Sessler's Soapbox: Gaming is Not a Crime!

Posted: September 21, 2010
Sessler's Soapbox: Gaming is Not a Crime!
Adam discusses the current Supreme Court case, deciding if it's constitutional to outlaw the sale of mature games to minors.

Comments are Closed

  • AMDFreak

    the burden of proof is certainly on California and i got to say this law has gone 0-12 if the law was a baseball player he'd be traded by now.

    How can you make any kind of distinction for video games vs any other source of media or entertainment medium? You can't fundamentally they are the same and if comics, books, movies, and everything else is protected by the 1st amendment how can you say video games are the exception? Simple, you can't.

    California is wasting thousands of dollars on a superfluous lawsuit while it is easily the most in debt state in the union, Awesome plan California.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 11:11 PM
  • Tman88

    What I don't understand about people who try to pass these laws, is that why they spend so much time on it when they could be spending more time trying to educate parents about the ESRB ratings. Even if the law did get passed, which hopefully doesn't happen, but even if it did parents could still buy M-rated games for their kids so the law would solve nothing and it would also be infringing on 1st Amendment rights. If they want to ban something then how about banning bad parents, or better, actually try to educate them. Unfortunately many parents aren't educated about games, even though they can always simply read about the game's contents on the back. Like I said, bad parenting is the real crime, not gaming. Gaming is not a crime, but is a form of free speech and hopefully the court will see that.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 10:13 PM
  • ringslinger

    I get why someone might want to ban the sale of an M-rated game to a minor, and i can see how even considering such an act could be construed as trampling on the 1st amendment right to free speech.

    But we do the same for tobacco, nicotine and pornography. What is so bad about ensuring that someone can't buy a game that wasn't intended for a person in their age bracket (>17)? Enacting a law like that would force the parents of that child to purchase the game for the child; Which is not a bad thing no matter how you slice it.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 9:58 PM
  • DJAikou

    Adam, you act like they are banning these games! It's just putting the control in the hands of the parents like it should be. And don't say I don't understand games, I grew up on games! I just think the parents are the best ones to know what their kids are mature enough for. This has nothing to do with the first amendment because the parents can buy the game for the kids, so what's the problem? I work at Walmart and we already do this! And I'm proud of it!

    Posted: September 22, 2010 6:14 PM
  • Hiro05

    Several people seem to disagree with those that are against the law on the basis that it is helping keep M+ rated games out of the hands of minors. The fact of the matter is, WE ALREADY HAVE THAT. The system ESRB has effectively does the exact same thing as this law without infringing on the idea of free speech. Claiming that it isn't effective would be a severe false-hood. It does everything it needs to, while keeping the power in the hands of the parents, not the minors.
    Now those who lash out at the free speech argument don't understand. We aren't saying minors have the right to buy M+ rated games. Or even that M+ rated games shouldn't be restricted. This is a free speech issue because California is saying that video games are somehow different than other media. It isn't, in any way. If this law were to be passed, it voids the free speech belief that you can sell and distribute something lawfully, without being singled out. If this was an across the board attack, it wouldn't be an issue.
    Ultimately, just as people can choose to teach there kids to be a confederate without prosecution, clerks should be able to sell these games to those with an ID without criminal penalty when the responsibility of what the children is exposed to depends on the parent. Yes you have work,yes time can be tight. But there are plenty of easy ways to keep an eye on what your children is playing. The Video game industry has done more than enough to protect minors from games, it's the parents turn to finish the job.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 5:26 PM
  • thekingdom195

    Sessler, I love ya but I respectfully disagree. The law is to not sell Mature games to MINORS not the general public. This is nothing more than GameStop checking I.D.'s when selling Mature games. While the game developers most certainly have the right to create and share their ideas in games, they may be unsuitable for those under 17. I really don't see how this infringes on those rights. If a child wants to play Halo: Reach or Kane and Lynch, where you and I may not see the harm in those games, it is still up to the parents to decide what is right for their child. Again, I don't see how this law changes anything and I think it is a tad overblown.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 2:39 PM
  • MartellSwigs

    I for one agree with what ScottyMuser said. being a british citizen myself i find it hard to see this from the point of view of a US resident and some of what adam was saying made him seem as if he was overreacting. (that is at least how it came across to me) I also fail to see this as opposing freedom of speech; surely any law that goes against free speech would have to directly affect what is said and/or how it is said, not who it is said to.

    It seems quite clear to me that there are many thing that for a child are not suitable for consumption, be that physical or mental consumption. some of these are easier to label inappropriate than others e.g alcohol and tobbaco. It gets a bit trickier when it comes to intellectual properties like books, films or in this case video games. who is to say what is suitable for a young mind and what is not? i wouldnt crave such a responsibility. this is a case where many would have differing views on just how much we are willing to expose to children.

    all that i can say with all certainty is that the mind of child is a dry sponge surrounded by water and they will take in all that is around them. It is our resposibility as adults to decide what our children learn and how they learn about it.

    BTW im in no way preaching that kids should be wrapped up in cotton wool and hidden away from all thats out their, neither am i saying let it all out show the kids all the best and nasty stuff. we can have a happy medium with this. its waiting there to be found.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 1:53 PM
  • ScottyMuser

    I am going to attempt to bring a British/European perspective into all this debate here, and question why Free Speech has the tiniest iota of relelvance wjem we are talking about what can and can't be sold to minors, who, by law, *can't* take responsibility for their own action in quite the same way that an adult can, and apolgise for the length of my argument in advance, but as it consists of so many

    Firstly, to preface, until I read up in detail about this act, I was as fervently against this type of regulation being passed as Adaam, thinking it was a stepping stone into the complete restriction of mature content in video games. Then I got thinking and researching the law over here )in the UK) with regards to the ratings in films, and came to see that in fact, this issue, as long as it is not a stepping stone into greater restriction, is in fact nothing to do with free speech, and more to do with shifting the responsibility for deciding what a young person gets to watch/play in games (and films by extension in the UK) from a Ratings board and individual store/company, to a parental one.

    Over here in the UK, and similarly in large swarthes across Europe, Asia and everywhere that isn't calld the US, thre are laws that prohibit the sale of certain goods, which otherwise are legal, to people under a certain age. It is, for example, illegal to sell acohol to a person under the age of 18 - parents can still buy alcohol if they, in their position, feel their children are mature enough to consume it - and this *can* be atg a shop for later consumption, or in a pub/restaurant for consumption, with a meal usually, *on the premises*. In the same way the sale of films (be it on VHS, DVD or Bluray) i.e. for films marked as 15 it is illegal for a cinema to allow entrance to, or shops to sell to, persons under the age of 15. Ditto with films marked 18. This law also applies to pornography and other "adult entertainment", and video games are being brought into the fold. This law has actually had the effect that the UKRB (the ratings board over here) have been *nmore* liberal in what they allow to be in a film, allowing filmmakers *more* freedom to depict what they want without a censorship board saying that they would have to cut material.

    So, how does this issue effect free speech one may ask? Well, I would posit that it in fact *doesn't* effect free speech, in any way, unless it is taken further. As I have noted, in th past 1-2 decades, the film industry in Britain has been less regulated because of a similar rule regarding what is in a film - and thus producers/directors know that, unless they are wanting a larger audience with the inclusion of 15-18 yearolds, that they *are* able to put in heavier, more mature scenes into films as the UKRB are *less* likely to try and censor them - as they are *less* likely to get into the hands of young person *without the approval of a parent/guardian*. Thus, it shifts the responsibility onto the parent for deciding what their children get to see and play, compared to before where, if a company decided to, a child could get their hands on to any movie or game *without their parents knowledge* and thus greater censorship.

    So the issue now becomes a matter of whether it is right to "criminalise" the offence - in the same way as it is a criminal offence to sell alcohol directly to minors, and whether this is an appopriate way of enforcing regulations. Unfortunately, there is really no other way of doing it, and as long as it is codified in such a way that it gives the responsibility of deciding the extent of the pinishment to individual courts in invidual cases, trather then blanket fines/prosecutions, and there is no great discrepancies between courts (or that they go for a blanket harshest possible position to prevent such discrepancies) . I would again posit that smaller fines,n enforced more liberally, is the answer, and will encourage an atmosphere of mployees, "to be on the safe side" being asked to check ID etc - in the same way as everywhere requirs ID checks for the sale of alcohol.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 1:07 PM
  • PrometheanArsonist

    That shirt looks really comfortable.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 12:11 PM
  • detailedghost

    If I'm the first one to say it so be it.
    Is the government looking for a way to tax us more? I don't understand why one would want to pay for a protective service that the industry is providing for free. Why?

