back to article Parents back legal ban of violent vidgames sales to kids

The war between the video games industry and critics who think that playing violent games are harmful to children moves to the US Supreme Court in November. The games industry may well be in a minority, if a recent survey conducted for a pressure group called Common Sense Media is representative of the public at large. …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. davefb
    Thumb Down

    and no doubt

    when asked, 78% of the parents said they let little johnny play 'grand theft call of duty'...

    Then smacked them across the head for swearing ..

  2. Anonymous Coward


    or maybe the parents could, you know, parenticise their offspring

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      That's so, so....


      Be progressive. Create another law!

  3. Colin Miller

    Movies vs. games

    If movies have legally enforceable age restrictions on their sale, why shouldn't video games?

    1. Galidron

      They don't

      At least in the US there are no laws restricting movie sales by age, it is done through self-regulation by theaters and stores.

      1. Tom 13

        @galidron: No it can be enforced by law, just like you can't serve booze to a minor.

        If a movie theater lets someone under the age in without a parent or guardian for a movie which has been rated, they can be prosecuted under the law. The cops just treat the offense as more akin to jaywalking than mugging: more of PITA to file the paperwork than anything else, so unless a parent makes a stink about it, something to be avoided.

        What is voluntary, is the ratings assignment in the first place, which is run by a non-governmental agency.

  4. A J Stiles

    Simple answer

    Rights are for adults. Since the law would be banning the sales of games to *children*, I don't see what the problem is.

    Still, it all goes to show just what you can get by asking the right loaded question.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well if you don't need additional laws for Films then why should games be any different?

    Anyway it's almost always a parent that buys a kid under 18 a game anyway due to the cost.

  6. sabroni Silver badge

    I don't get it

    Neither side wants AO or M rated videogames sold to children. Neither side is saying that Parent's shouldn't be allowed to decide what their children play. So why are the ESA so opposed to a law that bans the sale of these games to kids?

    Maybe they're some kind of lawyers charity, 'cos the money they're pissing away fighting this is going to make someone rich....

    1. Graham Marsden

      You're right, you don't get it.

      The point is that the ESA wants parents to be *responsible* for what their children do and buy and play, not the State or the retail industry.

      1. sabroni Silver badge


        how does a law banning sale to minors stop parents taking responsibility? You want shops to be able to sell these products to kids so the parents can then intervene and say "No"? Yeah, that'd be easy because I never let my kids out of my sight and don't let them have any money....

        I'm sorry but your explanation doesn't really help explain. Why is it a good idea to allow shops to sell adult rated games to kids?

        So presumably murder should be legal then, so people can take responsibility for not doing that themselves....

        1. Graham Marsden

          Again you don't get it.

          You ask "Why is it a good idea to allow shops to sell adult rated games to kids?" when what you should be asking is "Why is it a good idea to have a law forbidding shops to sell adult rated games to kids?" with the concommitant legal penalties etc that such a law would include.

          And pardon me if I don't waste my time addressing your silly "murder should be legal" Straw Man argument.

    2. Galidron

      Problems with the law

      1. This law only covers video games. Why aren't movies, books, or other media included if this is so difficult to control? Books don't even have a rating system and can be very graphic, but no one seems worried about that.

      2. All consoles now have parental control systems that can be used to prevent you're kid from playing these kind of games. This would work if they have purchased the game on their own or borrowed it from a friend, but obviously not if they went to a friends house to play it. If you are worried about computer games, you shouldn't let your kids have an admin account on the computer, but most parents probably don't know how to do that.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do you like sweets?

    What has freedom of speech got to do with it? The issue isn't a ban, so it's no different from having an age limit for driving, drinking, voting, sex, or running for president.

    You might as well point out that when asked if they'd like some free money 100% said "yes".

    Pack of morons.

    1. Pablo

      What has freedom of speech got to do with it?

      Video games, just like movies, are "speech" (expression), that's what. Were you perhaps under the impression that only adults had rights? Or that there was any evidence that violent video games were actually dangerous, like drinking, driving, and sex are? (Voting, unlike speech, is only guaranteed to adults in the constitution.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Say "no" to ancestor-worship

        "Video games, just like movies, are "speech" (expression), that's what. Were you perhaps under the impression that only adults had rights?"

        I was under the impression that only adults should be treated as adults and that children's lower levels of experience and understanding should be protected and respected.

        I'm also under the impression that in a democracy we all have whatever rights we agree that we have. If you don't like it, go live in China and stop hiding behind some arse-wipe of a constitution written by a bunch of drunkards, criminals, slave-owners, traitors, and spoilt little rich kids 200+ years ago.

  8. John Riddoch

    What do they really want?

    "72 per cent back laws to ban the sale of ultra-violent or sexually violent video games without parental consent"

    I suspect most of that 72% just want something to stop their children buying 18/M rated games from shops; the ESA ratings would seem to meet that requirement. As ESA say, I don't see any reason to treat computer games differently from movies.

  9. Mike Hanna

    It's the games wot dun it!

    It's always some other reason that little Chad / Chastity goes on a killing spree. Games, pornography, movies. It's never the parents' fault.

    Assuming a similar grading is imposed in the US that we enjoy here in the UK (15 & 18 rated games), how about these questions:-

    "Should stores who sell adult rated games to minors be presecuted?"

    "Should parents who purchase adult rated games for minors be prosecuted?"

  10. Guido Esperanto

    I thought it was illegal already

    Could somebody please tell me how this legislation is going to stop Mrs Brown buying her child "smashthatfacein III" just to shut him up?

    If it doesnt, then surely the legislation changes NOTHING

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    legal both ways?

    as @ Mike Hanna said, if these parents want a legally enforcable restriction on selling games to minors then would they advocate the same responsibility, similar to alcohol where a parent giving a minor alcohol is charged with something (aren't they?).... so the same should be the case for a parent buying a 10 year old something 18 rated.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A couple of points

    First, the two questions asked are not actually opposites. It is possible to believe in free speech for video games, but still believe that a segment of the population should be exempted from the message given. We commonly expect the same from books, movies and music, so adding video games into this collection seems to be a natural choice as well. AFAIK, the only time this is ever invoked by more than a couple of vocal nitwits is on the topics of nudity and violence. Everything else we accept should be available to everyone, even though we expect that some people may not be able to comprehend the concepts being presented.

    Second, the US isn't very good at informing their citizens about legal restrictions. You generally hear about them through word of mouth, the mass media, or when the cops pick you up for doing something you didn't know was illegal. The difference between stores prohibiting minors from purchasing adult games and a law restricting is liable to get missed by most people. Thus, a lot of people are just going to assume that if there isn't a law restricting it, then any five year old can walk in and buy those games (after stealing mommy's credit card, of course.)

  13. Clarissa

    Or in other words...

    72% of parents want the state to do their job for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stock response #87

      "72% of parents want the state to do their job for them."

      Well, I suppose children should spend 18 years physically strapped to one or other parent. But until that happens, I guess we'll have to make do with there being democratically-agreed rules about what other people are allowed to do to children that have managed to escape their 24-hour surveillance systems.

  14. Pablo

    Nuances? Not so much.

    Actually, there's a pretty big difference between a voluntary rating system and a mandatory one. For on thing, if it was a law, it would most likely apply to every stupid little iPhone game, and maybe even free games on the internet. Getting these rated would be prohibitively expensive. Most likely the law would end up being ignored in those cases anyway, but any law that's unenforceable shouldn't be made in the first place.

    Currently, nobody is obliged to get their game rated if they don't want to. Of course most retail stores won't sell it if they don't. (Which is kind of ironic given the popularity of unrated cuts of movies around here.) But there is likewise no law that retail stores have to obey the ratings either, most of them do anyway for the sake of their family-friendly image.

    Another difference is that when a system is voluntary they can't do like Australia and "refuse classification" to certain media, thereby banning it without actually having to use the B word.

    Finally, this law in particular had some even more problematic aspects. For one thing it piggy-backed legal power onto the ratings from the existing private rating organization. It shouldn't be to hard to figure out why that's not a great idea. Also, it required a giant "18+" warning on games considered "patently offensive to children" without even attempting to explain what that means. This would almost certainly have a severe chilling effect.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outcome not the same

    "The nuances of this argument are a little hard to grasp, since the outcome is the same.."

    I beg to differ, the outcome is not the same.

    The law in question seeks to criminalise the sale of 'ultra-violent or sexually violent video games' to minors, not games rated M or AO. This means that a violent game that is none the less rated T for whatever reason would still be illegal to sell to minors even though it is rated as suitable for teenagers.

    If you are reluctant to believe a violent video game can be rated T there are many examples, Final Fantasy XI, Quake Live to name but two. Both are quite violent games, in the case of quake very much violent, both rated T.

    This distinction is hugely significant. Some retailers don't carry AO titles just because they are AO. Similarly they would not carry anything that is illegal to sell to minors, regardless of actual content or rating.

  16. Peter H. Coffin

    What's the difference between voluntary and compulsory?

    Simple: with the an industry-wide voluntary ratings system and corresponding voluntary policies on the part of the retailers, then the simple fact that if someone screws up and sells a game to a kid with a fake ID, then no one gets fined, no one goes to court, no one gets sued, and no one wins an election "cracking down on crime" by harassing merchants. Free speech never enters into the discussion with regard to a voluntary system either, as there is no *governmental* interference. However, the instant the government, which *can* fine and send people to jail steps in, it's a whole different set of conditions and there's a whole different set of laws governing whether or not it's permitted in the first place. Even if the stated goal is exactly the same.

    1. Galidron
      Thumb Up


      Most of the people who would be busted for doing this would likely be teens, at least in the area I live most people working retail in Wal-Mart are people who couldn't buy the games.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    a little bit of everything

    I don't think that a little bit of the violent games will turn a kid into Manson (pick whichever one you want), then again some games contain *subjects* that are inappropriate for kids even sans-violence.

    So i'll just throw the obvious out there and grab my coat: Parenting (you know, actually *raising* your kids right) is the key. The problem is that in (perhaps too) many cases, parents are woefully ignorant of what they're kids are up to (and sometimes couldn't even be bothered).

    Oh! And btw, if you want to actually learn something about the games your kids are playing, taking all your cues from people who don't know shit squat on the subject is no way to go (i.e. the complete tards on the news, or the cretins on the panicky soccer mom forums, etc.).


    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Spot on.

      Good parenting is the key.

      This is a bit like the pr0N issue to some degree but not completely - I say this because i share no illusions in the likelihood of my children growing up never to be exposed to pr0n during their 'formative' ears.

      Do remember why we human beings relish in violence though. If we were but passive meek animals we would not be the dominant 'mammalian' life form that we are now. Arguably much bad comes from this.

      I would certainly supervise what my child would play. But I would actually make sure he understood the difference between what is acceptable in a game and in real life. Hell, I am waiting for the day the motor skills are up to a decent COD fragfest. Or some light sparring IRL.

      I would like him to understand why violence is abhorrent. Conversely why violence is important to understand (and to know how and when to predict, avoid and if necessary engage in it and survive).

      What I do really like about games like COD is it just shows you how easily someone can buy it and not how you are some superhuman god.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    You may well ask

    Why did you stop beating your sprog?

    1. mmiied


      cos I got them a game and they stared doing it them selfs

  19. ph0b0s

    Treat the same as Movies

    In the UK games like GTA, Manhunter are treated like movies and are given a movie age certificate i.e 18 certificate. The problem I have with what is being done in the US is that video games are being singled out. If they are going to make a law for video games it should be the same as what is done for movies. I would not want my kids to play Manhunter, but I would by the same amount not want them to watch any of the Saw movies.

    Games are not special, treat them the same as movies and other media.

  20. Tom 13

    And the correct answer is

    78% of Americans think the First Amendment shouldn't protect the sale of ultra-violent video games to minors, and that the SCOTUS members who vote otherwise are twits who in more practical times would have been ridden out of town on a rail.

    1. Charles Manning

      First Amendment... bah!

      The First Amendment is bollocks. It does not really protect anything. Putting it in the constitution just makes the unwashed think they have an enshrined right and thus they don't think about what they're really getting.

      If the First Amendment was working, USA would rate a bit better than 20th on the Press Freedom Index (up from 36th since Obama took office). Sure you can say that's better than China , but surely a country that claims to be leader of the free world would have higher aspirations.

      Apart from obvious cases like not being allowed to shout "Bomb! Bomb!" in an airport there are far more insidious restrictions.

      While the content may not be restricted, the time, place and manner may be restricted. See . Now what kind of fucked up freedom is that?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021