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ESA to sue California over new video game law

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 11 Oct 2005 21:42 User comments (11)

ESA to sue California over new video game law We reported just two days ago that Arnold Schwarzenegger had signed a bill that made it illegal to supply a minor with a "violent video game" either as a sale or a rental. Now it has emerged that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is planning to sue the state of California in response to the law which will come into affect on January 1st 2006. The legislation, known as Assembly Bill (A.B) 1179, states that any retailer who supplies a violent game to anybody under 18 will be fined $1,000.
The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) has pledged that it will collaborate with the ESA to fight the law. Members of the VSDA include retailers and distributors. In the past, the ESA has overturned similar laws in different states that prohibited the sale of violent or sexually explicit games to minors with the argument that the laws violate constitutionally protected rights.

VSDA president Bo Andersen called the legislation "a clear violation of the First Amendment" and added that it "provides no meaningful standards to know which materials are covered." The bill was sponsored by Assembly member Leland Yee of San Francisco, who is also a child psychologist. He claims that violent games have a dramatic affect on the behavior of minors.

Arstechnica has a really good article about this.


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11 user comments

112.10.2005 0:38

Yup. I read about this in the "USA Today" :P Guess we will see how this comes about. It is to no surpirse though, because this has happened before. I hope that at least there can be SOME resolve in trying to stop underage game selling and so forth. Interesting thought though...but if cigarrettes and alcohol are fined and jailed offenses, why not just start fining stores and parents if this is too much to to deal with. It's the parents who need to start being held accountable for their actions with their kids instead of letting retailers "babysit" them. :) Great article, btw, Dela! This is one to keep an eye on for national attention if it goes any further.

212.10.2005 1:24

I don't know. I could go either way. Kids aren't supposed to be playing those games (M ratings) but I mean in an ideal world they would have already had their parents consent to buy it instead of swiping a $50 from mom's purse. I agree about the whole babysitting thing, though. I myself would like to see this pass but maybe they should leave well enough alone. What happens if they lose and this sort of thing becomes precedent?

312.10.2005 1:29

I have to agree with you there parents have to stop buying these games that are really aimed for them not their kids... As a person that has studied some level of adolesent Psysc, I can easily agree with the child psycoligist that it does effect the kids, but the question must b aimed at the parents if it is proven that it has some effect on their kids why are parents exposing their kids to somethin that is not targeted at them... Just my 2 cents...

412.10.2005 2:56

So basicly the software companies are trying to say it's ok to sell these violent sex driven games to minors HMM interesting.. Are they afraid they are going to lose that much $? If a parent isn't that much of a parent they are going to buy the game for thier kid reguardless what the law is.. At this point when it comes to games and Movies if it's of a mature nature it prompts the cashier anyways to ask for ID (well at least it does at Wal-mart and some other stores) Why not make it a criminal offense to sell the game to a minor just like it is for Cigs or Alcohol... If the game co are worried about more law suits because of the law they should actually be happy because I think in the law run the Stores will end up with the majority of the law suits.. For the Stores will be the ones accountable for puting the games into the kids hands rather than the software co.. Like anything else a kid is going to get a hold of the game if they want it bad enough anyhow but still If you can't buy a rated R NC-17 or X movie why should you be able to buy a violent game as a minor

612.10.2005 5:06

quote from that article: ...That includes the possibility of violence and even evil. Parents who crusade against felonious games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City may not want to hear it, but idolizing villains and identifying with the Darth Vaders and Lord Voldemorts can be liberating, says Jones. When we are children, play and fantasy let us practice what we will be later in life—as well as what we will never be. "Fantasies of physical conflict and danger have been branded 'violent' in recent decades by people who don't trust or understand them, but they can be some of the most basic, most natural and most valuable tools a child can have for the hard work of growing up," he says. Kids with the greatest anxiety about risk and the greatest reservations about exploring their own strength and destructive potential have the most urgent need for fantasy, Jones says.

712.10.2005 12:59

I can just imagine the day I go to a store and a kid walks up...."Hey mister, can you buy me some games?"

