Schoolwise Author Tackles Violent Games

December 8, 2010 -

Author, teacher, and all around frenetic Carol Josel pens a rather lengthy blog post about Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association. As you can guess her words are not kind to the video game industry, the EMA, or the ESA's ESRB ratings system.  

Pointing out that the law's author Leland Yee is a child psychologist, and that the American Academy of Pediatrics believes there is a link between gaming and aggressive behavior in children, The "Schoolwise" series writer hits the ground running with a blistering attack on the game industry.

8 comments | Read more

Opinion: Games Don't Deserve Protection

December 7, 2010 -

The Star Press (which describes itself as the "news source for East Central Indiana") writer Jeffrey M.. McCall pens a two-page editorial called "Violent video games not an issue worthy of First Amendment protection," in which he attempts to lay out a case for Schwarzenegger v. EMA.

First, an explanation as to what the author thinks the entertainment industry really wants.. apparently it isn't freedom of expression:

21 comments | Read more

Reason TV on George Will Column

December 3, 2010 -

Reason TV takes a crack at conservative columnist George Will's recent editorial in the Washington Post about the the parallels between current the concerns about violent video games before the Supreme Court and the controversy over comic books in the 1950s. In the column Will also mentions past crusades against media that would turn our children into all manner of depraved deviants including ragtime music, 'penny dreadful' novels, jazz, 'penny theatres,' radio, movies, rock 'n' roll, rap, TV, and the Internet.

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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.

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Opinion: Industry to Blame for Schwarzenegger v. EMA

November 29, 2010 -

In an opinion piece written by John Teti for Eurogamer, the former Crispy Gamer staff writer gives his opinion on Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association and why it is the industry's fault that games are not seen as the "art" that many developers claim that it is in the eyes of the political class.

"My biggest fear is that the EMA will lose this case. My second biggest fear is that they will win. "

In their celebration, they're liable to miss the real lesson: they brought this near-disaster on themselves. It's the studios' own craven, short-sighted management of their image that makes it possible for opportunistic politicians to bring the heat.

In an astute opinion piece last month, Rob Fahey argued that the stated intent of the law - to keep kids from buying games meant for adults - did not seem so onerous, even if the actual language of the California statute was "hasty" and "ill-considered."

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Why Video Games Are Stuck at The Thanksgiving Kids' Table

November 29, 2010 -

A column in the Iowa State Daily explains why politicians continue to think of video games as nothing more than kids' stuff, comparing the perception of the pasttime to a college student returning home for Thanksgiving:

"Thanksgiving break is over, and I am sure a few of you were met with the surprise, upon your arrival home, that you would be relegated to the children's table. Despite your learned knowledge as a college student, you were still deemed unfit to sit next to your elders and discuss body scanners, Obama's approval rating and corn prices — opting instead to challenge your cousin to a deviled-egg eating contest.

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Video of ECA SCOTUS Rally

November 29, 2010 -

As readers of GamePolitics well know, November 2 was a momentous day for the videogame industry as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Schwarzenegger vs EMA case.

That same day the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) held a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court steps in which gamers from all walks of life stood up for their favored medium.

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Why You Should Care: AT&T v. Concepcion

November 24, 2010 -

The California Violent Video Game law is not the only important case before the supreme court affecting consumers. Earlier this month the highest court in the land heard oral arguments in AT&T v. Concepcion, a case that could remove the right for consumers to band together as a class action against corporations. Here is more from the Consumer Federation of America:

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Facebook Flick Prompts SCOTUS Philosophical Debate

November 18, 2010 -

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer recently saw The Social Network and admitted that the film puzzled him.

But, according to an MSNBC article, he used the film to claim that modern conditions and technologies should be considered by Justices when they are interpreting the U.S. Constitution, as in the case of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA.

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North Carolina Tenth Graders Ape SCOTUS, Rule for Game Industry

November 17, 2010 -

On the same day (November 2) the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Schwarzenegger vs. EMA in Washington D.C., students at Pinecrest High School in North Carolina took part in their own reenactment of the landmark videogame case.

