TV Debate on New York Video Game Law

Is New York’s video game law necessary?

Is it constitutional?

Dr. Michael Rich, Director of the Center for Media and Child Health at Harvard Medical School, and Adam Thierer, Senior Fellow at the Progress & Freedom Foundation in Washington, D.C., squared off on the Bloomberg network to debate the merits of the New York law signed last night by Gov. David Paterson.

Thierer believes the law is unnecessary and will be struck down as unconstitutional. Dr. Rich worries about the training abilities of games in relation to violence and wants social science injected into the game rating process.

GP: We agree that the New York law is unnecessary. However, if the video game industry doesn’t challenge it – and it’s not at all clear that they will – then there will be no finding that it is unconstitutional.

So, why wouldn’t the game biz challenge the law?

Because it has no effect on their bottom line. The content ratings and parental controls mandated by the law are already in place. While the industry might argue that the state is compelling this sort of speech, it’s an argument that exists in a somewhat theoretical realm. In practice, the industry is already meeting the requirements. Game publishers and retailers would rather do business than argue the finer points of constitutional law. Moreover, for the game biz there’s a political downside to fighting this part of the law. Doing so would be tantamount to saying, "Yes, we have ratings and parental controls, but we might want to take them away someday." Such a position would not be comforting to parents and would provide ammunition to critics. 

The law’s mandated advisory council on video game violence enjoys First Amendment rights of its own. People, government bureaucrats included, are free to study and discuss whatever they like. Besides, the video game publishers and retailers will occupy two of the 16 seats on the advisory council.

As to Dr. Rich, while he may have desire to include social science in game ratings, that is not part of the New York law. The statute gives New York no power whatsoever over the ESRB rating process.

And, we note, the announcer gets it completely wrong in his opening when he says that the law includes "tough fines for retailers who sell adult games to kids." There’s nothing like that in the legislation.

Adam Thierer lays out his position in detail at the Technology Liberation Front.

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  1. desperad0 says:

    Thanks good job;

    Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing travesti or little and need to start saving costs. and dizi izle


    Now I don’t have to get off my ass for the important shit anymore!

    Whats next, ordering pizza from Xbox live?

    Wait… I think that sounds like a good idea.

    But I think voting should MAKE you get off your ass, and see outside or a second while you go vote. I mean, your picking the president of the United States of America for God’s Sake… least you can do is drive down there and punch out a card.


  2. oto kirlama says:

    Gallagher can araç kiralama say all he wants, but I strongly rent a car believe it’s due to his crappy leadership and E3 being a joke. ESA’s Board of Directors need to find a way to get out rent a car of this horrid contract with this Bush cronie before there’s no one left on the Board.

    Btw, I think Atari and Midway will drop out too, but mostly travesti because  these guys have done nothing ttnet vitamin or little and need to start saving costs.


  3. ankaranakliyat133 says:

    So yeah, the only way this law would be blocked is by the ECA to point out to the court that the government copied its own hard work into this piece of useless legislation and I am sure those politicians would not be happy at all. Another thing here, I see "unconsitional" thrown alot around here, and I also see the violent negative reaction that it is met with almost everywhere, but in this case i feel that the reaction is unjustified, for what I can make out what many in the anti-video game are trying to do is introduce laws which say that you can’t be a 12 year old and walk into a store and buy GTA, and I whole heartily support them in this measure, and if you really feel that your, or your kids rights are being violated, buy it for your kids, really its that simple, the state deems that content A is not suitable for people a below a certain age and believe that the state is wrong in this conclusion, then by all means, buiy your son GTA, if you happen to be said son, I don’t beleiev that as a child that you have the power to make a informed decesion and that the power of state and parent makes that decesion for you.

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  4. JustChris says:

    Well, the ESA and ESRB don’t seem too keen on upholding the integrity of the constitution. Well that may be good and all if they want to focus on the bottom line- but if this law slips by, what would they do when another unconstitutional bill really hits home? Maybe outlawing games that involve drug content, for example- that’s going to take a toll on game publishers for certain games, and then people would be wondering, "they didn’t mind the other law, why do they suddenly care now?" And it will be seen as an act of double standards- only caring about unconstitutional laws when it affects you financially.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Amazing. Someone else that thinks of others as sheep. I praise you for your thinking.

