General Question

GeorgeGee's avatar

Do you think the Supreme Court should allow banning violent video games?

Asked by GeorgeGee (4925points) November 2nd, 2010

The Supreme court is now deciding on this issue.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/209595/violent_video_game_ban_could_set_dangerous_precedent.html
If they allow bans on violent video games, wouldn’t they have to allow bans on violent movies (Fight Club?), comics (Batman?) and books? (The Bible?)

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25 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t happen, for the reason you stated. Of course the parents aren’t going to take responsibility; judging another’s parenting is taboo.

gorillapaws's avatar

@GeorgeGee you failed to mention that it’s banning the sale to minors. That’s a very different thing than banning altogether…

Nullo's avatar

Yet another form of the overbearing nanny state. These days, I feel that the government ought to be begging us for its very breath, not telling us what we can’t play.
No anarchist am I, but with the present administration taking the country where I don’t want to go, I’m feeling a tad belligerent.

I am with Scalia on this one. What business does the Court have determining what’s violent?

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GeorgeGee's avatar

Heaven forbid violent people should get hold of these games. Then they might sit…at…their…computers…playing…games… instead of… fighting, shooting, knifing, mugging…..

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t have a problem with the rating system and not allowing minors to buy certain games, but I think that’s where the line should remain. If parents choose to buy those games for their children, that’s their choice. I don’t think the Supreme court should get involved with how the games are rated though.

bob_'s avatar

No.

I am looking forward to Grand Theft Auto V.

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t think they should and I don’t think they will..

El_Cadejo's avatar

I love seeing the supreme court dealing with stuff like video games. I mean they dont have anything else more important to handle right now or anything…..

@gorillapaws banning sales to minors will have a big impact though. The rating system works fine, parents just need to be more responsible. If this goes through, huge fines can be laid down on those who accidently sell to a minor, so what would the reprecussion of that be? Stores stop carrying the games to avoid the possibility of such things happening. What is the repercussion of that? Sales of these games drop. Then it wont be worth it to make such games anymore and they effectively disappear.

gorillapaws's avatar

@uberbatman I’m not sure what to think of this case to be honest (I mainly just wanted to point out the glaring omission earlier). I do hear what you’re saying about the potential for this to discourage game makers from making violent titles altogether, and then the other part of me realizes that most people who buy video games these days are adults who don’t want to play pg-13 games. Just look at the tobacco, alcohol, and porn industries. None of them are hurting very badly right now even though it’s illegal to sell their products to minors.

For me the more interesting question is about free speech, and how controlling are we going to be about certain types of information with minors of certain ages. After all, many kids are tried as adults and serve adult sentences, but they’re too innocent to kill pixelated zombies on an Xbox? If that’s the case then we should prevent minors from checking certain books out of the library because they contain violence, Shakespeare and Dickens both have violence so they would have to be blacklisted until the tender age of 18…

There is a real risk of a slippery slope. Then again, if I had a child who was sold an offensive game without my consent, I would be pretty pissed. I can see both sides and am curious to hear more thoughts on this.

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Blueroses's avatar

What’s a “violent video game”? According to the California law, a game which depicts the “killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting [sic] of an image of a human being in a manner that a reasonable person would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors.” If this first “prong” applies, it’s then run through a second check that asks whether “the patently offensive, deviant level of violence causes the game as a whole to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”

Really? Our Supreme Court is debating the validity of this law signed into effect by Governor Schwartzenegger?
The defense calls a shitload of 80s and 90s movies to the stand.

Blueroses's avatar

@gorillapaws Presumably as a parent, you still have eyes and control over your household’s electronics. If a “bad” game isn’t sold to your child, he will download it through torrentz. It’s still your job to monitor what gets played in your home, not GameStop’s.

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lillycoyote's avatar

@uberbatman I think anytime the Supreme Court deals with first amendment issues they are dealing with something important.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. In Germany there’s a relatively new law about the issue.

