Washington, D.C. Closer to Adopting Municipal Video Game Law

October 27, 2006 -
The Washington, D.C. City Council is pushing ahead with legislation designed to block kids from buying violent video games.

As reported by The Hill, the proposed law is known as the Youth Protection from Obscene Video Games Act.

Currently in committee, the measure is sponsored by Council member Adrian Fenty (left), who is expected to win election as D.C.'s mayor on November 7th.

The bill uses the industry's own ESRB ratings as a guide, which is legally problematic. Case law has established that a private standard cannot be the basis for public law.

Fines proposed under the bill could be up to $10,000 for those who sell M-rated titles to underage buyers. In addition, non-retailers (such as, say, parents) who provide M-rated games to a child under 17 could be hit with a $1,000 fine.

Councilman Fenty discounted the constitutional issues at a recent hearing:
"I'm, ready, willing, and able to pass this legislation and let the courts decide whether or not the video-game industry should be held to the same standard they’ve already agreed to.

Fenty has been working on the video game violence issue for some time. GamePolitics previously covered a June, 2005 hearing on the measure. A video of that proceeding (lengthy, but well worth watching) featrues testimony from the Peaceoholics community group as well as from the ESA and ACLU.

UPDATE: We apologoze for linking the wrong hearing. Here's the correct link...


I would request that if Mr. Fenty thinks this is Constitutional and right, he then make the politically suicidal step of drafting similar restrictions outlawing parents or other adults making R rated movies available for children.

The first time someone tries to arrest a church group for showing a group of kids "The Passion of the Christ" with parental consent, Fenty gets laughed out of office.

Also you never did answer my earlier question to you.

Okay Let's start at the top

@ Hank the Tank
Bullying is something that catches most kids by surprise. They really have no consept of bullies before they meet one. I say we empower the kids, let them know that there are mean rotten people out there, teach them self worth at an early age, and teach them there is nothing wrong with a butt-kicking, or kicking a butt that deserves it.


Christianity is like Communism. It always sounds so good on paper, but put it in the hands of people and it becomes dangerous.

I'm not saying the govenment should play nanny, I'm saying the gonvernment should play reproductive police. Parent licenses. There are s lot of people out there that should not be reproducing. Christianity introduced before a child can tell right from wrong is brainwashing of the worst kind. If you wanna be born again when you are 18, more power to you. If it were illegal to expose a child under 18 to Christianity, we'd have a lot fewer Christians and a lot more logical thinkers. Just like the tobacco companies say "Hook em young"

@ psychotix

"Increasing the police force doesn’t do jack, they tried that. The goal is now to cut off the issue at the source."

Source please.

"I think a 4 year old should be able to play GTA and to hell with it even if he did kill somebody because of it. As long as the games are fine I don’t give a rats ass."

...So you're saying that if video games really did cause violence in kids you wouldn't care?

Also, I don't think a 4-year old should be playing GTA

"except with kids they immitate whatever they are shown/interact with, that’s part of being a child."

What is your definition of "kids"? I don't think you give them enough credit

Increasing the police force doesn't do jack, they tried that. The goal is now to cut off the issue at the source. Art imitates life, except with kids they immitate whatever they are shown/interact with, that's part of being a child.

There is also the "ounce of prevention is a pound of cure" logic to it as well.

Again I'm not for it. I'm a gamer, I think a 4 year old should be able to play GTA and to hell with it even if he did kill somebody because of it. As long as the games are fine I don't give a rats ass.

But I do understand why they want regulation on it, and why it's needed.

[quote]Again people VOTED for Fenty to help stop problems with urban youth in DC, the specific problems.

Rise in children stealing cars
Rise in children robbing people with guns
Several attacks/rapes commited by children on adults

All of these commited by teens and the jump just started recently…. about the time of GTA getting huge.

I’m not blaming GTA for it, but this is what people in DC want from Fenty.

Just about everybody that’s not a gamer (read everybody not bothering to post here) wants laws against violent games, and as soon as the government makes it’s own ratings system (since it can’t use the ESRB’s due to legal issues) they’ll have it.

Wait till 08, my dollar is on creating an effective legal way to fine retailers over games, to be one of the reasons the winner get’s elected. [/quote]

Instead of wasting money on unconstitutional legislation,simply increase the police force and funding for neighborhood watch programs. Increase the penalty for these crimes and I think you'll see a drop in the rates for those crimes. Simple and done.

This is about gaining ill informed voter support nothing more.

@Mister Gone

Do you honestly believe anything that you just said about Christianity? Young children are going to be good and bad regardless of religion; it's simply behavior. To put it in a very optimistic light, it's a learning experience for young children just like it is for young animals - bad behaviour results in action from the parents, thus the child learns what is socially acceptable.

As Hank said, your ideas on Christianity seems a bit off the mark. Please do a little research next time.

Well yeah, I mean it’s the Barney effect

Barney caused Columbine

"Let me explain. Children were brought up in a seemingly loving environment. Too loving in fact. They were exposed to constant posative messages, never once were they told that there are jerks out there that will hate you just because they do. Everyone is going to be your friend. Fast forward to the school years. Kids encounter bullies, they don’t know what to do “These people are supposed to like me” they think. Then they have two routes to take; Introvert because they don’t understand why these people aren’t their friends like Barney said they would be or Become violent, beat these kids for not liking you."

So being told about bullying and before you experience it will make everything better? BS.

@Mister Gone

Your views on Christianity are a bit... skewed to say the least.
I believe God only forgives sins if a person is sorry for doing bad deeds. Also, not all Christians believe non-Christians are goin to hell. Christianity does not breed "insane irrational thinking", people do.

The parents get to choose what their kids play. I first played GTA3 when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I am not a violent person. In fact, I avoid violence whenever possible. M-rated games don't make kids into killers.

@ Mister Gone

You sound like the same type of person who wants the government to play nanny with everyone's kids. Oh, and Christianity isn't going to warp anyone's brain. I'm an atheist but I dislike it when people try to label all Christians as being brainwashed or anything of the sort.

How far into the video do you have to go to hear them discuss violent video games?


The thing about games is since they are interactive they hold more influence then a book or a movie.

Ironically, this was given as a reason why TV was bad. Because without interaction, you were being "fed" thoughts. Made it much worse than books or radio, which involved you imagining the image...

Now maybe something else would set them off, but it might not be as bad.

I'm sorry, but the trigger has absolutely nothing to do with the severity of the action it finalizes. If it were true, then you could measure how severe a person's reaction will be to certain stimuli. Instead, reactions range all across the board.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

"Intent to hurt doesn’t matter that much. Many people are hurt when there was no intention."

Kids can unintentionally hurt themsleves or other while biking, playing football and hockey, so therefore those are bad for kids to, right?

"As for the game. Yes if the game wasn’t there something else could serve as the catalyst. However that doesn’t mean much. If a child wanted to hurt somebody and didn’t have a gun he could use a bat. Obviously one is much worse, and in America children handle both guns and bats safely all the time, it’s rare that something goes wrong."

The point i was trying to make was that kids who are violent or aggressive to begin with will be violent or aggressive regardless or whether the games are there for them to play or not. So while a game Might be a catalyst for some fucked up kid the fact is it's not the games fault for causing it aa another catalyst out there would effect him anyways.

"The thing about games is since they are interactive they hold more influence then a book or a movie. Now maybe something else would set them off, but it might not be as bad."

Bullshit! This is pure speculation and nothing else. There is no study that shows that interactive media has more of an effect then non-interactive
media. It COULD actually be the opposite and interactive media has less of an effect on kids as it may allows a release of their pent up aggression, frustration and anger from blasting characters in the game, leaving less of it after they're done playing.

Maybe they can just fine parents for not using the V-Chip too.. Well, at least it saves me from having to make painful decisions for my kids.

Since GTA3, National underage crime has gone down. (I read that a game revolution somewhere, they showed proof) Are they both connected, I dont know. But you can't say violent games is the cause of violence. I am a 15 yr old. I played MGS, and I love GTA san andreas. I make great grades, and I dont plan on killing people. It is the parents responsibility to know what their kids is doing. If they dont, then they PROBABLY aren't good parents. I think if their kid shoots or kills someone, then the parents should pay. Government reps are mostly idiots, and JT is an idiot.

