back to article Governator vows to appeal ruling striking down video game law

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to appeal a federal judge's ruling striking down a state law that prohibits the selling or renting of violent video games. The decision, issued in a case brought by video game industry groups, said the restriction violated the freedom of speech provision in the US Constitution …


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  1. John A Blackley

    A good idea

    "I signed this important measure to ensure that parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children," quoth Arrrrrrrnold

    The government forcing parents to do...............what any half-sane parent ought to be doing anyway. Oh that's a good idea! That one almost always works.

  2. Martin Gregorie

    I really dont't understand...

    ... why, in America, its OK to rate TV programs, movies, video games and music for their sexual content but not, apparently, to rate them for violence. I really, really wish somebody could explain this in a way that makes sense.

    I want to know exactly why seeing soft porn can blight a teenager's life forever but watching blood and gore spray about as people are terminated with extreme prejudice apparently makes kids into better parents and citizens.

    Speaking entirely for myself, soft porn has never cost me sleep. However, I've been extremely disturbed by reading de Sade and viewing/reading violent material. Now I won't knowingly watch or read such material: I prefer dreams to nightmares.

  3. Ryan Stewart

    While you are correct....

    Nobody in this country is responsible anymore. People seem to want the government to do everything for them. We have turned from "the land of the free" to European semi-socialism part II.

    Not that I think it should be dog-eat-dog, just that (like you said) parents should be responsible for raising their own kids.

  4. Morely Dotes

    A better idea

    Send the Department of Family Services to take children away from parents who are accused of violating the basic tenets of the Southern Baptist Church.

    Which is what Ah-nuld and his Reprehensican cronies really want, anyway.

    When I was about 5 or 6, people like Jack Thompson claimed that toy guns would cause cause children to grow up with violent tendencies. Oddly, outside of my military service, I have never owned a real gun, nor committed any more serious crime than minor traffic infractions. My parents taught me that fantasy and reality are different. Steroids won't change that, and neither will video games.

    I would venture that, 300 years ago, people like Jack Thompson put forth the theory that children who were allowed to play with toy bows and wooden swords would grow up to become treasonous rebels living in the forest of Sherwood and waylaying innocent noblemen. Apparently, there were very few such highwaymen; go figure!

    Sarcasm aside, if the parents are doing their jobs, the kids will not be any more (nor less) violent than they would be otherwise. If the parents are *not* doing their jobs, the kids will get the games they want, they will get the condoms, birth-control pills, alcohol, "recreational" drugs, and so on - and won't really have any grasp on why they shouldn't do such things.

    So, to Der Governator, I say: Get your own house in order, brother, before you stick your nose into my bedroom and my child-rearing pratices. You're likely to pull back a face without a nose.

  5. heystoopid

    Most interesting

    Most interesting Since herr gropenator , just happens to spend more time out of state as within , including campaigning for a law change to allow him to become an El Presidente(current US law prohibits foreign born nationals from running the country)

    Yes , but that's California for you , a state that elects a part timer for a leader , and one that has past as a drug abuser as well!

  6. matchbx

    Watch out MPAA

    The complete removal of all movie ratings will be next.

  7. James

    Speaking of GTA...

    Seriously ... after 6 or 7 hours of playing a game like Grand Theft Auto, go jump in your car, get out on the road and see if you can figure out which other cars are real and which ones are fantasy. I tell ya ... the line blurs. It's almost a compulsion to drive up onto the sidewalk and see how many peds you can run down ... not that GTA has anything to do with it ...

  8. James

    California = America

    "Yes , but that's California for you , a state that elects a part timer for a leader , and one that has past as a drug abuser as well!"

    Hmmm ... interesting. Let's swap the Gubernator for the Decider, shall we?

    "Yes , but that's America for you , a country that elects a part timer for a leader , and one that has past as a drug abuser as well!"

    Ahh. One size fits all. I'm off for a good 15 hours of GTA ...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So a guy who...

    ...made millions acting (?) in ultra violent films that were popular with kids wants to ban games that depict the exact same stuff? Only in America.....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Um... While I have some respect for governor Arnold (Terminator) Swartzenegger, perhaps he should consider banning some of his own films then... or is he above all that now... I hate to dredge out this tired old thought, but it's still relevant--parents need to spend time with their children and impart meaning and understanding to life's events, not try to isolate them from the world & hope for the best.

