Sessler's Soapbox: Why the Supreme Court's Ruling Matters

Posted: June 28, 2011
Sessler's Soapbox: Why the Supreme Court's Ruling Matters
Adam drops an extended Soapbox to go into detail about how the Supreme Court's ruling matters to the gaming industry, gamers, and Americans.

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  • nightwng2000

    I know Mr. Sessler gave a long opinion of the results as well as what would have happened had it failed. I posted the following on Leland Yee's Facebook page in response to his response to the SCOTUS case. I seem to have come in late because he seems to have moved on, but I felt it needed to be said. Some of this mimics Mr. Sessler's view, while some expands in other areas. Depending on how long the total characters are, it most likely will be multiple posts, it was 4 posts on Yee's page.

    Fact number 1: There are NO actual studies providing comprehensive comparison/contrast research that show direct causal linkage between any individual, child or adult, playing violent video games and increased aggression or violent behavior and that the violence in video games are unique from anything else any individual is exposed to in their life. Indeed, any and all research performed takes the complexity of the individual OUT of the research, thereby making the research misleading and incomplete.

    No studies actually compared and contrasted various forms of media and, therefore, the claim that "interactive" media is supposedly more harmful than "non-interactive" media is based on an outright lie.

    Indeed, mere observation proves the contrary. Whether it be reactions to news reports that may, or may not, anger an audience member into reacting at any number of levels, including apathy because th event is not close enough to the audience member's social circle, and all the way up to violent reaction, much like what occurred after the Rodney King beating. Even various levels of reactions to various sporting events show that one does not actually have to be an active participant in some form to react aggressively or even violently. Even violence to manipulate outcomes of sporting events prior to the event have been marked.

    We should also note that video games, violent or otherwise, primarily fall under the genre of "fiction". Yet we have known for a very long time that certain forms of education, notably religious education, have led to various forms of harm, not only mentally but verbally, physically, and/or sexually based on what an individual is taught on how to treat groups of other individuals. Bigotry and hate is routinely taught to children as being "moral" acts. And they tend to take such beliefs with them out into society, such as their neighborhoods and schools, and treat other children based on those teachings. And many times those teachings lead to children abusing other children or even adults, as well as adults themselves abusing children and other adults, through verbal, mental, physical, and/or sexual abuse. Yet no demand to "protect the children!" from this type of harm has been made. No effort to declare ALL religion, services and products, (to circumvent the First Amendment the same way the video game bill was meant to do) as being Adult Only and keep such material and services away from children.

    Fact number 2: There are ALREADY a significant number of resources out there for any individual and Parent to find out all they need to know about any product, whether it is video game realted, music related, book related, TV related, or whatever media product. Instead of in effect telling Parents "Don't worry, we'll do the work FOR you!" how about simply informing them where the various and best sources for them to find out this information for themselves is.

    Parenting is tough work. DO the job. If you don't want to do the job, surrender your Rights to your child and let someone else do the job because this argument that Parents are being helped by this is a lie. This is in effect saying "I can't do the job by myself so, since I don't want to look incapable, I'll just tell the government that NO ONE can do the job and the government should do it for us. That'll make me look good."

    Rating systems, websites specific to various beliefs or personal interests, etc all exist for individuals and Parents to make informed decisions for themselves. Stop implying they don't exist and ACTUALLY HELP individuals and Parents who aren't in the know become aware of them.

    Fact number 3: On the issue of laws regarding pornography, most of which revolve around "community standards", you've actually brought up a point that would prove to be evidence that the video game bill WOULD be used for the blatant purpose of censorship.

    The laws revolving around porn were MEANT to be very narrow, specificially meant for "adult" magazines and videos. However, over the decades, just the threat of suing for violation of "community standards" has led to a great many works of art, such as paintings, books, even music, to be blocked from production as well as publishing or at least being offered for sale or to libraries.

    Banned Books Week is just one example showing how "community standards", especially when it involves some form of perceived "sexual content", has affected a great many schools and libraries.

    To be concluded...

