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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