Tenth graders from a civics class took part in the faux-trial, with eight students taking on the role of Associate Supreme Court Justices while a local attorney named Bruce Cunningham assumed the role of Chief Justice. Four students argued for each side.

One student, arguing for California, stated that “When you're a child, your brain hasn't developed that part where you don't understand the consequences,” while a counterpart on the EMA side contended that, “Speech, even though it is not pleasing, is still entitled to freedom.”

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Professor: SCOTUS Should Use Schwarzenegger Case to Fix its “Extreme” First Amendment Stance

November 17, 2010 -

In an opinion piece appearing in the Los Angeles Times, Pepperdine University constitutional law professor Barry McDonald argues that the Supreme Court should use Schwarzenegger vs. EMA to “adjust its severe approach to content-based regulations of speech.”

McDonald opined that the California law in question “puts teeth” in the attempt to stop kids from buying violent games, and he notes that the plaintiffs in the case “are not minors who are eager to receive the ‘speech’ in question,” but game manufacturers themselves.

He continued:

Despite the fact that it seems the 1st Amendment is being used to protect the manufacturers' purses rather than their ideas, lower courts across the country have uniformly invalidated such video-game restrictions on free-speech grounds.

Editorial Hopes Law against “Poison” Games Sets Precedent

November 12, 2010 -

An article penned by the Editorial Board of the Oregonian calls violent games “poison to the teen mind,” and cites “a fragmented but growing body of research,” to back its hopes that the California legislation will at least “find footing” in order to “set a promising example.”

The opinion piece states that Schwarzenegger vs EMA is not exclusively about free speech, since the law does not seek an outright ban on violent games.

The California law, according to the Oregonian, would “simply prevent the neighborhood video store clerk from deciding to sell ‘Postal 2’ to a 14-year-old.”

The editorial continued, stating:

Illinois Also Looking Closely at Schwarzenegger Outcome

November 11, 2010 -

Add the Land of Lincoln to the list of states following Schwarzenegger vs. EMA in order to see which side emerges a winner.

Earlier this month we told you about a Delaware politician looking to reintroduce anti-videogame legislation if California was to emerge victorious in its Supreme Court fight, now a Daily Herald story lets us know that an Illinois politician is preparing for the same outcome.

In 2005, an Illinois law that would have governed the sale of violent games, championed by then Governor Rod Blagojevich, was eventually declared unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court Judge.

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Blogger Hates Violence, Yet is Against California Law

November 11, 2010 -

A discussion between two writers on the Perpetual Post website caught our eye because one of the scribes, even while expressing an aversion to violent videogames, doesn’t think the government should be in the business of limiting a child’s access to them.

In her part of the article, Molly Schoemann says that she “can’t really stomach violence of any kind—even videogame violence,” and recounted a previous experience playing Army of Two in which she was reduced to being “huddled in a pile of rubble,” where she “refused to shoot anyone.”

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Two New Opinion Pieces Back Game Industry in SCOTUS Showdown

November 10, 2010 -

Yesterday we highlighted two editorials that backed California in its Supreme Court appeal over a law that would make it illegal to sell minors mature-rated violent games. Today we offer you a pair of views from people backing the game industry in its Schwarzenegger vs. EMA fight.

First up is President of the First Amendment Center Ken Paulson, who took to USA Today to offer his opinion that governing the intake of media should be left to a child’s parents or guardians.

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Researcher Ferguson: California Law is “One More Spin of the Moral Panic Wheel”

November 10, 2010 -

Texas A&M International University professor and videogame researcher Christopher Ferguson has penned an editorial for the Sacramento Bee in which he argues that the state of California is acting “irresponsibly” in its push for a law that would ban the sale of adult-rated violent games to minors.

