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Gaming Politics To Watch Today 58

As you go to the polls today, alongside more serious issue be sure to think of how politics affects the gaming world. GamePolitics has a rundown of politicians associated with gaming (in either a good or bad way) who are up for re-election today. From the article: "Hillary Clinton (D-NY): sponsor of the Family Entertainment Protection Act (FEPA). Joe Lieberman (I-CT): his criticism of game violence in the mid-1990's led directly to the formation of the ESRB. Rick Santorum (R-PA): backs Hillary's game initiatives, but also backs the ESRB. George Allen (R-VA): backs the ESRB rating system. Candidate Mike McGavick (R-WA): trying to unseat Democrat Maria Cantwell; he believes the entertainment industry will not regulate itself and wants to explore legislative solutions."
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Gaming Politics To Watch Today

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  • by MBraynard ( 653724 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:32AM (#16751783) Journal
    It's an independant, non-governmental, non-profit organization that has the full support of developers and publishers who voluntarily have their games certified. I realize the typical slashherd member can't see the difference between this and, say, Red China's government cracking down on politically disident 'bloggers,' but the difference is there.

    And if the private sector does not do a good job at self-regulation (and even sometimes when it does!), the unfortunate result is government's ham-fisted regulation that is always worse. So three cheers for the ESRB?

  • by Outatime ( 108039 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:34AM (#16751797)
    Are you kidding me? Even if you're a hardcore gamer, games should be the LAST thing you consider as you vote for someone for public office. This article is ridiculous.
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:43AM (#16751925) Journal
    "Are you kidding me? Even if you're a hardcore gamer, games should be the LAST thing you consider as you vote for someone for public office. This article is ridiculous."

    The First Amendment is more important than you think.
  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:00PM (#16752203)
    No, the government's use of the ESRB is a censorship matter but the ESRB itself is not. I for one like the ESRB. It's not perfect but it does give a ballpark idea of the appropriateness of games for children. I still usually have to do some research of my own on the game's content but it's a nice starting point. Parents and stores do not have to follow the ESRB's recommendation in most cases. In places where ESRB ratings carry some sort of legal weight, the fault lies entirely with the legislators that made such laws, not the independent game rating unit that never intended their ratings to be used in such a manner.
  • by sesshomaru ( 173381 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:13PM (#16752401) Journal
    Why gaming is important:

    1. It's a First Amendment Litmus test issue: My opinion of people jumping on the anti-gaming band-wagon is that they have no respect at all for the First Amendment. This is because I think games are generally milder than what you see on mainstream commercial television (I've watched Scarface on commercial television, I also watch Heroes. Heroes has some disturbing imagery related to my favorite character, scary undead cheerleader girl.) I think the politicians out to ban them have no idea what they are talking about and have a witchhunt mentality. I don't want witchhunters in office, I don't think they'll respect unpopular political dissent any more than they respect games.

    2. Politicians are often Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee: In other words, they both voted for the Iraq war, and both support staying the course, etc. The only difference between two politicians might be their stance on games. (Or they might be identical on that, too, but different on taxes... etc.)

    3. Politicians may have limited power: Do I care what position someone running for City Council has on the Iraq war? Maybe emotionally, but otherwise it is irrelevant. Do I care what position he has on videogames? Yes, because he may try to, say, ban arcades within the city limits or create an anti-gaming tax.

    4. The race is probably not even close: In many cases, it's not going to matter who you vote for, and you might as well stay home. If you care enough to drag yourself to the polls to cast a vote against an anti-game politician, you might also take the time to vote for other candidates and ballot initiatives.

    5. Jobs and Economy: See, here's a good example of where one issue is related to another issue. There have been a few anti-game initiatives that have been designed to make games, or certain types of games, economically unviable. These issues impact me as a consumer, and impacts the job market and also my options as a consumer. I've noticed where I am that all the arcades closed. Is part of the reason dealing with these stupid controversies? Who knows, but what I do know is that many politicians wanted the arcades closed and enacted legislation to speed it along (some of the anti-gaming laws particularly targetted arcades with vague restrictions against undefined violence in games which could mean House of the Dead or could mean Tekken). If I wanted to open an arcade as a business and stock the kind of games I want, I'm probably out of luck.

    Now, me, I don't see much point in voting for non-Libertarian candidates. My opinion of the two major parties is "A pox on both their houses" and the same goes for most Independents. There are even many Libertarians who aren't orthodox enough for me. That said, I will drag myself to the polls just to spite an anti-game politician by voting against him. Because while I think the two major parties mainly disagree about how to decorate this handbasket we are all in, I am will to vote out of the important political emotion, spite.

  • by CrashPoint ( 564165 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:49PM (#16753033)
    Yes it is.

    The right and responsibility to decide what games little Billy can buy belongs solely to his parents.

    The right and responsibility to protect the integrity of the ESRB ratings belongs solely to the ESRB.

    The government has no business interfering in either.
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:09PM (#16753363) Journal
    "Then so is the FDA.....You're a friggin idiot"

    Hey, I wasn't the one who used the FDA [] as an example of a non-government agency. Hello? knock knock. Does the top-level domain .gov mean anything to you?
  • ahem. Yes it is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krell ( 896769 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:52PM (#16754005) Journal
    "restricting the sale of adult themed games to adults is not a violation of free speech."

    Yes, it is a violation if the government gets involved in any way whatsoever. We can argue whether or not this censorship of free speech is justified, but that does not change it from being a censorship/free-speech issue at all.
  • by SuperRob ( 31516 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:53PM (#16754031) Homepage
    The ESRB does a great job ... when parents can be bothered to read the ratings and understand them, and understanding the GAME, too. The ratings aren't enough.

    When Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was coming out, I did some market research into the people buying the game. At one point, while standing in a Toys 'R' Us collecting observational data, I noticed a grandmother buying the game. I asked her who she was buying the game for. "My grandson ... he asked for it." I asked her if she was aware of the rating on the game. She wasn't aware that games even had ratings. I showed her where the rating was, and that the game she was buying for her 12-year-old grandson was rated for 17 and up. She was dumbfounded.

    So then I asked her, "Ma'am ... what's the name of this game?"

    "Grand Theft Auto."

    "What does that mean to you?"

    She couldn't answer. Apparently, it never even occurred to her that buying a game for her grandson that was titled after a CRIME was somehow a bad idea.

    The ESRB is good. There needs to be more, though. Parents (and in this case, grandparents) need to be more proactive in learning what their kids are playing, and more importantly, learn to engage their critical thinking skills when it comes to a kid that might be trying to put one over on ol' Grams.
  • Re:Oh Please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @02:38PM (#16754595)
    I can think of at least 20 more important issues that would decide how I would vote today before video games comes into play.

    There are people who vote based on something they do for one hour a week. Most of us here spend a lot more of our lives gaming than anyone not a priest does at church. Why shouldn't we vote against politicians who want to restrict our freedom to play what the hell we like?

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears