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Federal Judge Strikes Down Ban on Violent Games 80

CaptainEbo writes "A federal judge in Louisiana has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a statewide ban on violent video games. The judge's holding that 'depictions of violence are entitled to full constitutional protection' flies in the face of Louisiana's assertion that video games interactive nature make them inherently more likely to incite people to violence, and therefore requires reduced First Amendment protection. In rejecting the state's argument, the judge compared video games to literature. 'It is the interactive aspect of literature that makes it successful — 'draw[ing] the reader into the story, mak[ing] him identify with the characters, invit[ing] him to judge them and quarrel with them, to experience their joys and sufferings as the reader's own.'" GamePolitics also has reaction to the news from Louisiana political figures, as forwarded by Jack Thompson.
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Federal Judge Strikes Down Ban on Violent Games

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  • Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NsOmNiA91130 ( 942812 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:25PM (#15982952)
    Well, at least the judge found a video game to be essentially an interactive book, instead of a "violence starter". Really, if a 13 year old kid is playing, say, Doom 3, and his parents are aware of it's rating and think that the kid is mature enough to handle it, they usually are. I first played Doom when I was 6, and Half-Life when I was 9. My parents didn't think that it would incite violence, and, well, it didn't. People like Jack Thompson only make ignorant parents more ignorant.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bman08 ( 239376 )
      I read the headline and thought they banned games like football, dodgeball and red rover. Now that might be a step in the right direction.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nebaz ( 453974 )
        It's people like you that take all the fun out of life.
        • by Briareos ( 21163 )
          It's people like you that take all the fun out of life.

          Maybe they should spend their time at taking da fun out of fundamentalism?

          Of course, they'd have to start with themselves first...

          np: Autechre - Tilapia (Cichlisuite)
      • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Elemenope ( 905108 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:21PM (#15983347)
        I don't know about you, but I *liked* Dodgeball and Redrover. Damn modern parents and their precious kids; can't bleed a little for their fun. Don't feel pain! Don't feel discomfort! Don't feel loss! Bah! There's nothing that makes you feel alive so much as getting clotheslined...especially when you are ten years old.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Chmcginn ( 201645 )
          Not to mention it seemed much harder to get injured when one was ten. Watch almost any 30something dad trying to keep up with his eight year old kid on a bike, and you'll see what I mean before too long...
        • I don't know about you, but I *liked* Dodgeball and Redrover. Damn modern parents and their precious kids; can't bleed a little for their fun. Don't feel pain! Don't feel discomfort! Don't feel loss! Bah! There's nothing that makes you feel alive so much as getting clotheslined...especially when you are ten years old.

          From the movie Dodgeball: A True underdog Story

          But remember, dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion and degradation. So, when you're picking players in gym class, remember to pick the

        • by Throtex ( 708974 )
          There's nothing that makes you feel alive so much as getting clotheslined...especially when you are ten years old.

          I can think of at least one thing ... being the guy doing the clotheslining.
      • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Funny)

        by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:29PM (#15983378)
        my wife is a 4th grade teacher.. they don't have swings at her school.. some kid might get hurt.. infact.. they took the swings out.. not because some kid got hurt .. but because one "could"

        if i was a kid in school now. i would just start stabing people and blame it on air to see if they would remove that too
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Razed By TV ( 730353 )
      Really, if a 13 year old kid is playing, say, Doom 3, and his parents are aware of it's rating and think that the kid is mature enough to handle it, they usually are. I first played Doom when I was 6, and Half-Life when I was 9.

      A 13 year old is fine, and they're at the age where they're going to be exposed to graphic violence from numerous places; from movies, tv, video games they play at their friend's houses, they're going to find gore gallary if that is what they want to find.

      However, I think there
    • by queenb**ch ( 446380 ) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @10:55AM (#15984902) Homepage Journal
      Where are the parents? You - dear parent - are the one who decided to squeeze out a kid. Therefore, you should be the one raising it. If you're buying your 13 year old kid games like GTA, Hitman, Manhunt, etc., I'm guessing that you buy him booze and hookers too...

      Here's the deal, O stupid parent. THE WHOLE $%&*!@# WORLD IS NOT CHILDPROOFED. Nor should it be. Responsbile adults should get to have their fun too. Look at what you are buying for your kid. Take some and read about it on the internet or sit down and play through it yourself before you blindly hand it over to little Timmy. Just because he asks for it doesn't mean he ought to have it.