Ferguson, as readers of this site well know, tends to generate research that is more open-minded in terms of the relation between violent games, youth and aggression. As such, his research was featured prominently in the amicus brief (PDF) for Schwarzenegger vs. EMA filed by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

Should the Industry Embrace or Reject Limbaugh as Game Backer

November 10, 2010 -

Rush Limbaugh recently defended videogames after a caller to his talk show brought up the subject of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA, but is Limbaugh someone that the game industry even wants on its side?

Limbaugh used the case to rail against an over abundance of government and liberalism, asking the caller to “Join me when the government gets involved in all these other behavioral and speech things that they try to tell you and control us we can't do.” He added that he was “glad” that the case was taking place, as it would push these topics (over-governing and liberalism) into the mainstream, alerting people “to what’s happening throughout society.”

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Pair of Editorials Back California Law

November 9, 2010 -

Two new editorials appearing online today back California in that state’s Supreme Court fight over a law that would make it illegal for minors to purchase mature-rated violent games.

Writing for the Iowa-based Quad-City Times, columnist L. Brent Bozell argues that requiring a parent to buy such games for their offspring is “hardly shredding the Constitution.” He also infers that the videogame industry is hiding behind the First Amendment in order to stop politicians from “tampering with their sales to minors.”

For the game industry, Bozell writes, “there must be no hurdle for children to go around their parents and grab what Justice Samuel Alito called ‘the most violent, sadistic, graphic video game that can be developed.’”

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Bleszinski on the role of violence in Epic's Games

November 6, 2010 -

In an interview with the BBC, Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski says that his company does not implement graphic violence because they are “strange sadistic people." Rather, he sees the violence in the company's mature-rated games as "cartoon-like" much like the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. Instead of anvils and dynamite, gamers use Lancer assault rifles and grenades.

"The majority of what we implement into the game we do for feedback and interactivity, not because we're strange sadistic people who want to see how much blood we can put on the screen when you shoot one of the lizard creatures,” Bleszinski told the BBC’s Interview program.

"We do it to let the player know you did in fact succeed, that you are hitting a target and you need that kind of feedback in order to create what is a successful interactive experience," he said.

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Your Anti-Game Op-ed of the Day

November 5, 2010 -

The author of an opinion piece appearing in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a piece ostensibly related to the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA Supreme Court case, takes a hatchet to videogames.

Author Jack Markowitz offers, “grudgingly,” that “the Supreme Court will uphold the precious freedom to sell stupid, overpriced electronic games to children.”

Webcomic Illustrates CA Violent Video Games Law

November 5, 2010 -

Webcomic Virtual Shackles wryly illustrates how California's violent video games law might work when put into practice.

During Tuesday’s oral arguments, Justice Sotomayor pointed out what could easily be viewed as a rather large loophole in the law at the heart of Schwarzenegger v. EMA.

The law seeks to prevent children under 18 from purchasing games in which the player can “virtually inflict serious injury upon images of human beings.”  But what about characters that are almost, but not quite human beings?  Here’s the relevant exchange:

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Would a video game that portrayed a Vulcan as opposed to a human being, being maimed and tortured, would that be covered by the act?

 

MR. MORAZZINI: No, it wouldn't, Your Honor, because the act is only directed towards the range of options that are able to be inflicted on a human being.

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Daily Show Offers Take on Violent Game Debate

November 5, 2010 -

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show served up a segment last night offering correspondent John Hodgman’s take on the Supreme Court, Schwarzenegger vs. EMA and banning the sale of violent games to minors in California.

Hodgman, when asked by host Jon Stewart if the Supreme Court should ban violent videogames for children, responded, “No, that’s absurd John.”

He continued, tongue firmly in cheek, “Videogames are a form of expression. They are the novels of the next-generation."

Yee's Reaction to SCOTUS Arguments

November 4, 2010 -

California State Senator Leland Yee is the architect of the law at the center of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA and attended Tuesday’s oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court.

