Exclusive GP Interview: Congressman Talks Video Game Ratings, Video Game Rape, The Daily Show

May 9, 2008 -
An exclusive GamePolitics interview with Rep. Lee Terry (R) demonstrates that the Nebraska Congressman, co-sponsor of a new video game ratings enforcement bill, has a grasp on some video game rating issues, yet a flawed understanding of others. 

As reported earlier this week by GamePolitics, Terry and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) introduced the Video Games Rating Enforcement Act. If approved, the bill would mandate that game retailers check IDs of mature-rated game buyers. The measure would also require that information detailing the rating system be posted in view of customers. Terry spoke to GP about the proposal:
This is a rather simple bill in that it focuses on making sure that retailers ID young folks when they try to buy an M or A[O] rated game. And this is kind of my approach instead of trying to micromanage by legislation the standards or content...

What we'd rather do is just make sure that parents are empowered with information, what the standards really mean and then what's specifically in that game and then to make sure that retailers don't subvert the parent's decision... If they don't want their child to have an M-rated game, the retailers don't sell it to them...

Based on the timing of the new legislation, we asked Terry whether it was planned to coincide with the intense publicity surrounding the April 29th release of Grand Theft Auto IV. Terry, however, maintained that the timing was purely coincidental:
As a matter of fact, I almost thought about waiting another week or two. I will have to take some responsibility. Mr. Matheson brought this to me several months ago and... it kind of got pushed to the back burner. So it was more coincidental... but [the GTA IV hype] probably did heighten the scrutiny of the bill within the press, which is a positive thing. But we did not wait until Grand Theft Auto IV came out to drop the bill. That was coincidental.

Oddly enough, the Terry-Matheson bill, which addresses video game rating enforcement, was introduced on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the Federal Trade Commission's latest report gave glowing marks to the video game industry for its retail ratings enforcement. Terry, however, was clearly not acquainted with the results of the FTC report, citing 69% as the rate at which FTC secret shoppers were able to purchase M-rated games. That figure, however, is from the FTC's 2003 survey. In 2006 the number dropped to 42%. Yesterday's figure was an impressive 20%. We asked Terry about the FTC report:
I had heard that the report found that 69% of unaccompanied 13 to 16-year olds were able to purchase M-rated video games from retailers.

After we explained the actual FTC figures, Terry said:
Oh, okay. Well, good. We're going in the right direction. I think probably what's really helped that improvement is that some of the big retailers like Wal-Mart, Target have software... at the point-of-sale that blocks M and then the cashier has to ask for ID...

We also queried Terry on public comments he made which cited rape as a way to earn a higher score in some games. When pressed, Terry could not cite an example:
That's a good question. I don't know of any [specific games] offhand... I just used the rape, pillage and plunder line...

The actual Terry quote as reported in Variety is:
In some games high scores are often earned by players who commit ‘virtual’ murder, assault and rape.

Terry was a good sport over his lampooning by The Daily Show host Jon Stewart following a contentious 2006 committee hearing on video game issues. He described the experience as:
Humiliating, as it was supposed to be... It was slightly out of context... That's what fake news is about. I saw that. That was fun...

Later, Terry again made reference to his Daily Show experience:
One of the things that Jim [Matheson] and I talked about a great deal is that the ratings themselves seem to be very confusing. We did not to get into that morass because Jon Stewart showed us exactly what was going to happen to us if we did...

The Congressman, who said he occasionally plays NCAA sports games with his sons on their Xbox 360, was familiar with the issues surrounding the controversial but rarely used Adults Only rating. He also pointed out the inconsistency found in the M rating category, where some games, such as as Grand Theft Auto have far more mature content than others. Terry specifically mentioned Destroy All Humans, Call of Duty and Halo in this regard.

Listen to the interview with Rep. Terry (9:08 minutes, mp3) here.

Comments

Re: Exclusive GP Interview: Congressman Talks Video Game

I'm all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there's one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what's stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you'll find they don't think any books kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they'll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless... yeah.

The entire arguement is kiralık oto based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can't figure out the controls for Halo so it's frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it's in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child's life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan rent a car needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can't be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It's too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

@GP:

Did you ask him if he's related to Dan Akyroyd or Stephen King?

huh, he seems intelligent (though misinformed). though i suppose the vast majority of politicians are nice people, its just when they get together they come up with stupid sheet like this bill. also, he reminds me of that guy from the stride gum commercials.

the rape pillage and plunder line

Ok I buy that, I guess. Oh and Gp you should ask him about what he thinks of other bills that got struck down.

If he were to keep only the part about retailers must post rating information I doubt the industry would challenge it.

I don't understand why this law is necessary, as there are more important things to fix in this country at this present time.

I do my job as a responsible parent to a 17 year old, and I check frequently online about games that he's interested in wanting to purchase, and I share that information with my wife, and in the past we've said no to a couple of games.

