  Edited By TheGTAvaccine

I don't even want to think about it.

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winsord

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#3  Edited By winsord

The ECA will continue to be defeat the opposers, time and time again!

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Seedofpower

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#4  Edited By Seedofpower

Meh, we will be fine.

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televisionomy

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#5  Edited By televisionomy

God, I'm with TheGTAvaccine.

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CastroCasper

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#6  Edited By CastroCasper

YOU GOTTA FIGHT! (DUHN DUHN)

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StormTrooper

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#7  Edited By StormTrooper

@Winsord: um... what?

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darkjester74

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#8  Edited By darkjester74

Does anyone else think that Steam's front page today is bananas?  I mean I'd kind of expect that on the news page or an RSS feed, not on the store's front page.

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BladeOfCreation

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#9  Edited By BladeOfCreation

Haha, I love the caption on the FO3 screenshot!
 
Also, I think Patrick's reporting on this case has been quite good so far; it has definitely been timely.  I checked a couple of other websites when the story broke yesterday, and I think Giant Bomb may have been the first to gaming site to post it.

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kerse

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#10  Edited By kerse

They can't get to you as long as you guys stay in your trenches!

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BladeOfCreation

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#11  Edited By BladeOfCreation
@darkjester74: Yeah, I think it's awesome.  If you click on it, it links you to a PDF of the full Court decision.
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kamiboy

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#12  Edited By kamiboy

For what its worth if things had gone the other way I at the very least would have been smilingly played my fiddle while watching the western market burn. But then how it would really play out would prolly not have been as dramatic as people make it out to be.

But, hey, one day, gods willing, I'll get to play that fiddle while basking in the glow of the ensuing inferno.

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comradecrash

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#13  Edited By comradecrash

California state senator Leland Yee really has thing against them if he is planning on continuing to bring up the case. I just hope he finds something else to use for reelection votes...

Good work Pat This was very interesting.

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darkjester74

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#14  Edited By darkjester74
@Nate_is_my_fake_name said:
Haha, I love the caption on the FO3 screenshot!  Also, I think Patrick's reporting on this case has been quite good so far; it has definitely been timely.  I checked a couple of other websites when the story broke yesterday, and I think Giant Bomb may have been the first to gaming site to post it.
Agreed, Patrick is an outstanding addition to the team!
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darkjester74

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#15  Edited By darkjester74
@Nate_is_my_fake_name said:
@darkjester74: Yeah, I think it's awesome.  If you click on it, it links you to a PDF of the full Court decision.
Cool!  Yeah I think its awesome of Valve showing their support like that!
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BonOrbitz

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#16  Edited By BonOrbitz

Maybe it didn't, and in some alternate world, we're headed towards a future with creatively gimped games. 

In some alternate world, that future is already present because of Jack Thompson's victories.

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MooseyMcMan

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#17  Edited By MooseyMcMan

Good work as always, Mr. Klepek.  
 
And I'm still waiting for the day when the majority of politicians played games as children, because then this nonsense will (probably) stop. But that's still a long ways off. 

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davidjohnkeen

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#18  Edited By davidjohnkeen

All is well, thank god!!

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Nadafinga

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#19  Edited By Nadafinga

I want to play devil's advocate for a moment here...tell me again why this legislation is so bad? Why shouldn't we keep violent video games out of the hands of minors? The only argument I've seen is that if this passed, then stores would completely stop selling rated M games for fear of fines/punishments for accidentally selling to minors. Well, I can guarantee that would NOT happen. There's too much money to be made from selling M rated games to adults. They would just have to be very scrupulous on who they sell to.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think this legislation should have passed. I agree that its the parents responsibility to educate themselves and regulate what their children play. But the apocalyptic predictions for the game industry if this bill passed I think is a bit overboard.

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zameer

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#20  Edited By zameer

This is a really random thing to compliment, but your attempts to fact-check and follow up with the involved parties is very much appreciated. It's weird but I really enjoy the news section on GB now.

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edgeCrusher

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#21  Edited By edgeCrusher

What would be the fallout from a reverse decision? "Games as porn?" Hence games would only be sold to legal adults at speciality retailers, greatly diminishing their potential market segment. Budgets would surely plummet, and big publishers would go bankrupt. But what about those that survive? Couldn't they then take more risks, and create more interesting and creative games due to the lesser stakes? This bill would have been an induced market crash. Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing. I remember hearing laments and calls for this just a few years ago.

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Sil3n7

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#22  Edited By Sil3n7

@kurtdyoung said:

YOU GOTTA FIGHT! (DUHN DUHN)

FOR YOUR RIGHT

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dubios451

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#23  Edited By dubios451

@Sil3n7 said:

@kurtdyoung said:

YOU GOTTA FIGHT! (DUHN DUHN)

FOR YOUR RIGHT

To party?

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AngryRedPlumber

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#24  Edited By AngryRedPlumber

Censorship is silly. Give people honesty, education, and freedom. Let's not hide things or force our beliefs onto others. This ruling is a victory.

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dungbootle

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#25  Edited By dungbootle
@AngryRedPlumber said:

Censorship is silly. Give people honesty, education, and freedom. Let's not hide things or force our beliefs onto others. This ruling is a victory.

I agree completely.
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Agent47

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#26  Edited By Agent47
@edgeCrusher: Now that I think about it if the law was put that violent videogames couldn't be sold to minors then it would have been in the same category as porn.....thank god no.That would send a awful message of the meduim
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bruno0091

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#27  Edited By bruno0091

Here's a poser and something I tweeted about to Patrick yesterday (Its_The_Dom), what if, instead of them trying to get them classified like porn, they took a more moderate approach?

What if they said, OK, we're going to move to a system more like the UK has for films and games, where the rating of the game (here, 12, 15, 18) determine the age the purchaser must be to buy them. That way it prevents younger children buying games (or films for that matter) that they probably shouldn't and puts more onus on the parents to be aware of what their kids are playing and what they're buying for them.

Surely that can only be a good thing?

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winsord

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#28  Edited By winsord

@StormTrooper: What, what?

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crusader8463

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#29  Edited By crusader8463
@Nadafinga said:

I want to play devil's advocate for a moment here...tell me again why this legislation is so bad? Why shouldn't we keep violent video games out of the hands of minors? The only argument I've seen is that if this passed, then stores would completely stop selling rated M games for fear of fines/punishments for accidentally selling to minors. Well, I can guarantee that would NOT happen. There's too much money to be made from selling M rated games to adults. They would just have to be very scrupulous on who they sell to.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think this legislation should have passed. I agree that its the parents responsibility to educate themselves and regulate what their children play. But the apocalyptic predictions for the game industry if this bill passed I think is a bit overboard.

One of the reasons stores would stop selling them, would be because it would be too much of a hassle to comply with all the new laws and they would no doubt have to go through getting registered to be able to sell these things. Plus no mass market store wants to have to wall off a section behind curtains like video stores used to have to do when they sold porn there. So in effect, companies would stop making these games because there would be less places stocking them so the sales of these games would in turn go down and the video game industry would become even more creatively deprived then it already is, because any time some one came up with an idea that was even remotely violent in nature they wouldn't be able to make it.
 
Any game that tried to touch on an adult subject would immediately get denied being green lit out side of a few rare rare cases, because there wouldn't be as big of a market to sell to as there once was. We would have an industry of nothing but Nintendo style bubble gum and rainbow games that did nothing but appeal to kids. All of us adults that grew up all our lives with video games looking for an adult experience would be left with nothing to play, and the industry would be set back a long way in terms of maturing.
 
That's my take on it anyway.
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crusader8463

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#30  Edited By crusader8463
@bruno0091 said:

Here's a poser and something I tweeted about to Patrick yesterday (Its_The_Dom), what if, instead of them trying to get them classified like porn, they took a more moderate approach?

What if they said, OK, we're going to move to a system more like the UK has for films and games, where the rating of the game (here, 12, 15, 18) determine the age the purchaser must be to buy them. That way it prevents younger children buying games (or films for that matter) that they probably shouldn't and puts more onus on the parents to be aware of what their kids are playing and what they're buying for them.

Surely that can only be a good thing?

They already have that. It's called the ESRB. This guy just wants to make it so that the government controls everything and says what they can and can not watch/play.. Stores already self police themselves and refuse to sell to kids if it's an M rated game if an adult is not with them, and if they are they point out to them what it is they are buying for the kid in case they are one of those parents that are too lazy to raise their own kids.
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234r2we232

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#31  Edited By 234r2we232

But Patrick... We Won.

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NickBOTT

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#32  Edited By NickBOTT

I'm a strong believer that the more you try to keep something from people, the more they want it.  You could make whatever you want illegal but it's not going to stop people from getting it.  It's illegal for kids to drink, smoke, etc but you still hear cases of kids drinking/smoking underage.  This law wouldn't have done crap for Yee's cause bc kids would still find ways of getting their hands on games.  

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MordeaniisChaos

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#33  Edited By MordeaniisChaos

He couldn't have said anything else: The Supreme Court can't strike anything down unless it's fucking unconstitutional. The constitution doesn't make the nation perfect, something can be totally constitutional and still an awful, terribly wrong bill. He never said "I wouldn't mind seeing that bill passed some day," nor did he say that it should be created, simply that if it's not constitutional then it's out of their game.

And even if it came into the Law, it could be removed, and it would be far from impossible. With the industry the way it is (ie growing like a wildfire, even if it doesn't seem like it), and the economy the way it is, it would be a bit of a terrible move to ruin the industry that is coming up on the big entertainment industries.

@NickBOTT: Yeah but those methods would mean very little, if any, money going to the people making and distributing the games, which is the issue at hand.

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bruno0091

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#34  Edited By bruno0091

@crusader8463 said:

@bruno0091 said:

Here's a poser and something I tweeted about to Patrick yesterday (Its_The_Dom), what if, instead of them trying to get them classified like porn, they took a more moderate approach?

What if they said, OK, we're going to move to a system more like the UK has for films and games, where the rating of the game (here, 12, 15, 18) determine the age the purchaser must be to buy them. That way it prevents younger children buying games (or films for that matter) that they probably shouldn't and puts more onus on the parents to be aware of what their kids are playing and what they're buying for them.

Surely that can only be a good thing?

They already have that. It's called the ESRB. This guy just wants to make it so that the government controls everything and says what they can and can not watch/play.. Stores already self police themselves and refuse to sell to kids if it's an M rated game if an adult is not with them, and if they are they point out to them what it is they are buying for the kid in case they are one of those parents that are too lazy to raise their own kids.

Yea, but the difference is, over here, it's the law (insert Judge Dread pic here), it doesn't rely on stores self regulating, which, lets be honest, I don't imagine they're super strict on if it means they're missing out on $60 or whatever in a missed sale/

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DrDarkStryfe

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#35  Edited By DrDarkStryfe

@bruno0091: If the largest video game market starts to heavily regulate these titles, then retailers will stop selloing them, and developers will stop making them. Plus, there is no guidelines at what consists a "violent title." The law could extend into titles that are T rated, simply because it contains person on person violence.

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bruno0091

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#36  Edited By bruno0091

@DrDarkStryfe said:

@bruno0091: If the largest video game market starts to heavily regulate these titles, then retailers will stop selloing them, and developers will stop making them. Plus, there is no guidelines at what consists a "violent title." The law could extend into titles that are T rated, simply because it contains person on person violence.

I understand your concerns, but it's already proven that it works just fine. We have supermarkets selling games that still follow these rules.

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BooDoug187

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#37  Edited By BooDoug187

Plan B would be Operation: Eat Cock California.

The law is passed int Cali. So the game industry says "fine, you can tax us... we just wont sell any games or systems in your state!"

Mass recall of all unsold games and systems in California, on line retailers put out on their sites "Can not sell these items in California" on line game services place blocks on traffic on anyone in California trying to play on line games. Game companies in California move to other states, saddly this could mean the end of Giant Bomb then again they could move to Washington state or something.

State senator and professional ball sucker Leland Yee and his supporters may thing this is a win for them, you know the whole "we saved our children from games" way until the parents find out they have to deal with bored children and also adult gamers who will either vote him out of office or move out of state, thus making the already bankrupt state of California even more broke.

The next election year someone takes goat.se fan Yee's place, repeals the law and ask the game companies to come back.

Yee and his supporters are rounded up into a warehouse and are burned alive.

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yukoasho

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#38  Edited By yukoasho
Ken Levine actually had a very interesting vision of what the future would have held.  Given the sheer difficulty in making games without conflict, I can see where he's coming from.
 

This was a terrible law to begin with. It could have effectively made ALL games M-rated games, because publishers would have been rightly nervous about "under-labeling" their titles and facing the wrath of the state (or, more precisely, states, because a California law would have no doubt spawned up to 49 deformed siblings). A cartoon plumber lands on top of an anthropomorphic mushroom and crushes it to death? Hmmm. Better label it "M".

This in turn would have discouraged the industry developing content for non-adults. Why bother, if you're just going to have to label it in a way which means it can't be sold to them? This would have the net effect of the industry under-serving children.


It's actually interesting, a law designed to restrict adult content could have actually locked video games away from kids period.
 
Either way, this is an incredible victory, and a pretty damned airtight one.  Even if Alito were to be swayed, that would just mean the next case would be 6-3.  There will be other attempts, but it'll be a long time before another one comes this far.
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#39  Edited By clstirens
@bruno0091 said:

@crusader8463 said:

@bruno0091 said:

Here's a poser and something I tweeted about to Patrick yesterday (Its_The_Dom), what if, instead of them trying to get them classified like porn, they took a more moderate approach?

What if they said, OK, we're going to move to a system more like the UK has for films and games, where the rating of the game (here, 12, 15, 18) determine the age the purchaser must be to buy them. That way it prevents younger children buying games (or films for that matter) that they probably shouldn't and puts more onus on the parents to be aware of what their kids are playing and what they're buying for them.

Surely that can only be a good thing?

They already have that. It's called the ESRB. This guy just wants to make it so that the government controls everything and says what they can and can not watch/play.. Stores already self police themselves and refuse to sell to kids if it's an M rated game if an adult is not with them, and if they are they point out to them what it is they are buying for the kid in case they are one of those parents that are too lazy to raise their own kids.

Yea, but the difference is, over here, it's the law (insert Judge Dread pic here), it doesn't rely on stores self regulating, which, lets be honest, I don't imagine they're super strict on if it means they're missing out on $60 or whatever in a missed sale/

Every store i've ever worked at, and ever store I've ever bought a game from, has been exceptionally strict with their rules on M rated games. Between my employers having strict rules about checking ID (I would be terminated at gamestop), and being ID'd every time, it's clear they have made a strong effort to restrict the flow of M rated games to children.
 
In one specific case, my Gamestop Manager made a very strong point to explain the rating to parents buying M rated games, not just the basic, but actually reading off the labels on the back. Most parents didn't give a shit, sadly, and I ended up selling them a few dozen copies of GTA: Liberty City Stories and God of War.
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#40  Edited By Klaimore

Holy shit games are art!

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#41  Edited By Claude
Above: an artist's depiction of government legislators fighting off armies of angered game fans.
Above: an artist's depiction of government legislators fighting off armies of angered game fans.

Stupid government. Not even using V.A.T.S..

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#42  Edited By MisterMouse

oh man, cool to read this.

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#43  Edited By Heli0s

Great reporting! Thanks Patrick.

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#44  Edited By Damian
@Nadafinga: Rating something AO right now is just as effective as straight-up censorship (and there is nothing legally binding about it). If this went through It would make M rated games a bigger hassle to sell than AO games already are. Now, what was the last AO game you've seen in a store? How well did that game sell, if anyone even had the balls to sell it? 
 
This also doesn't just effect Americans. Not only do they make the biggest chunk of the consumer market, they also produce most of the quality games we love playing. If American companies can't sell to Americans (properly) then they simply won't produce the product, and NO ONE gets to play it. 
Even Canadian, Russian, Brittish and Japanese devs and pubs care far too much about the American consumer market to bother producing games that won't see the light of day on store shelves over there. 
 
It's a lose/lose situation for a long-time gamer. And all for what? For the false claim of protecting our children, under the guise of inconclusive research? We can all jump on a computer and watch pornography far more damaging to a developing mind than anything I've ever seen in a video game. 
What's the biggest scandal our industry has faced regarding content? Hot Coffee? Yeah, Mr. Yee, I'm real scared about my kid accidentally having poorly-rendered sex in a video game when he's clearly supposed to be shooting innocent elderly pedestrians. 
 
... 

Not trying to bust your balls, Nada. Just how I see the issue.
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#45  Edited By Dredlockz

I love videogames, and back in the day I had my fair share of violent videogames with a rating way above my age. So this next thing will be a bit hypocritical but whatever:

I have a kid now, and I will not let him play games rated above his age, so I pretty much agree with this law since there are parents who, unlike me, don't give a shit about what their kids are playing/watching. And maybe with a law like this, at least they wouldn't get the rated material that easily (be it porn, music or whatever).

As I said, my parents didn't really give a shit about my uprising. If it meant that I would be off their backs, they didn't care what I did, and I gotta say It did kinda fuck me up. But that is debatable, the point is the content is only intended for mature audiences, and enforcing that premise doesn't fuck with anyone's creative vision, so i dont think this is such a big deal.

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#46  Edited By UnrealDP

Oh man, todays bombcast is going to be real fun with all the law talk we could ever want, ready to be had!

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#47  Edited By JamesBr

The decision is definitely a good thing,  but I also find the inclusion of potential future legislation to be interesting. Let me clarify. A lot study does need to be done on the effects of video games on developing minds and the human brain in general. A lot of the focus has been spent  proving video games cause violent behaviour, an angle that isn't working (obviously). A result of this (hopefully) will be further research into other aspects of gaming psychology in an attempt to debunk video games as "safe". The danger of this research of course, is that they successfully find reason to legislate games. I find that a highly unlikely possibility, however, and am far more interested in the results of said research for the further improvement of gaming in general. 
 
There will always be people like Yee. Just like there are still organizations that promote the "evils" of D&D, Harry Potter and Pokemon decades after any interesting controversy has died down. Google around, some of the site dedicated to these "causes" are fucking hilarious if have thick skin (you are on the Internet, I'm sure you'll be fine).

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#48  Edited By Nadafinga

@Damian said:

@Nadafinga: Rating something AO right now is just as effective as straight-up censorship (and there is nothing legally binding about it). If this went through It would make M rated games a bigger hassle to sell than AO games already are. Now, what was the last AO game you've seen in a store? How well did that game sell, if anyone even had the balls to sell it?

This also doesn't just effect Americans. Not only do they make the biggest chunk of the consumer market, they also produce most of the quality games we love playing. If American companies can't sell to Americans (properly) then they simply won't produce the product, and NO ONE gets to play it.
Even Canadian, Russian, Brittish and Japanese devs and pubs care far too much about the American consumer market to bother producing games that won't see the light of day on store shelves over there.

It's a lose/lose situation for a long-time gamer. And all for what? For the false claim of protecting our children, under the guise of inconclusive research? We can all jump on a computer and watch pornography far more damaging to a developing mind than anything I've ever seen in a video game.
What's the biggest scandal our industry has faced regarding content? Hot Coffee? Yeah, Mr. Yee, I'm real scared about my kid accidentally having poorly-rendered sex in a video game when he's clearly supposed to be shooting innocent elderly pedestrians. ... Not trying to bust your balls, Nada. Just how I see the issue.

No problem, your argument is completely valid. I agree with a lot of it. But I think the biggest difference is that there's already a precedent that's been set for M games, people (kids and adults) have been playing M games for years now, they know what's in them. AO games have never really been a force in the market.

Now, it's certainly true that if this law passed, rated M sales would go down due to the loss of some underage customers, but how much really? There's lots of data out there that shows the average age of a gamer is like 32 or 34. I would argue that the majority of rated M game sales are from customers over 18. I think the biggest concern would be games would go the route that movies have gone with editing rated R movies down to get a PG-13...publishers don't want to lose money, so games that would have normally been rated M will get the blood and swear words removed to get a T rating. But there are still movies out there rated R, and I'm willing to bet that there would still be games made that are rated M...just not as many.

I truly am curious how difficult it would be for retailers to sell M games if this legislation were passed. Would it be as simple as carding everyone? Or would it be more complicated, with all rated M games have to be behind a counter or in a separate place in the store? Would you need a license to sell them? I'm 34, and I still get carded for M games once in awhile. When I buy beer, I have to show my ID too. If that's all it takes, I'm all for this law.

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#49  Edited By vinsanityv22

Honestly, if the law had gone a different way, it probably wouldn't affect most Giant Bomb community members at all. We're all old enough to buy what we want, anyway. And "stifling creative freedom" is an over-exaggeration. I mean, there are 49 other perfectly good states and many other countries where you can sell your violent games. Also, gore and stuff isn't exactly the pinnacle of creativity...as much as people like to make a big deal out of humdrum creatively bankrupt shooters like Call of Duty. It's not like genuinely creative games like Journey, or Child of Eden, or Last Guardian, or Skyward Sword, would have to change anything.  
 
I'm sure we would've just gotten censored versions of games, like our Aussie brethren sometime do. It's not like gore made Ninja Gaiden 2 a better game than Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, which was noticeably gore-free (and the much better game, though not for the lack of gore. Gore is just pointless, that's what I'm getting at.)
 
Still, it's good to put 1 in the ole' Win Column this time:) Thank you, Supreme Court!

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#50  Edited By sage2

If we get to that we will get into a world of video games black market. Violent games will be made in other countries and distributed the same way as drugs and ilegal firearms.