Possible new warnings on video games - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:22 PM
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Default Possible new warnings on video games

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), is titled the Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009 and would create a new rule in the federal government's Consumer Product Safety Commission that would place this label on all games rated T or higher:

WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.
I for one would like to see the reserch behind that statement.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:27 PM
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Its sad that a few mentally unstable people who probably would commit some violent crime in their life one way or another regardless if they played video games give the rest of us a bad name. I have been playing violent games for over a decade now and have never felt the need to act out anything I do from playing a video game. Its a form of entertainment (sometimes violent) and nothing more. If they are going to do that for games then what is stopping them from doing it for movies. There is just as much, if not more, violence in movies then games.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:33 PM
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Right, they were violent anyways, and the games may "inspire" some kind of a mode, or outlet for their hostility. If a serial killer happens to like video games, and executes his victims like players execute each other in Gears Of War, then you have a symptom of inspiration not cause. Playing the game did not make them aggressive. Playing them game just inspired their cruel madness, which is very different.
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Old 01-12-2009, 05:24 PM
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As far as I remember reading, there were just as many studies disproving this as there were making the claim.
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Old 01-12-2009, 05:48 PM
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I'd like to see a group of doctors/scientists, impartial to the issue, confirm or deny the report.

I personally think that games are just a scapegoat because it's how a lot of young people spend their time. If they turn out violent, it must be because of something that "adults" don't understand or share with them. Games.
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Old 01-12-2009, 05:59 PM
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violent games and movies desensitize us to violence, but i think the warning message suggested is glorified.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:02 PM
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I think this probably just legitimizes games as an art form, since it seems like the emergence of any new artistic medium invariably means persecution from the mainstream at some point. The last time this happened was with comic books in the 50s and 30 years later in the 80's, they were finally recognized as more than children's entertainment. Games will probably go the same way once VR or something comes out and society decides to fear and persecute that instead.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:03 PM
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Little kids shouldnt even be playing T or M rated games in the first place thats what the ratings are for there is no need to a violence warning label.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:10 PM
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WARNING: Excessive masturbation to pornography and other sexual media has been linked to blindness.

I don't have much proof on that. However, I think every person should have that tattooed on them the moment they turn 13.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:26 PM
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I generally concur with the sentiments everyone is expressing over this issue. It's just one more thing on the game box which makes uneducated parents wonder if video games really are bad.

A couple of interesting things to note:

1) While I cannot confirm the source of the studies relied upon by the government is coming up with this label, I can say that the source for the impact of violent video games on developing minds relied upon by the government in every state-level court case in the US regarding the issue of state-censorship of violent/sexual games has been done by Dr. Craig Anderson. Importantly, the video game industry is 10-0 so far in state and federal court regarding the issue of whether there is any causal link between video game violence leading to real-life violence or the degredation of the developing minds capabilities to understand the consequences of violence. In some cases, the court has merely suggested the Dr. Anderson's work fails to take into account the effect of all other violent media (television, movies, books, sports, etc). In a few cases, the judges have literally questioned the very methods and motives of Dr. Anderson work and have called it nearly laughable in its poor quality.

2) As warning labels on products are "compelled speech," even when commercial, under Constitutional law in the United States, there is an above-average, or intermediate, level of scrutiny applied in cases questioning such a laws constitutionality. I would imagine that the federal court that hears such a case would defer to the findings of several other federal circuit courts, which have ruled that video games receive the same first amendment protections that other forms of media do. Thus, the substantial state interest of protecting children would fail to be substantial under such an inquiry being that most of the research suggesting ill effects from violent games is substandard. The court's would be likely to follow their previous precedent of allowing the ESA continue its self-regulation and labeling, rather than compelling speech by requiring a label for a scientific fact that is not yet proven.

3) The compelled speech aspect goes even further. This law as currently written could never pass constitutional muster under a vagueness or overbreadth standard. The law required such a label on any game rated T or higher. I'm sure we can all think of a few games rated T (and even some M) that have NO violence in them whatsoever. It is rated such due to language, sexual content, or suggestive drug references. Thus, a violence label would be required upon products containing no violence, and therefore under the legal scrutiny required the means to achieve the substantial government interest would not be narrowly tailored to achieve that end. It would censor into areas outside the scope of the government interest,

4) Finally, the societal interest in avoiding a chilling effect on speech is going to outweigh in 80% of judges minds. If we require labeling on any T rated game or any game with violence, then it tends to discourage the industry from "speeking" in terms which would provoke such a label, because if they did speak in that way they would get a big label on their product which would kill sales. Thus, such a law would have the effect of censorship even where it does not mandate it.

For an interesting discussion of these and other related video game/first amendment issues, see these two court cases (the first of which has a rather interesting paragraph by the judge where he eloquently defends God of War as the digital and interactive version of Homer's Odyssey, while at the same time avoiding beyond a cursory mention any discussion of Leisure Suit Larry):

1. Entertainment Software Ass'n v. Blagojevich
2. Video Software Dealers Ass'n. v. Schwarzenegger
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