    Posted: June 29, 2011 10:10 PM
  • hkChAn02

    I agree completely. Had the court ruled for the law it would have only hurt the video game industry (which may have been the laws true purpose) or it could have really been to protect children. However, many of the studies that claim to link video games and violence in children have several holes in them and if you look at the rate of violent crime in the U.S. from 1991 to 2009 went done from 4.2 million offenses to about 2.5 million offenses while video games have only become more graphic and violent with the advancement of technology. So if video games cause violence then why hasn't that number increased? Plus look at Japan violence and sex has gone almost totally uncensored and yet their crime rate is lower than ours despite the fact that they live on a small densely populated island where you would think violence and crime would thrive. Also, I agree that the parents should have control over what their kids watch and play not the government. Furthermore, if children are becoming more violent because of video games at least be smart enough to realize that the video games are not the only cause. A lack of parental involvement, financial and other domestic issues along with the mental state of the child and even how they are treated at school can also affect their ability to become more violent. However, blaming it all on video games is easier since unlike poverty, domestic violence and negligence, and bullying or other problems at school are not easily solved. Anyway, enough ranting, I also agree with the other points mentioned in the video and I know that this decision is a major win for video games and I really enjoyed listening to Adam's opinions on the issue.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 6:28 PM
  • melbruframa

    Well said Adam. I agree with everything you said. Well done!

    Posted: June 29, 2011 5:23 PM
  • Flipz15

    Thanks for your insight as usual.
    Two Things.

    1: I do feel like kind of an ignorant jerk for not keeping up with the issues going on in the supreme court, seeing as how I was one of those older-than-18 folks that assumed that the issue was not too much of a concern. You can't blame me though, since cases like this seem to be SHOT DOWN by courts ALL THE TIME. You've given us 18+ folks several reasons to be relatively concerned, many of which I would not have thought of. I will take time to look into the details of the ruling, thanks for the heads up.

    2: Off topic, I have to say: I liked having just still shots on those monitors behind Adam instead of someone playing the games. Maybe you guys should try just having screenshots of the subjected games on those monitors while Adam is making his points, instead of active games. The occasional clips during the soapbox would be fine of course, but I have a much easier time paying attention to his elaborate points when there aren't 2 shiny distractions going on on each side.
    What can I say? My attention span is a wildcard...

    Humble, but awesome.
    Don't ever change, Adam.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 4:27 PM
  • chio182

    Could agree with Adam and, surprisingly, Scalia on this one. Two points that I've felt were missing from this entire debate:
    1. All video game consoles these days, (and all PC's) have parental controls. I've never understood why people think parents can't control what kids play in their own home.
    2. The ESRB is a slippery slope on its own. I cannot understand why R-rated sex scenes (GTA: San Andres hot coffee mod) earn an AO rating, while chainsawing people in half is M. AO, like NC-17 (or x-rated, or not-rated movies) earn the kiss of death for video games.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 3:55 PM
  • Justice of Pain

    Good Job Adam you got that right on the rateds of the video games some people can't tell the diffentrance.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 1:31 PM
  • permanent_nirvana

    First off, great Soapbox Adam, as always.

    Second, I agree with you 100% about this affecting not only minors but also adults who play video video games as well as enjoy all other types of entertainment as well. This case had the potential to bring the end of entertainment as we know it.

    I feel that if the Supreme Court had ruled differently, we could have seen movies, television, books, music and other forms of art come under fire for the same thing. Video games were just the jumping off point because it is a fairly new medium compared to the rest.

    Thankfully, that didn't happen. Now, back to playing Mortal Kombat.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 11:49 AM
  • CynicalRhino

    I remember WAY back in the day, when Gygax was being accused that his game fostered devil worship and suicide. Went through the big hubbub with the PMRC and Metal music during high school. Industry self-policing is definately the best and most effective way to go about issues such as this rather than putting the censorship power in the hands of a small select group of people that may or may not accurately reflect the best interests of the industry or population due to subjective and personal bias.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 11:35 AM
  • hisnut32

    sooooooo does this mean i..... can toss my black market video game uh.... store and trench coat in the fire place along with the map of elementary schools and or day cares

    Posted: June 29, 2011 9:56 AM
  • Nightshade386

    As a 34 year old gamer who happens to be a parent as well, I have literally stepped in and helped other parents that I've seen in stores that clearly don't understand that there even is a rating system, never mind how to understand it or that the reasons for the rating are all clearly described on the back.

    Fact of the matter is, the industry could do a better job of educating parents if for no other reason than it would get them a lot of good press for doing so. That being said, parents should absolutely take more of an interest in what their children's interests are. It is not the government's job to do that for them.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 9:31 AM
  • NinJaeSque

    I actually watched this whole video... double credit for being my first Sessler's Soapbox. Very good video. Absolutely right on so many points. With the movie industry, I think South Park the Movie was the first time I remember usher's going up and down the aisles looking for kids who would try to sneak in. Self-policing is better in these instances. I think videogaming does a fairly good job & so does the movie industry. 15 minutes well-spent, Sess!

    Posted: June 29, 2011 9:27 AM
  • Seth2681

    In a lack of poise, the music that came on after EA's E3 press conference was "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People, which depicts a school shooting. It made me laugh and remeber Columbine.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 9:03 AM
  • godzillaisyourdaddy

    Adam D. Sessler, you have always had my respect, but now, you just solidified my respect for you even more. You are the probably the best advocate for gaming out there and I laud you for your efforts to attempt to explain the relevance of this industry to those that seek to cripple it. Time and time again you proved that games are here to stay and that they should be respected as a form of media that is at the level of cinema and other ubiquitous media. Thank you for sticking up for us gamers and trying to show the world that we are here to stay. The industry should be respected and not be placed under unnecessary scrutiny for being what it is, when other forms of entertainment have dabbled into far worse territory.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 8:43 AM
  • Adam802

    Best. Soapbox. Ever.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 7:25 AM
  • Elliott_Ness

    Well I am in no politician or a lawyer. I am from a caribbean country that imports alot of entertainment and products from other "first world" countries.

    But in my opnion, what I find happening in my country and in cases like this in other countries is an attempt at governmental legislation of morality and ethicality.

    While there are some things that should be legislated to carry the force of law, especially where there is a UNIVERSAL agreement of the greater good being protected.

    The means of assesing universal or overwhelming agreement is often sketchy or impractical, so what you have is a group that wants X, Y or Z and that group maybe particularly loud in their protest but not the majority.

    Then you have the issue of a minority that is protesting a valid point or issue where is not addressed can have a negative impact on the majority/ greater good. how do you assess this?

    In my layman opinion what often happens when these issues are not meticulously scrutinized you have legislation that "creates" lawbreakers or legislation that does more harm than good.

    I personally like a smaller government especially in these "softer" morality and ethicality issues, self regulation is perfect although it can be misused, abused and corrupted e.g the movie industry.

    So every once in a while special interest groups and even the governemnt should just check in to say "what's up" and the heads and staff of the self regulatory organisations should have a maximum time period to serve.

    but I'm just happy for the victory for the game industry and potential victories for new forms of expression that may evolve in the future at least in America.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 6:33 AM

    You would think law maker would want to tackle important issues like the economy, border security, and the National debt. But I guess pointless crap like this is always expected from Democrats.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 6:11 AM
  • Johnbegood

    One of the first times I've been able to listen to what Adam says. Might have something to do with not trying to watch the gameplay over his shoulder.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 6:04 AM
  • coppersnake

    Adam if you want to meet a parent who cant understand video game ratings just come to australia. parents dont seem to understand the ratings here. though we dont have an 18+ rating yet so that doesnt help. saw a parent almost buy duke nukem for about a 9 year old. Had no idea until i told her what the game was about.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 6:03 AM
  • Coffeeveins

    Very informative video on all the reasons this was an important case for gamers. One only has to look at the existing situation with "AO" rated games and NC-17 movies to see how something meant to protect minors can restrict and censor content for adults. (check out the documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" for a great look at how this sort of thing quickly can become censorship.)

    This stuff tends to have a trickle down effect on us Canadians.Despite our generally open attitudes about artistic freedom, (Canadians are fairly well off when it comes to not over-restricting access to entertainment like video games compared to some commonwealth countries, but then we have our charter of rights and freedoms.)we tend to import a good amount of entertainment from the USA. Movies that would have played in theatres here without issue are edited to avoid the NC-17 in the U.S. resulting in our theatres showing the U.S. cut. Would be downright tragic to have game contents censored at a time when game developers are beginning to explore what new artistic ideas are capable in a game.

    Wanting to protect children from violent games isn't necessarily wrong in itself, but done in such a way as this law tried can result in gamers enjoyment of our hobby restricted simply because of another individuals taste. It's encouraging that the supreme court understood that, and that just maybe the well thought out arguments like this one, and the many others Adam Sessler's made on gamers behalf has helped that happen. We couldn't have asked for a better ambassador for gaming. Keep up the great work.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 4:01 AM
  • jhnnybgood_2001

    If the government really wants to start regulating stuff, why don't they turn their attention to more important areas like the banks and wall street? You know, organizations that can literally ruin our lives. Just sayin'.

    Posted: June 29, 2011 3:48 AM