Brownback Proposes Game Ratings Bill in Senate

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) has sponsored legislation in the United States Senate which would require the ESRB to play games in their entirety before assigning an age rating.

Brownback’s Truth in Video Game Rating Act (S.3935) would appear to be the Senate version of a House bill of the same name proposed by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

“The current video game ratings system needs improvement," Brownback said, "because reviewers do not see the full content of games and don’t even play the games they are supposed to rate. For video game ratings to be meaningful and worthy of a parent’s trust, the game ratings must be more objective and accurate.”

Brownback’s measure would mandate the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to administer the requirement for a complete play-through before rating.

“Game reviewers must have access to the entire game for their ratings to accurately reflect a game’s content," Brownback added.

The bill would also direct the FTC to define parameters for describing video game content as well as defining what kind of behavior by the game industry would break those rules. 

Brownback also would have the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluate the efficiency of the ESRB system as well as the potential for establishing an independent rating body with no ties to the industry. Universal systems spanning movie, TV and games would also be looked into.

The conservative Brownback has been very active on video game issues in recent times. He worked with Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) on game-related bills such as the recently-passed CAMRA legislation and held committee hearings on video games in the Senate earlier this year.

Full text of Brownback’s new bill is not yet available. We’ll post it when it goes up on the Congressional system.

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  1. 0
    Chamale says:

    In 50 hours of play, I travelled to less than 0.1% of the planets in Spore and documented less than 1% of the preexisting species, let alone the 80,000,000 user-created vehicles. Good luck, ESRB.

    This is a signature virus. Please copy and paste into your signature to help it propagate.

  2. 0
    ZELDAROCKS says:

    i dont know everything but i think it is a little strange how all of these games on xbox and playstation 3 are rated M. halo 3 in my opinion should not have been rated M, it was not even close to the M that i usually see. and call of duty 3 is worse then call of duty 4, but call of duty 3 was T and on wii and call of duty 4 was M and on 360. i think there is definatly somthing wrong with the ESRB ratings

  3. 0

    […] Since the ESRB apparently didn’t do enough to protect the innocent children from the evil programmers at Rockstar Games – who sought to corrupt them via hidden unfinished computer graphics that resembled sexual intercourse – Brownback sought to change the way they rate games. On September 26, 2006, Brownback introduced the Truth in Video Game Rating Act. This little gem would require the ESRB to play games in their entirety before assessing a rating. However, unlike Pac Man and Space Invaders, passing many of today’s video games requires hundreds of hours or more. In addition, it is most likely impossible for someone to play through games such as Final Fantasy XI, Everquest 2, and World of Warcraft. People spend thousands of hours (and good portions of their lives) completing small portions of the goals in those virtual worlds. Nevertheless, Brownback reintroduced the irrational bill this February. […]

  4. 0

    […] I’m not one to speak up for violent video games, nor do I play them myself. I don’t consider myself addicted to any game, have a reasonable social life, and have other interests outside of gaming. I’m not what most people would consider a typical gamer. However, the stupidity of this senator’s proposal is something I feel is worth commenting on, both from the perspective as a gamer and as a future parent. […]

  5. 0
    Chris Thompson says:

    I’m not sure about this, but I thought that the ESRB was a privately created organization, and the rating system was originally just a helpful “F.Y.I.” for parents. Governments have now passed all sorts of laws about games and their ratings that this one seems like just another in a long line of governmental attempts to control our entertainment.

  6. 0
    ImaGamer says:

    As a mother and a gamer I see the need for regulations on games for content…Obviously most parents don’t want their children playing mature or adult games. I personally feel that a law should be passed to make the game producers responsible for content in their games…In the business market in general.People who make a product are responsable for its “Quality” or “content”. It should be the same for the gaming community. If a game is released as a “teen” rated game and it is found to be “adult” then it should be banned from the market and they need to be fined for it. I think the game makers should be forced to make the public and consumers aware of the games content so consumers can decide if its appropriate for children.

    An example would be: Food that is packaged with the warning that it was produced along with other products that contain nuts. It’s a safety precation to keep the consumer from being harmed and the company from being sued.

    I say make the producers responsible for their own products content. And fine them if they don’t.

    As always…thats just my oppinion and oppinions vary.

  7. 0
    Funky J ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hi, I’m back! =)

    I must say I totally agree that the idea content like user made mods be rated is indeed moronic. It’s like banning people from buying video cameras because people film themselves naked on them…


    Firstly, I also test games… so I DO know how long it takes… but I also know it is not too hard for programmers to include code to skip levels / missions.

    I also review games, and often get “retail code”, which often includes special ‘god modes’ to allow the reviewer to get through the game before it’s due out. How hard would it be to have “classification code” for submission?

    These are just suggestions. I’m sure there’s millions of ways things can be done better than they are.

    They may mean longer development time and a slight rise in cost, but what is the price of freedom from government interference?

    Because this is not going to go away anytime soon, and certainly not because it keeps getting shot down in courts.

    Sooner or later someone will work out a way to get past the 2nd Amendment, and that will be bad for all parties involved.

    If the ESRB can be seen as doing SOMETHING, isn’t that better than sitting back and just fighting court case after court case and losing money?

    Secondly, not one single game in Australia has been delayed because of the OFLC. Games are submitted to the OFLC and rated months before their release date. The reason games come out here later than the US is because of publishers and their stupid regioning of the world.

    Thirdly, the lack of R18+ in Australia is an ENTIRELY different matter. The OFLC supports an R18+ rating for games, but it is the politicians (Attourney Generals to be precise) who decide if that rating comes into law. In 2002 the AGs met to discuss the introduction of an 18+ rating for games, but all AGs need to be in agreence for things like that to be law, and because the one from South Australia is a conservative Anglican bishop, he refused to vote yes despite being advised to.

  8. 0
    chris says:

    has anyone considered the fact that changing the ratings system will not decrease the demand for games with violent of sexual content?

    so when we get the next GTA rated OMFGWTFBOOBS!!! and it still sells like hotcakes, what are they going to do then? make the content illegal? put bright orange “do not buy this game” stickers on the box? in the end, it will just make us want the content that much more.

    what will they do when making the content illegal doesn’t help either? the next version of GTA will outsell san andreas, just like san andreas outsold vice city. no one can stop it.

    the jack thompsons of the world exist because of the tons of cash the video game industry generates. hearing that it’s a $40 billion a year industry with no landmark precedent makes ambulance chasers like JT drool.

  9. 0
    Joshera says:

    I got an idea. We could try seeking help from the Judicial system, as this involves a government bill to directly interfere with private industry, and infringes on Freedom of Speech (by dictating to the ESRB, their rating system). After all, if Brownback and Friends are upset with the ESRB, they can form their own. We’ll have to beware of them seeking a bill to make it the required standard though. We’ll need somebody of standing within the gamer community to be our representative, to send a clear, united message. We could also ask for proofs of how the ESRB has failed, instead of merely not conforming our rating standards to their ideas, after all, the only failures I know of are San Andreas and Oblivion, which hardly constitutes a gross failure. Another point to make a stand on is that should parents deem the ESRB rating system to not fit with their standards, they could look on the back for specific content that determined the rating. Once the details come out, we could ask the ESRB about what impact they expect the bill to have, should it pass.

    The guy after my last post, this is only by a few senators, not the majority.

    We do need to make a stand. I have met numerous people, who if not held accountable, choose to disregard, ignore, or say ‘it doesn’t apply’ to their own rules whenever it is convenient for them, but expect others to abide by what they say.

    The first namse that come to my mind for representative/co-ordinator would be Tycho and Gabe of Penny-Arcade.

    I will accept comments with my e-mail, “Joshera” from “gmail”

  10. 0
    Syntaxerror37 says:

    The argument that this bill is unconstitutional is weak at best. I personally don’t see it as a constitutional issue at all. Now, onto why this is a bad idea,
    1.It has already been mentioned modern RPGs are long enough to make this prohibitory and MMOs are never complete and thus could never be played in their entirety.
    2. The ESRB can not take into account user made content that affects the rating of a given game (ex. Nude patches).
    3. It involves government agencies in affairs outside their jurisdiction and purpose.
    4. It is a gigantic slap to the face of the industry who did come together and rate the content of the games (which is far more than lazy parents who won’t sit down and pay attention to what their kids are listening to/watching/playing deserve).

  11. 0
    Senor Bene says:

    While all the above arguments are indeed valid, I have to protest mentioning the first ammendment as an argument.

    Obscenity has a three part definition under U.S. law. To find a matter “obscene,” the jury is required to apply contemporary community standards to satisfy a three-part test:

    (1) that the work as a whole is an appeal predominantly to prurient interest;

    (2) that it depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way;

    (3) that the material, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

    An appeal to “prurient” interest is an appeal to a morbid, degrading and unhealthy interest in sex, as distinguished from a mere candid interest in sex. This three-part test is a result of rulings by the United States Supreme Court in 1973 and 1976.

    As a result, Hot Coffee and other such mods/ester eggs could be ruled as obscene and therefore their distribution could be limited by the US government.
    I also am forced to agree with the points made by others saying that Brownback obviously did not understand the first thing about video games when he proposed this bill that is patently impossible to act out. I also agree with Wybaar’s commentary on the hypocrisy of the Congress, who, as is widely known, fails to read the full text of every law swet before them. (*ZING*)

  12. 0
    Wybaar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Okay, Senator Brownback, the ESRB will agree to this … under the condition that this bill include a law requiring each member of Congress to read the full text of each and every bill brought before them.

    Have fun reading, Senator.

  13. 0
    JoshForShort says:

    Wouldn’t it just be simpler to require all game publishers to produce the source code and all pre-compilation graphics to the ESRB?
    That way they could just put the code through any text editor and search it for profanity. They could also just look at all of the images and maps and graphics and see for themselves where the nudity is.
    I was trying to make that a lot more sarcastic than it came out.
    I know already that that is a ridiculous requirement that is probably against some sort of law.
    I would love to hear a more enlightened person’s point of view regarding my thoughts.

  14. 0
    CryingMedusa says:

    Just goes to show how out of touch politicians have become…clearly, this shows lack of basic understanding of what he’s fighting against, just like with Lieberman and Clinton during the “Hot Coffee” uproar. It was obvious they’d heard about it from their much-younger staff and decided to jump on it. Why don’t they spend a day behind a game store counter and try to tell parents why they shouldn’t get Little Timmy a copy of GTA, and see for themselves how people react to being told what they can and can’t buy for their darling little man? Then they might start to realize whose responsibility most of this is.

    …oh, and as for the “Hot Coffee” thing, Rockstar et al never even flinched. So where’s the super-heavy fines when someone really DOES screw up?

  15. 0
    Jim says:

    I’m glad he’s not from my state…

    Wait for the specific language of the bill before you demolish it with your arguments people.
    A stupid bill. Won’t help at all. Anything like an MMO will already just say, “Game expeirience may change during online use.” And will continue to say that, likely. Like in Animal Crossing DS. The ESRB won’t have to play through the ENTIRE game literally, finding EVERY SINGLE Easter Egg. Another attempt at censorship without even understanding what’s going on.

  16. 0
    KaylaKaze says:

    The reason the libertarian creed is out of style is because it’s a lot lot communism: sounds good on paper but when you think about it logically, you find out how many problems there are.

    What ultimately gets on my nerves is that it seems the government doesn’t even exist for any reason except “for the children”. And not only that, but those without children have to pay a non-breeder tax. How much money does the government spend each year “protecting the children” from made up threats? And now they want to have another one, because that’s ultimately what this bill comes down to. Not only that, but they’ll want ME, not the parents, to pay for it.

    The only benefit I see is that it’d require a huge staff to do what this bill wants, so maybe I’ll be able to get a new job, but they’d probably just outsource it to India or China anyway (after paying Haliburton a large contractor fee).

  17. 0
    ShroomofDoom says:

    Oh, you’ll find that modern conservatives are amiably hands-off and passionately in favor of free market where their sponsors are concerned.

    It’s the game industry’s fault, really. It’s a healthy industry; it should be throwing more money at these guys! A hefty pile of campaign donations will do wonders for your cause in the senate.

  18. 0
    EnderReil says:

    Sad truth is that Reagan’s legacy of a Republican party that is truely for smaller government is dead as disco. The current crop of Republicans we have are mostly social concervatives first, last, and only, and big borrow and spenders at that. They tend to be moralizers, busybodies, and wannabie Santas (giving away other peoples presents) not too different in their methods (if not their ends) from the Democrats. I wish we had some more libertarian Republicans to choose from but alas that creed is badly out of style these days.

    Perhaps if we gamers lobbied for a government agency that would regulate/censor sinfully comfortable suits and the inheriently sexual metaphor of golf balls dropping into holes. Perhaps then they would understand what is inheriently wrong with their legislation… but probably not.

  19. 0
    Rate it all XXX says:

    Give the rating system to the feds or whatever, rate it all XXX… It’s all good, I’m over 21. Besides, worse the rating, more the enthusiasm to play. And if parents aren’t going to buy their kids the games because the rating, it’s probably all for the best. Maybe they’ll actually do some homework.. or better yet, god forbid, they’ll go outside! O.O

  20. 0
    A Gamer says:

    I can’t believe that another politician is trying to propose legislation on an issue that they know nothing about… Oh, wait, yes I can! Hilary had a fit about GTA. Don’t forget the frenzy about Doom and its supposed effect on the Columbine murder/suicides.

    When will people learn that it’s not because a game is violent that their kids become violent, it’s because their kids lean towards violence that they are drawn to violent games and content? But I guess little Susie and Bobby are perfect in every way. It must be someone else’s fault that MY kid is a horrible little heathen! I’ve played some bloddy and violent games, and I’d like to think I’m somewhat normal.

    And why do we focus on bloody violent games? Ever play KOTOR (Knights Of The Old Republic)? That game is bloodless (if I remember right), but you can choose to kill completely innocent people for literally no reason. Doesn’t that teach bad behavior to children? KOTOR also is another example of games that would be near impossible to play through completely as you can choose to preform many different acts in many different ways. Even in some of the most “kid-freindly” games like Kingdom Hearts you KILL enemies. Maybe we should all start playing Introduction to Typing for fun, and then when Columbine 2 happens they can blame something else!

    It’s been said before but these idiots in DC (both Republican and Democrat) really need to learn what they are talking about before they decide to tell us how to live or what we can and cannot play/watch/do/eat/drink/say/think. It’s more that just the way they think of video games. The Janet Jackson nipple slip was blown way out of proportion. I was watching that on a 60 inch TV and her breast was maybe the size of my thumb nail (and blurry). As a result, the FCC can now levy heavy fines on stations. In an over-reaction to Howard Stern, the FCC can now fine the DJs; not the station, but the person on the air; nearly $100,000 or more.

    It’s absurd the way these politicans think they can just make laws and throw money at an isssue to make it go away. We need people who actually know what they are talking about to make laws. No wonder any real action takes 5 years to go through and we are in debt.

    Sorry for the rant!

  21. 0
    Brainpills says:

    I think we can all agree that this is an unreasonable request to expect an entire playthrough in a timely fashion. Why not a compromise of some kind, like requiring the ESRB to play 20 hours of a game, instead of having to go through all of it’s possible content? Most games are about 15-20 hours long anyways (excluding a monolith like Oblivion or one of the many Atlus strategy rpgs), and even if a game’s length exceeds that timeframe it should give a reasonable look into the game’s mechanic and content.

  22. 0
    Javs says:

    “Sen. Sam Brownback has sponsored legislation in the United States Senate which would require the ESRB to play games in their entirety before assigning an age rating.”

    I have an idea. How about we require politicians to play at least one video game in its entirety before they make stupid laws and try to influence the industry.

    I don’t understand how laws can be made to regulate a certain industry when the lawmakers have no knowledge of the industry.

  23. 0

    […] Well, it finally happened.  Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) has authored a suspicious-smelling piece of legislation that would force the ESRB (the video game ratings board) to play all video games completely before issuing a review.  Brownback claims that any other method of reviewing games is not “meaningful and worthy of a parent’s trust.”  Here’s the thing, Sam: playing a video game “completely,” as you might suggest, still doesn’t catch everything.  It wouldn’t have caught Hot Coffee, the big scandal in GTA: Vice City.  It wouldn’t have prevented the nudie mod that caused the change in Oblivion’s rating… that was a fan-created mod, or modification.  That’s right, people, not everything in a video game is actually put there by the developers and programmers!  Shock and Awe! […]

  24. 0
    Joshera says:

    This is what I see:

    Past leading up to the present: As concerns over the content in video games rose, the ESRB was created so that people (and parents) would be able to determine, quickly and easily, what kind of content the game had (and whether they deemed it appropriate for their kids to play). Those that have come after the video games industry have been firewalled off with the ESRB, with the content of the game clearly posted and not merely a rating, if they don’t like what’s in it, then don’t buy it. But with GTA:SA and ES IV: O, there are cracks in the defense, and those who object to the content now have an avenue they can work through. They have evidence showing that the ESRB ratings are not 100% reliable.

    The bill itself (and Brownback’s statements): Both imply that the ESRB has been doing extremely sloppy work, not just a couple misses in thousands of games, but an implied though unstated ‘many or most games and that Government supervision is required because the industry is unable to regulate itself.’
    In addition, a game’s content remains fairly consistent throughout it, a person doesn’t have to play the game in its entirety to have a good understanding of its content. Look at any game in these series and see if the content varies significantly within the game: Metal Slug, Command & Conquer, Dragon Quest, Mega Man, Super Mario, Sonic, The Sims, Battlefield ####, Civilization, WarCraft, Mortal Kombat. They overall don’t. I wonder what the bill’s definition of in its entirety would mean, it oculd play the game though with every single possible combination…

    If rejected: The phrasing of the bill will give Brownback and Company ammo that can be used in propaganda against the ESRB and others. If rejected, they can start make a huge fuss about how the Video Games Industry is not being regulated, for ‘the common good.’ (Consider, if a Republican votes against a bill to fund an Abortion Clinic, Democrats can make statements about how that Republican voted against funding for medical facilities and research. If a Democrat votes against a bill that would allow a national park to be turned into residential development, Republicans can make statements about the Democrat voting against providing new homes (possibly low-income housing))

    If accepted, near future effects: The ESRB will have a Mr.Smith perched on its back, 24/7, and through it, the game industry. Because of the bill, the government will be able to dictate every single rating and operationg proecdure. I can expect that when the ESRB rates a game, they will have to go though numerous regulations, that will keep increasing, year after year. Extremists, Special Interest Groups, Lobbysits, and others will have a backdoor that they can dictate terms through. Somebody doesn’t like their group’s portrayal in a game, they can tack that onto the rating system. Gamer’s interests will be neglected. (Remember: People are subjective and emotional, a person can hear a fraction of the story and make a firm decision)
    They could also hurt opposition groups the same way. The video games industry will take a rather noticeable hit, but will try to adapt. The exact measures of the bill will dictate how extensive the adaptation.

    Long-term: The ESRB will be replaced by the government. Either by having more bills that have the government annex the ESRB, or by tacking evermore regulations, red tape, and requirements until the ESRB can’t handle the load anymore/slips on a technicality. Another possibility is that another Hot Coffee could occur, or even that the ESRB is made accountable for user-content.
    With this bill, the government will have its foot in the door and won’t be taking it out. Anybody who takes the gamers side can be easily portrayed as taking the side of ‘murder simulators.’
    What happened to no Taxation without Representation? The Colonies broke away from the British because they were being subjected to decisions from several months and thousands of miles away without being allowed to have their own voices heard, concerns considered, or a vote in what happened. There are just so many people now. Us breaking away would be quite impossible.
    Any suggestions on what we can do?
    I see parallels in Terry Goodkind’s book, Faith of the Fallen (the wiki entry is incomplete)

  25. 0
    A. "IRA" Lewis says:

    When i was little, my father, a Special Forces soldier, would look at whatever i played whenever he was home, and would often play games with me. I remember just a few years ago, we bought mechwarrior 3 and would lan at his appartment. This is the greatest waste of government money in recent history. This is an issue of parental responsibility. Play with your kids. Look at what they bring home. GRAND THEFT AUTO is obviously not for kids, it even tells you so in its TITLE! Who would buy grand theft auto for a kid anyway? Although in all fairness, i played wolfenstein 3d as a kid, mainly because my grandfather, a Ranger in WW2, hated Nazis. Nonetheless, this is an amazing waste of money from the taxpayers, money that could be better spent on, i don’t know, our military, education at the state levels, road conditions in some states, etc.

    And btw, stop posing for votes jackasses. This is why nobody votes.

  26. 0
    Lin says:

    so why not make the parents play through these games in their entirety before they buy them for their children? the government wont think twice about regulating things like oil and foreign labor laws, but when it comes to something that will make parent’s lives be less involved with their childrens day-to-day, more power to it! its not at all difficult to learn information about any game with the internet out there, but i guess those smart parents who bought their kids GTA way back when without even reading the title are kicking themselves right now.

  27. 0
    Crozius says:

    Wait until games like “Spore” become commonplace, and you could literally spend the rest of your life playing through “all there is to see”.

  28. 0
    Alf says:

    Forget MMOs and big single-player games. The real buzzkillers for this bill are games involving massive amounts of downloadable, user-created content. Right now, I have an 12 gig Unreal Tournament 2004 directory, and about 2/3 of that is custom map content almost entirely made by third parties. I happen to know that two or three of those maps include depictions of uncovered breasts. That alone ought to highlight the problem; that said, the very worst of UT’s content happens to be pretty tame overall. The real problem comes in with games that push the content-authoring envelope further, like the soon-to-come life-sim Spore. With an FPS with custom content, I can (with a little know-how) look at the map/mod list before I connect, see that the next map in the rotation is “DM-BigPornoPalace[Clan TTF ReMix],” and find another server to play on. However, according to its description, Spore will push user-created content directly to the user along several vectors; the creatures that populate the world, aside from those created by the local player, will be selected by some unknown arbitrary algorithm from the pool of ALL user created creatures. Hence, I could find that my herd of purple alpacas were being — shall we say, attacked? — by a flock of carnivorous winged dildos that happen to fill the algorithm’s desire for an avian predator. Now, if Spore is half as good as the hype, it’s going to be one of the most relevant gaming watersheds of the decade; nevertheless, its dynamic content system may well be a ruthlessly double-edged sword, ESPECIALLY in the wake of asinine legislation. What happens when a really thought-provoking game gets barred for sale to minors or gutted in the media because some unenlightened rater happened to see a walking anus or some hateful watchdog put a few dozen screenshots of the game’s absolute filthiest user creations into a powerpoint presentation for the board? I guarantee that SOMEWHERE in Spore, someone is going to make independently ambulatory versions of every imaginable sexual organ or sex aid and construct buildings with designs hateful to every known religion (say, a town full of swastikas, one full of burning crosses, or one with obvious depictions of Mohammed standing knee-deep in a pig carcass). I ALSO believe that the really wretched material will make up only a tiny proportion of the Spore universe, such a small part that one would have to “go hunting” to find it. Nevertheless, if video game censorship gets further politicized, how long will it be before somebody’s political action group scours any game with user-created content for walking fetuses, tarbabies, or snuff, and then, bearing “proof” of the game’s foul nature, demand a recall?