      The PS2 , XBox, etc. is not a substitute for interacting with your child. I know that a lot of parents use the gaming console as a substitute baby-sitter. It keeps the kid quiet and occupied. However, just like the TV, you - stupid parent - need to be paying attention to what little Timmy is doing. Pull that head out of that double-wide behind and start looking around.

      2 cents,

      • by si618 ( 263300 )

        We're just about to start celebrate our son's first birthday (kai.sshnug.com) and I find your comments pretty lame.

        > You - dear parent - are the one who decided to squeeze out a kid.

        We didn't decide, well ok, we decided not to have an abortion (as we are in a stable relationship and environment, both financial and social), but the getting pregnant part was purely accidental.

        > THE WHOLE $%&*!@# WORLD IS NOT CHILDPROOFED. Nor should it be.

        No shit.

        > Look at what you are buying for your kid.

        No shit
  • by legoburner ( 702695 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:29PM (#15982970) Homepage Journal
    "the point I'm making is that the more violent a game is, the more unrealistic it appears to be.

    Most kids end up thinking that it would never happen."

    Seems normal enough, except that quote comes from an 11 year old [bbc.co.uk].

    Still, I look forward to being old so I can start blaming the problems that have existed for millenia on the latest, greatest thing that I do not understand.
  • by stubear ( 130454 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @08:29PM (#15982971)
    However, stupid jackasses passing laws trying to ban violent video games make me want to kill the jackasses passing the laws. Perhaps I can have a ban passed on banning violent video games because that makes people violent.
    • Hey, you might be on to something. Can we ban Jack Thompson? He's inciting violence!
    • This is *exactly* what I was thinking. I don't suppose we could broaden it to simply include all politics, could we? I mean, that stuff inclines me to violent thought far more than just about anything else I've ever encountered.
  • He draws the obvious conclusion that, even though most of /. has read Neuromancer, it doesn't push us into love/hate relationships with the neighborhood hottie street samurai who has built-in HUD/sunglasses.

    Mainly because she's such a bitch, but still.

    • it doesn't push us into love/hate relationships with the neighborhood hottie street samurai who has built-in HUD/sunglasses.

      Well, if you're into snuff porn, maybe it actually does... but then you must be some kind of sicko by nature. See the analogy with violent games?
  • Again? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    what is this, the 20-something-ith attempt at a violent video games ban?... We might need to find some new activity to fill up the time of these politicians. Maybe adding recess and nap-time...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 25, 2006 @09:23PM (#15983154)
    The judge issued a preliminary injunction, he did not strike the law down. All the preliminary injunction means is that the law will not take effect while the lawsuit is being conducted. It may be a good sign, but the case isn't over yet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Elemenope ( 905108 )
      True enough, but in his reasoning the judge absolutely evicerated the only argument that had a chance of prevailing for the state, that being that games have some feature which makes them less deserving of 1st Amendment protection.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        And one requirement for the judge to issue a preliminary injunction is that he has to determine that the benefitting party is likely to win the suit. So by issuing it, he has to have already reached a decision about the merits of the case.

        It's true that it isn't the end, but it definitely points to one side as the likely winner.
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @09:26PM (#15983168) Journal
    It's going to get to the point with these cases that just citing all the relevant precedent alone is going to take tens of pages.

    Maybe the ESRB should help these guys out and provide a pre-written list of all the relevant citations so the judges can just copy/paste the list into the ruling. :) (After checking them, of course.)
    • by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
      As far as I know, all of these laws have been struck down. This of course means that they must be put into law somehow. This wastes the time and tax money of the citizens. Then a lawsuit is brought. This wastes the time and tax money of the citizens, with the bonus effect of clogging the court system.

      So really, I'd say pity the citizens, whose tax money is being wasted for political posturing. Let's not focus our efforts on stupid crap like healthcare and education, this latest moral crisis is much mor
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 25, 2006 @09:31PM (#15983182)
    People focus too much on the detrimental effects of video games, what about the good ones? I walk to work every day and have to cross a busy 5 lane highway, I can run across that thing like nothing else, dodging trucks, cars, logs, you name it. Thanks Frogger!
  • ...that we ought to hook him up to a generator and power the country for about 50 years!

