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Wed, May. 31st, 2006, 12:16 pm
dr_cayenne: Anti-Game Legislation

Is anyone besides me disturbed that our government may pass an unconstitutional bill against video games? It's bad enough that a nutjob from Miami, Jack Thompson, is spearheading this effort by telling the House things like, "All of the 'Grand Theft Auto' games are designed to be played on the PlayStation 2 with the 'dual shock' controller. This hand-held device gives you a pleasurable buzz back into your hands with each kill. This is operant conditioning, behavior modification right out of B.F. Skinner's laboratory", and that 2 + 2 = 5. Never mind that Louisiana has taken a part in creating two of the most renowned video game developers, Will Wright and John Carmack who succinctly left our state. One would think that we should be doing things to encourage the industry to operate here, not condemn it because of some distorted view of a Miami lawyer. What about video games depicting football? I mean, clearly football is violent. It's definitely violence against other people. Should we now have to confiscate all football video games to be examined by a judge in case they don't meet standards or present some "political" value? The bill passed unopposed in the house. Are we really going to waste our tax dollars and court time doing our best to try and violate the First Amendment?

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 04:46 am (UTC)
smoothie929: Which Bill?

Which specific bill are you talking about babe?

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 05:12 am (UTC)
dr_cayenne: Re: Which Bill?

HB1381 proposed by Rep. Roy Burrell (D) and drafted by antigame activist Jack Thompson. You can check out the discussion here at May 10, 2006, under Criminal Justice. (You can check the agenda in pdf, and watch the discussion in .ram format)

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 06:30 am (UTC)
smoothie929: My 2 cents for what it's worth...

I don't like censorship, I'm not a proponent of censorship, and I also love to play video games. With that said, I completely understand your frustration. However, I will play a little devil's advocate and give you some insights into why this is happening. It isn't unconstitutional because they are only keeping minors from buying or renting certain video games and not all people. It isn't a freedom because you don't receive most rights until you are 18 and full rights of a citizen until you are 21. Minors aren't allowed to do a lot of things and often have few rights or have rights taken away because they can't vote.

Legislators are worried about re-election and their voters (and financial contributors) are mainly older people-- and most older people think it would be a good idea for their children/grandchildren to not play violent video games. So if the large base of people that are re-electing and giving money to them think it's a bad idea for kids to play violent video games, then they think it’s a bad idea. See what I mean? That's the reason it was unopposed and why there are so many co-authors.

They aren't wasting tax dollars because there is no fiscal note attached to this bill... that means no money is being used for it and they are only gaining money from the fines. As far as the football argument goes, minors are allowed at athletic events like football so that could not be banned in video game form even if it can be violent. I would also like to point out that people had the opportunity to speak at the committee and give public testimony-- including the gaming industry.

I don't know if it did, but I hope this helped. Sometimes the politics part of it is hard to swallow, but it is a part of our governmental system.

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 07:00 am (UTC)
dr_cayenne: Re: My 2 cents for what it's worth...

The money aspect is in that it could seriously clog up the courts due to the extreme nature of the bill. The wording is apparently carefully crafted as to make it function similiar to how pornography is regulated. While the law may do nothing given that a jury will have to decide if any given game is inappropriately violent. That is to say, there is no standard to determine what is inappropriate before it is put to a jury. There is no reason that a football video game would not qualify enough to not be brought to court if someone was upset about it. In a small enough parish, if the locals found a football video game offensive, they could throw a retailer in jail because of it. I admit that is an unlikely extream, but I think that any actual enforcment of the law would be quite a double standard. There already is a rating system in place, much like that of the movie industry. I never heard about any massive push of adults versus video games here. It has yet to even be debated, beyond some of the media screaming foul.

Economically it's not the most of important things to worry about from the whole of the video game industry. None the less, it does hamper the industry - and it certainly discourages the industry from bringing more their money and business into this state.

