LA Times Editorial: Fighting the Terminator on video games

December 1, 2010 -

An editorial in the Los Angeles Times penned by Gail Markels (attorney, former general counsel to the ESA, and a shaper of the industry's video-game rating system) and George Rose (executive vice president and chief public policy officer for Activision Blizzard) points out that the California video game law before the Supreme Court (penned by child psychologist, California State Senator, and possibly future San Francisco Mayorial candidate Leeland Yee; and signed into law in 2005 by soon-to-be former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) is trying to accomplish a task that has already been completed.

Besides taking Pepperdine University constitutional law professor Barry P. McDonald to ask for his support of the governor's bill against violence (a man who made millions of dollars off his own series of virtual murders in Hollywood blockbusters like The Terminator and Last Action Hero), the editorial points out the obvious: the ESRB and retailers are doing a better job of keeping mature content out of the hands of children than any other entertainment industry. The industry and retailers are keeping violent games out of the hands of children – even though no clear link has been established between violent behavior and violent games. Here is a slab of text about McDonald from that editorial:

Just as the credits are about to roll on Arnold Schwarzenegger's tenure as governor, Pepperdine University constitutional law professor Barry P. McDonald granted him an 11th-hour pardon for having gotten there by being so good at making ultraviolent action films.

McDonald seemingly absolves the Governator for his on-screen murders, assaults and mayhem because he helped push to the U.S. Supreme Court an appeal defending an ambiguous law punishing sales of so-called violent video games to minors. What he doesn't note is that the law, which the governor signed in 2005, would empower state bureaucrats to do what parents and retailers are already doing at no cost to taxpayers. The Supreme Court doesn't need to overturn the lower court rulings in Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Assn. invalidating the law on free-speech grounds, and can safely dispense with the video-game console business for more important matters.

The "teeth" McDonald says the law carries to protect minors were in place and sharpened when private industry fulfilled its pledge to Congress to establish an effective self-regulatory system. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board has been called the most comprehensive rating system in the country by no less than the federal government, fully equipping parents with the information needed to make informed decisions about the age appropriateness and content of games for their children.

Read the rest here.


Comments

Re: LA Times Editorial: Fighting the Terminator on video ...

I don't know that Last Action Hero is such a great example for the point she's trying to make.  If anything, that movie lampooned Hollywood-style violence and part of its message was how much it differs from real world violence and the consequences thereof.

And at least Arnold didn't kill Mozart. ;)

Re: LA Times Editorial: Fighting the Terminator on video ...

You'd be amazed how many parents I've met that don't know that you can read about the content in a game on the ESRB's ratings site.  The ones who do learn about it the first time are usually elated that such a resource exists.  When I tell them how long the website has been active and how much of a push has been made to tell the populace about this, they're usually really surprised.  I think what's more disconcerting is the sheer effort that went into public education and the general ignorance of the public.

 

(Disclaimer: I work at a GameStop store, so I deal with this on a very regular basis.)

 

Re: LA Times Editorial: Fighting the Terminator on video ...

Aside from misattributing "That's all folks" to Bugs rather than Porky Pig, who said it at the end of every Merrie Melodies/Looney Tunes, it's a solid piece.

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Banning in the legal sense? Not that I'm aware but there have certainly been groups of gamers who have worked towards getting content they don't like removed.07/28/2015 - 11:45pm
DanJAlexander's editorial was and continues to be grossly misrepresented by her opponents. And if you don't like a site, you stop reading it - same as not watching a tv show. They get your first click, but not your second.07/28/2015 - 11:40pm
TechnogeekYes, because actively trying to convince advertisers to influence the editorial content of media is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, especially for a movement that's ostensibly about journalistic ethics.07/28/2015 - 11:02pm
Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
MattsworknameDitto kotaku, Gawker, VOX, Polygon, ETC07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MechaTama31So, between pulling a game from one chain of stores, and forcing editorial changes to a media source, only one of them strikes you as being on the edge of censorship, and it's the game one?07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Andrew EisenHave gamers ever tried to ban a product? Can you be more specific? I'm not clear what you're getting at.07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Mattsworknamethey should have expected some kind of blow back. But I didn't participate in that specific action07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MattsworknameAndrew Youd have to ask others about that, I actualyl didn't have much beef with them till last year, so I can't speak to there history. I simply feel that gamesutra chose politics over gaming and chose to make enimies of it's prime audiance. For that,07/28/2015 - 8:40pm
Andrew EisenI'm still not clear on how Gamasutra was lacking in accountability or what it was lacking in accountability for.07/28/2015 - 8:38pm
MattsworknameAndrew: You and I agree on most of that. I don't diagree that there should ahve been other actions taken. Now, I do want to point something out, casue Im not sure if it's happened. Have gamers ever tried to have a product banned?07/28/2015 - 8:37pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician