FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz Objects

August 31, 2009 -

The Federal Communications Commission will evaluate the potential for a single content rating system that would span various forms of media, including video games, movies, TV and music.

Bloomberg reports that the FCC will study the issue at the direction of Congress:

The FCC action follows congressional queries into whether children are harmed by inappropriate content, such as sex, violence and obscenity. Senators want to know whether revisions are needed to the law to protect children, said Senator Jay Rockefeller...

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told Congress in July he was “hopeful that the evolving media landscape” will enhance parents’ power “to pick and choose” what their child sees and hears.

Not surprisingly, game publishers lobbying group ESA is opposed to the idea. Kotaku has comment from ESA VP RichTaylor:

The ESA appreciates the FCC and its important role. However, the ESRB rating system is considered by parents, family advocates, the Federal Trade Commission, and elected officials as the gold standard in providing caregivers with the information they need to make the right choices for their families. Universal ratings will, in the end, only serve to confuse consumers, violate the Constitution's first amendment, and are a solution in search of a problem.


Comments

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

... WHO PUTS A COMPUTER IN THE KITCHEN?!

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

My family's computer is in the kitchen. It's the only place in the house that has the space and a phone line for Internet.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

My Aunt keeps theirs in their kitchen. Well it's technically on the dining area side since it's all in the same room.

Who sits down for family dinner anymore? Put electronics in that wasted space!

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

I suppose, joking aside, that it is, at least, better than putting it down in the basement where the parents can't see what their child is doing.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Must admit, I wondered that myself, maybe we're talking really dumb parents who think it's a microwave and have spent the last 6 months trying to open the monitor to put the food in?

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Even if the FCC was a totally non-politicized entity this wouldn't be a good idea, but since it is highly susceptible to being politicized it's an even worse idea. The FCC that handed out insane fines for the Janet Jackson fiasco would be handing out game bans left and right (since the senate subcommittee on games would decide that adults shouldn't play games, therefore no 18+ rating needed) whereas an FCC similar to the one during the Clinton administration would just ban everything that didn't have oral sex in it.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

What? Dude... if it's going to be a universal rating system, they would have to ban ALL 18+ media for what you to say to happen. And it won't.

All this would mean is that if they have an adult content rating AND a porn rating for video, they'll have both for videogames also -- with the consoles likely banning the porn rating only. If you're using the Australian OFLC debacle as reason to think this; don't. The OFLC system isn't universal, which is precisely WHY they can get away with denying gamers an 18+ rating.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

You're right, a rating system from the highly politicized FCC would be a great idea.  Because, as we all know, government is the answer to all problems, especially made up ones.  Isn't that right MrKlorox?

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Agreed, this is government censorship in leiu of Britain and Australia, and I want no part in it at all.

-If an apple a day keeps the doctor away....what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

-Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

The US government can not censor or ban video games so that makes me happy.  But what if they come up with an AO like rating and the consoles ban it. :( 

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

I say they should adopt a system that looks identical to the BBFC. Not because of any love for the BBFC on my part, just that it would be absolutely hilarious to watch Larouchites spontaneously combust as the news spreads ;)

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

This seems less like an attempt to help anyone and more like a step toward banning games. People are very comfortable with MPAA and ESRB ratings (except for people who don't know how to raise their children, but hey, they didn't care in the first place), so there's no real rational reason to force a universal rating system made by the government except to grow the government some more.  And that is something we definitely need less of these days.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Seems like the opposite to me. This should provide the middle rating needed between 13 and 17/18 as well as provide an acceptible adult content rating that's separate from a porn rating.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

You would believe that. Do you really think that the FCC would do any of those things?  If so, you need to pull your head out of your ass.  The only reason the government wants a hand in it is so they can create and enforce laws that are, in fact, unconstitutional at a later date.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

It's funny that at a time where there are so many important problems like dealing with a budget crisis (What is the U.S. $4 trillion in debt to China) and a bad economy and lack of jobs, the government is worrying about teens watching movies and playing video games that they find unsuitable for them. If they go through with this (although i feel they won't, thank God) it will be more taxpayer's money down the toilet for something that is gonna end of being found unconstitutional anyways. Seriously, we need to get rid of the Republicans and Democrats in power. Isn't there a viable Third Party that actually respects the constitution and not wasting our money on useless and unnessasary shit.

