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Common Sense Beats Out MN Games Law 302

Posted by timothy
from the whack-whack-whack dept.
superdan2k writes "A federal court judge dropped the bomb on Minnesota's pending gaming law that would have fined minors for purchasing games with the mature or adults-only ratings. The lawsuit against the legislation was brought by video game manufacturers who claimed that it infringed on free speech. The judge agreed, and the ruling said that the state had failed to prove that graphic video games were harmful to children."
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Common Sense Beats Out MN Games Law

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  • by LaNMaN2000 (173615) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:12PM (#15820608) Homepage
    The video game censorship law is just a symptom of a larger problem; the resurgence of social conservatism in the U.S. Whether in the form of media censorship, gay marraige bans, partial-birth abortion bans, flag-burning ban, etc., it appears that social conservativism has taken hold at the state level as well as the federal. I can only hope that dissatisfaction with the current administration impacts the midterm elections.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:13PM (#15820613) Homepage Journal
    The shops should have their business license removed for selling clearly Mature/Adult only materuial to minors.

    Here in the UK shops are fined large amounts, and even risk prison for breaking age based laws.

    Here is an overview from the trading standards [tradingstandards.gov.uk]:

    Video cassette tapes/DVDs/computer games

    You must not sell, rent or supply a video cassette or DVD unless the British Board of Film Classification has classified it.

    You must not supply (including hiring out) a video cassette tape or DVD to a person who is under the age marked on the video cassette tape/DVD.

    Most computer games are exempt from classification but if the game is classified then it must not be supplied to a person who is under the age marked on the game.

    The age restrictions are 12,15 and 18 .

    The maximum fine for selling or renting an age restricted cassette/DVD to a child under the specified age is £5000 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment.

    Restricted 18 video cassettes and DVDs can be supplied only in licensed sex shops to persons 18 years of age and older.
  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:14PM (#15820622) Journal
    And I still don't know any popular video game that "teaches," you to have sex (outside of some weird homebrew games that I'm sure exist, or sex ed game maybe??). Either way I thought the beating the prostitute thing was only in the original GTA3 and not in any of the later versions? Am I wrong?
  • Enforcable? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mayhem178 (920970) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:17PM (#15820650)
    It would have fined youths under age 17 $25 for renting or buying video games designed for adults - those rated "M" for mature or "AO" for adults only. The law also would have required stores to post warning signs about the fines.

    I'm wondering how they were planning to enforce this. Obviously they can't rely on store clerks to ask for ID, since they were considering putting this law into effect in the first place. So what then? Have a cop watch the checkout lines? Oh, I know.....search warrants for all residences with children 17 or younger!

    I'm thinking this is just another scare tactic. Another "this could happen to you!" situation to worry about, in the hopes that it'll stop kids from trying to buy/rent games that they shouldn't be.

    Personally, I think a better solution would be to fine the store when this happens.
  • by XenoPhage (242134) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:38PM (#15820804) Homepage
    I'm a bit torn about this ruling. Part of it may be that I don't fully understand this bill, nor the implications thereof. As I understand it, this bill would have prohibited minors from renting/buying adult oriented games (M/AO) under threat of a fine. Is that it? I thought the objective here was to prevent retailers from selling these games to minors under threat of fines to the retailer.

    I don't necessarily agree that video games are harmful to all children. However, I would agree that they can, somewhat, de-sensitize them. And, I would agree that certain children may be negatively influenced by some games. Granted, those children generally have a host of other behavioural issues that should have been red flagged long before video games really get into the picture.

    Regardless of whether or not the games will "hurt" the children, however, they have been rated for adults. Because of this, I personally believe that retailers should be encouraged to prevent the sale of these games to minors unless an adult is present. Encouraged as in the guidelines given to them by the ESRB, not fines and laws. These guidelines are, of course, a deterant, and not something that will prevent a child from ever getting their hands on the game. That part is up to the parent.

    As a parent, (yes, I'm a geek AND I got the girl.. I'm still trying to figure out how the hell that happened myself) I know what limits my children have. I pay attention to what they watch, read, play, and even who they hang out with. I'm not a dictator by any means, but I do attempt to influence what my children say and do without forcing my opinions on them. They are free to make their own decisions, within reasonable limits. I do not allow my children to play games such as GTA. I do, however, allow my older son (12) to play games such as Unreal Tournament, 007, and some of the M-rated racing games. Of course, I checked them out beforehand. And I have yet to see him driving down the street, with a BFG, taking out the neighbors.

    I find it disheartening that our society seems so hell bent on not only allowing, but encouraging the government to set forth laws to regulate how I raise my children. I'm aware that there are parents out there who are completely useless and should never have been allowed to reproduce, but laws like this infringe on my rights as a parent. I should be able to raise my child as I see fit.

    I think laws like this should be beaten down, but I think reasonable guidelines should be put in place. And I definitely don't like the free speach flag being waved around as an excuse for stuff like this.
  • Re:Great news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HiddenL (967659) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:51PM (#15820905)
    Its not that much about constitutionality when it comes to children. If they could prove that games were harmful to minors, the court would be okay with restricting its sale to them.

    The problem is, they CANT prove that violent/graphic video games are harmful to minors, because they're not. According to this site [gamerevolution.com], violent crime rates for children is at an all-time low.

    -------

    NOTE TO SELF: Don't wait until userids are near 1M to join a website after reading it for 7 years.

  • by steveo777 (183629) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:53PM (#15820917) Homepage Journal
    Many shops even discourage employees from advising parents about ESRB ratings. A buddy of mine worked for a Gamestop in Minnesota for a couple years. Parents would come in with 6-12 year old kids screaming "GTA! GTA!" And mom would pick it up and ask if it was okay for the kid to play. He'd say flat out, "No. This game shouldn't be played by anyone under 17." The manager would then walk over and try to convince her that it was just fine so he could keep his store numbers up, then dock my friend reward points or something.

    Long story short, he doesn't work there any more (mostly because a married 27 year old guy with a couple college degrees under his belt really doesn't want to work in a corporate game shop his whole life). He'd get into arguements with the managers over and over in front of customers and list off why the game shouldn't be played by kids. I got to see this happen once. After my friend explained that hookers made your life total go up, the mom looked to see if her kid was in earshot, then leaned in to the manager and said something like, "Listen here ass hole. If I ever see you around a child I will call the police you sick F---." Grabbed her kid and left.

  • Minor Trouble (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:59PM (#15820964) Journal
    "Minnesota lawmakers hoped their approach - penalizing the minors who got the games, instead of the retailers who sold or rented them - would have fared better in court than overturned state laws that went after retailers in Illinois, California, Michigan and elsewhere."

    Ie, Minnesota lawmakers decided to target minors with their unconstitutional law because minors (ie, their parents) have a harder time fighting back. It's times like this I wish lawmakers could be brought up on treason charges for intentionally (and in this case, repeatedly) making unconstitutional laws. It's stupid that they can literally modify a few words in an overturned law which have no real effect on the original claim against it (in this case, freedom of speech) and then make it a new law.
  • Re:ESRB? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigbigbison (104532) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:21PM (#15821122) Homepage
    In the USA, NO ratings are government enforced.
    All ratings from videogames to TV shows to movies are self-imposed.
    There is NO law that prevents minors from enterting R rated movies.

    Even things like "XXX" movies are not government rated. If someone is arrested for selling pornography to a minor, they first have to establish that the item in question is indeed pornography (sure in many cases this is trivial, but there have been several cases where comic books containing sexual material have been seized and the court cases have basically revolved around proving they were pornographic).
  • Online retailers? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:33PM (#15821185)
    If legislation like this were to be put into place, how would online retailers/distributors like Amazon or Valve (Steam) be held accountable, if at all?
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:55PM (#15821304) Homepage
    You mean like the way no one has proven the harm of pornography to minors?

    As a society (in the US anyway) we almost 'instinctively' assume that sexually explicit material is unsuitable for children to view. No one ever asks why or asks for proof of its danger.

    And here we have another form of entertainment that many intuitively feel is a danger to children, and now a judge is asking for proof?

    I hold that depictions of sex are not harmful to children any more than graphical violence is. Why are the two treated so differently? Is it our religious social core?
  • by dasboy (598256) on Monday July 31, 2006 @07:32PM (#15821499)
    I can't help but feel that the video game publishers lucked-out on who heard their case. James Rosenbaum isn't inclined to assume that technology invalidates common sense application of the law. To this end, he has written several "thought articles" about search and seizure involving data. His article "In defense of the DELETE key" attempts to set some rational restrictions of mining a hard drive for incriminating evidence. He has expanded on this with several other "In defense of ..." articles: In Defense of the Delete Key [greenbag.org] In Defense of the Hard Drive [greenbag.org] In Defense Of The Sugar Bowl [fclr.org]
  • by werewolf1031 (869837) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:50PM (#15822205)
    Many (if not all) states prohibit persons under 21 from serving/selling alcohol. When's the last time you met an 18 year old bartender?
    I can only speak for where I live, but here in Pennsylvania any "legal adult" (ie. 18 or over) can serve alcohol. They just can't drink it. So yes, there are 18-year-old bartenders here in PA. In many states, serving and selling are not the same thing.

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