    • Then, once he's dead and buried, we can make an ultra violent video game and harness the energy created by him spinning in his grave!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That's assuming he actually CARES about the effects of violent video games, he's always struck me as the kind of lawyer who only pretends to care for the sake of boosting his career.
  • Not a ban (Score:2, Informative)

    by CrashPoint ( 564165 )
    Title and summary are incorrect. The law was not a ban on violent games, it was a ban on selling said games to minors.
  • From the second link:

    I have talked to Guidry on this matter and express my disappointment of not getting everyone input before putting for the argument,


  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @10:52PM (#15983457)
    I mean, "Judge strikes down..." ? Do we have to use violent words like "strike?" There are teenagers reading this web site, and just seeing words like that could cause them to become violent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )
      Your use of the phallic capital "I", as a reminder of the misogynist and violent nature of patriarchial culture, is offensive and incites violence. We must ban its use, and replace it with the capital "O" instead, which represents peace, tranquility, and the circle of life.
  • Why not pass a law that treats video games like other forms of entertainment?

    It is illegal to allow a child under 17 to see an R-rated movie without a parent or guardian present.
    It is illegal to allow a child under 18 to purchase pornographic materials.
    Why not make it illegal to allow a child under 17 (or 18) to purchase an M (or AO) rated game?

    It doesn't prevent the games from being sold. It doesn't make it illegal to have, or play, the games. It just requires that a parent must be willing to get i
    • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:23PM (#15983570) Homepage
      In the United States this is not accurate.
      In the USA, NO ratings on media are government enforced.
      All ratings from videogames to TV shows to movies are self-imposed.
      There is NO law that prevents minors from entering R rated movies.
      Therefore to single out games would take an overwhelming amount of evidence that games were harmful.

      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).

      Moreover, the film industry has largely taken to circumventing their own rating system by releasing the film as PG-13 in US theaters and then come out with an "unrated edition" on DVD which they commonly advertise as containing more nudity and/or violence. Even if it were illegal for a store to sell a child an "R" rated film, how could it be illegal to sell a film which isn't even rated?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'm glad to see someone else gets this. I keep hearing from people that "if we don't sell violent movies to kids, we shouldn't sell them violent games". This arguement does not hold water, and is based on the very common misperception that selling R-rated movies to minors is illegal (it isn't where I live, or anywhere I've ever lived).

        I've explained this fact to people, that movie ratings are only ever enforced by the video stores and theaters, and they often outright refuse to accept this as true, even w
        • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @12:13AM (#15983736) Homepage
          I more or less post basically the same response to every single videogame law thread on slashdot because no matter how many stories are posted there is always at least one person who is under the assumption that ratings in the USA are given out by the government.
          I don't blame the people who post or anything. Online they are frequently from England or other countries where the ratings are government enforced, so there's no reason why they should know US laws. However, it does indicate the power of the rhetoric that these lawmakers use. Quite often the lawmakers or anti-videogame activists will say, "The ratings are voluntary and enforced by the industry themselves!" without mentioning that film ratings are rated in the same manner.
          • by Duds ( 100634 )
            Amazing how you can correct everyone in every video games thread yet get "england" wrong.

            1) "England" has no ratings at all, just like Florida has no ratings laws. That's a countrywide matter.
            2) Only about 10% of games have legal ratings in the UK.
            • by Haeleth ( 414428 )
              Only about 10% of games have legal ratings in the UK.

              But the 10% of games that are not exempt from BBFC classification are specifically those that contain things like "human sexual activity", "acts of gross violence towards humans or animals", and "techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences" (Video Recordings Act 1984).

              So, despite your nitpicking, the outcome is effectively as described: the games we're actually talking about, games in series like the Doom, Quake, and Grand Theft Auto seri
              • by Duds ( 100634 )
                Actually, While all GTAs have had legal ratings, only the Doom 3 based games and the 4th Quake have had.
            • Sorry, I'm a videogame expert, not a legal one! Over here in the USA, people almost always use England and the UK interchangeably which apparetnly isn't correct.
              • by Duds ( 100634 )
                It's correct in the same way as using "California" and "USA" interchangably is.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 )
          Reminds me of an old (but funny and relevant) riff from G. Carlin:

          People much wiser than I am said,
          "I'd rather have my son watch a film with 2 people making love
          than 2 people trying to kill one another. I, of course, can agree. It is
          a great sentence. I wish I knew who said it first. I agree with that but
          I like to take it a step further. I'd like to substitute the word Fuck for
          the word Kill in all of those movie cliches we grew up with. "Okay,
          Sherrif, we're gonna Fuck you now, but we're gonna Fuck you slow.
    • Even if that was in place parents buy these M rated games for their kids. If all of Jack Thomsons laws were put into place kids would still get the games because their parents buy it for them or their parents are with them when they buy them.
  • by ysaric ( 665140 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:12PM (#15983533)
    Jack Thompson can stick his nanny state where the sun doesn't shine. I'm the parent of a 3-year-old and that means I have to police my language, I have to watch what shows I have on TV. Does it get harder? Hell yes it gets harder. That doesn't mean I'm entitled to throw up my hands and tell the state to protect my kids--which, by the way, (a) the state sucks at since they're too busy doing things a limited government was never intended to do, and (b) will do all the things the opinion says it will. It will reduce all of us to playing only those games suitable for minors.

    And those games by and large suck.
  • Pffft... dupe! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peter_gzowski ( 465076 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:25PM (#15983578) Homepage
    Only not /.'s, but state governments:
    Indianapolis [slashdot.org]
    Illinois [slashdot.org]
    Michigan [slashdot.org]
    California [slashdot.org]

    When will the public realize that their politicians are NOT doing them good when they bring in these laws, but doing them harm? It is now so obvious to every district and federal court that these laws are unconstitutional, that the judges are making the states (i.e. tax-payers) pay the defendants' legal costs because they are knowingly WASTING THE COURTS' TIME.
    • Re:Pffft... dupe! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl@e x c ite.com> on Saturday August 26, 2006 @01:47AM (#15983967) Journal

      The politicians are not stupid and they have advisors. They have lawyers to talk to. They're damn well aware that every time one of these laws gets passed it's going to get struck down.

      Problem is, they don't care! It's all in the spin. "Ladies and gentlemen of this great state, I tried to pass a law allowing YOU to decide what kind of video games your children should be exposed to. A single liberal activist judge has decided he knows better..."

      Sure, the people of the state lose. But the politician still wins. Politicians may be a lot of things, very few if any of those things good, and probably most of them can't even be said on the radio. But for the most part, they're not stupid. Nasty, cold, arrogant, vicious, cynical, uncaring, dishonest? Sure, and probably then some. But they are dangerous in these things precisely because they are -not- stupid-and we are not watching closely.

      (Note before anyone's head explodes: All those not-so-nice things apply to politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle.)

      • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )
        While I'm nearly positive that the politicians backing this legislation were doing it exactly as you describe, for purely political reasons, this also serves to point out something that most people don't really notice: Fewer of our legislators (either state or federal) have any law background than many would think. I would wager that many legislators don't realize that the law they're writing or sponsoring has any constitutional implications. Yes, it eventually comes out, and yes, sometimes law-trained in
        • I wonder if anyone else sees the irony of the statement above. To write laws, to understand laws... one must have a background (i.e. degree) in law. Weren't laws meant for everyone, including those of us with no understanding of legalese? I don't post as a rebuke or rebuttal Fastolfe's statement, just an observation... laws are no longer written to be understood by the common man.

          I am saddened.
          • I've actually proposed a solution to that...every time any legislature (city, state, federal, what have you) meets, that government's founding document (the city's charter, the U.S. Constitution, whatever the case may be) should be read aloud, followed by the full text of every law passed by that body. I think we'd very quickly see shorter, more to-the-point laws.

            I also tend to believe that laws at every level should have a mandatory sunset of 1 or 2 years. Every law, every time. Of course, it can be rene

          • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )
            In most cases, laws are easily understood by the common (well, educated) man. The problem is writing them. Over the last few hundred years, judges have hammered out interpretations for a lot of very similar words and phrases, in a variety of different contexts. When a common person writes a law, they get their point out using simple language. Unfortunately, when lawyers argue and judges interpret what you've written, subtleties become very important, and poor word choice could make the law do something
        • by dthree ( 458263 )
          So you have to be a lawyer to become a legislator? Last I checked, we are supposed to (ostensibly) be a REPRESENTATIVE government. Having my state legislature full of lawyers would not accurately represent my state, as I and most of my co-constituents are not lawyers.
          • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )
            I didn't say all legislators had to be lawyers, but you do have to keep in mind that lawyers will be looking for ways to exploit the language of what you have written, and judges will interpret those laws according to very specific rules of law that most laypeople (which most congressmen are) simply do not understand. A minor wording problem could easily make a law inconsistent with itself, which puts judges in an awkward position of having to assume the law is written that way for a reason, even though ev
          • Clearly, it's not representative now, since 100% of the members of the legislature are, by definition, legislators. What the hell?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 )
      Curious about Missouri and if it paralells other state's prior history with Video Game legistlation.

