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.

 
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E. Zachary KnightSo if it is going to turn out to be a bad scene, why even bother writing it?07/01/2015 - 8:07am
E. Zachary KnightMatts, Goth, The article, and others I have read making the same conclusion, state that most people fail in their attempts to write rape scenes without being overly offensive or overly incompetent in their attempt.07/01/2015 - 8:07am
Adam802http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ex-Sen-Leland-Yee-may-be-headed-for-a-plea-deal-6358941.php07/01/2015 - 7:12am
Adam802Possible plea deal in Yee case: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_28408532/leland-yee-case-plea-deal-appears-likely07/01/2015 - 7:11am
MattsworknameInfo, Im with goth on this, the moment people start saying "You can but you shouldnt" thats a slow slide into censorship07/01/2015 - 6:05am
InfophileIn other words, you stopped when you found out it was arguing for a position you disagreed with, but before you found out why.07/01/2015 - 5:29am
Goth_Skunk"In short, anyone can write a rape scene—but should they? Chances are, the answer is no." And that's where I stopped reading.07/01/2015 - 5:11am
InfophileRelevant to our discussion of rape in fiction yesterday: http://www.wired.com/2015/06/rape-scenes/07/01/2015 - 4:58am
Mattsworknameof players, over and over for the last seveal years. Among non RPG games, which make up the vast majority of current games, I think that you still see a large scale disparity between male and female in the AAA industry.07/01/2015 - 1:36am
Mattsworknamewilson. Out of RPG players yes, thats true, and in pc ciricles im not suprised, but RPGS make a small fraction of Console games these days and while pc gaming is seeing a resurgance, MMOs are actually retracting in size , as shown by WOW losing millions07/01/2015 - 1:33am
Matthew Wilsonhere is the study to prove it. http://www.pcgamer.com/researchers-find-that-female-pc-gamers-outnumber-males/07/01/2015 - 1:17am
Matthew Wilson@matt wrong over half of rpg players, both singleplayer and mmos, are female.07/01/2015 - 1:15am
MechaCrashRight, women don't usually play AAA games because none are aimed at them because they don't play them because none are aimed at them because okay you see where I'm going with this.07/01/2015 - 1:11am
MattsworknameI think the better path is this, more games built to give you the Choice of playing as male or female, and give the females good voice actors07/01/2015 - 1:08am
Mattsworknameup more then a fraction of the AAA games industry, but they make up a much larger part of the moble market.07/01/2015 - 1:04am
Mattsworknameandrew is right, to a point, as you are seeing a slow increase of women in games, but the sales shows that the lions share of gaming money comes from a male demo, and while andrew is right that it is changing, it's gonna be a LONG time before women make07/01/2015 - 1:04am
Andrew EisenI think more professional gamblers should get into games publishing. They'll play the odds but they'll also take risks to maximize profits.06/30/2015 - 11:57pm
Andrew EisenAt the end of the day, the ball is rolling and it's rolling in the right direction. Maybe not as fast as we'd like, but it is moving. All we can do is play the games that interest us and make our thoughts known.06/30/2015 - 11:55pm
Matthew Wilsonits unfortunate that the dataset is so tiny for female leads, and is a mixed bag, so money people get the wrong idea.06/30/2015 - 11:54pm
Andrew Eisen"Duke Nukem Forever sold poorly. See? Games staring white guys don't sell!" Pretty silly thing to say.06/30/2015 - 11:50pm
 

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