Check Out Video of Last Night's Violent Videogames Debate

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Check Out Video of Last Night's Violent Videogames Debate

Last night's debate featured some big names talking about whether or not games should be subject to legislation, and now you can watch the entire thing.

Last night in San Francisco, the Commonwealth Club hosted a debate about violent videogames. On one side was George Rose, Executive VP and Chief Public Policy Officer for Activision Blizzard, while James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, sat on the other. Law professor Michael W. McConnell was also on the panel, providing legal expertise. John Diaz, an editorial page editor for the San Francisco Chroncle, served as a moderator for the debate.

Steyer was actually a last-minute substitute for Leland Yee, the California State Senator who penned the controversial law about violent videogames that was recently debated in front of the Supreme Court. Yee (presumably) had to be replaced because of the California budget debate that took place yesterday, but Steyer seems like a decent substitute to argue against violent videogames, which have often been maligned by Common Sense Media.

The debate itself is actually rather interesting to watch, as everybody comes across as fairly reasonable while they talk (though you may not agree with every point mentioned). One of the most interesting points, though, was that absolutely nobody on the panel thought that the Supreme Court would side with the 2005 legislation that Yee had authored.

Source: GamePolitics

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Oh my... They talk so slowly... So monotone... Can't keep... Awake.. Eyes closing...

ghbyhihiulhiukhiukj

*zzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzz*

They should get Jack Thompson in on this. He can just blackmail the Supreme Court.

DazBurger:
Oh my... They talk so slowly... So monotone... Can't keep... Awake.. Eyes closing...

ghbyhihiulhiukhiukj

*zzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzz*

i second this
its enough to put me to sleep
actually i may use it as a sleeping aid.

wtf is the camera man doing :S

Wait don't you need an ID or parent to buy an M rated game? Whats the problem?

I am hardcore on the side of the games industry in this debate, but I'm not sure the fellow from activision was a wise choice to represent the industry. He's being a little more arrogant and dismissive than I like, and not nearly as well organized and clear in what he's saying as the guy from CSM.

Patrick_and_the_ricks:
Wait don't you need an ID or parent to buy an M rated game? Whats the problem?

the problem is that it's not LAW that you need an ID or parent to do so, it's merely industry policy, and opponents of videogames seem to think that's not good enough.

-m

I grew up with violent mediums, never got the censored version and I'm far from violent. And despite the amount of shooters I have, I don't have a gun nor do I have an interest in one.

Now going by the video, am I the exception, or am I with the majority here and these 'facts' are skewed.

Matt_LRR:
I am hardcore on the side of the games industry in this debate, but I'm not sure the fellow from activision was a wise choice to represent the industry. He's being a little more arrogant and dismissive than I like, and not nearly as well organized and clear in what he's saying as the guy from CSM.

Patrick_and_the_ricks:
Wait don't you need an ID or parent to buy an M rated game? Whats the problem?

the problem is that it's not LAW that you need an ID or parent to do so, it's merely industry policy, and opponents of videogames seem to think that's not good enough.

-m

Here in Australia it's the law and things have worked out fine besides our R18+ debacles. Why don't you just make the ESRB legally enforceable? I don't understand why everyone cares that much. If they want to make it the law that if a child wants a game above their age bracket their parent has to buy it that makes perfect sense. I really don't understand the opposition on this issue. What could possibly go wrong if it's worked fine over here for years?

Matt_LRR:
the problem is that it's not LAW that you need an ID or parent to do so, it's merely industry policy, and opponents of videogames seem to think that's not good enough.

I'm fairly sure it's the law here in the UK. I don't the problem with requiring ID myself.

SL33TBL1ND:
Here in Australia it's the law and things have worked out fine besides our R18+ debacles. Why don't you just make the ESRB legally enforceable? I don't understand why everyone cares that much. If they want to make it the law that if a child wants a game above their age bracket their parent has to buy it that makes perfect sense. I really don't understand the opposition on this issue. What could possibly go wrong if it's worked fine over here for years?

Because one of the most fundamental rights afforded to americans is the ability to publish material for public consumption without infringement, and making sales to kids illegal counts as infringement on that right.

-m

Edit: To anyone who's not up to speed on american constitutional law, this fight isn't going to make sense - but it's a very important fight in terms of the recognition of games as a legitimate form of expression.

Matt_LRR:

SL33TBL1ND:
Here in Australia it's the law and things have worked out fine besides our R18+ debacles. Why don't you just make the ESRB legally enforceable? I don't understand why everyone cares that much. If they want to make it the law that if a child wants a game above their age bracket their parent has to buy it that makes perfect sense. I really don't understand the opposition on this issue. What could possibly go wrong if it's worked fine over here for years?

Because one of the most fundamental rights afforded to americans is the ability to publish material for public consumption without infringement, and making sales to kids illegal counts as infringement on that right.