GeorgeGee's avatar

“According to the law’s wording, a violent video game would be defined as one “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being” in a manner that’s “patently offensive,” appeals to a person’s “deviant or morbid interests”

It would seem that this law could also be applied to keeping kids out of churches lest they see depictions of killing, maiming and dismembering, or other “scary images” Seriously, consider the hugely important and religiously significant paintings such as Caravaggio’s “David” (Painted in 1600), cutting off the head of Goliath and Titian’s “The Rape of Lucretia”
http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2007/07/04/chiaroscuro/
http://mini-site.louvre.fr/venise/en/exhibition/women_of_desire.html
Or for that matter, figures of Christ on a cross with a crown of thorns, which is certainly a depiction of torture, maiming and killing.
While the law’s wording does make allowances for “artistic merit,” that makes the law effectively pointless, because every game character depiction is created by a college-educated, trained professional artist using sophisticated tools such as 3D Studio Max and Photoshop. Caravaggio on the other hand received no formal education; he instead worked as an apprentice, and speaking of moral fiber, Caravaggio was a real life murderer and spent a good amount of his life on the run until the pope pardoned him.
Bad laws boil down to words like “patently offensive;” If I say I’m “patently offended,” YOU are in trouble. That’s fine if I’m making and enforcing the laws, it becomes a problem if you are.

iamthemob's avatar

I think this has less first amendment implications than many think if we consider the separation between “art” and “commerce.”

(1) this already happens with movies. You can be as vile as you want, but if you want to widely distribute a movie to make money, you’re subject to limitations.

(2) you can publicly display all art without charging admission as long as it’s not obscene, immediately incendiary, and in a public area that is not designated for specific kinds of use. You can sell items that might be considered obscene if placed in public, but when an item is truly obscene then all bets are off (note – I find this an offense against the first amendment, but it hasn’t stopped the porn industry, so I think we’re still pretty free and needn’t be too concerned about the slippery slope, although I always advocate keeping an eye out. ;-)).

(3) Commerce is regulated for our safety in many ways. I think that it’s overregulated when it comes to visual and audio material, as I think that’s where the parents should be stepping in – but commerce is regulated by necessity. This is about commerce, moreso, than art – no one is stopping people from making the games, they are limiting how the games can be sold. This type of limitation often increases creativity (consider Tennessee Williams and the way he wove homosexual undertones into his plays in order to ensure the message would “get through” to wider audiences due to an inability for gay plays to be produced).

So, arguments about art and religious icons, although relative, are less central, in my opinion – we need to consider whether this is too much government regulation for our tastes, or if we feel fine with it, as there is more than likely no serious first amendment issues at stake here, and the slope ain’t all that slippery or even slopey.

Berserker's avatar

I don’t really get why some people blame video games for violence when violence has existed centuries and centuries before any game ever did. I guess it’s a good scapegoat that allows people to not actually deal with the problem in a way that makes them feel otherwise.
There might be slight exceptions, but one, if it was actually true that gaming engendered hostile behaviour, a hell of a lot of people would be causing violence, and two, whoever was violent ’‘because’’ of a video game woulda cracked at one point or another, if psychology is right about the extremes that it takes to kill, or severely wound someone in the kinda modern societies that usually have video games as a legitimate and constant form of entertainment in them.

That said I don’t think the supreme court will succeed, because games are a significant part of the economy, believe it or not, as they’ve planted themselves firmly. Too many people play them. Sure some people such as crusader Jack Thompson wage heavy battles against games and might get close to banning them from some cities or state, but other than that mother who managed to get Primal Rage banned from her city’s stores some years ago, (Was revoked like three months later.) nobody’s ever been successful at banning games.
Also I’m pretty sure the ESRB are a force to be reckoned with.

iamthemob's avatar

@Symbeline That said I don’t think the supreme court will succeed,

I don’t think this is what you were saying – but I want to clarify that the Supreme Court isn’t trying to do anything here. The case is before the Supreme Court, and the court will decide whether or not the limitations are reasonable and constitutional.

Berserker's avatar

No, my bad, I’m the one who messed up, thanks for clarifying it. I was actually talking about this today with people, and apparently the case has been reduced to simply enforcing ESRB ratings to work like tobacco and alcohol for people underage wanting to buy games, instead of the ratings being mere guides for parents. Incidentally though, I can’t find anything about this online, just saying, as to not misinform anyone.

iamthemob's avatar

@Symbeline – I figured that was the case. I just get a little prickly when people start saying things that could lead to a discussion about “activist judges.” ;-)

Berserker's avatar

Yeah, sorry bout that lol. Ultimately, the fate of games in this case resides on whether or not the dudes on the bench digested their omelet properly. XD

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