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Violent video game law scotched by US judge


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A US judge has deemed that Michigan's attempts to ban retailers from selling violent video games to children is unconstitutional. The ruling is a success for trade groups representing US games publishers, which filed a lawsuit last year.

 

Federal District Judge George Caram Steeh has ruled in favour of a lawsuit declaring that the law is unconstitutionally vague and limits First Amendment rights (regarding freedom of expression), reports The Washington Post.

 

The governor of the US state signed the law in September, which was intended to take effect 1 December 2005, but Judge Steeh issued a preliminary injunction back in November. His latest ruling, made at the end of last week, will make the injunction permanent.

 

'Video games contain creative, expressive free speech, inseparable from their interactive functional elements, and are therefore protected by the First Amendment,' the paper quotes Judge Steeh in his ruling.

 

A spokesperson for Governor Jennifer Granholm said she would discussing legal options, including the possibility of appeal.

 

Michigan is not alone in trying to curb the sale or rent of violent games to minors - California, Illinois and Washington are among those who have attempted similar legislation, which has also been struck down or put on hold.

Alun Williams

DETROIT -- A federal judge has ruled that a Michigan law that bars retailers from selling or renting violent video games to minors is unconstitutional.

 

The Entertainment Software Association, Video Software Dealers Association and Michigan Retailers Association, trade groups representing U.S. computer and video game publishers, filed a lawsuit in September, charging that the law is unconstitutionally vague and limits First Amendment rights.

 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the law in September, and it was scheduled to take effect Dec. 1. But U.S. District Judge George Steeh issued a preliminary injunction in November, putting the law on hold.

 

Steeh's ruling on Friday made the injunction permanent.

 

"Video games contain creative, expressive free speech, inseparable from their interactive functional elements, and are therefore protected by the First Amendment," he said in his ruling.

 

Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, applauded the judge's decision in a statement, saying it "represents a sweeping rejection of the state's claims regarding the harmful effects of violent video games."

 

The lawsuit named Granholm, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy as defendants.

 

"We ... will be reviewing the judge's order and discussing legal options, including an appeal at the attorney general's office," said Heidi Watson, a spokeswoman for Granholm. "But we will continue our efforts to protect kids from violent video games by working with retailers."

 

Similar laws have been struck down or put on hold in several states, including California, Illinois and Washington.

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Why can't parents decide what to do with their children? Parents today aren't involved enough, mine included. When I came home with GTA: SA my parents didn't say two words about it. It's not the store owner's fault if a kid tries to reenact the scene from King Kong where he falls of the Empire State Building. Parents have to be more aware of what their kdis are buying/playing.

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Why can't parents decide what to do with their children? Parents today aren't involved enough, mine included. When I came home with GTA: SA my parents didn't say two words about it. It's not the store owner's fault if a kid tries to reenact the scene from King Kong where he falls of the Empire State Building. Parents have to be more aware of what their kdis are buying/playing.

 

If the games are not rated then thats like a green light that they are ok for whoever buys them to play them.

 

If the store owner sells the game to someone who dosnt meet the rating (think KONG is a 15 in this neck of the woods) then the store owner has broken the law.

 

Making parents aware is one purpose of the ratings system. If a game is rated 18 it's a clear signal that this game isnt something for most children

I have to agree with Volourn.  Bioware is pretty much dead now.  Deals like this kills development studios.

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Why can't parents decide what to do with their children? Parents today aren't involved enough, mine included. When I came home with GTA: SA my parents didn't say two words about it. It's not the store owner's fault if a kid tries to reenact the scene from King Kong where he falls of the Empire State Building. Parents have to be more aware of what their kdis are buying/playing.

 

If the games are not rated then thats like a green light that they are ok for whoever buys them to play them.

 

If the store owner sells the game to someone who dosnt meet the rating (think KONG is a 15 in this neck of the woods) then the store owner has broken the law.

 

Making parents aware is one purpose of the ratings system. If a game is rated 18 it's a clear signal that this game isnt something for most children

 

So if a parent buys a Rated M game for a kid, they are, in effect, screwing the store?

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What's more violent:

 

1- A three hour session of God of War

 

or

 

2- Making a frog smoke.

 

Depends what the frog is smoking.

 

As for the case, it's fairly obvious that video games are an expressive medium within the First Amendment. The question is what standard applies under the caselaw interpreting that Amendment. I looked the full decision up, and Michigan was arguing that violent video games should be treated similarly to obscenity (which makes it relatively easy to restrict access to adults-only). The court didn't buy this because Michigan didn't establish any evidence that the game are actually harmful. Also, the law was unpermissably vague (doesn't define "violent") and arbitrarily under-inclusive ("It cannot be said that the Act materially advances these purported goals by preventing a minor from purchasing such video games as Resident Evil 4 or Doom 3, while they can still easily purchase the Resident Evil and Doom movies.").

Edited by Enoch
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So if a parent buys a Rated M game for a kid, they are, in effect, screwing the store?

No, they are "taking responsibility" for their own children. :(

 

OMG! :)

 

But, but... THAT IS UNHEARD OF!

 

If parents need to take responsibility for their children, what is this world coming to???

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The Kingdom of Heaven will arrive here on planet Earth!

 

Go play Kingdom Hearts in the meanwhile... :D

"Ooo, squirrels, Boo! I know I saw them! Quick, throw nuts!" -Minsc

"I am a well-known racist in the Realms! Elves? Dwarves? Ha! Kill'em all! Humans rule! -Me

 

Volourn will never grow up, he's like the Black Peter Pan, here to tell you that it might be great to always be a child, but everybody around is gonna hate it. :p
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So if a parent buys a Rated M game for a kid, they are, in effect, screwing the store?