-m

Edit: To anyone who's not up to speed on american constitutional law, this fight isn't going to make sense - but it's a very important fight in terms of the recognition of games as a legitimate form of expression.

Right, so it's not about the law as such, it's the infringement of constitutional rights and trying to show that games should not be treated any differently. Makes sense now.

Matt_LRR:

SL33TBL1ND:
Here in Australia it's the law and things have worked out fine besides our R18+ debacles. Why don't you just make the ESRB legally enforceable? I don't understand why everyone cares that much. If they want to make it the law that if a child wants a game above their age bracket their parent has to buy it that makes perfect sense. I really don't understand the opposition on this issue. What could possibly go wrong if it's worked fine over here for years?

Because one of the most fundamental rights afforded to americans is the ability to publish material for public consumption without infringement, and making sales to kids illegal counts as infringement on that right.

-m

Edit: To anyone who's not up to speed on american constitutional law, this fight isn't going to make sense - but it's a very important fight in terms of the recognition of games as a legitimate form of expression.

This is why it was interesting to get the viewpoint of someone who has actually been involved in constitutional law as McConnell has. If a Federal Judge who was almost a nominee to the supreme court is presenting an argument, you can bet the Supreme Court Justices have the same argument in front of them. Gives some impression of the arguments they will be deciding the case upon.

I grew up playing Duke Nukem/Quake and listening to punk/metal music. I'm not violent at all. But, at the same time, I don't see a problem with requiring an ID or parent to buy an M rated game. I should be the parent's responsibility either way, and with this, the parents will be more responsible than the retailer.

My biggest problem with the law is that it applies only to video games. Moral groups have tried this on books, movies and television in the past. Those attempts were all struck down as being a violation of freedom of speech. If that does not apply to games, they will no longer be covered. Ignoring the issue of who decides what counts as "deviant violence," making an exception to free speech for a single medium is unacceptable. While I wouldn't necessarily support it, I would be less vehemently opposed to legislation that imposed equal regulation on all forms of media.

I wonder what evil our children will need protecting from next. Books, movies, comics, TV, rock music, RPGs and cheesing have had their turn. Gaming is on the chopping block right now and social networking has taken some licks as well. I think musicals have had it easy for too long. West Side Story includes gang violence and murder. And I don't even know what's going on in Cats but I'm fairly certain it's obscene.

Patrick_and_the_ricks:
Wait don't you need an ID or parent to buy an M rated game? Whats the problem?

That's not a legal thing, it's a part of the industry, just like movies. It isn't illegal to sell a M-rated video game to a child, it's just against industry policies. This guy wants to make a legal distinction, which is a big difference, and would accomplish nothing, except maybe setting a bad precedent for the gov't being in charge of what types of media you can and cannot sell.

ok the main problem isnt the games themselves, its the parents for letting their children play games that MAY have an adverse effect on SOME childrens social behaviour.

if you are a parent, its your responsibility to 'call the shots'. deal with it.

also, if your going to quote me and then call me a moron, at least do it with real reason, not just for the sake of it...

Snotnarok:
I grew up with violent mediums, never got the censored version and I'm far from violent. And despite the amount of shooters I have, I don't have a gun nor do I have an interest in one.

Now going by the video, am I the exception, or am I with the majority here and these 'facts' are skewed.

The facts are skewed, and there are just as many statistics which say the opposite, as there are that agree with what was said. The problem is that they don't study the causality, only the correlation, and several others depending on the individual study.

Matt_LRR:

Edit: To anyone who's not up to speed on american constitutional law, this fight isn't going to make sense - but it's a very important fight in terms of the recognition of games as a legitimate form of expression.

Ah damn, that just killed my entire post.

But one thing still doesn't make sense to me, why not take this up with the guys who sell the games, and not make them? But something has to be wrong with that idea, these guys would have jumped to that if it were the case..

GiantRaven:

Matt_LRR:
the problem is that it's not LAW that you need an ID or parent to do so, it's merely industry policy, and opponents of videogames seem to think that's not good enough.

I'm fairly sure it's the law here in the UK. I don't the problem with requiring ID myself.

SL33TBL1ND:

Matt_LRR:
I am hardcore on the side of the games industry in this debate, but I'm not sure the fellow from activision was a wise choice to represent the industry. He's being a little more arrogant and dismissive than I like, and not nearly as well organized and clear in what he's saying as the guy from CSM.

Patrick_and_the_ricks:
Wait don't you need an ID or parent to buy an M rated game? Whats the problem?

the problem is that it's not LAW that you need an ID or parent to do so, it's merely industry policy, and opponents of videogames seem to think that's not good enough.