812.10.2005 13:04

OH and we know The teminator never marketed any "violent" movies to kids before.... you put restrictions on something or make it illegal ,in return you create a black market. Not that I think its ok for little kids to play M rated games, just That this is a waste of time and money on the states part ,couldnt you just drive to the next state to buy the new GTA?

912.10.2005 17:53

It is my understanding that the average gamer (defined by four or more hours of gaming per day I believe) is between twenty and twenty-four years old. Few juries or judges have actually convicted or found gaming companies culpable for two reasons: there have been very few actually "violent" crimes closely enough aligned with specific scenes in Mature video games; and the psychological impact that games have is an emergent field of study. Not to say kids should play Doom (back in my heyday) or Grand Theft Auto. But retailers should not carry the legal onus just because they sell a piece of software to a kid who looks seventeen. It would be akin to fining an art gallery a thousand dollars for selling a painting depicting war to a legal minor, or a comic book shop for selling a comic with suggestive material. Enforcement is not the job of the vendor. Government should provide incentives for being diligent rather than acting punitively.

1012.10.2005 21:31

Just in case nobody we are speaking about violence, but I heard on the radio that Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to do Terminator 4 and True Lies 2. I guess it goes to show that a subject like this is more of a double edged sword.

1114.10.2005 10:59

What I want to know is who payed Arnie to sign this bill and how much? The onus of what games or movies a child is allowed to play or watch rests squarely with the parent/guardian. When I was a kid, my parents would never let me watch an 18 rated movie, or even a 15 rated movie if they thought it might contain stuff that would disturb or confuse a child. Sure I used to go mental and try to get things my own way but it rarely, if ever, worked. Nowadays I consider myself an honest, upstanding person with decent moral values. I do not see women as mere victims of my lust or rage, I do not go out robbing or fighting in the streets. Ok, so I smoke plenty herb and may have experimented with other recreational drugs from time to time. I still manage to hold down a demanding job and fight malware in my spare time. I am by no means perfect, far from it. But I know right from wrong (I think) and I prefer to treat others with respect and kindness as I would expect to be treated by them. I may have certain relationship and commitment issues but that's mostly my own fault and causes no harm to others (apart from maybe a broken heart or two). All in all I consider myself a fairly well adjusted person. What I am trying to say is that children need to be children. They should not be exposed to the darker side of society before their mind has developed enough to allow them to understand the consequences and repercussions of the deviant behaviour portrayed in violent video games and movies. How is a 9yr old boy supposed to comprehend that stealing cars and shooting the crap out of anyone in sight is a really naughty thing to do? They can do it in video games and have seen their favourite film stars do it time and time again. What parent would sit with their child, while playing video games, and say: "Now Josh, I know it's been great fun for you poppin caps in those biatches and busting out in that stolen trans-am... but you do know that it's wrong, dont you? This is not something that people like to happen in real life, it's only a game." My guess is approx. none. A closer approximation of the actual thought process behind buying junior the latest violent video games is probably something like this: "Oh, there's that San Andreas game that Junior and his friends were talking about. They seemed very excited about it. Maybe if I buy it for him then me and the missus can have some peace and quiet to watch Eastenders and crack open a bottle of wine. Afterall, it's only a game." And i'll also bet that these same parents would be outraged if Juniors little friend loaned him a copy of Playboy Mansion!!!!!!! Afterall, it's still only a game. I mean, that whole 'Hot Coffee' episode was a farce. They were quite happy to let the drug dealing, gang-banging, car-jacking and male-rape all slide. But as soon as someone discovers a hidden section of the game which allows you to control your character while having sex, the whole world goes insane. The male rape scene I refer to is when the main character in GTA:SA goes to the cabin in the woods with a hispanic female. She proceeds to beat him and fu*k him against his wishes. You only hear the audio but it sounds sore!! So forget trying to sue the suppliers. Fine parents who willfully buy this type of software for their children, which should be considered some form of mental abuse. What would you do to someone who wanted to show their kids some porn or snuff movies?

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