No, they are "taking responsibility" for their own children. :lol:

 

OMG! :)

 

But, but... THAT IS UNHEARD OF!

 

If parents need to take responsibility for their children, what is this world coming to???

Parents take responsibility for their kids? I always thought that was the government's job. :)

 

I did not know my home state had such a lame law. Good job Federal Court.

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Parents don't take responsibility for themselves. Probably a lot of folks on these fora don't take responsibility for themselves.

 

 

The problem with the law in this case is that it encourages folks to abdicate self-restraint, parental oversight, and responsibility and rely on the government. That's ultimately a losing proposition. We have to draw the line of free speech somewhere, but this law was clearly on the wrong side of that line.

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I live in Michigan. I walked into Walmart with my mom and tried to buy Gun one day. They said they weren't allowed to sell it to me. So my mom says: "I'm buying the game, not him." then the lady says, "You're not allowed to buy that game for him." my mom explained that she would be the one buying it, and she had to say the game wouldn't go to me. I got the game, but only after getting in line at a different register and i wasn't allowed to be present.

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I've been exposed to pornography and violence since I was 7, my parents never censored anything, I was allowed to watch whatever I wanted, play whatever I wanted, listen to whatever I wanted.

 

Look how well I turned out.

 

 

So what you're saying is legislation like this should be enacted worldwide immediately and parents trying to get around the new laws should be punishable by death?

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Well, I don't know about US families, but here in Europe, most parents were not aware of the violence contained in video games at the time I was a kid (late 80s and 90s) and therefore wouldn't forbid their kids from playing these games. Again, there was not as much as violence back then as that you will find in today's games (GTA).

 

Even if I was born later, I don't think that playing GTA would make me a criminal. Common, kids that get violent because of video games constitute a tiny portion of the population. Moreover, these kids already had problems before playing these games. The latter are only the catalyst to violence, not the cause of it.

 

My uncle has a theory that it's not so bad to be able to act violently in virtual worlds since it lets you get rid of some amount of stress. Consequently, you won't feel the urge to act violently in the real world. Same thing goes for movies.

"Ooo, squirrels, Boo! I know I saw them! Quick, throw nuts!" -Minsc

"I am a well-known racist in the Realms! Elves? Dwarves? Ha! Kill'em all! Humans rule! -Me

 

Volourn will never grow up, he's like the Black Peter Pan, here to tell you that it might be great to always be a child, but everybody around is gonna hate it. :p
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I've been exposed to pornography and violence since I was 7, my parents never censored anything, I was allowed to watch whatever I wanted, play whatever I wanted, listen to whatever I wanted.

 

Look how well I turned out.

That makes two of us. Sort of.

kirottu said:
I was raised by polar bears. I had to fight against blood thirsty wolves and rabid penguins to get my food. Those who were too weak to survive were sent to Sweden.

 

It has made me the man I am today. A man who craves furry hentai.

So let us go and embrace the rustling smells of unseen worlds

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Baley has not "turned out" yet, as the saying goes.

 

Sweet seventeen, mang. Baley has over a year to become a congratulated and respected member of the community, like yours truly. :blink:

Edited by Musopticon?
kirottu said:
I was raised by polar bears. I had to fight against blood thirsty wolves and rabid penguins to get my food. Those who were too weak to survive were sent to Sweden.

 

It has made me the man I am today. A man who craves furry hentai.

So let us go and embrace the rustling smells of unseen worlds

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Well, I don't know about US families, but here in Europe, most parents were not aware of the violence contained in video games at the time I was a kid (late 80s and 90s) and therefore wouldn't forbid their kids from playing these games. Again, there was not as much as violence back then as that you will find in today's games (GTA).

 

I agree that this is a big part of it. The problem is that video games are still seen by the majority of society the same way comic books are - silly entertainment for children only. But lots of gamers were children 10 or even 20-25 years ago, but now they're adults and expect the games to target their particular demographic. A game like GTA San Andreas (which I play and love - it's a brilliant game) was never intended to be played by 10-year old children, but many of them do, not necessarily because their parents are bad parents as much as because they're unaware that games can certainly have particular target audiences.

 

Even if I was born later, I don't think that playing GTA would make me a criminal. Common, kids that get violent because of video games constitute a tiny portion of the population. Moreover, these kids already had problems before playing these games. The latter are only the catalyst to violence, not the cause of it.

 

True. I mean, Charles Manson claimed that Beatles' "Helter Skelter" was the cause for his murders of Sharon Tate and others. Do we accept that as an excuse? A game can be a catalyst for a crime as much as anything, but you can't blame the game for it, since such a person would likely have snapped in any event.

 

My uncle has a theory that it's not so bad to be able to act violently in virtual worlds since it lets you get rid of some amount of stress. Consequently, you won't feel the urge to act violently in the real world. Same thing goes for movies.

 

The critics would argue that it does not so much serve as an outlet as it "trains" you in a violent pattern of behavior that you can "fall back" into under certain circumstances, and which can therefore make you do horrible things. This was one argument in the case of Devin Moore. Not saying I agree entirely with it, though. :blink:

 

I generally don't agree with theories that serve to "absolve" people of the responsibility of their own actions.

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(Some) parents will forever believe that regulation of all things they think are 'bad' will save their children from misery, emotional trauma, and loss of innocence for a little bit longer.

 

I think feeding your children diets of fat and sugar and the parents never being home because they have important careers are more harmful than playing a violent video game. :blink:"

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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