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Senate Hearing Recap 41

Gamespot has a look at what went on this week in the Senate hearings on game legislation. Some dramatic testimony was heard at the event, from both sides of the debate. From the article: "The crux of Smith's testimony is that, like film or books, games are a form of expression. 'Video games feature the artwork of leading graphic artists, as well as music--much of it original--that enhances the game's artistic expression in the same way as movie soundtracks,' he said. 'These games often contain storylines and character development as detailed as [and sometimes based on] books and movies. These games frequently involve familiar themes such as good versus evil, triumph over adversity, and struggle against corrupt powers.'"
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Senate Hearing Recap

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  • by kunwon1 ( 795332 ) * <dave.j.moore@gmail.com> on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:49PM (#15037470) Homepage
    From TFA:

    During his emotional testimony, Strickland lashed out at games' impact on society. "As I gather more information on the games and the people who call themselves 'gamers,' I could see how someone like Devin, who at one minute did not put up any resistance ... [could take] my brother's gun from him in the police station, shooting him and then killing two other men in a matter of less than two minutes," said Strickland. "A game such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City could and did teach him how to do this."

    Anyone who thinks GTA can teach someone how to shoot has either A) Never played GTA or B) Never fired a weapon, ever.

    Dave
  • Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Siberwulf ( 921893 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:53PM (#15037499)
    Its just censorship under the veil of protection. Give games the rating based on the same standard as in movies, and block access to them, just like with movies.

    Put some of the damn responsibility back on the parents.
    First, songs taught us how to kill cops.
    Then Beavis and Butthead taught us how to kill each other.
    Then wrestling taught us to suplex each other.
    Now games teach us to fire guns.

    Its a general problem in america (and yes, I'm american, and texan at that) where we can't and won't own up to the ability to control our lives. I don't know where it started, but thats a common theme over the past 20 years. I'm curious where the next phase of this is going to go.
  • flawed logic (Score:5, Informative)

    by radical_dementia ( 922403 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @05:58PM (#15037554) Journal
    These anti-game activists keep saying that video games increase aggression and violent behavior. However I find that hard to believe considering US Crime Rates [disastercenter.com] have in fact been decreasing since videogame began getting popular in the early 90s.
    • These anti-game activists keep saying that video games increase aggression and violent behavior. However I find that hard to believe considering US Crime Rates have in fact been decreasing since videogame began getting popular in the early 90s.

      Flawed logic indeed. Where do I begin?

      • Other factors contribute to crime. That doesn't mean violent media doesn't contribute at all.
      • Video games have been popular since the 80s at least.
      • Very very few people say that "video games increase aggression and violent beha
      • "But mostly legislators, psychologists and parents advocate restricting the sales of ultra-violent games to minors. This is not a ban. This is parental control."
        The government is not a parent. The game store is not a parent. This is NOT parental control. This is government as 'father knows best' for everyone. The ESRB is enough to inform parents of the content of a game just as the MPAA rates films - there is no need for government involvement.

        • "The government is not a parent. The game store is not a parent. This is NOT parental control. This is government as 'father knows best' for everyone. The ESRB is enough to inform parents of the content of a game just as the MPAA rates films - there is no need for government involvement."

          You're exactly right: neither the govt nor the game store is parent. That is why neither should be deciding what games a minor can buy. Parents should decide. But the FTC found that 42% of kids between 13 and 16 could b [gamasutra.com]

        • "The government is not a parent."

          No it's not, but what does that have to do with the argument, it's illegal to serve a minor alcohol, is that being a parent? No, it means the government is making reasonable regulations on commerce that makes life a bit simpler for parents. The fines and a direct threat via the license, send a clear message to the publican to act as a responsible adult when dealing with somebody else's kid. And if someone does sell your kids a tequila slammer at the local strip joint, it
          • "No it's not, but what does that have to do with the argument, it's illegal to serve a minor alcohol, is that being a parent? No, it means the government is making reasonable regulations on commerce that makes life a bit simpler for parents."

            There's a difference between alcohol and violent video games. There are documented health risks that come with children drinking alcohol. There is no such link between violent video games and children. I am sure that many well-adjusted teenagers can see that GTA is qu

            • "There is no such link between violent video games and children. I am sure that many well-adjusted teenagers can see that GTA is quite comical and enjoy the game."

              Yep I agree and my kids had good exposure to "real life", yet I also understand that a large sub-section of parents do not agree and would like to be able to control THIER kids access to games with violence / sex / drugs (the last two being concepts kids are only just aware of around puberty). Now before you say that it is "unrealistic", I know
              • "The whole point is should the shop owner be able to veto a parents "reasonable control" over their kids purchases. "

                That's not the issue at all. Store owners currently deny children the ability to purchase certain games. The real issue is whether the government should be the one determining what is and isn't okay for children to have. The ESRB functions fine without government involvement.

                "Do the kids only watch broadcast TV and don't have pocket money to buy/rent a game/porno from an iresponsible shop

                • "That's not the issue at all. Store owners currently deny children the ability to purchase certain games."

                  As I understand it, that behaviour is optional the shop owner does not have an OBLIGATION to operate that way. What the bill is saying is that it should no longer be optional. It is simply the government mandating what is already practised by most of the shop keepers.

                  "And you show your ignorance of the situation there ..... Check your facts again."

                  No you missed the part that said "In Australia"
                  • "No you missed the part that said "In Australia" ... "

                    You said that in a paragraph quite separate from your aside about alcohol. There was no reason to expect that that statement was still in effect.

                    "As I understand it, that behaviour is optional the shop owner does not have an OBLIGATION to operate that way. What the bill is saying is that it should no longer be optional. It is simply the government mandating what is already practised by most of the shop keepers. "

                    That's a complete oversimplification o

                    • "The ESRB is an indepedent body"

                      No, it is an industry body in the same genre as the *IAA, it's funding and point of view are directly attributable to the common interests of it's members (as evidenced by it's strong opposition to anything except "self-regulation"). Members pay fines because they want to remain members, other than that, they have no power to enforce ANY rules. I have no need to know anymore, it's rules do not affect me and are not backed up by genuine regulations.

                      "...you had to resort
                    • "No, it is an industry body in the same genre as the *IAA, it's funding and point of view are directly attributable to the common interests of it's members (as evidenced by it's strong opposition to anything except "self-regulation"). Members pay fines because they want to remain members, other than that, they have no power to enforce ANY rules. I have no need to know anymore, it's rules do not affect me and are not backed up by genuine regulations."

                      Then why would the ESRB have caused such a fuss over the

                    • You are a kid, you will sing a different song when you are a parent.
                    • "You are a kid, you will sing a different song when you are a parent."

                      You know nothing about me or what I am. In fact, you were the one that was reduced to pedestrian curses, not me. That's rather telling and, most likely, you're lying. It doesn't matter either way. I don't argue based on my status - I argue using logic and reason and I, mistakenly, assumed I would get the same. Instead of doing that, you've decided that I should respect your opinion based on your claim that you have children. I don't and

                    • lol, check back over the conversation and look at the insults on BOTH sides. Like I said you are a kid, how did I know that - because I am a parent of adult children.

                      Being a parent is not something you can sit down and intellectualise, you have to experience it....listening to you pontificate about how others should bring up their children is kinda like listening to a virgin give instructions on how to staisfy a woman.
                    • "check back over the conversation and look at the insults on BOTH sides"

                      Look back at the conversation and look at who was reduced to the baseness of cursing.

                      "Like I said you are a kid, how did I know that - because I am a parent of adult children."

                      And just to make it crystal clear - you're wrong about this.

                      "Being a parent is not something you can sit down and intellectualise, you have to experience it....listening to you pontificate about how others should bring up their children is kinda like listenin

                    • Here is my own bit of cut & paste....