    The government should just let the parents be the ones to actually make the decisions. The government doesn’t know the minds of every single child. They don’t know how each and every single child will react to certain things. They just assume that most of the violence is caused by video games. But with most of America being sheep and the government their shepherds things are just going to get worse because the government knows they can do whatever they want and most of the people will just blindly follow. It is up to the parents to teach their kids right from wrong and real from fictional. It is also up to them to decide when their children are ready for things such as violent games. NOT the governments. So why must the government now be involved with the ratings? It is pointless, stupid, and idiotic if you ask me.

  6. Zero Beat ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Guns aren’t my thing, but as long as you’re responsible and not prone to fits of uncontrollable rage, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be allowed them.


    Heck, I think civilians should be allowed to own fully functioning tanks.  Or at least the Batmobile from Batman Begins.  That thing is awesome.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Like I said in another articals comments, not chalangeing this only lets them gain ground for passing laws that are not redudent.

  8. TBoneTony ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Having read though some of the legsilation. one thing hits me

    Copyright Infringement

    The New York Government is taking the creddit for laws that the Videogame Industry did all by itself.

    So yeah, the only way this law would be blocked is by the ECA to point out to the court that the government copied its own hard work into this piece of useless legislation and I am sure those politicians would not be happy at all.

    I really hope some people within the Industry stand up and fight this, or else I hate to see politicians thinking they are doing something right and try to take the credit for it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Next thing you know you’ll be labeled a terrorist for owning and or playing these so called "Violent videogames"  I just love america.  Only place I know where most people see stuff like this on TV and go "Oh please big Brother! Take my liberties away even more!  Save the children! Were far too incompetent to raise them on our own!"  This is a non issue being made into an issue.

    Im so sick of these controlling laws and bills being set fourth, and all these sheep following with it.  I really hope america wakes up soon, or we’ll all be playing hello kitty island adventure with subiminal messages "WAR is good only if it means $$ for your elected officials!"

  10. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    I haven’t ever met or heard of a social scientist who didn’t come off as a total dipshit. The broad generalizations used in that science are literally painful.


    -Entertainment isn’t the reason the world sucks. It’s the reason we know the world sucks. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard researchers Larry Kutner&Cheryl Olson

  11. jer says:

    That Dr. Rich, to me, seems to have in his mind that ALL video games are played by only children.
    Or am i the only one who feels that way from the video?

  12. Freyar says:

    I can see some of Dr Rich’s points, but the fast food opinion throws me off.  Kids (at any age) can get to a McDonalds and buy a fattening, unhealthy hamburger despite warnings and so on. In fact, kids do. (Obesity epedemic anyone?) Point being is that it is not ‘Social Science’ nor lawmakers that decide what is, and is not socially acceptable, it is the general population.


    —- There is a limit for both politicians against video games, and video games against politicians.

  13. Father Time says:

    If the government starts rating games it won’t be the end of the world (it will be wasted taxpayer money that used to be spent by the industry). The government still needs proof of harm before it can demand that 18+ or 17+ games not be sold to children.

    And if we get a new rating system that may mean the dreaded Ao rating de facto ban will be dead and that an M rating or a 17+ rating will no longer exist.

    Of course a government run system will probably be less accurate then the ESRB and might require full games instead of just clips.

  14. Father Time says:

    Some children meaning those who are aggressive or all ready had a tendency towards violence before they touched a controller.

  15. Father Time says:

    Yeah really check out Mitt Romney’s ancient ‘Ocean of Filth’ campaign trailer where he likened violent video games TV porn and whatnot to an ocean of filth that he promised to clean up.

    And then of course there’s the religious right that loves to bash anything that goes against their religious views.

    Oh and uh if lots of gamers started buying or training with guns when people still think that games teach people to kill or can be used as training simulators … well that would probably cause a panic if the news media ever caught on.

  16. KayleL says:

    Even though I disagree with Dr. Michael Rich, at least he seems down to earth. But I completely disagree the fast food argument.

    The biggest problem is that the ESRB is so tough that people think rated M is nothing.

  17. Are'el says:

    There’s a very good reason that this law can break down constitutional rights that people keep forgetting.  The ESRB is privately run and voluntary.  It essentially can close up doors whenever they feel like it.  Or maybe they’ll just someday run out of funding.

    Ah, but now there’s a law that says that a rating MUST be there.  So in the unlikely event that something happens to the ESRB, how could games be sold in New York (or any of the other States that are bound to follow suit with this "feel good" but useless bill)?  Why, the government will step in and create their own ratings system, of course!  Publicly funded, oversight by people needing family votes for reelection, the works.

    The law in and of itself is harmless.  But it is just one more inch through the front door that legislators have been trying to kick in for years.

  18. Alteffor says:


    ‘The real issues are not getting out to parents and children that video games may or may not effect them in positive or negative ways’

    ‘There’s good evidence that they can do harm to some children’

    Someone has no gorramn idea what hes talking about.

  19. BearDogg-X says:

    If the ESA doesn’t fight this, then Mike Gallagher needs to be fired as ESA president. Straight and simple.

  20. SS says:

    Communists and liberals?  Both leftists and rightists love to bash on video games.  Everybody loves to bash video games. 

  21. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    So true. So true.

    -Entertainment isn’t the reason the world sucks. It’s the reason we know the world sucks. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard researchers Larry Kutner&Cheryl Olson

  22. Jean says:

    Amazing… First Firearms then transfat, now Videogames… whats next…

    Their not going to stop until every little bit of joy life has to offer is taken away from us and given only to the privledged few.  This is against The Constitution if they ban, limit or restrict gaming which is Free Speech. 

    I just recommend to you all … to vote this election year against those communists and liberals who are doing this. 

    Also be sure to excercise your 2nd Amendment Right!  Go to the range… buy yourself a rifle… you never know you may love target shooting or hunting


  23. Anonymous says:

     everything buy the fines is already in place

    but yes fight it


    censorship is like meth  VERY BAD

  24. chadachada(123) says:

    It could save money in the long run, stop stupid anti-video game laws from being passed, right?

  25. Father Time says:

    Dude there is no way they will be able to touch pornography.

    If they ban it in one coutnry the porn companies will just move their servers to a different country and continue developing it and hosting it there.

    The internet is for porn, and don’t you forget it.

  26. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Well put.

    -Entertainment isn’t the reason the world sucks. It’s the reason we know the world sucks. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard researchers Larry Kutner&Cheryl Olson

  27. DannyLedonne says:

    In the USA, they came first for the videogames, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a gamer;

    And then they came for the pornography, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a pornographer;

    And then they came for the web pages, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a web surfer;

    And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

  28. Nekowolf ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have to agree, that it needs to be fought. It may not hold power over them, but I see as by not challenging it, it’s like opening a door for more to come in. They have fought every time so far, and have won. They shouldn’t stop now, just because it holds no real power.

  29. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Okay, having read all the posts here I have decided that I do think this law should be challenged for the principle of it all.


    -Entertainment isn’t the reason the world sucks. It’s the reason we know the world sucks. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard researchers Larry Kutner&Cheryl Olson

  30. kurisu7885 (can't log in) says:

    Why am I seeing GTA3 being presented? I thought that game was long past. I guess it kinda does make sense since people still bring up the original Doom.

  31. L. Eversole says:

    All I know is unconstitutional laws should be fought at every courner and every single time.  Letting one go will allow more to follow.  Erroneous judgement should be fought.

  32. chadachada(123) says:

    The whole point is that the law is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. If there was a way I could fight it, I’d represent myself if I had to, and take it to court. Alas, I am only 17 and am not the best lawyer ever, but SOMEONE needs to stand up, or the whole industry (gamers included) will suffer in the long run

  33. Vinzent ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Here’s a freebie, ESA.

    Spend a little cash to make a commercial that informs the public that their government is passing a bill that does not need to be passed. Inform the masses that their government is using their tax dollars to do this. Then challenge it in court.

    You need to do more than educate parents about the videogames ratings system. You need to educate them about the slimy tactics their own political oficials are using to waste taxpayer money. If you need help, go on Colbert or the Daily Show.

  34. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Judging by the accounts presented by GP, this may not go to court unless EFF, PFF and the ECA do it. It seems that the ESA and the EMA couldn’t care less. It doesn’t effect tehir bottom line. IT doesn’t attemtp to censor. But it does waste time, money and the constitution.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
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    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  35. Vinzent ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s true because I heard it on TV.

    That’s the problem of this bill and why it needs to be fought. It’s about image.

    The government is stepping in to regulate videogames. It doesn’t matter that it lacks teeth or that the provisions are already voluntarily in place. Videogames are going to be regulated by the government. Why? They must be dangerous? It’s about time they started fining retailers for peddiling that smut. They’re not? Why not? Obviously these games are dangerous!

    And the ESA probably won’t say a word. A silence as profound as when Fox News slandered Mass Effect.

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