  29. 0
    A gamer from the old. says:

    While I can’t say what exactly this bill is going to do since the details of the bill is not known, it is reasonable to think that a rating system should encompass the whole game, not just a part of the game. Having said that, not just this bill but the ESRB also constitutes censorship in this nation that is infringing upon our freedom of speech, if gaming indeed is a form of ‘speech’. Quite frankly, they can put whatever rating they want on games, I think I’m old enough to play games with the most adult ratings. As for the kids who wont be able to play.. well they can’t even vote anyway, so who cares, right?

  30. 0
    blah says:

    What the game industry needs is honesty between game developers and the ESRB. If the developers would truthfully describe the *potential* content of the game (i.e., user-created content, mods, and Easter eggs) directly to the the ratings board, we wouldn’t be having so many scandals. In fact, a new rating system might be in order to take variables like user-created content into account. Game devs like Rockstar and Bethesda are in effect screwing the ESRB over when they secretly include objectionable content within the game data. Other games in which the nudity, etc. comes from completely external data are more forgivable, but from now the people who make the games need to give the ESRB the whole story, including a prediction of what users might be able to do with the game.

  31. 0
    RandomGuy says:

    We could speculate all day on what they’re actually trying to accomplish with this inane proposal…. and that’s JUST what we should do. My speculation:

    I think their aim is as follows. If the ESRB is required to experience every aspect of the game in order to rate it, then they will in turn require the game makers themselves to give them full access and all of the walking points of any and all possible hidden content. Once game makers are expected to identify any possible questionable content, it wouldn’t be far off to expect them to rate their games themselves. However, a game maker rating themselves doesn’t mean anything unless they can be held accountable should their game break that rating…. and THAT’s their aim. Force games to become afraid of being found a grade lower than what they claimed to be….

  32. 0
    Sam A says:

    This leaves me wondering if we do indeed have the lesser of two weavils or the choice there-of. Aren’t there FAR more important issues to be addressing? Pork project spending? Flat tax (where the heck did that go!?)? Social Security? Rising Healthcare costs? Stagnant Wages? Sputtering Economy?

    And lest anyone think otherwise, I think they’re all a bunch of self-serving crooks – I’ld say time to dump something else into Boston Harbor, ‘cept they’re all so oily the EPA would have a fit as they all floated out to sea on their own oil-slicks.

  33. 0
    Yonsan says:

    *sends a copy of Star Ocean 2nd story to Senator D**chebag* When he can rate this according to his system, I’ll take the proposal more seriously.

  34. 0
    ShroomofDoom says:

    If the federal government wanted to create their own rating system for videogames I’d be totally behind them. They could do things in their own asinine way, spend all the time and money they want paying people to replay randomly generated elements and prowl around in search of easter eggs, scramble to throw out a new rating every time a patch or mod hits the internet, and otherwise go on not knowing what the hell they’re talking about. Then they could post their ignorant opinions on the game box right beside the old rating.

    But leave our ESRB the f*** alone.

  35. 0
    Drouot says:


    Funny that you try to sell the UK a repressive, totalitarian state cuz when I went over there I could watch some pretty heavy sexual stuff on TV. They even have topless models on the newspapers. I’ve not seen anything like that in the “super free” USA. Btw comparing Arizona with London is retarded, as it has already been pointed out. Try comparing Chicago or New York with London and you’ll realize that USA is very high in the violence scale. Video games are one thing but gun control is another.

  36. 0
    CammaJamma says:

    Out of curiousity, which game came onto these people’s radar that ended up being massively damaging due to ESRB Negligence. I haven’t played every game, and kids games even less, but was there some sort of rape scene in Psychonauts that was at the end that the ESRB may have missed? Homoeroticism in Kingdom Hearts II? More than usual, I mean.

  37. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The article I mention in earlier has been updated slightly at the beginning:

    While one might think that it silly to look for motive considering his acts might suggest the motive, the fact he was questioning students earlier about particular people makes one wonder.

    Worse yet is the fact that no one questioned HIM while he was questioning them. All that time spent out there and no one’s red flag went up to even suggest that someone go out and politely ask him for an ID and a nice gentle question as to why he was questioning students? I mean, when I go to my son’s school, my ID is in my hand. No arguments about “it’s my business” or “privacy rights” from me.

    I wonder if this is a problem with the overall school system there. I know other individual schools may have a lack of concern or security, but this seems to be growing in that area.

    NW2K Software

  38. 0
    Scoops says:

    I can not believe how utterly useless this bill would be. It will completely and totally NOT solve the “problems” in game rating, as some people see them.

    As has been pointed out, neither San Andreas’ Hot Coffee nor Oblivion’s boobs would have been caught by playing those games all the way though. Neither of those things were part of a complete play through of the original, unmodded game. Is playing 100% of the release version of the game even close to necessary? Do you need to do all 30 Rampages in Vice City to see that the game is fairly wantonly violent? Wouldn’t just one really get the point of that aspect of the game across?

    It’s also been pointed out that this would boost the amount of time (and hence, the cost) required to rate a game to an obscene level, but I think it’s worse than most people are considering.

    One other person mentioned it in passing: Not only would you have to play through the entirety of a game, you would have to play through the entirety of the game on EVERY DIFFICULTY LEVEL, just to make sure the game wasn’t more sexy/violent/drugged out/whatever on extreme than it was on easy, or vice versa.

    So, not only will Jenny Soccermom at the ESRB have to play all 100 hours of some RPG, she’ll have to do it 2 or 3 or 4 times. How will she even know if she’s missed something? Most games don’t actually offer you a completion percentage.

    The fact is that as it stands now, the ESRB operates in a very effective manner. Using a video allows them to have unskilled, average joes rate games, specifically so that the rating isn’t coming from a gamer. The video from the publisher essentially has to contain not only a representative sampling of the gameplay, but all of the “worst” elements as well.

    If they leave out said “bad stuff” they are hit with a not insignificant fine, plus the game will be re-rated (and pulled by most retailers in the meantime).

  39. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    A few more details:

    And the kid mentioned on page 2 who lied… I’m just a little ticked off. What does he think this is? A game? Ok, maybe that’s not exactly an appropriate thing to say considering this is a video game politics site. But really, this kid is messed up. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but this is not the time to be seeking attention.

    NW2K Software

  40. 0
    Cecil475 says:


    (nightwng2000 Says:
    Of course, I had my say in comment 33.
    Obviously, I let myself go… just an itty bitty bit. Yeah, i was the textbook case of calm and collect. Yeah… right. Sure. :: sigh :: )

    Don’t be to hard on yourself. On the subject of Jack Thompson, I always let myself go. *sigh* maybe I shouldn’t do that so often.

    – Warren Lewis


  41. 0
    Cecil475 says:

    (nightwng2000 Says:
    Of course, I had my say in comment 33.
    Obviously, I let myself go… just an itty bitty bit. Yeah, i was the textbook case of calm and collect. Yeah… right. Sure. :: sigh :: )

    Don’t be to hard. On the subject of Jack Thompson, I always let myself go. *sigh* maybe I shouldn’t do that so often.

    – Warren Lewis

  42. 0
    Foton says:

    I am trying to get an activist group together and organized…Just don’t have the full political nor financial stability for it as of now, not to mention not enough support from the community.

    Some action should be taken to defend our rights…we are people too. And Gaming is just as much of an Artform as Film.

    We deserve respect.

    Foton Webmaster

  43. 0
    Juggernautz ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I agree with you wholeheartedly. The fact that Australia’s rating system for games is NOT the same as our film ratings is beyond understanding. Whoever decided that games should be rated differently obviously doesn’t understand games and how much potential they have had, and still have, as a creative medium. The unfortunate truth is that Australia is like America’s little lapdog. Whatever George Dubya decrees, lil John Howard is going to follow soon after.

    Therefore, all of these law suits against game companies and the scapegoating of gamers in America is beginning to catch on in Australia. Just recently there was a story on GP about the NSW Minister trying to get Bully banned, despite the OFLC giving it an M15+ rating. She cited numerous lawsuits from the US in later press releases. As someone who has been lobbying the government constantly to get the games ratings system changed to mirror film ratings, these kind of chain politics is REALLY F^T$ing annoying.

    Conversely, we do have some politicians who do seem to get the picture. A couple of years ago the Premier of Queensland Peter Beattie gave a multi million dollar grant for XBOX game development within Queensland (how much did MS give him for that I wonder). That’s great, but censorship is what is really hurting. There a few (notably younger) politicians which are campaigning against the censorship of games, unfortunately they are not the ones in power. Parliament is typically full of old conservative, close minded, argumentative people. That’s the way it has always been.

    Like Grahamr said, activism is a fantastic way for everyone outside of our community to realise just how many people of all societal status are games, and how awesome games are for creativity, storytelling and medical purposes. Activist drives like flowers for jack, Penny Arcade’s frequent donations to charity (especially the one in the name of Jack, hypocritical shit that he is) and endeavours like Child’s Play show just how much power gamers really have.

    I’ll never give up fighting for my creative freedom.

  44. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Apparently, it’s not very far at all.

    Before the story was updated with the identity of the shooter, the media was making it very clear that the shooter was dressed like a student (complete with backpack) and that the shooting reminded people of Columbine which is pretty close.

    After the update, even the reference to Columbine seems to have diminished or vanished altogether. Probably because the face of the shooter is all over the news and he’s identified as being in his 50’s. The “school shootup” theme is gone and the sexual assault and the fact the victims were female is taking the lead.

    As to the NM case, nothing new that I know of except comments 30 and 31
    in this article:
    Of course, I had my say in comment 33.
    Obviously, I let myself go… just an itty bitty bit. Yeah, i was the textbook case of calm and collect. Yeah… right. Sure. :: sigh ::

    NW2K Software

  45. 0
    Grahamr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I am highly supportive of actvism,although i may not possess the necesarry skills. i found it highl disheartening that we could not campaign against John bruce thompson in paticular(No offence,but,WTF?!) and that topics posted in the activism section would get no replies. however,flowers for jack showed just how organized gamers can be.

  46. 0
    Foton says:

    “This is some stupid crap there will be no way that these jerk offs will be able to a play a game to its entirity.”