                      "No, it [ESRB established by ESA] is an industry body in the same genre as the *IAA, it's funding and point of view are directly attributable to the common interests of it's members (as evidenced by it's strong opposition to anything except "self-regulation"). Members pay fines because they want to remain members, other than that, they have no power to enforce ANY rules. I have no need to know anymore, it's rules do not affect me and are not backed up by genuine r
                    • Done arguing that you're right and I'm wrong because you claim to have children and claim that I don't?

                      The moment you had to invent a background for me to argue your point, you proved that I am correct.

      • Other factors contribute to crime. That doesn't mean violent media doesn't contribute at all.

        Indeed, anyone who believes that the decrease in violent crimes is well correlated with the rise of violent games should read Freakonomics [amazon.com] and find out what it is much better correlated with. In fact, everyone should just go read Freakonomics anyway 'cause its an awesome book.

      • Flawed logic indeed.

        It's flawed logic to assume causation... but it is not flawed logic to ask just what problem these hearings are trying to solve. There doesn't seem to be one, if you actually look at the numbers.
      • Other factors contribute to crime. That doesn't mean violent media doesn't contribute at all.

        But if violent media contributes why did the crime rate go down

        Video games have been popular since the 80s at least.

        When did violent games start becoming popular?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    FTA: The last legal basis Saunders cited will be the most familiar--namely, that playing violent games causes "harm" to minors. He said [...] "the correlation of media violence with real-world violence is as strong as that for secondhand smoke and lung cancer, lead exposure in children and lower IQs, use of the nicotine patch and smoking cessation, and asbestos exposure and cancer of the larynx."

    That may be the case, but if it is, why is he only arguing for the restriction of violent video games? Let's hav
    • "That may be the case, but if it is, why is he only arguing for the restriction of violent video games?"

      Well, because MPAA and RIAA have much more powerful lobbyists than the gaming industry.

      And some excellent representation in the US Congress and Senate. Gotta love the campaign donations!
  • There is hope... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spaztik ( 917859 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @06:07PM (#15037625)
    Maybe the Video Game Voters Network is finally having an effect on our congressmen.

    If you haven't done so already I would strongly encourage all of you to sign up here: http://www.videogamevoters.org/ [videogamevoters.org]
  • by twoallbeefpatties ( 615632 ) on Friday March 31, 2006 @10:14PM (#15039411)
    So here's the list of those at the hearing:

    * A reverend, whose brother was killed by a self-described gamer. Has no scientific degree, but argues that games must be causing violent behavior.
    * A psychologist who believes videogames may have a negative impact on children, without specifically stating that they do have a negative impact.
    * A professor of speech communications, who testifies that the impact of videogames on children are possibly overblown. (Here's a link [uiuc.edu] that has an excerpt of some of Dmitri Williams's testimony.)
    * A research scientist who states that violent media have an impact on children, and states that videogames may have a deeper impact by being more interactive, without saying that they are more influential.
    * A videogame industry member, who points out how videogame laws rarely stand up to judicial review.
    * A politician who plans on endorsing a new bill coming out against videogame violence. Has no scientific degree, but argues that videogames must be causing violent behavior
    * A lawyer who has represented the videogame industry, who points out how these laws rarely stand up to judicial review.
    * A lawyer who argues that there may be means to restrict sales of games to minors despite First Amendment claims.

    So according to this hearing, the videogame industry is nothing but lawyers attempting to get judicial activist judges to repeal these laws on flimsy laws, and the counter-media side had a lawyer to provide a counter-argument. Researchers who said that videogames may have an effect on children and thus advocated for new laws outnumbered the one psychologist that pointed out that what we know is incomplete. And the pro-videogame crowd got no response to the ad hominem attacks from two people who know nothing about videogames except to say that they must be causing harm, as if having the Reverend on the panel would contribute anything to the discussion but rhetoric.

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone not think a national bill involving the sales of videogames to minors is not now inevitable, considering just what kinds of testimony Congress is going to spend their time listening to?

  • These games frequently involve familiar themes such as [...] struggle against corrupt powers.
    Looks like they're about to be banned...
  • "Good vs. Evil" is not a theme. It's a cliche, and one of the worst.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger

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