-m

Here in Australia it's the law and things have worked out fine besides our R18+ debacles. Why don't you just make the ESRB legally enforceable? I don't understand why everyone cares that much. If they want to make it the law that if a child wants a game above their age bracket their parent has to buy it that makes perfect sense. I really don't understand the opposition on this issue. What could possibly go wrong if it's worked fine over here for years?

The problem is that our constitution tries to limit the power of the government to influence our daily lives, because doing so restricts our rights. Many of us still believe in our rights, and are willing to fight for them through whatever legal channels we can. It might not make sense, but it's related to the whole: "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" thing. Our nation was founded on the belief that if the government had too much power, it would abuse it, which is the motivation behind separation of powers, and in fact much of the constitution.

spartan231490:

Patrick_and_the_ricks:
Wait don't you need an ID or parent to buy an M rated game? Whats the problem?

That's not a legal thing, it's a part of the industry, just like movies. It isn't illegal to sell a M-rated video game to a child, it's just against industry policies. This guy wants to make a legal distinction, which is a big difference, and would accomplish nothing, except maybe setting a bad precedent for the gov't being in charge of what types of media you can and cannot sell.

Well, seems I may need to break out the tin foil hats...

Patrick_and_the_ricks:
Wait don't you need an ID or parent to buy an M rated game? Whats the problem?

They don't want violent video games sold to minors period no matter what

GiantRaven:

Matt_LRR:
the problem is that it's not LAW that you need an ID or parent to do so, it's merely industry policy, and opponents of videogames seem to think that's not good enough.

I'm fairly sure it's the law here in the UK. I don't the problem with requiring ID myself.

Correct you are
but it has only been for the last year and a half
http://www.joystiq.com/2009/06/16/pegi-becomes-uk-standard-for-ratings-other-organization-gains-p/

before that it was the bbfc (who weren't that bad either, they only really took issue with manhunt (2?) and really who cares about that trash)

Congress(federal, state or municipal establishment) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Reason why most rating system in the US are non-mandatory and not legally binding.

Once they got past the introductions and got into the actual debate it was really interesting to hear the different sides of the issue.

Digital_Hero:

Matt_LRR:

Edit: To anyone who's not up to speed on american constitutional law, this fight isn't going to make sense - but it's a very important fight in terms of the recognition of games as a legitimate form of expression.

Ah damn, that just killed my entire post.

But one thing still doesn't make sense to me, why not take this up with the guys who sell the games, and not make them? But something has to be wrong with that idea, these guys would have jumped to that if it were the case..

The law would effect the retailers and the developers equally, and honestly, the result is the same either way.

Currently, the industry (game retailers and the ESRB) prevents minors from buying M rated games about 90% of the time.

If the law goes through, there will be a 1000$ fine associated with sales to minors.

So, in the instance of say, Call of duty, which sold 5 Million in the US, that's about 500,000 getting into the hands of minors. The financial risk associated with those sales is, under the proposed law, 5,000,000,000$. Yeah, five billion dollars in fines.

If you apply that fine to the game maker, then they stop making those games, because the financial risk is sufficiently high as to destroy any chance of those games meeting project approval during the design stage (why make an M game and risk 5,000,000,000$ in fines, when you could make a T game, and risk nothing?)

If you apply the fines to retailers, then the retailers refuse to carry the games, because there's too much risk of accidental sale to minors. (why sell M rated games, when T rated games carry no risk?", the net result of this is that game developers... stop making these games, because the marketplace, in which they might sell them, is gone.

Basically, such a law has a pronounced chilling effect on games that fall under the law's purview.

-m

There is so much that can be said on this topic. But I think this is definitely not the place to waste ones breath on the issue because it would be preaching to the choir. I myself side very heavily on the side of the video game companies (Big surprise right?). Although one thing I would love to emphasize.

I applaud both sides for taking the time to discuss the issue in a mature and civil fashion. If only we could have this type of great, honest, and straight forward discourse on all controversial topics. Being able to have both sides sit down and speak about the issue together and next to each other in such a way really makes me proud and hopeful. Although this one discussion is not even close to the needed amount of discussion on the topic, I truly applaud the people involved.

I think you should be required to be 18 to purchase M-Rated games.

There needs to be a better way to teach parents about whats actually in a game... That ESRB rating that tells you if it has "Violence, Mild Language, ect" needs to be looked at. Sadly I don't think parents look at it anymore, and let their child convince them theres nothing wrong with it.

I don't see why theres a problem. With movies and other forms of entertainment you usually are required to be 18 to view or purchase "Mature" content.

Matt_LRR:

The law would effect the retailers and the developers equally, and honestly, the result is the same either way.

Currently, the industry (game retailers and the ESRB) prevents minors from buying M rated games about 90% of the time.

If the law goes through, there will be a 1000$ fine associated with sales to minors.