    Please note that the ESRB is on the wrong end of the firing squad here. Most government officials, neglect the simple fact that ESRB ratings are completely voluntary on the part of the developers. Always has been since sega rated thier own games, before it was industry standard. As part of a project focused on Video Games and Game Politics, myself, I know all it will do, if passed, is anger a lot of people, gamers like ourselves, who will, like every other group who our government has mistreated, will rise and fight for our rights. And just like in the past, we’ll be underestimated. It seems to me that they fail to see how tight knit gamers are as a community, thanks to the internet. You may have fan boys and such. But if it’s something that effects gamers as a whole we all seem to agree.

    A group of gamers I think would be the first to rise would be the MMO players, games like WoW and FFXI all have extremely tight brother hoods. And the moment the government passes a bill as such, their beloved genre (also my personal favorite genre) will take a serious blow, and no one will stand for it. Gaming is a multibillion dollar industry and can get lobbys together in no time.

    Politicians Lose…We, as gamers, are being targeted and treated like pedophiles. We are like the rock generation of the 60s. Ignorant people fighting something they don’t understand…

    And thanks to our understanding of what we are defending, and our passion for it, we won’t be hindered. We are a free country in the year 2006….not 1984. Religion is tearing this country apart. A country formed to be a haven for the different, the misunderstood, the oppressed, is oppressing thier own. We are a subculture, of a supposed culture of misfits and dreamers…

    Fight the censors,
    Foton Webmaster

  47. 0
    Cecil475 says:

    nightwng2000 Says:
    (No video games here. Merely, and fearfully, criminal sexual desperation. People who have a “nothing to loose” attitude are the most dangerous.)

    Not yet anyway. I wonder how far from Columbine this was? BTW whats going on in New Mexico now (The other shooting.)

    – Warren Lewis

  48. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    For those interested in keeping up with the Colorado school shooting, the shooter has been identified>

    I think it’s more likely that we’re talking about a sexual predator who has adopted the one idea everyone hoped would never occur: The all or nothing stance. Run in, grab a few victims (6 girls in this case), commit his sexual crime on multiple victims right then and there, then off himself. Nothing to lose because he intends to end it immediately anyway.

    Considering how many sexual predators there are out there, I’d be seriously concerned even a teeny tiny fraction of them may get the same idea and copycat this.

    No video games here. Merely, and fearfully, criminal sexual desperation. People who have a “nothing to loose” attitude are the most dangerous.

    NW2K Software

  49. 0

    […] Back from Peru, and digging out through a ton of email. You don't want to know how much, but I'll give you a hint and say it was in the middle four digits. Yep, all in two weeks.Anyway, saw a post on Evil Avatar linking to Game Politics. It discusses a proposal from Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) to improve the ESRB rating system. In particular, the concept is that reviewers would have to play through the entire game before assigning a rating. To quote: Brownback’s Truth in Video Game Rating Act (S.3935) would appear to be the Senate version of a House bill of the same name proposed by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL).“The current video game ratings system needs improvement,” Brownback said, “because reviewers do not see the full content of games and don’t even play the games they are supposed to rate. For video game ratings to be meaningful and worthy of a parent’s trust, the game ratings must be more objective and accurate.”Brownback’s measure would mandate the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to administer the requirement for a complete play-through before rating.“Game reviewers must have access to the entire game for their ratings to accurately reflect a game’s content,” Brownback added.I actually think this is a good step in the right direction. There's certainly value to reviewers having experienced the entire game and not having to depend on selected (and potentially targeted) assets to make their decision. I've actually believed for a while that government regulation of the game rating system is coming and could actually be beneficial. Unfortunately, it also appears that the current proposed bill has the usual "don't get the games industry" flaws that would need to be addressed. (I should say that this isn't a ding against Mr. Brownback – I actually think he's on the right track here. It's more a comment on the fact that the current generation of politicians didn't grow up with games and just don't get them – in many ways, video games are seen as the new Rock & Roll, corrupting American youth and contributing to the general downfall of society. This is self-correcting as "our generation" gets older and becomes those same politicians… in the meanwhile, we just need to help educate them. Kudos to John Stewart for helping fight that battle!)It's worth stating that we don't have the complete text of the bill yet – so keep that in mind as you read the possible holes I see.The first is simply that a video game isn't necessarily the same, linear experience as a movie. As such, it's just not reasonable to expect an MMO or even a huge RPG such as Oblivion to be completely played through (ie, all content experienced) before being given a rating. This is just a simple reality, and the bill's text will obviously need to take this into account. My hope is that this is sufficiently obvious such that it's already being considered – but we shall see.The second is that it appears the bill doesn't understand the difference between content available to players in game vs. "debug" content that may never be accessible in any way to a player other than via game modification devices. There's nothing wrong with having a "nude" avatar model in the game engine if the game always clothes that avatar before displaying it. Users (and reviewers) would never see the corrupt evil that is nudity (note sarcasm), and the world would continue to turn. However, it appears the bill doesn't understand that it's possible for "hackers" (call them what you will) to do all sorts of things to game code once it's outside the hands of the developer and publisher. That's a huge gaping hole that needs to be addressed.I look forward to seeing the final bill text – here's hoping it goes in the right direction! If not, I'm sure the Daily Show will have a blast with it. Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2006 8:21 AM by Ozymandias Filed under: Gaming Industry, Game Politics […]

  50. 0
    ijed ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    from a technical standpoint its very easy to see everything in a game – an unpacked version with all decals, models + animations that can be viewed in the in-house editor.

    chances of this – none. Everyone’s far too paranoid about handing over thier IP to anyone else, especially if they don’t have to.

    MMO’s do have a rating system disclaimer built in, the same as Xbox live:

    “ESRB Notice; game experience may change during online play.”

    This means that when someone starts F’ing and blinding at a seven year old its nobody’s legally punishable fault, in theory.

    As to violent crime verses videogame content – in Namerica your politicians have an epileptic fit everytime someone even alludes to sex in a game, but shooting people in the head is ok.

    BTW: Fuck mel gibson.

  51. 0
    Yukimura sanada ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Now that I didn’t know. However, I was fairly familiar with the whole Thacther era. Man was she an unholy Bitch.

    Anyway, Your free to disagree, and you may be right, if your restrictions have been dropping off, then your indeed going the other way from what happened with the Nazis. Shame some countries don’t share that pattern. Looking at you Australia.

    But I will say this, your damn right about the whole FALSE view thing across cultures. hell, UsvsUk views are almost 50 to 90 percent wrong on both sides, and it’s not just us. Usvs Japan view is also horribly biased.

    SO yeah, I can see where you coming from, and yeah, theres a lot of misconceptions one both sides. While I like the news that the UK is getting better, I still stand by my quote from before aobut government censors. Fuck them all up the ass with a Plasma flat screen.

    Course, recently, I’ve been thinking about extending that to a few hundred politicans to.

    Aww one can dream right?

    Anyway, glad we got that worked out, hate to have a grudge deveolp over this. Now if we could just get idiots like JT to shut up, that would go along way to clearing up some other kinds of misconceptions eh?

  52. 0
    Dagrak ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Glad we cleared the crime bit up. I blame UK football for that new stereotype which has been placed upon us. I disagree entirely with your nazi correlation simply because our censorship laws are actually getting more relaxed rather then less, most of the censorship falls down on the conservative Thatcher era when many things were restricted.

    Personally I like the BBFC rating but then we do have a system in place which makes it work, thats where your censor groups have got it wrong your country wouldn’t tolerate such a system being put in place as it would quell creativity and sales. It doesn’t effect us because with our system we can have the goriest most explicit film/game ever devised and still be able to sell it care free…of course we’d still get the parental watchdog groups…but every country has those!

    I don’t think our countries are that different, our restrictions are pretty much the same as yours, though by and large we are slightly more…prudish and subdued…I mean if watching UK Pop Idol and American idol is anything to go by! I think really, like TV has given a flase view of America over here, your TV has given a false view of the UK. If films like Shaghai Knights and Garfield 2 are anything to go by you lot would utterly confused to actually come over here! I will say I’m glad our religion has far less importance over here. You can’t get someone like JT spewing Bible quotes every few minutes to be a TV expert…well…unless its religion based…er…

  53. 0
    Marshie says:

    Yuki: I’d just like to point out a few more facts about England as a whole…

    Arizona has a land mass roughly equal to that of England as a whole, but has roughly one tenth the population (5.13 million in Arizona versus 50.431 million in England), meaning the population density is a lot higher in England and particularly in the relatively higher-density areas like London. It’s true that there is, on an absolute scale, more crime in England than there is in Arizona. However, to use an absolute scale to compare the two would be unfair, as England has ten times as many people to commit crimes.

    While yes the crime rate in England has risen… It’s not the epidemic you make it out to be. Sure there are a few hundred murders country-wide, but that doesn’t even come close to the death toll the good ol’ USA manages to rack up each year… even on a per-capita basis.

  54. 0
    Yukimura sanada ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Correction noted Dag, guess I got carried away there. Noted that report you cited was 3 years old almost, but once again, I made no specific comment about murder. Point taken none the less.

    I however stand by my statements regarding censorship. I do not retract them in anyway. Any country, regardless of government that activly engages in censorship, of ANY KIND, is commiting crime against expression in my eyes. While the British government has a been a stanuch supporter of the US, tha doesn’t change the fact that you have a system in your government that places media control in political hands. In america, such actions have become the subject of enormous controversy, including the formation of a coalition to have the FCC disbanded and replaced by a non content controlling authroity.

    Adimittedly, the UK, as well as the other nations I mentions, are not nearly as far down the road as the Nazi party was. But neither were they, at first. It started simply, with the banning of books by the Nazi regime, but within less then a year, all MEDIA, period, was under nazi control. It may take a slower course, but the UK, and the other countries I cited, are walking that EXACT PATH!!!.

    One final note. yes, i’m aware of the distorted view of the revolutionary war, but even, from a purely factual standpoint, America want to war with brittian cause it tried to excersise far to much control over the US, starting with taxes and leading up to religion. While the movies distort this and paint the Brits in a mostly negitive light, it doesn’t change the fact that, at the time, the English government tired to put the screws to the us and got it’s face punched in for it’s trouble. I hate the thought that the US would ever start taking ideas from the UK. Fact is, our to countries are just to different for that to ever work.

    I do correct myself and apoligize about the mix up in the crime statistics, but it doesn’t change my views on media or censorship. As I said before, and this applies to all CENSORS, ANYWHERE.

    “Fuck these government censors up the ass with a PLASMA FLAT SCREEN!!”

    Sorry dag, but nothing is gonna change my mind on that. However, that quote works in a lot of ways. Just remove government censors and replace with whatever you despise, News media, Jack Thompson, and it’s instant insult time.

    So, again, didn’t mean to blow my top, but the fact is, I stand by my beliefs when it comes to censor ship. And like I once told JT. The day he wants to take my games, he better bring an army. Cause I will leave them lying in the street before I let anyone tell me what I can and cannot watch/play/see/read/say/think.

    Thank you London we love you GOOD NIGHT!