I knowticed that one of the when of one of the peacgroups (who of course were againts grand theft auto) was wearing a Tupac T-shirt during the testimony........uh...yeeeaaahh. I don't think that it occured to that guy that wearing a Tupac t-shirt while speaking on anti-violence is showing a bad example (and making him slightly hipicritical) to his testimony. when i told my mom (i'm 15 just to let you know) about this, she laughed a little and believed that he got paid for the testimony (which sounds like a good reason).

It's not to far fetched look at itaily and franch they start teaching thier kids how to handle alcohol in their teens a glass or 2 with dinner once every other day or so is genaraly good for the body well whine is, beer and the like dont have the antioxidants in it,my point being parents have the right to teach thier kids what they want as long as its not harmfull to others within reason ,look at gun use and hunting its all the same thing,its within reason to keep M rated games out of the hands of "kids" however unlike guns and booze this is not a issue for the courts or for law makers the game industry is doing a good enough job at it.

Parents sadly even have the right to teach thier kids to dislike and hate others based on the stupidest things as long as they and the kids behave themslefs.

This really is a black and white issue ,its quite obvious that guns and booze need to be controlled thus they are controlled,games/media on the other hand has not been proven by the "world" to be worth making laws over unless you are a dictatorship or have vague censorship laws that let you ban game on grounds of promoting vandalism and to let a game based on greek mythos with alot of bloody demon splitting,yet to ban another game set in a fictional world based on bloody demon splitting.

My point is its good to have retailers not sell M/R media to kids because kids need guidance ,however we don't need laws or courts took into the mattler until most of the world thinks violence is porn so until the day hell freezes over the industry just need to enforce its age rating rules,the game industry gets a A- on doing it the movie industy gets a whopping c- even a D.

My question do you do you think that kids don't need to be at least shielded from violent media when they are by themslefs?
How would have have the industry deal with trying to keep age rules in place?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. A fine for PARENTS if they BUY a game rated M for their kids?! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

It’s “force of law to the ESRB”, “fine the buyer”, and “games as porn” all in one! It’s like they’ve taken every bad idea and jammed them all into the same bill.

Ever feel like you know more about law than the people actually in office? I must say though, I like the tone The Hill article takes with this whole situation.

Besides the fact that similar laws have not worked in the past, the council has found a few things that aren’t true:

-depictions of rape and other violent sexual acts

Still haven’t seen one commercially available game in the US with this type of content.

-ESRB has determined that M and AO games aren’t appropriate for minors

Nope. They’re merely age recommendations. If you say it’s okay for your kids, it’s okay for your kids.

-The bill is dragging M and AO games into the Miller Test again.

We’ve seen that’s a no-no. Look at the name of the act for goodness sake. Youth Protection from Obscene Video Games. Sorry, but not all M and AO rated games are obscene. Not even a significant percentage.

Andrew Eisen

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, indeed.

The false marketing regulations should apply to proposed legislation, too. Notice how mr. Fenty says this is a question of the video game industry holding to their own standards. It isn't, or at least it's a lot more than that. Fining parents for letting their children play violent games is a pretty strong intrusion by the government into completely private matters.

Also, note the title of the bill. Now, what is the case law concerning violence and obscenity again?

I think what Mr. Fenty meant to say was...
"I'm, ready, willing, and able to pass this legislation and let the courts spend thousands of dollars of taxpayers money to decide whether or not the video-game industry should be held to the same standard they’ve already agreed to."

I can't wait til these mid-term elections are over and people leave this issue the hell alone again. For another two years, at least.

Just get ready to whip out that big rubber "UNCONSTITUTIONAL!" stamp for this one.

Already loaded up the mp3. And the moment this law get's thrown out by the courts, I will play it. (Begins with "Another" and ends with "dust"

Call me crazy, but haven't the courts ALREADY decided this over and over again?

The ink won't even be dry before the injunction comes down on this one.

Heads up to Dennis; BBC News are covering the release of Bully, moderately fairly. They mention its subject matter in context and talk about it being controversial and that some stores aren't stocking it as a result, though fail to mention its rating. The interviews with 2 parents yield 2 answers one says "I wouldn't let my kids play that Bully game. I dont think it sends out the right message" whilst the other one says "I think my kids are mature enough that they can tell the difference between a computer game and real life", both are fair points of view I guess. It goes on to briefly mention the golden joystick awards but the piece itself is no more than 2 minutes long at most.

Wow...what a blatant attempt to violate civil rights. I'm all for stores not being able to sell Mature-rated games to kids under the age of seventeen, but it should ultimately be up to the parent, not the government.

But since there's no way in hell a law like this will ever be allowed to pass, I'm not too worried.

A fine for parents buying the games for their kids?

Ok big brother step down, I agree with the poster above me I am all for stores not being able to sell M rated games to minors, but to sit their and fine parents for getting something for their kids? The government has no right to step in there.

I seriously doubt this will get passed, all I can say is keep an eye out on the ballots and vote to keep crap like this from passing.

Wow... This one's a three-for-one bad idea smorgasboard.

I don't necessarily object to games rated Mature and up being limited to those 17+ when sold in stores. In Ontario, where I live, I believe this actually does have force of law and it hasn't really harmed the industry. However, fining parents for providing their children with M17+ games? What happens when little Tim's dad buys a copy of Gears of War for himself and Tim borrows it to go over to a friend's house? Is he liable for the "damage" this is going to do and thus, subject to a fine?


If you see Fenty, play Weird Al's "You're Pitiful" to him when this law is defeated.

Here it is on Youtube, in case you're not familiar with it.


Another HORRIFICALLY bad piece of legislation wasting my tax dollars. THANKS SO MUCH WASHINGTON DC!

Jeebus, do these people not know anything of precedent??

I’m, ready, willing, and able to pass this legislation and let the courts decide whether or not the video-game industry should be held to the same standard they’ve already agreed to

THEY'VE ALREADY DECIDED THAT!! The answer is NO. Would it be possible to get a REALLY big rolled-up newspaper and start beating these people on the faces with it? It works for dogs...

I really think that this law is INTENDED to be unconstitutional. It ends up being a win-win situation for Adrian Fenty. First, supporting this laws makes him look good, he cares about family values, the children. Second, due to the fact that this will never become a law (the way it is drafted has made sure of that) he doesn't have to worry about enforcing it. Fining parents 1000 dollars for giving them a Mature video game? What if my nephew comes over to my house? Will I have to lock it in a cabinet. It's impractical and Draconian.

This is a lot like amending the constitution to make it illegal to burn the American flag. It will never happen, but everyone looks more patriotic trying.

Adam Fenty could try to draft a bill that would actually benefit parents and still be constitutional. Like telling retailers that they must post information about ratings, to educate parents. But Adrian Fenty won't do that, because "the children" aren't what he's thinking about.

God this pisses me off. Fenty your a fucking asshole. Nice waste of taxpayers dollars there buddy.

Further more Fenty should have to pay for this bill all himself it's it's so important to him. When it losses in court he should have to pay the attorney fees for the city for defending the bill and the plantiffs lawyer's costs.

If Fenty considers "himself ready, willing, and able"; then how the heck would he describe people like Thompson and Grossman?

Things are going out of control. The government has no right to fine a parent for letting their child play an M-rated game. Hell, if this passes they buy their 16-year-old a Grand Theft Auto game, they have to pay $1,000 bucks. That's just plain and simple bullshit, as is the $10,000 against retailers.

Looking at todays Drudge report, I think it's possibly time American politicians stopped thinking of the children....



Holy shit! That guy is a sick fucker!

Well, to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if some of it is a deliberate manipulation of quotes out of character etc, though it is more than a bit worrying.

Anyway, I don't want to drag this off topic so on the subject, if they are going to apply this to computer games, then the ONLY way they can even pretend to be doing anything other than victimisation is to apply it to ALL media types, anything other than that is purely sensationalism.

Lol, Censorcrat

Wow, Should we start the list of the amendments this breaks? I see the first and 14th almost in the first sentence of the description.

Wha? Ok, first off, no court's gunna fine a kid 10 thousand bucks for buying a video game. Hell, I'd put good money that the fine for stealing a video game from a store and getting caught would be less than 10 thousand bucks. And 1 thousand bucks for a parent buying the game for a kid? How in the heck do they plan on enforcing that? Random house searches of kids' video game collections? The Cashier having to get a signed statement that the game isn't for a kid?

Gah, why do these politicians make such really stupid laws? Is it November 7th yet? My voting pen is getting itchy...

These laws will only make it through once the government establishes a ratings system (which isn't far off honestly).

Fenty got into office largely due to his stance on games. DC has had a massive rise in youth crime (in specific car jackings, armed robbery, and assaults on women) since GTA came out.

So this isn't shocking at all.

I don't want to sound like an ass here but what exactly is wrong with this law? I don't think kids should be playing M rated games. It would sure make Halo 2 a more pleasent experience online. If parents decide to buy M rated games for their kids, I guess it's there own business, but they should be made to sign a "I can't complain" waiver. I honestly think the ERSB has the system down pat, now it's just up to the law makers to enforce it. We live on a planet just brimming with idiots and you think anyone will self police? HA don't make me laugh. Banning M- Rated games is an asinine and pointless endevor *cough* Jack Thompson*cough*, but what's wrong with keeping kids away from them? The most avid opponents to these kinds of laws are kids themselves. Yeah it sucks you can watch some digital boob or watch a guy get ripped in half or hear naughty words. That's what cable is for. I for one think we do need something (cause parents are obviously to stupid to do so) to keep the really really good games.....I mean M rated games away from kids.

This is ridicious. How will the government even know that you buy your kid a game like that? If you go into the store and buy it, do you have to tell the retailer "I'm buying this for my kid." How will they know that you bought it for your kid? Well I guess that means the government is going to spy on us to see if we did. Which, if that's the case, then say hello to big brother. Sounds a bit like the old Soviet Republic to me. I really hope this doesn't pass because this is a huge violation of our first amendment rights. The government is trying to tell parents how to raise our children and we can't allow that to happen.

Get the hell out of my house and my life government. I pay your taxes, what games I choose to play and what games I will one day allow my children to play are entirely up to me. You have no fucking say in how I raise my children as long as i provide for them their basic needs and an education.

If I want my children to live in a very spartan fashion then I can make them. If I think they can play a T rated game when they are 10 or a M rated game when they are 16, that is my choice. Take your fine and shove it.

The future me is a very very annoyed person.

So filling your kids with right wing propganda and religious zelotry is okay, because it's their parents doing it? You approve of someone forcing christian ideals onto a child and warping their litle minds into thinking that empty threats and pompous posturing are effective ways to persuade people? What you are saying in short is that.... You Love Jack Thompson?

@Mister Gone

The ESRB is mearly a tool for parents to use to see if a game is proper for their kid. If they beleive that their, say, 15-year old is mature enough for GTA, then what the gov. thinks is suitable for her child should not supercede theirs.

@ Josh

Have you talked to a kid today? Have you seen how they act? It's apparent that someone needs to tell parents how to raise their damn kids, they sure aren't doing it themselves.

I smell a million dollars in legal fees being pissed down the drainhole for the District of Columbia. Adrian Fenty can add this to his resume: "Personally made the city liable for the usual the costs associated with striking down an ill-concieved law that I knew or should have known not only violated the first amendment to the constitution, but had been repreatedly struck down for similar reasons in multiple court districts around the United States." In fact, I give permission to whomever runs against him in his next election to use that quote.

actually it's not the "right wing" that's anti gaming, it's the democrats.

So if you don't want video game legislation, vote republican, if you want it vote democratic.

In the end what happens will be decided by who we vote into power. Because if we vote enough liberal anti-gaming advocates into power we will get a government ratings system and some actual laws with bite (read fines) behind them.

If we vote the other side, we will be bogged down in this sort of legal BS till it goes away.
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