  11. Bryan Reed

    Simple explanation

    "... why, in America, its OK to rate TV programs, movies, video games and music for their sexual content but not, apparently, to rate them for violence. I really, really wish somebody could explain this in a way that makes sense," quoth Martin Gregorie.

    If you're looking for a logical explanation, well, I'm afraid I can't help you. But the fact is that we are a violent, sexually repressed culture and have been for a long, long time. People object, not to things that SHOULD make them uncomfortable, but to things that they've LEARNED should make them uncomfortable. It's a reflection of the culture in general; the effect on the media is only a symptom.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    IRONIC... i remember playing the terminator games well before i was 18. now i'm a nerd, not a killer

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    It's all just fun and games

    Pointing and laughing is all we can do when it comes to the USA and its quirks. Let us not forget that, in the immortal words of Robin Williams : "the Pilgrims were people that were so stuck up the English told them to get the fuck out".

    With a history like that, it'll be centuries before they can act normally. Meanwhile, we'll get a lot of laughs like this.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Who said anything about banned? All this law was going to do was put video games on a similar footing to films/videos: they'd have to be labelled as "unsuitable for minors". Many countries more liberal than the US have such a scheme. It doesn't *force* parents to do anything, but does try and give them back some control over what's available to their kids.

    Mind you, such legislation is almost totally ineffective here in the UK. Parents will buy their kids anything they pester them for, by and large. And if one set of parents won't, their kids almost certainly have a friend or two whose parents will.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sex vs Violence

    ".. why, in America, its OK to rate TV programs, movies, video games and music for their sexual content but not, apparently, to rate them for violence. I really, really wish somebody could explain this in a way that makes sense."

    Simple - sex is rarely used as a political tool against 'enemies' of a nation (external and internal) whereas violence often is.

    See Orwell's 1984 for more.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: European semi-socialism

    "Nobody in this country is responsible anymore. People seem to want the government to do everything for them. We have turned from "the land of the free" to European semi-socialism part II.

    Not that I think it should be dog-eat-dog, just that (like you said) parents should be responsible for raising their own kids."

    Could one of the Americans out there complaining about violence being banned (which this law wouldn't) or this being hypocritical (which it isn't) answer me the following;

    How can parents be responsible and make their own choices about what entertainment their kids can get hold of when the kids can go to a shop and buy any game they want when their parents aren't there?

    A lack of an enforced rating system for games undermines responsible parenting, whereas placing age limits on videogames gives parents greater control and freedom in how they raise their kids and to which material their children should have access. As Shwarzenneger's own statement says;

    "Many of these games are made for adults, and choosing games that are appropriate for kids should be a decision made by their parents."

  17. Stuart Elliott

    How many of you...

    When reading the following dialogue from Arnold:

    "I signed this important measure to ensure that parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children," he said in a statement. "Many of these games are made for adults, and choosing games that are appropriate for kids should be a decision made by their parents."

    ... sounded it out in theirs heads with the voice from Terminator?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Classification not Prohibition

    Being a Brit l cannot say that I have an in depth knowledge of Arnie as a governor, or how he is perceived both in California or the States as a whole. But it occurs to me that some of the comments here are lambasting him for attempting to retain a method of classification that informs parents and protects children. You can argue the case for parental choice etc., but the fact is that most parents, especially when it comes to video games, have little to no knowledge of the content of the game, and as such, a system of classification is most useful. It has been in place in the UK now for some years, and so far as I am aware, works (to a degree). Some parents will always ignore the ratings, and kids with intent will invariably get their hands on such items if they really want to (as I did with 18-rated movies as a youngster). However, it acts as a deterrent at the every least.

    I don't really see what the problem is here. People are complaining that the US don't classify against violence, only sex, and yet isn't this exactly what Arnie is attempting to achieve here? Last time I checked, video games weren't known for the sexual content (unless you count Leisure Suit Larry).

    Also, to pull Arnold's movies into the argument is somewhat redundant, as they were all clearly aimed at an adult audience (bar maybe Kindergarten Cop and Twins) and were rated 18 by the relevant board of classification. I doubt that Arnie ever made Commando with the intention that it would be seen by all the kids in America (although it probably was!).

    As an avid games player, and now a parent, I can see the need for video games classification. Whilst kids will always eventually be exposed to the crap that this plant dishes out, I certainly don't think it hurts to protect them from it for as long as possible.

    My only counter-argument to this, however, is that an 18 rating in the US is an effective ban (as has been seen with Manhunt 2) which in my mind is a removal of all choice, and thus an infringement of civil liberties. Still, it's been banned in the UK too, so we're just as bad!

  19. David Evans

    Am I missing something here?

    Um, doesn't this law just say violent games have to be tagged with an "18" rating? What's wrong with that?

  20. John

    Even more Needed Than For Films

    With a film, at least the parent can watch it themselves before deciding whether they condiser it appropriate for their child, and since most people enjoy watching a film it's not really a problem.

    However with games, you can't sit and play a game for 2 hours and work out whether the whole game is going to be similar, the first 2 hours can even just be a tutorial. Even then many people don't like playing games at all and anyway who wants to play only 2 hours of one and just give up.

    A good rating system is the only way a parent can sensibly know whether a game is generally going to be suitible.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mmmm, do any of you buy computer games?

    All of the games sold in the US come with a ESRB rating on them. The games are rated on violence, sexual content and more. See the full list of content descriptors at

    I suppose what Ah-nuld wants is the ratings changed for the Teen and up categories, so games with more violent content (like content from his own movies, perhaps...) would be pushed up into the Mature or Adult Only categories.

    Or he's just an idiot ravaged by steroid abuse.


    Titles rated EC (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.


    Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

    EVERYONE 10+

    Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.


    Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.


    Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.


    Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.


    Titles listed as RP (Rating Pending) have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)

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  23. Shaun Bartoo

    Its not just the rating...

    If all he was doing was forcing a ratings system, that's one thing. He's forcing a ratings system AND restricting sales based on that ratings system, making it illegal to sell certain ratings to certain people. THAT's what the 'free speech' problem is.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now i'm confused

    Ok, so even if Arnie simply wants to up the ratings for more viloent games (I would argue bringing them more in line with their European equivalent ratings) what exactly is the problem here?

    Andrew, you say that he's not trying to implement a ratings scheme. What, exactly, is he trying to do then? And what is it that is annoying people so much?

    Oh, and as for Arnie being an idiot, I hardly call five Mr.Universe wins, seven Mr. Olympia wins, being one of Hollywood's most successful stars, and now the governor of California the successes of 'an idiot on steroids'.

  25. Robert Grant

    An idiot?

    Interestingly, Arnie made his first million before the age of 18, not from bodybuilding, but from real estate deals.

    Also I'm British and so don't care about all this Democrat/Republican bickering that seems destined to enter any such discussion, but why are the anti-Republication people posting here all really stupid? I thought they prided themselves on being cleverer than Republicans, and yet they're talking about Arnie banning games or infringing free speech when he's just enforcing a ratings system. Can we please have some clever Democrats (or at least just some normal people who don't have to drag all of that stuff into it) posting here?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This Law != MPAA Rating System.

    First, the disclaimer, I am not a lawyer/solicitor.

    The MPAA's rating system is a voluntary system, as is the ESRB's. Movies can, and often are, released without any rating at all, as are "unrated" versions of many others. Voluntary rating systems are perfectly legal and kosher according to the 1st amendment. The Constitution only provides protection from governmental excess, not corporate policies. Similarly, this is why it isn't censorship (in the "I call free speech on that!" sort of way) when Walmart refuses to sell certain movies, books or games because they disagree with the content.

    The problem with Arnie's scheme is he's attempting to make the expression of certain ideas illegal based on audience. He wants to put the full force of the government of California to the task of limiting what ideas video-game makers can express. While there is some precedent for that, he has to prove, conclusively, that speech of the sort that he would limit has a clearly definable detrimental effect on people and that damage that it causes outweighs the game maker's right to expression. That's a steep hill to climb, and the evidence for video games (or movies or, before that, comics, and before that, books) having such an effect on children just isn't conclusive.

  27. Kjetil

    Re: Now i'm confused

    Well, Dubja made president. I don't think you need to be all that bright to get somewhere in the US. I also don't think you need to be all that clever to win Mr. Universe or Mr. Olympia. As to Hollywood; Tom Cruise and John Travolta. 'Nuff said.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So does that mean that any movie could be release in the US totally unclassified, and a child could legally buy it, even if it were a movie like Hostel?

    If that is the case, do the majority of Americans consider this to be acceptable? Clearly Arnie does not, and I would tend to agree with him on this.

    Could you please explain why what Arnie is suggesting makes the expression of certain ideas illegal? Surely developers are still free to create what they want, it will simply be classified appropriately according to a legal system of certification?

    Please do correct me if I have the wrong end of the stick here.

  29. James


    While participation in the ratings system is voluntary, there are two primary issues involved with using it:

    1) Who Watches the Watchmen?

    The ratings boards are independent organizations that do not need to follow any sort of standards, except what they determine for themselves. What used to get an X movie rating, "The Last Tango in Paris" comes to mind, may now get an R rating ... depending on the board's whim. Similarly, a video game that gets an AO rating could get an M rating, next year ... depending on that board's whim. It's a big part of the movie business to deal with the ratings board, and probably the same for the video game industry, and to modify the content of the film/game to gain the desired rating.

    2) No rating = limited distribution

    Despite the "voluntary" nature of the ratings system, without a rating a movie will have extremely limited distribution options, as almost every major showcase demands a rating. Similarly, video games that are unrated will not be carried by the big distributors. As such, it is usually imperative for a movie or game producer to get their product rated according to their target market simply so their product gets distributed, and makes a return on the investment. DVDs released post-big screen obviously can tap an additional market of fans looking for "extras" that might be found in an unrated version, even though the "unrated" version may only include a couple of scenes that were excluded from the film release for plot or continuity reasons.

    Requiring that certain classes of video games only be sold to people over 18 years of age has never been part of the game industry's structure, unlike in the movie industry where R and X ratings pose similar limitations. This new requirement is what is being fought over, as the game industry seeks to retain their options for releasing whatever the heck they want and forcing parents to become involved, rather than making it a legal requirement enforced by shop owners. Currently, any kid can purchase an AO-rated game without any approval from anyone but the shop owner. If the proposed regulation goes into effect, the shop owners would need to begin "carding" their younger customers who want to buy a restricted game, and they would be subject to legal penalties (fines and possible operating license restrictions) if they didn't conform, just like in a liquor store or with cigarette sales.

  30. Andy Bright

    Parent's decision?

    First he says he wants the decision to buy games made by the parent, then he signs a bill that takes the decision process out of their hands?

    So which is it - have parents decide what's appropriate for the kids to watch and play, or have the government do so?

    As far as I'm concerned governments are already too far in our faces, and need to be smacked back out. Any judge that does this, even if the law he smacks down makes sense to some degree, deserves a fucking medal.

    It's time for people to start paying attention to what all their representatives are up to. Interfering in our private lives is not what these idiots were voted in to do.

    Soon parents will be brought to justice for letting their kids run around - on the basis they might fall over and scrape their knees. You might think I'm taking things too far, but that's already what's happened with daycare facilities. You can't led kids ride motorised 1mph, 18" of the ground vehicles, jump on trampolines, play in more than 2" of water, have a swing set without 4" of gravel or that artificial bouncy crap they have in school playgrounds in the US.

    The list goes on. Everything a kid touches must be pre-washed with bleach, however using antiseptic cream on a cut is not allowed because it's dangerous. You may not use the word "punish", it's called re-direction, and having a misbehaving child stand in the corner for 5 minutes is now cruel and unusual punishment. Apparently parents are no longer allowed to just find a safe place for their kids to stay while they go to work, and with the rules these imbeciles keep inflicting on child care providers, soon there won't be any unless you work 9-5. Daycare centers are the only places that warrant such scrutiny, because most providers should be the equivalent of dropping the kids off at grannies. Why? Because that's a healthy environment for them to grow up in. Not some center where they are bullied, aren't properly fed and aren't taught how to behave.

    You smoke in your home, and you're not allowed to have your grandchildren visit - even if you don't smoke while they're there (that's Anchorage - but I'll expect that one in all states within a few years). You can drive with a latte and a hamburger in each hand thru New Jersey, but a cigarette is too distracting and will result in a fine.

    So like I said, any judge that slaps government back into its place deserves to be lauded - regardless of the law. And its time for people to start informing their elected representatives that if they continue this business of poking their noses into our private lives, they'll be out of job after the next election.

  31. John

    Too much power to the courts

    Why are the courts ruling on these kinds of issues. Surely it's up the the legisalature to make the laws and the courts to interpret, rule on. Not deem if a law is legal or not.

    As for the guy who said Government should get out of peoples' lives, I agree I would leagalise everything including prostitution and drugs however kids DO need to be protected and I don't trust parents to do it - alot of them are kids themselves. And those kids that are badly parented are going to grow up and rob or shoot me.

  32. Robert Grant

    Re: Parent's decision?

    As is obvious, this is not taking power away from parents, but giving it to them. They can still buy the games for their kids (unless the parents are also under-age). All it's doing is stopping the kids getting said games without their parents knowing.

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