"No law means no law  - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Yes sir, the Libertarians ^^

Though really, choosing Bob Barr was a very bad choice, he worked for the freaking CIA. Many Libertarians think that the CIA shouldn't even exist.

-If an apple a day keeps the doctor away....what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

-Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

What better to distract people from the real issues than to create moral panic? Or in this case, re-visit one they cooked up 10 years ago.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

This again?  The whole idea of a universal ratings system gets floated once every few years, usually out of the same concern over the perception of an "alphabet soup" of ratings that comprise movies, TV and games.  Although this time it appears that they're being more serious about it than usual.  Still, I don't expect them really to get any farther in it than the other times in the past.  While the idea all looks good on paper, in practice it would run into some First Amendment problems as others have noticed.  All that said, I think the ECA also needs to get involved in this and voice their opposition as well. 

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Well, if anything a universal rating system would be too confusing to parents as they'd go from the MPAA rating system for movies which so many of them are used to after what, 40 plus years to something entirely new. Also the ESRB rating system is becoming more and more knowledgeable to parents after being around for the last 15 years.

Of course then there is the whole First Amendment question. Which makes a government enforced rating system unconstitutional as hell as no matter how you put it such as proposal is a restriction on Free Speech. Really the nanny-state has no business deciding for anybody whether adults or minors what they can or can't watch, play, read or listen to. That is the sole decision and responsibility of the individual parent when it comes to their child and nothing more. A rating system as a a mere guild to parents, fine. A rating system as a form of nanny-state censorship and restriction, hell no.

 "No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

In no frelling way, shape or form do I want any government related content ratings, registration, stamp, approval, disapproval, ticket, marker, indicator, nod, recommendation or ban.

Do.
Not.
Want.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

I dunno, how would people be confused by a universal rating system? It seems like a decent idea at first glance. Maybe then nongamers will come to accept "M" games are no worse than "R" movies.

Then again, people still have trouble swiping a debit/credit card at the store is still a challange for a lot of folk.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Isn't the FCC the same organisation that tried to say that the ESRB system was broken? And that when they tried to make their own rating system people eventually found out that the ESRB was better?

Hey, if the ESRB is not broken, DON'T fix it.

Also the ESRB has always worked for me, even though I am an Australian and follow the OFLC that is not really that complete but at least games with a 17+ rating are ok in america, so I follow the internet and go by the ESRB.

 

TBoneTony

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

I happen to think the ESRB is a little broken. AO is still a console ban (only slightly less worse than your RC), and there's a massive gap between T and M.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Not exactly.  Back in the early 90's, some Senators told the video game industry that they needed a ratings system, or the government wouls do it for them.  Thus, the ESRB was formed.  As far as I recall, the FFC has never made any real effort to try and replace the ESRB, though they do occasionally threaten to increase regulation from time to time.

However, this might be changing.  Here in the US, the Courts have more or less stated that the government cannot pass laws based on the ESRB, because the ESRB is privately run (so in theory, a store can legally sell GTA to an 8 year old, just most don't).  So, some people at the FFC might be thinking that if they could help create a "universal" ratings system, then the government would be free to regulate video game sales and content.  They're not so much trying to "fix the system," as they are trying to get their foot in the door to attack media content with legislation.

It likely won't happen, though.  At least from the video game standpoint, the ESRB really is a huge success story, and is well established.  Trying to replace it would be clumsy and confusing to consumers.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Plus, the MPAA and the ESRB are unlikely to sit by quitely while the government does them all out of a job. I'd imagine they'd fight tooth and nail in opposition.

Re: FCC to Study Universal Rating System... Video Game Biz ...

Besides allowing for government intervention where they don't belong (House of UnAmerican Video Games Committy?) this wouldn't work for anybody who tried to establish a universal ratings system:

Every medium is different. That's why there's a different one for each.

The ESRB tends to be more strict than the MPAA because of games' interactivity. Content that would be PG-13 level may get an M rating. If a system rated both, how many M-rated games would end up with an NC-17 rating?

No. Wouldn't work...

 
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