    Posted: September 22, 2010 10:48 AM
  • john81575

    I just wanted to chime in here and say that I am someone (I would be considered to be on the "left", politically) who thinks that free speech and the first amendment are most important when they protect things/speech that people find objectionable, offensive or inappropriate from government controls, restriction, or censorship. I have no problem with a business deciding not to carry certain things that the owners find objectionable, it's their choice and not at all censorship. I will, however, probably never shop at that store, but that's also a "business" decision. Free speech and the first amendment mean nothing if they only protect the speech and rights of those we agree with, and the speech that doesn't offend us. Anyway, that's my two cents.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 10:32 AM
  • Requiredghr18

    I believe the punishment for selling an M rated game to a minor should be the same as selling an R rated movie ticket to minors.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 10:22 AM
  • slimmer

    I work at a school and I have a 12yr old , most parents have their heads up their you know what and their kids know it.
    This is just another bs waste of tax payer money, most Dems are no better than all the Repubes , they just want to waste tax payer money while looking like they are doing something.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 8:29 AM
  • slimmer

    I'm starting not to care about this kind of stuff , the supreme court should rule against this law just like they ruled for any Corp giving as much money as they want to politicians , but that will not happen I'm afraid, The SC will put this law into effect.
    Easily half of this country does not care , they are brainwashed and want to be lied to, most Americans vote against their best interest because they cant and will not know anything past a commercial.
    Things will get worst before they get better, just look and the new candidates for office that the "tea baggers" came up with ...... masturbation is a SIN ? DADT is great says McCain ?

    Posted: September 22, 2010 8:26 AM
  • Atari_Prime

    If you support this law...are you ready to apply it to movies, to magazines, to television, to comedians, to theatre, to the internet? Because that is where this slippery slope leads.

    And if you do apply it, are you ready for it to be consistent? Because let's be clear, an M rated game is not pornography. At most it is the equivalent of an R rated film.

    Let's also be clear, THIS LAW IS A RESTRICTION ON SPEECH. That is undebateable.

    The concession some of you are willing to make however is that the restriction that will be imposed is for the greater good. And it puts the burden on society to impede on free speech based on the moral values of a few rather than putting the burden on parents and individuals to control the content exposed to their children.

    I find support of this law offensive...let's go ahead and burn some books while we are at it.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 8:11 AM
  • magozel

    In my opinion all kids played M-rated games at least once and there is worse things on TV and internet. As always people just focus their attention on stupid ideas. To conclude kiddies should not play Mature games and its responsability of their parents to really know what their kids are playing, beacuase who buys the games?? please don't tell me that a 11 year old can affor a $40 dollar game..

    Posted: September 22, 2010 8:10 AM
  • LeBigMac

    Sessler's right. People criticising games don't understand games.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 8:01 AM
  • CollinDS

    Once again, Mr. Sessler, you have proven yourself a gentlemen and scholar. Your insight on the current events in the video game industry is astounding and as always your opinions are of great value to myself and many other! Thank you and may you be endlessly blessed for all your contributions!

    (I expect the check to come in by next week.)

    Posted: September 22, 2010 7:18 AM
  • Lifendz

    I really think you took this and ran with it so to speak. The proposed law is all about punishing those that sell mature rated games to minors, no? You glossed right over that and dove headfirst into the whole parade of horribles rant. Yeah, I can see the potential "economic implications" but in the end the best way for a store to avoid violating this law would be to simply check id when selling mature games. You have stores just flat out refusing to sell these sorts of games which is really extreme. Games are a billion dollar market. Stores are not going to refuse to stock their shelves because of this law.

    The only thing about this law I object to is holding an individual employee liable. And if a minor uses a fake id to purchase a game then that minor (or his/her parents) should be responsible. Other than that, I'm totally in favor of doing something like this.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 7:02 AM
  • NortheastMonk

    Retail makes D-Bags out of people and those around gaming live with other people's decisions. This should of been about TGS, better then stupid PAX.

    Posted: September 22, 2010 6:57 AM