So, in the instance of say, Call of duty, which sold 5 Million in the US, that's about 500,000 getting into the hands of minors. The financial risk associated with those sales is, under the proposed law, 5,000,000,000$. Yeah, five billion dollars in fines.

If you apply that fine to the game maker, then they stop making those games, because the financial risk is sufficiently high as to destroy any chance of those games meeting project approval during the design stage (why make an M game and risk 5,000,000,000$ in fines, when you could make a T game, and risk nothing?)

If you apply the fines to retailers, then the retailers refuse to carry the games, because there's too much risk of accidental sale to minors. (why sell M rated games, when T rated games carry no risk?", the net result of this is that game developers... stop making these games, because the marketplace, in which they might sell them, is gone.

Basically, such a law has a pronounced chilling effect on games that fall under the law's purview.

-m

Actually, unless I misheard Mr. Rose, the ESRB already does fine $1,000 if the retailer sells to a minor, in addition to having the employee fired.

TwitchyGamer101:
I don't see why theres a problem. With movies and other forms of entertainment you usually are required to be 18 to view or purchase "Mature" content.

Not legally, you're not, unless it's porn.

-m

DazBurger:
Oh my... They talk so slowly... So monotone... Can't keep... Awake.. Eyes closing...

ghbyhihiulhiukhiukj

*zzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzz*

See? This is what videogames have done to you!

Won't anyone think of the children?

He called him a communist and told him to go back to Russia. Man after my own heart... *tear*

The Commie lost all credibility with me when he (more or less) said that video games are not 'speech' of the type that is usually protected. I was at least sympathetic up to that point.

TwitchyGamer101:
I think you should be required to be 18 to purchase M-Rated games.

There needs to be a better way to teach parents about whats actually in a game... That ESRB rating that tells you if it has "Violence, Mild Language, ect" needs to be looked at. Sadly I don't think parents look at it anymore, and let their child convince them theres nothing wrong with it.

I don't see why theres a problem. With movies and other forms of entertainment you usually are required to be 18 to view or purchase "Mature" content.

Not in the US, where most of that stuff is just store or industry policy, not by government bureaucracies.

I see most Non-US residents are all "What's the big dealy-o?", but it'd be easier to understand if you actually live here. I assume that most forms of media in the UK are government regulated or something, I know the PEGI thing is. The thing is, most mediums (books, movies, music, games, etc...) are not regulated by the government except for things like porn and drugs which are not protected by the 1st amendment and whatnot.

If the law goes and passes, however, it effectively makes video games a "special" case in that somehow they are not like other mediums (books, movies, music etc...) and for some reason they must be regulated because they are not protected under the first amendment or Free Speech. That's not cool, obviously, but it could also lead to precedent for regulation of other mediums. It may work in the UK, but here in the US we've got our own freedoms that we enjoy that we don't want the government to get their dirty little hands in.

What makes it even more silly to me is that the video games industry is already regulating itself quite effectively, much better than movies or books or music or whatever, but somehow this is not enough for ant-video game activists.

IrishBerserker:

Matt_LRR:

The law would effect the retailers and the developers equally, and honestly, the result is the same either way.

Currently, the industry (game retailers and the ESRB) prevents minors from buying M rated games about 90% of the time.

If the law goes through, there will be a 1000$ fine associated with sales to minors.

So, in the instance of say, Call of duty, which sold 5 Million in the US, that's about 500,000 getting into the hands of minors. The financial risk associated with those sales is, under the proposed law, 5,000,000,000$. Yeah, five billion dollars in fines.

If you apply that fine to the game maker, then they stop making those games, because the financial risk is sufficiently high as to destroy any chance of those games meeting project approval during the design stage (why make an M game and risk 5,000,000,000$ in fines, when you could make a T game, and risk nothing?)

If you apply the fines to retailers, then the retailers refuse to carry the games, because there's too much risk of accidental sale to minors. (why sell M rated games, when T rated games carry no risk?", the net result of this is that game developers... stop making these games, because the marketplace, in which they might sell them, is gone.

Basically, such a law has a pronounced chilling effect on games that fall under the law's purview.

-m

Actually, unless I misheard Mr. Rose, the ESRB already does fine $1,000 if the retailer sells to a minor, in addition to having the employee fired.

The ESRB can't fine anyone. It's a private organization.

Anything can sound reasonable when said in the correct tone of voice. Hell, if voiced by Morgan Freeman, Hitler's ideas would seem perfectly palatable. How it sounds on the surface is utterly irrelevant. What it actually will do is the only relevant consideration.

Scars Unseen:

IrishBerserker:

Actually, unless I misheard Mr. Rose, the ESRB already does fine $1,000 if the retailer sells to a minor, in addition to having the employee fired.

The ESRB can't fine anyone. It's a private organization.

Oh, ok. Then I guess I did mishear him.

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