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Video games and Illinois' Political Brilliance

Old 03-11-05, 10:09 AM
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Video games and Illinois' Political Brilliance

Ill. Moves Toward Banning Some Video Games
By MARY TALLON, Associated Press Writer
Thu Mar 10, 12:10 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposal to bar stores from selling violent and sexually explicit video games to children unanimously passed an Illinois House committee Wednesday, despite concerns that it might be unconstitutional.

Under the proposal, which now goes to the House floor, any store that violated the ban could face misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $5,000.

Blagojevich has been pushing the idea for several months, arguing in town hall meetings and national interviews that the games desensitize children to violence. He says they can lead to anti-social behavior and even obesity.

On Wednesday, he applauded the House civil law committee for approving the "sensible and necessary legislation."

But courts have struck down similar laws in Washington, Missouri and Indiana as too broad and in violation of free speech.

Even some lawmakers who voted for the bill said they were concerned it is too vague.

"This bill does not have clear standards to the people that need to know what the standards are - the parents, the kids, the clerk, the manager at Best Buy," said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie. "These are people that will not have a clear standard under this bill as to what is or is not OK."

The legislation requires stores to label violent or sexually explicit games with black-and-white stickers reading "18." Stores would have the burden of figuring out which games could legally be sold to minors and which couldn't.

David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said the legislation's restrictions on games depicting "human on human violence" could mean that stores can be fined for selling football games to teenagers.

He also questioned the sincerity of the bill's supporters, suggesting they fear that voting against the measure would hurt them in future elections.

"It's pandering, and it's wrong," he said.

Harvard University professor Michael Rich argued Blagojevich's position before the committee Wednesday, saying the law is necessary because kids may act out in real life the violent or sexual behaviors they practice in virtual reality.

"Children are learning from video games," Rich said. "The question is: what are they learning?"

The bill is HB4023.

On the Net: http://www.ilga.gov

**************
$5000 fine for selling Madden. Nice.
Old 03-11-05, 10:24 AM
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Awesome.
Old 03-11-05, 10:26 AM
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I don't have a problem with this. There's no reason for children to be buying or playing M-rated games.
Old 03-11-05, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
I don't have a problem with this. There's no reason for children to be buying or playing M-rated games.
Right, I agree.

I think the problem here is the bill isn't really clear on what not to sell to children and it doesn't appear to be based on the ESRB rating system. But to be honest, the ESRB is a bit flawed in itself.. I think some games are slapped with an M rating as a marketing gimmick just to make them more "extreme" looking and enticing to the pre-teen and early-teen boys. Halo isn't any more violent than most PG-13 sci-fi flicks, and I'm still wondering what the hell was in Dead or Alive Volleyball that warranted an M rating.
Old 03-11-05, 10:44 AM
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I agree that some ratings are borked, but it would be a waste of taxpayer money for Illinois to review and recategorize every game on the market.
Old 03-11-05, 11:00 AM
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Borked.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I was getting at, they should just use the ESRB ratings, for the most part it's accurate.
Old 03-11-05, 11:42 AM
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I'm in favor of the concept but this looks like a poor attempt at making a good law IMHO.
Old 03-11-05, 04:27 PM
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This law would make it illegal to sell a football video game to children. That's the problem with this law. It also requires retailers to decide which games they can and can't sell to children. If they're right, nothing happens. If they're wrong, they will only find out when they're arrested, fined, and sentenced to prison time. This kind of stuff happens all the time with comic book retailers and it's fucked up. At least the comic book community has the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU. Someone should start a Video Game Legal Defense Fund (VGLDF) if this law passes.
Old 03-11-05, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by PrincessT
The legislation requires stores to label violent or sexually explicit games with black-and-white stickers reading "18." Stores would have the burden of figuring out which games could legally be sold to minors and which couldn't.
Apparently the big M on the lower portion of the box confuses the retailers. Maybe they think that its for Males instead of Mature audiences?
Old 03-11-05, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
I don't have a problem with this. There's no reason for children to be buying or playing M-rated games.
Ditto.

With something like this in place, the blame for "violent" kids would be (rightfully) directed more towards the parents than violent video games, which these kids shouldn't have been playing in the first place.
Old 03-11-05, 09:54 PM
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I'd love something like this is if it just banned sales of M or AO rated games to minors. I dont' see why they don't just go with that distinction. They could ban sales of T games to kids under 13 too, but I can't imagine that arises very often. Just spoiled kids with too big of allowances.
Old 03-11-05, 10:01 PM
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One first glance, it looks like yeah, who cares. But on further reading, I can see PrincessT's point. Why wouldn't they just adopt the current rating system already out there.
Old 03-11-05, 10:27 PM
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I like the concept but it's a half-assed law for reasons already stated. This shouldn't have passed until all the bases were covered. I hope it gets overturned (is that the correct legal term or is it "overruled"?), retooled (to enforce the M and AO ratings instead of "guess what's not good for the kiddies and we'll let you know if you're wrong with a big fat fine"), and then passed as a law.
Old 03-11-05, 11:57 PM
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Whats wrong with madden? Who says it is violent and sexually explicit?

I have no problem with this law, besides the fact that it doesn't go into detail about what is restricted and what isn't.

When a title like GTA comes out, I expect it to have violence and language. I actually took full spectrum warrior with me while I babysat some 12 year olds. I wish I had known beforehand how much cussing was in the game, and I would have brought something more appropriate.
Old 03-12-05, 12:45 AM
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There is no problem with Madden at all. The problem is that the law is far too broad and a game like Madden falls into what it defines as inappropriate. Heck, a game like say SSX Tricky would also earn a fine because you can intentionally smack around the other boarders. They really need to narrow it down or simply follow the already established rating system.

Last edited by RocShemp; 03-12-05 at 12:47 AM.
Old 03-12-05, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
I agree that some ratings are borked, but it would be a waste of taxpayer money for Illinois to review and recategorize every game on the market.
Seems to me that somebody in the state's government has a friend that needs a job. A new committee will probably be formed to do all these ratings, and of course a committee needs a chairperson who most definitely will earn a princely sum of money. Smells fishy to me.
Old 03-12-05, 02:39 AM
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90% of the things the Illinois' government does "smells fishy".

A half assed law doesnt suprise me one bit.


But i do agree, follow the establised ratings and fine retailers that sell M rated games to kids.
Old 03-12-05, 02:54 AM
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It's my understanding that the movie industry still self regulates by following a voluntary rating system. So, for those that support legislation regulating video games, do you support similar laws in regards to movies?

Now, I understand the movie industry has done a better job at regulating itself, but it's not perfect. Right now, the focus is on video games, so we don't hear about underage kids getting into R-rated movies. Also, video games with a strongly enforced ratings system are still a fairly young idea and has not had much time to fully become the reality it needs to be.

So, if the video game industry regulated on the level of the movie industry, do you still support laws with fines? If so, should we also make law that applies to movies? What about other media? Should we fine bookstores for selling material with bad words, sex and violence? At which point do we draw the line on how much legislation should be allowed in regulating entertainment media?

Now, I am not trying to argue aginst this yet, just curious what people's opinions on this are beyond the current spotlighted proposed law.

However, I will add that I do not think this does anything to make parents more responsible. What I see occuring more likely is many parents feeling a false sense of security. Why worry about what your kids are playing when a law is in place that protects your kids, right? It's this type of security blanket for worried minds that will continue to let parents slack. Also, every kid is different and only a parent knows (or should know) what is appropriate. No ratings system or restricted sales will protect a child if they are not mature enough for some content, regardless of age. With a law like this, I see a kid getting a hold of inappropriate material and the parent throwing blame everywhere but themselves, just as before. Only now they have a law to hide behind.
Old 03-12-05, 09:30 AM
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"" David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said the legislation's restrictions on games depicting "human on human violence" could mean that stores can be fined for selling football games to teenagers.

He also questioned the sincerity of the bill's supporters, suggesting they fear that voting against the measure would hurt them in future elections. ""

This is just an opinion from a person who is basically a lobbyist in political terms. When I hear human on human violence I would say they are thinking more on the lines of stuff like GTA, football is seen by almost every kid at a truly early age if they have a sport fan as a parent.

My true feelings on this, as far a "M" rated games and also "R" rated movies is that there should be enforcement of some sort but also that parents need to make the ultimate decision as to when a child is "ready" for this kind of thing.

I will admit that I have found it sad when I see a kid in a store go up to their parent and ask for this game or that, like GTA or Halo and the kid is under the age of 10. It seems more and more parents, NOT ALL, just don't care and want the videogame to babysit their kids.
Old 03-12-05, 09:48 AM
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What's to prevent a kid in Illinois buys an M-rated video game off of the internet
Old 03-12-05, 10:16 AM
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Technically 'human on human violence' can certainly include football. It could even include platformers where you spin or bump on top of other characters.
Good intent, bad law.
Enforce the existing ESRB ratings.
And, to prove that it's about 'the children' and not the publicity, write a similar law about R-rated movies. Not that I'm expecting this.
Parents definitely need to be involved, and should know what they're buying for their kids. Certain M or R movies I might not mind if my 16 year old kid watches/plays, and certain ones I would.
Using an entertainment medium as a babysitter is nothing new--see the immense quantities of 'for kids' tv and dvds available. It's sad, but not limited to video games.
JoseyWales: Theoretically you need to be 18 to have a credit card, which is usually necessary when ordering on line. I'm not saying it can't happen, but there are obstacles already in place to hamper that
Old 03-12-05, 11:05 AM
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I'm so tired of this kind of thinking in America. Sure kids shouldn't buy M rated games, but this law is just another example of American's passing the blame for their kids to someone else. Billy is a psycho because he listened to Marilyn Manson and played GTA, not because I'm a shitty parent.

The ERSB is a pretty good guide for content in games, if parents are worried about stuff like this it is their duty to research the games their kids buy. Quit blaming your problems on everyone else and do your job as a parent. I love how we let some of the most corrupt and hypocritical people in our society (politicians) decide our morality for us and it seems in the last few years we are more than happy to hand over personal freedom a small piece at a time.
Old 03-12-05, 11:42 AM
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Ironically, I would think you would *support* this in that case. If I as a parent say 'Son, I don't want you playing GTA--or M-rated games--and here's why'', you and I both know he can still go on his own to a game store and buy it. This law [well, not this one, it's poorly written] tries to help *support* the parents decision. And if the parent decides to let the kid play GTA, then the parent can go buy it for him.
Everything else in the political world, telling me how to live my life, what I can or can't do, and *this* gets your dander up?
Like cigarettes--I don't want my 15 year old smoking. I don't have a problem with them carding for cigs. If I wanted him to smoke, I'd buy them for him. According to you, that law should be revoked because I'm yielding my 'responsibility' as a parent.
If you're so much for 'parental responsiblity', how about school vouchers that allow me to take my kid out of a school where he doesn't learn a damn thing except wishywashy feelgood crap, and not waste the hundreds of thousands of dollars I've invested in the school system via the usurious tax rates I work half the year to pay?
I don't believe playing GTA for ten minutes will turn him into a psycho. But a constant media diet of negativity and violence, whether that be games, music, tv, movies, etc, *can* and *does* have an effect on a child's--or an adult's--outlook on life.
Old 03-12-05, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by joseywales
What's to prevent a kid in Illinois buys an M-rated video game off of the internet
A better example (for those near the state line)..what stops a kid from going to Indiana and buying the game?
Old 03-12-05, 02:25 PM
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This is stupid. First of all there needs to be a stndardized rating system for movies, games and TV. Go with the G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 ratings. This would be the most effective thing for the parents, they know these ratings and would see that Billy wnats a game that rated R...no way Billy. All theses different ratings just work to confuse the parents.

Second if this law only applies to video games then it is flawed. It would need to apply to movies, TV and anything that has a rating... News broadcasts included. Why is it that some of the most violent images that we see play out everyday on the news and no one ever says that it's bad for the kids to see that. Ever notice how school shootings sharply increased after Columbine...huh maybe it's because it got so much play on the news that it gave other kids the idea to live out they're horrid fantasies and get their names all over the news for the world to see as well...

~My rant

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