The games that both Will Wright and John Carmack made both were assaulted by this anti-game movement (and in the case of Sims 2, it's beyond rediculous). One thing I hear resonating from this state is why we don't have a stronger base of computer scientists and tech based business. Some suggest that it's that our universities aren't producing enough, but I would argue it's that all of our talent is leaving the state for Washington, California, Texas, and Florida - because it is not economical to run that kind of business here.

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 07:34 am (UTC)
smoothie929: Here's 2 more...

I doubt it would clog up the courts because I doubt many parents take a serious effort to regulate what video games their kids are buying, most know nothing about video games. These retailers won't get thrown in jail if they do not sale the court deemed inappropriate games to minors. They are still able to sell them to the parents. So sales can still occur. Also there is a rating system in place already, but it does not determine if a minor can purchase a game or not. Minors cannot get in to see R rated movies and cannot rent R rated movies. So what's the difference in not allowing minors to purchase or rent certain violent video games and allowing their parents to do it for them? Nothing. Basically, the bill gives the parents the ability to decide what is appropriate for their child.

The hearing for the video game's appropriateness would be brought before a judge in district court not a jury. They just created the standard through those three things that makes it considerable for being morbidly violent.

As for it not being economical for that kind of business here, that is incorrect. Our video game industry is actually growing (even if it is slowly) along with the movie industry. Last regular legislative session (in 2005), a bill called the "Digital Media Bill" was passed with a tax break incentive package to entice the video gaming software development industry to our state. This was created to give many college graduates in computer fields an opportunity for high paying jobs in state.

I realize all the gaming sites and the newspaper have information up on this bill, but sometimes even they don't search for the whole story. If you are worried about it though, you should call your senator and tell him why you don't like the bill and to vote against it since it is on 3rd reading and final passage in the senate. Even have your friends call if they are upset about it-- if they get enough calls they will really look into it and find out more information about it. The more info they have before voting the better. If you don't call though, then you really can't complain about how they are voting because you haven't given them any information they might need to vote against it. You'd be suprised how calls can have an influence on their opinion. Have you figured out where I work yet? :)

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 08:14 am (UTC)
dr_cayenne: Re: Here's 2 more...

The difference is it's potentially a felony in the case of video games. The ESRB regulates the video game industry, their is a rating board for movies. There is no law that prohibits the sale of violent movies to minors. There's already a commercial push that parents have that retailers enforce, they however are not subject to fines. If a theatre lets a minor in to see a rated R movie, there is not actually a law against it. Most retailers already enforce ESRB ratings, and if a company does not - there is nothing stoping people from boycotting that company... This is criminal law, and it can be used either as a misdemeanor or a felony - the later of which entitles the defendant to a jury if I am not mistaken. I furthermore suspect that unanimous support for anti-game legislation will certainty make any game company with half a brain not want to move their business here.

I guess the right spot to find contact for one's state senator info would be here?

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
smoothie929: Jury and stuff

When I answered about the jury I was addressing what you had said, "While the law may do nothing given that a jury will have to decide if any given game is inappropriately violent. That is to say, there is no standard to determine what is inappropriate before it is put to a jury." The will have already been deemed inappropriate by a judge at another hearing based on the 3 points the legislature just passed. The jury doesn't determine what is inappropriate or not. All they will be determining is how severe a pentalty he should get for his actions... just the fine or jail time as well.

Why would kids boycott the company that was giving them the games they want and not putting restrictions on them. That doesn't make a lot of sense. I doubt it will terribly hurt the gaming industry.

Yeah, that would be the place to start... good luck.

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 06:19 pm (UTC)
dr_cayenne: Re: Jury and stuff

As I said before, it really is not a huge hamper upon the video game industry, so they're not going to spend lots of money to stop it. If the community was offended by the actions of a company, they can boycott it - I doubt any company would find it economically feasable to not give in to those kinds of demands. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm not so sure that the "trier of fact" is neccesarily the judge. Furthermore, how can a judge determine if "The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors." without playing the entire game? Say someone took halflife 2 to court? How can a judge determine if "as a whole" an interactive game has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value without playing it all the way through?

Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 08:55 am (UTC)

copied without permission from http://www.gamepolitics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1034&page=2
(I'm sure they wouldn't mind)
Curtis Heyen,

I have had the distinct displeasure of reading the Op-ed piece:

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060524&Category=OPINION0106&ArtNo=6 05250314&SectionCat=OPINION03&Template=printart

Jack Thompson, an activist lawyer, is misleading the good representatives in The Louisiana House and Sensate and the citizens they represent. And unfortunately, his position as an outspoken attorney gives his opinion an undue amount of validity. Also unfortunately, no one seems to give voice to the information that Mr. Thompson is willfully omitting.

For instance, Mr. Thompson asserts that video games were the cause of Columbine. He tells us that the FBI found this to be the case. Well, that is 1/28th of the truth. The FBI has found that there are 28 risk factors in deciding whether a student will become violent towards other students. They are listed here at the official FBI resource on school shootings: http://www.fbi.gov/publications/school/school2.pdf

You’ll notice that violent video games are mentioned once. Once. Jack Thompson fails to mention that the FBI itself didn’t think video games were the cause of school violence. Violent entertainment is one out of 28 symptoms of a personality that is “high-risk.” Here is q quote from the FBI:

“Overall, the level of violence in American schools is falling, not rising. But the shock and fear generated by the recent succession of school shootings and other violent acts in schools -- and by violence in society at large -- have led to intense public concern about the danger of school violence. In this atmosphere, it is critically important for schools to respond to all threats swiftly, responsibly, fairly, and sensitively, and with an understanding that all threats are not equal.”

Mr. Thompson is using, “the shock and fear,” the FBI refers to on their website. He is preying on this fear to further his own career and notoriety.

Mr. Thompson also misuses the brain studies done by Harvard and other such reputable schools. He mentions that, “Video games are processed in teens' midbrains, where emotion-driven copycatting behaviors are triggered.” He fails to mention that this “copycatting” is an immediate response; not a long-term behavioral conditioning. This means that after consuming violent entertainment, a teen can become, “Hyped up,” but this state does not translate into increased violent behavior. In fact, as many studies have shown that playtime violence, even in young children, can actually benefit the child’s development. Think about young puppies – they wrestle, growl, nip and bite each other. This play violence helps them develop. But when this play goes to far, the mother dog has to step in and separate the two youngsters. The same can hold true for humans. Children and Teens actually need play violence. But it is up to us adults to step in and teach them when to quit.

I would like to answer Mr. Thompson’s question: “Can Columbine happen in Louisiana?” Yes. It could. But do video game cause school shootings, or allow teens to “train,” to become killers? The FBI says, “No.” Mr. Thompson, invoking the very same FBI, says, “Yes.” I urge all concerned parents and lawmakers to read the FBI paper (linked above) on school shootings. It goes a long way to debunking Mr. Thompson’s claims, and shows Louisiana’s “Anti-Video Game” law to be unneeded. Instead of passing bills that are unconstitutional, and will cost the tax-burdened, Katrina-victimized state hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps the Louisiana State House and Senate can find pressing concerns on which to spend this money on? Hurricane readiness perhaps?


Jeff McHale

Tue, Jun. 6th, 2006 07:25 am (UTC)
smoothie929: : )

I wanted you to know something...
I voiced some of your concerns today at work and I tried to help with this. A lot of legislators listened... most didn't understand anything about games before I explained some things to them. So don't feel like you didn't accomplish anything. You did. I would have never been able to bring it up if you hadn't have informed me. Even if it is small and even it passes through...you still made a dent (however small) through me.

Fri, Sep. 15th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
c22heloknight: TRO TRO TRO TRO TRO Fun


The federal district court for the Middle District of Louisiana has issued a temporary restraining order (that's a TRO for all you legal efficinatos) enjoining all state officials from enforcing this incrediably crap law.