  55. 0
    Dagrak ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    In the interest of understanding Yuki, here:

    Particuarly this section:

    “Britain remains one of the countries with the lowest murder rate in the world per capita, accounting for 853 murders in the reporting period 2003/04 according to the Home Office’s Crime Statistics, which at a population of more than 60 million that translates into less than 1.3 murders per 100,000 residents in the UK.[6] By comparison, in 2000, police in the United States reported 5.5 murders for every 100,000 population.[7] In addition, 70% of murders in the United States involve firearms compared to 6% in the United Kingdom.[8] Both New York City and London have over 7 million residents, with New York reporting 6.9 murders per 100,000 people in 2004 to London’s 2.4 per 100,000, also in 2004.[9]”

  56. 0
    Dagrak ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “6) I’m not even going to get into this whole patriot distorted view of the War of Independance and the evil Brits…”

    That was Patriot as in the Mel Gibson movie…should have pointed that out

  57. 0
    Dagrak ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    A few points:

    1) I’m not lecturing about government run media, I’m mentioning this grossly exagerrated view you have about our media. The government does not censor to fit an agenda, otherwise we wouldn’t have these lovely shows about the secret government documents, get to laugh at Tony Blair’s failings or purchase Grand Theft Auto without any backlash against it.
    2) The gun laws did accomplish what they were set out to do, it removed away impulse killings. Gun control will not rule out planned criminals, this is accepted, but most murders/attacks are done as a spur of the moment thing. By removing the gun from the household you take away that risk. Its a specific risk your going after and obviously does not effect actual planned crime but despite what you may believe it has helped. We have different self defence laws in place which also contribute, laws I will agree are in the wrong. You cannot kill someone for entering your house/threatening you unless they were preventing you from escaping or putting you in utter danger. You are however allowed to use reasonable force which does allow physical attacks, stabbing etc…provided it was reasonable. The most obvious example of when this was not the case would be the farmer who planned an attack on tresspassers, laid traps and then shot them when they attempted to flee.
    3) London is a very busy place, and small to boot. Arizona is much bigger and can house more people. Of course there will be a greater crime count in a smaller contained area then in a large open one. I think the main reason that crime is reported as increasing is simply that, its being reported. More and more people are now reporting crime when previously they didn’t, in addition Police methods of recording crime has improved. You’ll find the same statistics in Arizona as well I’d wager.
    4) Wow, your compairing the labour government (who has been the biggest support of your US administration to date) to the Nazi party? Do we ban news stories about governemnt mistakes? No. Do we ban reports that the government is secretly funding wars? No. Do we prohibit films which show a certain agenda? No. The last time I remember a film being banned was on video release and even then only for a short time (it was shown on cinema first). Gameswise, we haven’t banned anything you country didn’t refuse to rate and we happily have 18 rated games on shelves.
    5) I don’t want games censored any more then you do, especially as the states has its wonderfuly biased shops which refuse to stock certain titles thusly censoring them for you. If censorship is allowed in your country it effects all of us but I’m tired of seeing my, remarkably liberal country compared to Nazi Germany and Fundamentalist Muslim states.
    6) I’m not even going to get into this whole patriot distorted view of the War of Independance and the evil Brits…

    Like I say I don’t want censorship, certainly not in any of the manners proposed by your government so far. I just wish you’d lay off the Brit bashing.

  58. 0
    Yukimura sanada ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I didn’t say gun crime. I said violent crime, and if I’m not mistaken, following the enactment of your gun laws, crime soared 300 percent in as little as three years. While You are correct about gun laws, the fact is, the cities and countries that have the worst level of crime are those that have, suprisingly, the strictist gun regulations. as an example, I live in arizone, which has very loose gun laws. Until the recent Sniper serial shooting, very rarly was gun crime a major issue, however overall, crime in general in the Phoenix area and around arizona is a record low.

    On the other hand take a look at london. You all had your guns taken away, and yet your crime rate didn’t drop, it nearly doubled in the first year. And has gotten worse sense.

    I not trying to be mean but the fact is, gun laws like game laws do not accomplish what they are supposed to . It’s like that famous quote. “if you outlaw guns, only criminals have guns, and the people who criminals prey on are defenseless against them”

    Same goes for game law. Government control of any medium, in my opinion, is an absoulute crime and should be resisted at all costs. Some people might argue thats an alarmist view, but then, thats what was said in Nazi germany and Soviet russia when the state had 100 percent control of the media. That worked out well.

    look, america was founded on freedom, hell, we fought Brittan in a bloody and violent war to get that freedom. Like hellI’ll I ‘ll suddenly see us start to backslide towards the very thing this country was formed to resist.

    As far as i’m concerned, the following coutnries are slowly sliding towards total media censorship.

    1. The Uk,
    2. New zealand.
    3. Australia,
    4. Germany.
    5. Most any islamic country you can name.

    The list goes on. Dont’ lecture me about the virtues of goverment run media. To Parapharse foamy the squirrel.

    “Fuck these government censors up the ass with a PLASMA FLAT SCREEN!!”

  59. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “The current POLITICAL system needs improvement,” Brownback said, “because POLITICIANS do not RESEARCH the full ISSUE of games and don’t even play the games they are CRITICIZING. For SENATORS to be meaningful and worthy of a parent’s trust, the GOVERNMENT must be more objective and accurate.”

    Fixed it for you, Senator Brownnose.

  60. 0
    dagrak ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I’m not trying to be nasty but you seem to really have it in for my little country and its laws. We do not have an outright ban on guns, just guns used in homes. We have laws allowing a registered individual (of which I used to be one) to own a rifle or similar for sport. You cannot own a handgun (unless its a Flintlocke type pistol) or an automatic. Our crime rate is not a sinister epidemic like your post seems to indicate. Its very rare for a gun related crime to be mentioned on the news, a large part of the crime is knife related.

    As for our games ratings, we simply have PEGI which is very much like the ESRB and then we have the BBFC standard ratings which are given to submitted games which feature anything that could be considered unsuitable for younger players. This classification is EXACTLY the same as our film classification. Our laws prevent retailers to selling these games/films to the underage. Whilst I agree that you have a somewhat more free system we do not have this horrible fascist control system like you keep making it sound. I’d argue that the main reason the games take so long to come out over here is for exactly the same reason we won’t be getting Mortal Kombat Armageddon for Xbox…you use NTSC, we use PAL…not immensly different but it does require some reworking.

  61. 0
    aniki21 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This just seems like a dumb idea to me. The notion that it’s an attempt to destroy the ESRB seems a little weird as well – don’t these guys want ratings on games?

    I dunno; part of me thinks it’s a reasonable enough idea, or at least driven by the right desires, but it’s suggestion is highly inefficient and not a reasonable replacement for the system that’s already in place.

    Like a lot of game legislation, it sounds like a reasonable idea that’s not really been thought through properly.

  62. 0

    I like the write to this guy – and give him a copy of Final Fantasy VII (and a PS1 and memory card (because playing FF without a save file is crual and unusual torture))

    and Chalange him to REVIEW the whole game. EVERYTHING in the game…

    all 100+ hours of the game – and say he only has a week to do it…

  63. 0
    Yukimura sanada ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    sorry Jugs, got Australia wrong. Uk was the country whose crime rate when sky high after guns were banned. Probably cause theres a larger and more active undeground in the UK that supply crooks with guns.

    Regardless, I found yet MORE thompson BS that needs to be counters, look at this crap, found today in a New Mexico news report. Note it omits Thompsons removal from the case and that the court is still debating weather the Courts in AL can hear the case.

    Need to correct these people, and for the love of god someone get on the PHONE with the ESA at once and find out why they haven’t alredy buried thompson and this case under a mountiain of count suits.

  64. 0
    Juggernautz ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Funky J: Unfortunately, government controlled ratings DO have an effect on the gaming industry. I live an Australia and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen something listed as ‘Released’ on the web, sprinted down to the local EB and told it won’t be out for another couple months because the almighty OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification, apparently games are film and literature o.O) are still deciding on the rating. Thanks to the Commenwealth Classification Act (1995) for that one. Also, like Will D above, I too used to work in QA, I’m now in development making actual games and I can tell you that no matter how long you play, how well you know the game you can’t suddenly see all the content by playing at at a hax rate.

    @Yukimura. Gun crimes in Australia are WAAAAAAY down FYI. I could cite a number of examples of crime statistics over the years, but I don’t want this to look like one of my emails to Jack-T ^^. Here’s how the OFLC rating works: you must pay them a goddamn fee to rate a commercial product. Yep, government gets more money. Grats. Luckily, the opposition has managed to stop numerous Bills from passing which would raise the fees from being dramatically increased. Anyway, the government takes that money and shoves it somewhere then they decide whether or not the game is suitable.

    Here’s a major biting point for Australian gamers: if a game is considered “unsuitable” for minors, it is Refused Classification completely. Australian has no R18+ equivalent for video games like they do for films. If it isn’t MA15+, it ain’t allowed in. Nudity in games, for example as such in BMX XXX, is considered unsuitable unless ‘educational, medical or good for community health’. San Andreas was pulled off the shelves in the wake of the Hot Coffee scandal (I got mine early :D)

    Now, here’s an interesting side note: Bully has been rated M15+ in Australia, contrary to everyone’s belief that it would be MA. The Classification Board states “[…] found that the themes, violence and sexual references are moderate in playing and viewing impact in the context of a comedic game about the trials of life in a troubled educational institution. According to the player’s behaviour during gameplay, Jimmy either accumulates punishment points until he is apprehended by authority figures, or increases in the school’s social standing. Punishments include lawn mowing, snow shovelling, receiving demerit points and attending extra classes.

    During the game the player is not encouraged to attack innocent bystanders or undertake acts of “bullying”, and is not rewarded for doing so. The “missions” the player undertakes are generally about thwarting acts of bullying, exploitation or discrimination.

    Violence towards innocent bystanders such as school girls and smaller school children causes authority figures such as prefects, teachers and police officers to chase and apprehend the player-controlled character, Jimmy.”

    There ya go JT, suck it. I’m pissed off about these issues being raised in America, because I have no doubt the our fine country will no doubt follow suit.

  65. 0
    William Douglas says:

    Funky J, just a quick question, but what does “in its entirety” mean to you? To me, it means that every aspect of the game must be displayed and shown before it can pass the ESRB. That includes every Easter egg, every unlockable weapon, every little detail that is in the game.

    I work in game testing, and let me tell you something. The average game, with us knowing everything about the game and having enough skill in the game to utilize every shortcut, takes us about 3-12 hours. If it’s an especially long game, such as roleplaying games, it might take us 30-40 hours.

    The fact is that the people who rate the games are not gamers themselves, but average joes and parents off of the streets. These are the people, and the politicians, who are most going to care about the ESRB rating. This is part of the reason why the ESRB works so well because it uses people who would care most about the ESRB.

    This law would be a complete drag on the industry, and a nightmare for games with evolving contents, such as massively multiplayer online roleplaying games. Can you imagine having Blizzard or Square-Enix having to have their patches reviewed every few months to ensure that they are in compliance with this law?

    To reiterate, the killer phrase in this law is that the game has to be reviewed, “in its entirety”.

  66. 0
    Grahamr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Funky j-I Remember you. you were on the forums a long time ago,and you started a pages long debate having to do with a goverment ratings system. But,i don’t speak of you in vain. we need debates here to lighten things up.

    Yes,i do belive that most of the content could be viewed in 4 hours,but i played Wow and…

    theres actully a quest chain in duskwood(the whole stalvan mistmantle arc) that involves an undead who was attracted to an underage woman in his past life. serious. and he apparently(in game text) ends up killing both her and her lover.

    That,in my opinion,merits an M rating,but unless you receive that quest,and reas through all the in game text,you probably wouldn’t have known that.

  67. 0
    Marshie says:

    Funky J: Except that the ESRB doesn’t have millions of dollars to blow on salaries. Most of their reviewers are volunteers or are paid so little that it’s not exactly a full time job. As for games like GTA or Oblivion or The Sims…. see everything in four hours? Are you KIDDING me? I’d barely gotten past the first BIT of Oblivion within four hours. The second and third islands in GTA III don’t open up within four hours unless you’ve got a perfect walkthrough handy.

    And that bit about 10 people playing a game 8 hours a day assumes that their time is somehow cumulative, as if I’m somehow exactly 8 hours into play when my coworker begins the game, and the next person is 16 hours in… and we advance at EXACTLY the pace necessary to close all the gaps. Special unlock or reviewer codes to skip ahead don’t really exist, either. In a game like Oblivion or GTA, time means nothing.

    Also, outsourcing to China or India isn’t an option. The ESRB is supposed to rate things based on a North American perspective. I very much doubt that some Chinese dude is going to be able to think like a smalltown American couple.

    And yes, it’s worth the dickheads attacking the industry. The industry has the first amendment on their side, so they generally win by default. There’s no point in bowing to the wishes of every “do-gooder” politician (and by this I mean whatever their sheep-like constituents say is “good” at election time) simply because it means less conflict. That’s what allows things like a chilling effect to begin.

  68. 0
    Yukimura sanada ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Funky, There is a reason why Games take 6 to 12 Months longer to come out in those other countries, Cause of the fact that they have a GOVERNMENT MANDATED RATINGS SYSTEM.

    Oh sure, people talk it up big, but it’s had little if any impact on crime in the countries it’s used in. Hell, London thought gun control was a great idea, look what happened, crime went up over 300 percent in less then 3 years, and they had to re issue guns to police.

    Ditto australia, and others.

    Fact is, Those systems may seem effect, but they only succed in slow a coutnries economy by letting government have control of a free market enterprize.

    Fuck that, and fuck other ratings systems. I’ll take the ESRB as it is.

    Oh and one last thing. Whose gonna pay to train those 8 man teams to rate 300 games or more a month? Huh? last I checked, the ESRB was self contained and self supported and didn’t need any government money to run ,just like the MPAA.

    Secondly, The industry has already changed it’s policy in ragards to hidden content. Right now it’s a million dollar fine per incident if theres anything hidden that is outside a games rating.

    So, you can take your PEGI and all that crap and shove it. I’ll take free market over government censorship and control any day.

  69. 0
    Funky J ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I can’t believe you people can’t think outside the square…

    Other countries have a team of people who play through the ENTIRE game just fine…

    Although GTA or Oblivion or The Sims are effectively ‘endless’, everything you see and will ever see in those games you see within the first 4 hours.

    You’re not reviewing them – your RATING them for CONTENT. You don’t need to play the game in every little detail, just play the game to see if there’s any content which will raise the Developer/Publishers desired rating.

    The games companies DO give the ESRB a list of things they think will put the game into the given rating. The ESRB then watches videos and gives a rating.

    This way, it’s juts more thourough and isn’t merely relying on what the games developers give them.

    Here’s one example – a team of ten people playing a game 8 hours a day will knock even the biggest game off in under a few days, especially if they’re given unlock or special ‘reviewer’ codes to allow them to skip ahead.

    The ESRB would have millions of dollars, so would easily be able to hire hundreds of people to rate the games. Or, to save money, they could outsource it to India or Chinese persons.

    It would require a BIG change in the way games are rated and published, but is that change any WORSE than having dickhead after dickhead attacking the industry everytime some screwed up kid kills someone?

  70. 0
    Tracy says:

    I am APPALLED over this proposed legislation, principally for the sheer amount of time that will be wasted on the Senate floor. It takes days for a bill to be debated. Each Senator speaks for an average of fifteen minutes. It can take hours for a vote to be called, cast, and determined.

    Hours and days that could be spent debating the Iraq war, immigration, health care, education, poverty, anything.

    I swear, Congress has more money to waste on bullsh-t pet projects than small countries make in a year.

  71. 0
    thefremen says:

    No avatars=the suxxor.

    Regarding the FTC overstepping itsself and wrecking itsself, seems like this is a common theme these days. What with the other proposed law which would protect Bush from prosecution and allow future presidents to spy on whoever they damn well please for whatever reason they damn well please! (Nixon is rolling in his grave right now, imagine if they had just said “it’s ok dude we’ll just make what happened at watergate legal so your veep doesn’t have to pardon you!”)

    We’re heading towards being like mexico where the govt was severly fucked up in part because the constitution gave entirely too much power to the federal government and not enough to the states/provinces.

  72. 0
    SnubStumpy2007 says:

    These politicians are really stupid. I can’t wait until this one fails. I’ll be laughing until I cough up that T-bone steak I just ate.

    *Munch Munch!!!!*

  73. 0
    MalCorSyn says:

    I’m not sure if anyone’s brought up this angle (there are a lot of comments on this page, you know…), but what about the reviewers themselves? Brownback did mention that the FTC would have to mandate “a complete run-through” for the game to be rated accurately by reviewers and the ESRB. Considering that most games are sent demo-style often for reviewers to preview and make judgements (basing this on articles read in several gaming mags, so bear with me), this would inconvienience not only the ESRB, but the reviewers as well, citing the amount of time it takes to complete a game. Reviewers would have to wait until the finished copy gets sent to them, play through it, and then write the review. I’m not entirely sure of the process of “get game, play game, review game,” but I think it would honestly eat up too much time.

  74. 0
    Yukimura sanada ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well, now that i’m finally able to post, a quick run down of why this fails.

    1. 1st amendment. Obvious, but important as it’s been the key to killing every single bill so far.
    2. 14th amendment. singling out games vs movies or Tv has also been a major amount of troubel for Game legislating polis.
    3. due process and Equal protection.

    These three things will derail the bill long before it ever gets enforced. A shame Sen. Braindead doesn’t keep up with current events. Like the last 8 bills that failed. Or 30 years standing precident thanks to the MPAA.

  75. 0
    iheartassassinmaids says:

    “because reviewers do not see the full content of games and don’t even play the games they are supposed to rate.”

    Change reviewers with politicians and that’ll be right

  76. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    All my comments were eaten by that spam filter as well.

    Anyway, everyone else has stated what I wanted to say, that this is unconstitutional on First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds. Come to think of it, we said the same thing about the House version months ago.

  77. 0
    Lost Watcher ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Ahh right this was brought up earlier this year.

    Same arguement on their side… and the whole GAO issue only being able to deal with Goverment.

  78. 0
    Volcanman says:

    //Why do people always only mention games like Oblivion when they talk about games that are very big? How about every single MMO out there?//

    That’s because Oblivion usually sucks up weeks-worth of hours VERY easily thanks to the massive amount of things shoved into it. Wheater or not it’s any good is up to the individual that plays it, but it’s agreeable that the company that made Oblivion usually crams in anything and everything possible in their games.

    Along with a couple other people, I do think that this is an attempt to shut down the ESRB and to pass a scapegoat for people who play violent video games. The ESRB can only go with what they’re told, and so it’s up to the developers to make a demo or video showing off anything that is appart of the ratings system. If a violent video game had only pictures and demos of happy little birdys and flowers, and it’s only released does everyone find out that it’s bloody and gorey, then it isn’t the ESRB’s fault since they were only showed the “nicer” parts of it. One of the reasons why the Hot Coffee thing made such a boom, it was the first example in history to have an easter egg like that built into the game where the ESRB wasn’t notified of it.

  79. 0
    Cecil475 says:

    The spam filter caught my comments. And when I could not find any of my previous posts I panicked thinking that I was banned or something. I tried to contact several people on this site about it. It really freaked me out.

    For those I contacted, Sorry for flipping out.

    – Warren Lewis

  80. 0
    SilverStar says:

    Gee. Trying to mandate that a private organization which has no real, official capacity to enforce anything at all, follow external guidelines in order to perform its task?

    Simple! The ESRB can liquidate and create a new organization, that takes up all the duties and has a slightly different name, in order to get around all these BS rules that are trying to be pushed on them. New company, new name, fresh start against all the bogus rules. Simple, no?

  81. 0
    Marshie says:

    Silly Dan… He doesn’t have time to actually play the games, just make frivilous laws ABOUT the games! I mean why bother paying attention to the amendments and jurisdictions and laws he’s breaking when he’s trying to convince little Timmy’s parents that he’s doing a good job?

  82. 0
    Nick says:

    @ dog_welder,

    You did understand that my post was sarcasm, right?

    I was being sarcastic because I believe Congress and the Senate have bigger problems to deal with than violent video games, and to an even more trivial matter for them, drug use in baseball.

  83. 0
    Dan Read says:

    I would suggest that before being allowed to table this bill, Sen. Brownback should have to do some due diligence… like play even one game in it entirety. How about Civ IV… every culture, every scenario.

  84. 0
    Andrew Eisen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Yeah. I first tried to make my comment at 6PST. I hit submit and nothing happened. I tried again and it told me I made a duplicate comment. So, I tried again when I got into work today and still had the duplicate comment message. Which is funny because the original comment still hadn’t posted. Adding the line at the beginning changed the comment and forced it through. Not sure what the deal with that was.

    Andrew Eisen

  85. 0
    Terminator44 says:

    In case you’re wondering what my last post was about, I wasn’t able to post here when I got up at 6:30 A.M. Every time I tried, it said that it was caught by the spam filter. Not only that, but every comment I made up to that point has disappeared.

  86. 0
    Andrew Eisen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ve been trying to post the following comment for six hours. Not sure what the problem is.

    Who’s the GAO?

    “The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an agency that works for Congress and the American people. Congress asks GAO to study the programs and expenditures of the federal government… It studies how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. GAO advises Congress and the heads of executive agencies (such as Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Department of Defense, DOD, and Health and Human Services, HHS) about ways to make government more effective and responsive. GAO evaluates federal programs, audits federal expenditures, and issues legal opinions… Its work leads to laws and acts that improve government operations, and save billions of dollars.”

    The ESRB is not the federal government.

    Andrew Eisen

  87. 0
    Zerodash ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Pretty much all game legislation is moving for the SAME general outcome: government regulation and censorship of game content. We have a long way to go before games are safe from these Left/Right wing extremists. And in light of the Columbine RPG, expect to see indie and independent developers go bye-bye.

    What the ESRB should start doing, perhaps as a compromise (or even because it makes sense), is to review all graphic files for a game. It shouldn’t take nearly as long as playing the entire game, and I’m sure a boobie texture skin would be easy to spot. Hell, perhaps even a review of audio files would be in order.

  88. 0

    I see no evidence that this addresses any of the objections to the previous bill.

    1. How can the government force the ESRB to do anything? They’re a private body. The government can’t make legislation that applies specifically to them. This would be a violation of equal protection.

    2. This would severely change the mandate of the GAO for no apparent reason. Doesn’t this sort of thing fall to the FTC?

    3. Playing games all the way through would make it take much longer and be far more expensive to rate games. This would do considerabel econimc damage to the industry.

    4. The raters would have to be sufficiently skilled in video games to play through in a reasonable amount of time. This would rule out most people who would be thought of as representative of America’s parents. Some games would be okay, but imagine some soccer mom trying to get through Ninja Gaiden on the top skill level to make sure it doesn’t unlock boobies or something.

    5. You can never really be certain whether you’ve seen all content in a video game. There are too mahy variables. Hot Coffee should have been an object lesson int his, but the people who matter don’t seem to have caught on.

    6. Requiring games to have an ESRB rating for distribution would mean that you had to pay a great deal of money (see point 3) in order to practice your right to free speech. This is a clear violation of the first ammendment.

    The only part of this that may be legally valid is forcing accurate description on games with content descriptors, though I believe this already falls under the FTC’s current powers to enforce truth in advertising.

  89. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Marshie.

    Can’t say I blame you, things happen, time goes on, people tend to forget.

    And to be honest, I and several gamers have wanted that cheat back i nthe GTA series.

  90. 0
    Sanguine says:

    If anyone is gonna play the games for the ESRB it would probably have to be the QA staff of the Title. Because I guarantee you no one knows more about a game then the Testing team.

  91. 0
    thefremen says:

    Sam Brownback probably doesn’t understand why this is freaking retarded because he had an easy time with games in his day. I’m betting if you go back to his old neighborhood and take a peek at the Frogger, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Joust machines, all of them have his initials at the very top of the high scores list.

    Sorry to say, but not many people randomly chosen off the streets will be able to play through God Of War 2. I had a VERY tough time with that. Hell, I have a tough time with Ultimate Spiderman. So yeah…either pro gamers play the whole thing and give a biased rating, or non gamers see a montage. You can’t have it both ways.

  92. 0
    MaskedPixelante ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    If that happens, then the ESRB will have to hire on extra people to play these video games for them… jeez, where do I drop off my application. Minimum wage to sit around and play video games all day, sounds like my thing…

  93. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ marshie.

    That was actually the nasty limb cheat. And the losing a head from a sniper shot thing was part of the default play. The cheat simply, as said, enabled limbs to be removed by sniper fire or explosions.

  94. 0
    Sanguine says:

    I think whats really important here is that the ESRB was created by the industry as a chioce by the goverment. I think that the ESRB should remain to self regualte otherwise it’s possible for a level of creativity to be shunned in the name of conflicts of interests.

  95. 0
    dog_welder ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    While one of the consequences of this bill could indeed be the ESRB just folding up, I should point out how this would be a bad thing. Why? With the ESRB gone the government could step in and have the FTC start rating the games. Government bureaucracies being government bureaucracies, this new agency would be vastly underfunded, understaffed and uncoordinated. Getting any game rated and approved would probably take months (and that’s before they even start to play the game “all the way through”) and the video game industry would suffer heavily because of it.

    OR, the video game industry would move to download-only distribution to circumvent the laws. The problems here are 1) not every video game fan has broadband and 2) consoles would be screwed. People would lose their jobs as smaller developers went under and brick & mortar stores couldn’t support their businesses.

    That’s a worst-case scenario, mind you.

    I know the governments in other countries have ratings boards (England and Australia come to mind), but I think they also function closely to the way the ESRB operates. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong on that.

  96. 0
    Beacon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ exaggeration17a
    I disagree. Keep in mind that the raters are not gamers themselves. Non-gamers are specifically chosen in order to attempt to keep the proceedings unbiased. Furthermore, in order to determine if the game has too much blood, do you actually need to be at the controls? I think the rater can make just as good a decision by watching footage of Sub-Zero ripping Kano’s head off than if they pressed Up, Up, Down, Forward, Circle, themselves.

  97. 0
    dog_welder ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Yes, there are a few of us “small government, fiscally conservative” Republicans left, but unfortunately I’m not in office. Even before you get to the First Amendment issues of this bill, I’d oppose it just on my core conservative beliefs alone.

    I’ve never thought too highly of Brownback. The Republican party would be much better off if we could get a few select people out of office (Brownback, Santorum, Ted Stevens from Alaska, and our current president come to mind.)

  98. 0
    Nick says:

    Well, since the ESRB is obviously not doing their job, let’s just abolish it. Abolish it and let congress rate the games. So out of the millions of things that congress has to do, such as propose taxes, vote on laws, worry about the war on terror,etc. etc., they should spend their time wasted on the trivial thing we call “running the country, making the democratic system work” playing video games, deciding whether that one is safe for our kids. Is the problem about drug use in baseball solved yet?

  99. 0
    Nick says:

    Well, since the ESRB is obviously not doing their job, let’s just abolish it. Abolish it and let congress rate the games. So out of the millions of things that congress has to do, such as propose taxes, vote on laws, worry about the war on terror,etc. etc., they should spend their time wasted on the trivial thing we call “running the country, making the democratic system work” and use it playing video games, deciding whether that one is safe for our kids. Is the problem about drug use in baseball solved yet?

  100. 0
    Sanguine says:

    This whole idea would push submission for ratings of games longer than what they are now. Plus there are no “gamers” at the ESRB they have no idea how to play a game or what to look for. In addtition, this whole idea of playing a game in it’s entirety is ridiculous because even if the ESRB were to play lets say all of GTA SA they still wouldn’t know about the Hot Coffee thing because it was locked from the players.

  101. 0
    Angry Gamer says:

    This is some stupid crap there will be no way that these jerk offs will be able to a play a game to its entirity. It would take them months to finish some of the new games coming out. Not to mention the secret codes and such. Things like the Hot Coffee Mod in GTA San Andreas were brought out by hackers that spent lots of time writing the code to bring that into play. Does he really thing honestly that the ESRB will be able to check every line of code in these games. It would be like watching a movie frame by frame to see if you can see a nipple. Its just getting way too excessive. We dont live in the land of the free any more we live in the land of the government trying to “protect our children” because some lazy ass parents are too stupid to look into something before grabbing the first game thier kid says “mommy buy that for me.” What it boils down to is instead of trying to make the ratings system better maybe they should try to educate the parents better. As a parent that plays alot of games I would never sit down in front of my Daughter and play GTA or Halo nor would I let her play them. I play what my wife and I call squishy games like Mario or Super Monkey Ball. If we keep trying to let the government “protect us” we’re going to end up just like the world on V for Vendetta or freakin Demolition Man.

  102. 0
    AudioJunkie says:

    I’m stating the obvious, but I’m continually frustrated by the fact that none of these people seem to want to actually play a video game and learn what they’re all about (finding out about things before attacking them isn’t really our government’s style afterall). It’s impossible to blame anyone for it, but the fact is video games need a major image overhaul quickly…these stories prove time and again that the mainstream public is clueless. That really needs to change if the industry wants to continue to protect itself from ignorant lawmakers and, ultimately, ignorant voters.

  103. 0
    Marshie says:

    Brokenscope Says:

    September 27th, 2006 at 12:27 pm
    Head Shot modes?

    In Grand Theft Auto III, there was a hidden code (much like the all weapons code or the pedestrians go psycho code) which allowed players to dismember their foes with the sniper rifle instead of just killing them. So if you shot them in their arm, their arm was gone, that sort of thing. I called it Head Shot mode because that’s what I remember it being called in the magazine I read with it, because you could remove someone’s head with a well placed sniper shot.

  104. 0
    Bigman-K ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “I think some change is needed in the way games are rated.”

    Voluntary change by the developers as you say is a good thing and i agree, but when government gets involved and forces it by law, it’s wrong. As the government is now taking it over. It reeks of communism.


    It’s too bad there are very few of you left out there. The Republican Party has for the most part been taken over by the Religious Right and the Big Government moralists. This is not what the Republican party was founded on. It was founded on the individual’s right to make or break it on their own and less government intrusion in our personal lives.

  105. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m a moderate republican. I consider myself a moderate but when push comes to shove my attitudes put me a tad conservative. I believe in small goverment. So yes, there are a few of us left.

  106. 0

    As much as I hate federal legislators wasting time trying to regulate video games because they don’t know what else to do… I think some change is needed in the way games are rated. Sure, it’d be impossible to see everything if you only played the game for a day or two, but the ESRB’s current system doesn’t involve playing the game AT ALL. If game developers could provide the ESRB with a game demo, and they could base their rating on that, even that would be much better.
    What Brownback is proposing is out of the question though, unless the game is rated by the developers themselves.

  107. 0
    Bigman-K ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I always thought that most Republicans were all for Small, Less involved in our lives government. I guess Sam must be one of those Big Government Republicans which is contrary to their own offical party stance, which is to leave government OUT of business. Are there any true (a.k.a – small government) Republicans left.

  108. 0
    Beacon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There’s a solution here. Answer me this: Does a reviewer actually have to play the game to see it all? No.
    Let’s take a look at Grand Theft Auto. A big game, takes over ten hours to beat, probably closer to thirty if you want to get 100%. Hidden packages, jumps, Kill Frenzies, etc. make seeing ‘the whole game’ a very worthy endevor.
    So, we create a film. What does this film contain? A flyby of the city, showing any points of interest, some footage of how combat works with each different weapon, and the cut-scenes for each mission. There, you’ve seen everything in the game. You haven’t played a single bit, but you know what combat looks like, and you’ve seen every bit of scripted action in the game, so what’s left?
    Oblivion and MMO’s are a bit more difficult, simply due to being on an even bigger scale. So what does the ESRB do? They ask the video game companies to send the footage that best represents the game. They *gasp* trust them (although I’m sure there’d be some hefty reprecussions for, say, not showing the presence of Fatalities in a Mortal Kombat Game). This is self-regulation, after all.
    On that note, can the government force the ESRB to do anything? This is completely self-imposed by the industry. The government has no right to tell them how to do their jobs. To put it on my level, it would be like the government telling me that I had to make a version of my program for Macs (Maybe not a good example, as I work for a state university and my program does run on a Mac, but you get my point. ^_^)

  109. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Right now, to be rated by the the ESRB, it costs, what did someone say? Around $5000?
    If such a bill passed what would it effect?
    Right now, the independants who sell or distribute only online aren’t always rated by ESRB. Would this bill only apply to publishers of software ONLY sold in brick and mortar retailers? Or would it require all others to have their material rated by the ESRB?

    Whether it requires everyone or only sales in brick and mortar retailers, wouldn’t the cost of having to rate games go up since more personnel would be required to play so many games all the way through?

    And if this requirement is made by the government, wouldn’t that mean that the government’s Small Business Administration would have to, if not at least be heavily pressured to, require grants to be offered to individuals who wish to sell their small company or individually made games just to get rated by government requirement?

    If not, I foresee possible arguments of discrimination in certain quarters since requiring, by government order, to have games rated and making the cost impossible for small business or individuals to make.

    And not to mention higher taxes if grants are made.

    And discrimination accusations if grants are limited and made only to some and not to other individuals/small businesses.

    Maybe it does sound extreme, but there was already talk about how expensive it is now. I could easily foresee the cost tripiling from government requirments.

    NW2K Software

  110. 0
    Marshie says:

    I can’t see this working for any number of reasons.

    In an ideal world, yes this would be the case. Speaking as someone who has an eleven year old brother and will someday take up the mantle of parenthood myself, I would honestly prefer that every bit of content in a game be unlocked and reviewed before a rating was assigned to a game. I would prefer that our Hot Coffees and Headshot Modes be taken into account when the game is rated.

    Then again, in the same ideal world there is no war; no famine, hunger or poverty; no violence and no crime. As a citizen who must exist in not just the vaccuum of my country but the greater community of the world, I would rather see these more important things disappear first before video games get proper rating… if we’re going to be taking steps towards that perfect world.

    Then again, what do I know? I’m just some punk kid who plays videogames.

  111. 0
    Bigman-K ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is a violation of Due Process clause of the 14th amendment and therefore like with all the other bullshit anti-gaming legislation, Unconstitutional.

  112. 0
    Monte924 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Here’s another no one’s mentioned… Disgaea

    3 words… Random level generator…
    Kinda hard to play a game in it’s “entirity” when the game has an infinite number of levels.

    Disgaea’s definately not the first, nor will it be the last…
    I’d definatly love to see the ESRB use this when they go to defend themselves against the bill. Grant it though, unlike judges, the legislators will ignore it and probably just try to dodge the question.

    One good thing about legislation in congress though… better chance of anti-game politicans looking like complete idiots on national TV; all thanks to the daily show. Daily show may not focus much state side, but they just eat up the idiocy that goes down in congress. I’d just love to see another Jon Stewart styled bashing. Ah, the power of common sence…

  113. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sigh, I know he means well, but someone should explain to him that the Hot Coffee and Topless Orcs incidents would have happened EVEN IF the ESRB had played 100% of both games. Because both required a hack of the game files in order to occur. Playing 100% of the game as it sits on the shelf, without any modifications, would NOT have uncovered these things.

    Unless Sen. Brownback is REALLY proposing that the ESRB ALSO go through ALL the files used to create the game, which would take even longer. I hope Sen Brownback is prepared to go through 27,000 texture files per level, just to make sure one doesn’t look like a nipple. Oh, and better do combinations of all, just in case two textures lined up form a naughty picture.

  114. 0
    Boffo97 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Essentially forcing games to delay their release until they’ve gone through what could be a hundred or even hundreds of man-hours of play constitutes a chilling effect on freedom of speech.

  115. 0
    Maxamegalon2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    And hasn’t it been brought up here before that the GAO is responsible for only government oversight, and therefore can’t monitor the ESRB? Also, would it be possible to get a “Preview comment” button here? That would be super.

  116. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This sounds like another attempt to cause a chilling effect on the industry. It should have been “Police yourselves or we will” the ESRB is forme,d let’s leaveit at that, but no, give the poiticians and inch, they take ten miles.

  117. 0
    Theory ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ve got a better idea. How about HE has to play every game in its entirety and then rate it. If he thinks its so simple, then why doesn’t he try and it and see for himself that it’s damn near impossible to play certain games “in their entirety”.

  118. 0
    dog_welder ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I wonder what would happen to a bill requiring the ESRB to rate games in full if the ESRB just folded and stopped rating games at all?

    I’m really hoping this bill doesn’t make it out of committee…it’s nothing but bad news for this industry.

  119. 0
    Blitz Fitness ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s time to change the way the ESRB works.

    From here on out, every game will be sold WITH a strategy guide, thereby forcing the the authors of such books to give their own review of the game and allowing parents to see absolutely everything their child can see or do on said videogame.

    Vote for me and I’ll pass legislation that forces videogame developers and producers to change the pornographic packages from an unintelligable 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 1/2 to a much improved 18 x by 12 x 5 inch package. This will allow more pictures, larger icons, and lengthier unnecessary descriptors in the esrb box so that parents can begin parenting with quick glances that take less time out of their busy lives rather than sit down with their children day in and day out. After all, time is money.

    So vote for me, Blitz Fitness, and I’ll show the constitution who’s boss.

    *This message approved by Blitz Fitness himself, as no one would honestly want this joker in office*

  120. 0
    Dagrak ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Of course I can actually see this going through, simply because it sounds like common sense…well it would for the early days of games when it was really just a few levels that could be finished in an afternoon. This is a physically impossible bill which could easily be eliminated if the ESRB puts the right amount of effort in to stop it.

  121. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Two reasons why this bill will fail: FTC and GAO. It is NOT and NEVER will be in their purview to dictate and regulate content. The FTC because it only montiros business practices and the GAO, as its name indicates, and only regulate and montior what the GOVERNMENT does, NOT the private sector! This bill is patently unconstitutional on those grounds alone.

    This is all a warm up I think, for Brownback’s proposed presidential campaign, as according to Wikipedia, he’s hinted he might run as a Republican candidate in 2008. I doubt it, though. He’s far too conservative for mainstream America (he championed Intelligent Design), and there’s the little matter of his taking money from Jack Abramoff. Those are already two big strikes against him.

  122. 0
    ~the1jeffy says:

    I’m sure others will cover the impossibility of rating an entire game. Even simple games the Madden are impossible to rate on the entirety of the game (thanks Blitzfitness for this idea on a previous article).

    However, is it too much to ask for the ESRB to at least play a beta version with the same relevant content that they currently view a video of? That might just be a token concession, but it would silence the ignorant critics.

    Asshat Senator: “ESRB, you don’t even play the games you rate! Won’t somebody think of the children!”

    ESRB: “We do play them. And we are helping parents (who are members of the ratings review team by the way) to protect their kids already. You lose sir.”

    See, wouldn’t that be nice?

  123. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Brownback’s a douche, plain and simple. He’s always been against stuff like this, as he’s a foot-washing baptist of the worst stripe (no really, he is. I once heard a news story about a former digruntled staffer of his who claimed that he made his subordinates wash his feet in his office). After Lieberman goes, Brownback ought to be next.

    Anyway, this legislation won’t pass for the two simple reasons that have been cited before in the similar bill: GAO and FTC, as it is NOT their job to monitor and dictate content and would be considered clearly unconstitutional for them to do so.

  124. 0
    Andrew Eisen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Who’s the GAO?

    “The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an agency that works for Congress and the American people. Congress asks GAO to study the programs and expenditures of the federal government… It studies how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. GAO advises Congress and the heads of executive agencies (such as Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Department of Defense, DOD, and Health and Human Services, HHS) about ways to make government more effective and responsive. GAO evaluates federal programs, audits federal expenditures, and issues legal opinions… Its work leads to laws and acts that improve government operations, and save billions of dollars.”

    The ESRB is not the federal government.

    Andrew Eisen

  125. 0
    Andrew Eisen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Who’s the GAO?

    “The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an agency that works for Congress and the American people. Congress asks GAO to study the programs and expenditures of the federal government… It studies how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. GAO advises Congress and the heads of executive agencies (such as Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Department of Defense, DOD, and Health and Human Services, HHS) about ways to make government more effective and responsive. GAO evaluates federal programs, audits federal expenditures, and issues legal opinions… Its work leads to laws and acts that improve government operations, and save billions of dollars.”

    The ESRB is not the federal government.

    Andrew Eisen

  126. 0
    Yuki says:

    Well, I personally have gotten sick of this BS. So lemme break it down for Brain dead Senator Brownback.

    1. Ist amendment= Doa for your bill, as has been seen by 8 other courts.
    2. 14 amenmdent on top of that= Government interferance in private rating system equal Constitutional suicide.
    3. Equal protection and Due process, this bill violates both.

    Anything else I missed or should have included?

  127. 0
    Narcogen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Aside from MMOs and RPGs like Oblivion already mentioned, how would this even apply at all to sandbox games like The Sims, or any of the GTA series?

    Publishers would never pay the ESRB what it costs to rate games in this manner. If gaming magazines don’t review games this way with advertiser support, how can the ESRB ever do it?

    The entire system of ESRB ratings is supposed to be voluntary. Publishers voluntarily submit for ratings, and retailers voluntarily choose what they will or will not stock on their shelves in part based on those ratings.

    This shouldn’t be a political issue at all. If consumers find the ESRB ratings unreliable, they should communicate this directly to the retailer. If the retailer cannot use the rating system for the purpose for which it was designed, they will communicate this to the ESRB and to the publishers.

    As much as people like to pile on it, the ESRB system is not broken. One instance of one publisher submitting a sandbox game that had hidden content unlocked by consumers is not an indictment of the ESRB’s entire system.

    What the ESRB ought to be doing right now is getting the retailers and publishers to rally behind it; because if the ESRB is seen as a total failure and it is replaced with a mandatory, legislated ratings system, that certainly won’t be better either for retailers or publishers.

    The only reason I can think for them not to do so is that 1) they resent the necessity of any ratings system whatsoever, and 2) they hope that while the scandals may eliminate the ESRB, that legal challenges can successfully be brought against any mandatory, legislated ratings system that replaces it, which will create a vacuum.

    Actually, that might be what the publishers want. I doubt all retailers want to have to decide what games are appropriate by reading reviews.

  128. 0
    grls-r-gamers-2 says:

    And what about Easter eggs? They’re hidden and not part of the story. The ESRB would have to look at EVERYTHING from EVERY ANGLE! I was watching an episode of Cheat where they showed a picture hidden on the inside of a cliff. You know those glitches when you’re able to see through solid things if you look at it the right way? It was that kind of thing that allowed the pic to be seen… if you knew where to look OR you did the right thing in the right place and accidentally uncovered it!

    That’s just an example of one Easter egg. Another egg in another game included going to the top of a bridge… for no reason pertaining to the story.

    The point is, as if beating the entire game, side missions and all wasn’t enough, they’d have to look for hidden things… without knowing WHERE to look! It’s hard enough doing it right if all you’ve got is a guide on, but doing it without knowing what you’re looking for? Come on!

  129. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    Yet another attempt at legislation that will go nowhere.

    The bill would also direct the FTC to define parameters for describing video game content

    Violates the First Amendment right there.

    Also the fact that it focuses on the video game industry means the bill violates the industry’s Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of due process.

    No surprise that Brownnoser is doing this, as he’s got Presidential aspirations as well.

  130. 0
    Siftr says:

    Game bill shall be destroyed because of 3 letters.


    you can’t exactly rate MMORPG or any MMO unless you include player-orignating activities.

    Obviously Brownback has no idea what he’s proposing.

  131. 0
    dutch_gamer ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Why do people always only mention games like Oblivion when they talk about games that are very big? How about every single MMO out there? Those games have far more content than games like Oblivion do. And MMOs get patched about every single month or even more often than that in some cases. Does the ESRB have to test those patches as well? There is no way you can play MMOs in their entirety. And playing a game all the way wouldn’t have stopped Hot Coffee from happening either.

    America seems to be on the fasttrack to destroy the MMO industry when this ever allowed. And isn’t this completely unconstitutional? Here he is suggesting that a governmental organization is telling a private organization what to do. The government can’t dictate what kind of methods the ESRB should or shouldn’t use.

  132. 0
    BetaSword says:

    Wow. You know what this seems like? A direct attempt at having the ESRB shut down. Why do I say that? Simple.

    This would require them to play a game the whole way through, seeing everything in the game. Now, for some games, that may not be too bad. But what about others, like Oblivion, or the Grand Theft Autos, or any modern RPG? You know, the ones that take much larger amounts of time to beat in general, and that’s not including all the extra stuff like side missions and such.

    This, in turn, has the effect of making games take much longer (and thus be much more expensive) to rate, thus, quite possibly putting an end to either the ESRB, or any sort of long, dynamic, nonlinear games.

    Of course, I’m guessing that’s exactly what he’s trying to do…

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