Iliad: oh yeah... I totally forgot about that... though that wasn't the point I was making. what I was saying is that you don't need GORE + VIOLENCE + SEXUAL CONTENT + CUSSING to get an M rating... you just need one of the above, and it's an M.

PS: My interpretation of the ending in Pan's Labryinth was that Ofelia had a brain tumor :p

"He also pointed out the inconsistency found in the R rating category, where some movies, such as as Hostel and Hostel 2 have far more mature content than others. Terry specifically mentioned The Matrix, Gladiator, and Jerry Meguire in this regard."

Morons.

''Oh, okay. Well, good. We’re going in the right direction. I think probably what’s really helped that improvement is that some of the big retailers like Wal-Mart, Target have software… at the point-of-sale that blocks M and then the cashier has to ask for ID…

''



lol apart from walmart actually made the rating alot worse.. gamestop and EB lead the good ratings!

What I don't understand is that all the consoles in this generation have parental controls that are pretty intuitive. So let the kids buy the games, let the parents ignore that and continue to be bad parents. Just lock the $279 and up console so you don't even have to worry about Little Jimmy going apeshit after playing Grand Theft Auto.

I find it hard to believe that he was unaware that a new FTC survey was underway and was due to release their findings. Similarly, I find it irresponsible for a politician who proposes and champions a bill to not stay informed on major developments in the area that their bill covers.

If his goal is actually to get M and AO rated games out of kids hands then he should happily withdraw his proposed legislation and allow the market to continue on its trend of effective self-regulation. If his goal is, instead, to pad his resume and get himself reelected then he should continue to push this useless bill. Let's see what he does.

"But we did not wait until Grand Theft Auto IV came out to drop the bill. That was coincidental."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

Yeah, right...

@Tom, come'on now. These out-of-touch jackasses know NOTHING (or dangerously little) about the things they pass laws on. You see that in action every day.

GP, great job at educating the congressman about the issues. One can only hope that some of that stuck and that he's now a little less out-of-touch.

@ralphiecharlie

yeah gotta say i agree 100%

why isnt that advertised more? perhaps there should be posters up in game stores n stuff, just so more parents are aware.

I wish politicians would shout about it too tho rather than obsessing with legislation.

"I just used the rape, pillage and plunder line…"

So he basically said: "I fucking lie".

Jackass...

He admitted that he lied. Awesome.

So he admits that he didnt do any fact checking and that he is not up to date with his research... real believable, for sure.

That’s a good question. I don’t know of any [specific games] offhand… I just used the rape, pillage and plunder line…

I like how nonchalant he is about this. Just goes to show that it is okay to lie and defraud the public if you're a politician.

Which is a lot better than we can expect to get out of a lot of them; when this guy gets called on his bull, he actually admits it. I SALUTE YOU SIR, if only for that.

@NovaBlack
I played Mass Effect for Cooper Lawrence a few months back (friend of a friend), and she was blown away by the Xbox360's parental features...and Bioshock. She couldn't believe that these features weren't being publicized more.

"One of the things that Jim [Matheson] and I talked about a great deal is that the ratings themselves seem to be very confusing."

Nooo, Terry! You were doing SO well in the interview up to this point!

Seriously, how are they confusing? Seriously, HOW? The ratings boxes are, like, 10 times the size of movie ratings, and unlike movie ratings, they actually explain what gives the rating! Not just 'Not suitable for those under 18 without parent' or 'Some content not suitable for young children for 'scary' situations' or something incredibly vague like that.

I can realize the confusion between other M-Rated titles, but still, it's THERE. You can READ IT. Unless he's looking to make a booklet in the back that goes "Here are the violent and/or sexual acts that it is possible (but not required) to commit in the game" i don't think we really need more than what we already have on the ratings box.

"That’s what fake news is about."

When I read through the sarcasm... The Daily Show is one of the most fair and balanced, informative, accurate, and ballsy news programs I've seen.

"That’s a good question. I don’t know of any [specific games] offhand…"

That's a good question? Why would you say that? If someone asked me to explain one of my statements, I wouldn't remark like that. I'm bothered by that verbage for some reason.

"I just used the rape, pillage and plunder line…"

Did he just lie in order to admit a lie, but in a soft way?

@ Everything else

I just don't have the energy today..

"I just used the rape, pillage and plunder line"
No, really? It is okay to do shit like that and then try and pass your opinion off as intelligent? JESUS CHRIST, this is why I hate this guy. Fucking Nebraska.

And yeah, he looks like Dan Akroyd.

"If they don’t want their child to have an M-rated game, the retailers don’t sell it to them…"

But then how will I know when to punish my kid for going behind my back and buying something I told them they aren't allowed to have? I'm all for the retailers enforcing the rating but if my kid were to someohow get past that rating I wouldn't wallow in my own tears how the store betrayed me with their lack enforcement of the rating system.

I would god damned do my job as a parent and take away their games, break the game disc of what they're not allowed to play with a hammer and infront of them, and then ground them.

If parents these days can't understand that then I feel little pity for them.

“One of the things that Jim [Matheson] and I talked about a great deal is that the ratings themselves seem to be very confusing.”

If parents can't understand the ratings on video game boxes and just make a judgement call from the gut with what is already given to them then my god I guess parents are just idiots these days. Its not that hard....

All Congressmen are rapists.

I don't know of any Congressmen who are rapists off hand, I just used the "rapists" line.

"also pointed out the inconsistency found in the M rating category, where some games, such as as Grand Theft Auto have far more mature content than others. Terry specifically mentioned Destroy All Humans, Call of Duty and Halo in this regard."

Well, I'm not surprised that there's inconsistency in those 3 "M"-rated titles ... because one of them is "T"-rated :)

He didn't "lie". He simply made a statement without specifically researching for an example but knowing that it was probably true regardless...and it is, so there's really no point slamming him on that. Check the bottom of this list and you'll find a few examples more recent than Custer's Revenge:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_adult_video_games

"If they don’t want their child to have an M-rated game, the retailers don’t sell it to them…"

WELL THANKS FOR CLEARING THAT UP!!! :smacksaccrosstheface:

So, essentially, the individual claiming the government will be better at Parenting children than the Parents themselves just admitting not doing his own homework and passing on misinformation to Parents of hte US?

Wonder what your constituants think of you now.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

@ Mogbert

LOL! I almost gave my monitor a shower on that one! Touche!

On the article let's not forget he's a co-sponsor of this bill. Is the Senator from Utah perhaps the real push behind this? That's my curiousity at this point. Either that or these two are both simply up for election and looking for some public brownie points with the uneducated masses.

Excluding H-games brought over to America from Japan which typically aren't summited to the ESRB (go look up Yume Miru Kusuri, Kana Little Sister, Crescendo, or worse, Bible Black) graphic rape isn't in any modern day game

Well, maybe now that he knows the FTC numbers he'll just drop it. Kind of like how Hillary Clinton cannot win no matter how many more states she wins maybe she'll drop out.

Eh, well, at least this guy sounds saner than most game ratings critics. That's a plus.

Still though, why do so many say that the game ratings are confusing? They really, really aren't.

Yeah and some T games are nearly blameless. Some R-rated movies have worse content than other R-rated movies, what are you supposed to do? Have a rating for each and every little thing a form of entertainment could possibly have in it?

Where I work we already check IDs, and is he implying this legislation would facilitate the sale of AO games, which as of right now is pretty much impossible?

Cmon the guy deserves SOME credit here, I mean none of these guys know the most recent or even remotely correct data when they try to pass these bills, this is probably the most agreeable bill to date and the only reason I still wouldn't support it is because its still censorship and will still set a legal precedent for other politicians to come up with something worse.

But he was incredibly reasonable and a good sport in the interview as far as I can tell, I think we should save our teeth for jack.

When a senator is behaving in a somewhat reasonable manner, or even doing something like what senator leland yee is doing, we should at least act somewhat encouraging... their are plenty other senators that are much much worse, this is a step in the right direction.

[...] Today is particularly busy here at Laws of Play, so most of our updates won’t be arriving until later this evening. In the mean time, GamePolitics has posted an exclusive interview with Rep. Lee Terry, co-sponsor of the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act, which we discussed the other day. [...]

What we’d rather do is just make sure that parents are empowered with information

This doesn't empower parents, this punishes retailers who may not even receive training at places like WalMart for such games, and they have a higher failure rate than GameStop.
Parents already have the power, you're not waving a magic wand to grant them more, its already there.
Parents also have the ability to simply confiscate the game or disallow such content to be played without their permission, this law doesn't help anyone except make you look good in front of idiots.

I don't think Terry understands that the Daily Show and The Colbert Report actually have real news on it, they only joke about what the politicians do what seems to be utter idiocy. In other words, the idiocy of Terry's actions.

Why not ask him why he feels video games require mandatory enforcement, while the purchase of R-Rated and Unrated movie tickets or dvd's, as well as PA CD's, doesn't? ESPECIALLY in light of the FTC survey saying that kids have a much easier time purchasing those products?

"That’s a good question. I don’t know of any [specific games] offhand… I just used the rape, pillage and plunder line…"

LOL that's great to hear. At least he's being a good sport and admitting the way he thinks. He's going to drop the ratings issue at this point now that he sees things are going more smoothly.

@JC

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are hosted by comedians, but this shows a point. Comedy remains the only business in media/entertainment where it sounds actually beneficial to tell the truth.

"One of the things that Jim [Matheson] and I talked about a great deal is that the ratings themselves seem to be very confusing."

So in the interest of clarity you used "the rape, pillage, and plunder line" even though there was no rape. Great way to make things clear, you lying jackhole.

"Comedy remains the only business in media/entertainment where it sounds actually beneficial to tell the truth."

the king uses the jester to learn the Truth.
always has, always will.

I actually liked congressman Terry. If I were to take him at face value, I would think of him as an even ended guy, with good intensions, and some good points, but maybe a few misguided impressions.

GP: I've gotta say, good questions... you asked a few tough ones but you were very fair.

However... it's gotta be asked... any reason you did not discuss the issues with the 1st ammendment?

"I, Rep. Lee Terry, am proud to say I have brought our great country one step closer to becoming an authoritarian communist society. Have a nice day!"

Jokes aside, fuck him. Damn politicians...

mogbert Says:
All Congressmen are rapists.
I don’t know of any Congressmen who are rapists off hand, I just used the “rapists” line.

Thank you mogbert for pretty much summing up my reaction to that line. To think a public official so casually admits he uses a token "be afraid" to support his causes is scary, if not downright insulting to those he's addressing ("be taken in by my half-assed lies").

I read the last part of the article and I'd have to agree. The rated-M category is getting increasingly wider. Some games are on the light-hearted end and others on the harder end. Rated M game series like Grand Theft Auto are far worse than that of others like say No One Lives Forever or Prince of Persia (discounting SoT which was rated T). Just as well some rated T games seem to me to be a notch about it's classification (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time).

A new ratings label should be created for those games on the light end of M and the hard end of T. Some just don't seem like they belong in either one.

Well, this was certainly enlightening on many levels. I really don't trust politicians, not after meeting a few. They're just as much of a puppet as, say, an actor. They do what they're told, and usually the one who "tells" them what to do is Money or Power.

Pertaining to the actual matter contained in the Bill, I'm a bit ambivalent about it: on one hand, it supports the Big Government philosophy, which I hate; but it also reduces the ammunition available for the Media to use against Video Games when kids commit violent acts. It would make a lot of parents (admittedly, Lazy parents) feel safer and more content if they knew stores were "carding" people for M-games. Then, when the next kid shoots a school or friends or whatever, the media won't be as able to pin it on Video Games, as Game Stores, at least in the Public Eye, will have been "doing their job"...which we know they're actually doing anyway.

Well, at least he understands somewhat the issues at hand and he knows a thing or two about games, albeit on a basic level. The fact that he's willing to admit his gaffes and acknowledges how he appeared on The Daily Show also scores some points in my book. He seems to be a reasonable guy who wants to do the right thing. So give him some credit. Like Iliad said, let's save our venom for Jack.

Like I've said before, this bill isn't as bad as the others that have been propsed and in fact seems pretty reasonable, especially as it follows many of the points per Mark Menethitis' suggestions. That having been said, when I recieved my ECA alert to contact my state representative to urge him not to support this bill, I did so as there were a few minor details that didn't quite sit well with me.

Mr. Terry, if you see this, you're on the right track and I give you credit. But there are a few issues on the bill that would be problematic if passed as-is. I think it needs to fine-tuned and revised a bit before you formally submit it to congress. If you can do that and assure us that this won't be used as a backdoor to censorship or a stepping stone to further legislation, then I'm ok with it.

OldschoolVgamer: I do agree that the ESRB ratings system does need some fine tuning, but I think the whole part about GTA being more gratuitous than Destroy All Humans was a completely poorly thought out argument.

According to the ESRB, M rated games are defined as having: content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language. There’s not M rated class 1,2,and 3… if any game contains any of the following… or ALL of them, they still get an M rating… Destroy all humans didn’t have the sexual content (actually it kinda did), intense violence, or strong language… but it did have the gore…

Think about it this way: pan’s labyrinth was totally your run of the mill storybook film… but it had two instances of extreme violence and gore, and it got an R rating.

@Aragorn, not to mention pans labryinth had violence against children, something no games as of yet will even really touch. And sandbox games where you can attack pretty much anybody just dont even bother putting children in, IE GTA, Morrowind, etc.

Yet plenty of movies will involve themselves in it.

@Iliad

That's actually not true. You were able to kill children in the old Fallout games, of course, it was not without consequence. I believe there were some others in the past as well.

I have no problem with Best Buy, GameStop and other video game stores not setting M games to minors. I think the fact they try to do it themselves is great. But again, with the having to post information about a game in plain view is pointless. Some parents just don't care what their kids buy. And the responsible parents that do already research what a game is like before allowing their kids to buy them. I was really into gaming when I was younger, other then what my dad bought me for the PC. So my dad did that for movies. Until I was of the proper age to see a movie (13 for PG13, 17 for R, etc), my dad had to seethe movie first, or at least review it on IMDB. Worked out great - so far, I have no killed anyone yet!
 
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