Reacting to the proceedings, Yee’s office issued a statement indicating that the Senator was “pleased” with the discussion in the nation’s highest court, and was particularly taken with the comments of Justice Stephen Breyer, who, Yee said, “… clearly understands the intent and need for our legislation to limit the sale of excessively violent video games to children.”

Yee Continued:

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If CA Wins, DE Pol Primed to Introduce Similar Legislation

November 4, 2010 -

A trickle down effect is one of the game industry’s biggest fears if the Supreme Court does eventually rule in favor of California in Schwarzenegger vs. EMA, and one politician, known for her anti-game legislation attempts in the past, is chomping at the bit for just such an opportunity.

Delaware Representative Helene Keeley (pictured), a Democrat, attempted to introduce legislation in 2006 that would have placed violent videogames under her state’s obscenity statute. Her efforts sailed through the House, but failed to pass the Senate.

10 comments | Read more

Word Cloud Illustrates Most Used Terms in SCOTUS Arguments

November 4, 2010 -

Combine relatively new technology with the transcripts from Tuesday’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court for Schwarzenegger vs. EMA and what do you get? A rather interesting word cloud that visually illustrates the most commonly used words throughout the proceedings.

Fast Company analyzed the transcripts and infered by the prominence of words like "obscenity," "know," "whether," and "think" in the cloud that the matter is ultimately philosophical.

Indeed, in looking at the cloud, it is fascinating that the word “think” is represented in larger type than “know.”

Fast Company offered:

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Tracking the 11 AGs That Backed California in SCOTUS Case

November 3, 2010 -

A total of eleven state attorneys-general backed California in its Schwarzenegger vs EMA Supreme Court run, with ten signing on to an amicus brief (PDF) penned by the eleventh, James “Buddy” Caldwell (pictured), the Attorney General of Louisiana.

Keeping abreast of where these eleven enemies of the game industry are after Election Day could allow us to possibly anticipate what vantage point they might pull off their next attack on videogames and gamers from.

Let’s see where they are now:

Schwarzenegger Mum on Case Bearing His Name

November 3, 2010 -

For a man whose name makes up half the name of a case in front of the Supreme Court, lame duck California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been remarkably silent about Schwarzenegger vs. EMA, a case which saw oral arguments presented in front of SCOTUS yesterday.

A quick look at Arnie’s tweet stream for the last week shows the Governator urging his followers to vote, congratulating the San Francisco Giants for winning the World Series, disclosing how he voted on various state propositions and congratulating his replacement, newly elected former governor Jerry Brown.

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ESA SCOTUS Press Release

November 2, 2010 -

The Entertainment Software Association issued a press release (here) detailing its efforts at the Supreme Court today.

Overall, the trade group dedicated to the video game industry was satisfied with how things went inside the court room and predicted that this decision - when it comes - could put an end to laws like the one California is proposing. The ESA and EMA were supported by friends of the industry that see California's law as an infringement on free speech rights.
 

The short story is that the ESA thinks the California law is wrong-headed, misguided and unconstitutional. The long story can be found below:

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Schwarzenegger v. EMA SCOTUS Transcript

November 2, 2010 -

The full transcript of today's oral arguments heard before the Supreme Court (related to Schwarzenegger v. EMA) is available at the official web site for the SCOTUS (PDF).

Here are some choice bits:

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Games Take Over Supreme Court

November 2, 2010 -

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California Assembly Bill 1179 into law on October 7, 2005, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to today’s oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court, which will ultimately decide whether the First Amendment can stop a state from prohibiting the sale of violent videogames to minors.

Two issues are at stake for the Court to decide: Do violent games for minors fall within a category of speech unprotected by the First Amendment and does California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent videogames to minors satisfy the strict scrutiny test applicable to content-based restrictions on speech?

Arguing for the California side in Schwarzenegger vs. EMA was Supervising Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini, while Jenner & Block lawyer Paul Smith took the lead for the gaming industry.

The entire time allotted for oral arguments—and questions—is one hour.

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MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
 

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