      Missouri was particularly dracconian in the early 80s with arcades being told when they could operate, how close to schools, etc. One very amusing instance comes to mind. In 1983, Atari tried a brief attempt to take on Bally's (then) arcade empire with a series of arcades called "Atari Adventure". The first one was at Great America in San Jose - but the next one - for WHATEVER reason - was put in St. Louis.

      • In 2002 St. Louis County tried to ban sale or rental of violent video games to minors without parental consent. It was basically an extension of Indianapolis's 2000 ban on violent arcade games, and contained much of the same wording in its definition of "graphically violent".
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @01:51AM (#15983971) Homepage

    Schwarzenegger signs game-restriction bill [gamespot.com]. The concept of the guy who played the Terminator, Conan, etc. coming out against violent images is hysterical.

    • Yea - I was surprised at that one. Must have gotten a GOP action item memo or something. Or perhaps Hollywood was sweating bullets over lost revenue share to the competition from games and THEY sent the memo.
  • It really freaks me out that people like Jack Tomphson, that obviously has some influence, aren't focusing on more serious matters like hard drugs and such. Drugs are being sold to our children in SCHOOL. I know, I know, drugs are already illegal, but they are STILL the real problem.
    • by loqi ( 754476 )
      I know, I know, drugs are already illegal, but they are STILL the real problem.

      • What do you mean 'Nope' ?
      • I know, I know, drugs are already illegal, but they are STILL the real problem.


        Whether you think drugs are bad, should be illegal, or our government is doing the right (or successfuly) thing... the grandparent was focusing on "Drugs are being sold to our children in SCHOOL." Emphasis on school.

        That is a real problem. Or do you think that drugs being sold to 10-year-olds on a playground is a good thing? OK, high schoolers can technically make decisions (good or bad) themselves. But elementary

        • Maybe the Nope comment is directed towards drug use being the symtom of a problem rather than the problem itself.

          As someone who is using drugs at such a young age might be doing so to "help" or "deal" with larger issues or problems than using a chemical substance.

          Of course there are also kids who try drugs because they are curious and might not have any other problems in their life, but for any reason it comes back to the level of interaction between a parent and child, not because "drugs are bad mmmkay".
  • by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 ) on Saturday August 26, 2006 @07:24AM (#15984444) Journal
    Even not getting into the sociological arguments, the fact that GAMES are being wholly treated different than movies in the pennalty phase alone makes these laws a joke. The movie industry's rating systems are not law. If a kid sneaks in - the theatre can NOT be held accountable, fined and offending ticket sellers incarcerated.

    Now - if the same people pushing felony raps on game sellers want to put the hurt on Hollywood - then fine, I'll consider it. I'll also consider the massive entertainment value of all the lawyers in Hollywood being unleashed on those courtrooms being of the finest money can buy. Would make the RIAA attacks look like bullets compared to H-Bombs.
    • by sqlrob ( 173498 )
      And bookstores
      And music stores

      All media or none. That's the only constitutional way, and it's quite obvious that restrictions like that on all media aren't constitutional.

  • I have probably played hundreds of games of risk against both people and computers and I have never been tempted to try to take over the world and in fact I'm quite antiwar when it comes to real life. It's quite sad when it's news that a judge has protected our first amendment right to free expression and recognizes fantasy in games is just that fantasy. If the judge hadn't ruled that way I'd be worried about the fate of books from the Iliad to Jarhead.
  • Isn't there still something to be done in New Orleans? Something other than sitting and waiting for federal money that is? There's a hurricane not too far away, just dumb luck they're not in this one's path.

    I guess "for the children" legislation's just easier in an election year.
  • First... "preliminary injunction blocking a ban"... We're definitely getting the law system out of hand, people.
    Let's hope someone doesn't decide to submit a preliminary injunction blocking the preliminary injunction blocking the ban.

    Second, paranoia is not exclusive to our 21-st century society.

    You probably remember River Raid, a very kewl Atari 2600 game: images [google.com]
    So anyway, this game was at the time banned because it makes the player "act in a coldblooded fashion and destroy their enemy without mercy, for s
  • It's great to see some common sense finally filtering through, definitely after the argument that some of those who have been trying to regulate the gaming industry more vigorously have been using has been that parents buy the games without really looking at the ratings and that it is the games' industries fault for this. At the end of the day, if the parents aren't supervising their kids when the games are bought and played then surely there are bigger problems that those children will be facing other than

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain