Will the Supreme Court restrict violent videogames for minors?

What red-blooded American boy doesn’t remember the first time he picked up a prostitute, paid her money to refill his health meter, and then promptly ran her over to get the money back? Well, watch out, under-17 Grand Theft Auto fans: In what we can all agree is a clear step towards Mussolini-esque socio-fascism, Variety reports that the Supreme Court will hear arguments starting on Nov. 2 regarding California’s ban on selling violent videogames to minors. Censorship! Social engineering! Funkillers!

In all honesty, even though I’m a videogame megafan and a noble anti-censorship crusader, it’s hard not to see the positive side of the ban. Videogames have never looked more realistic, and some franchises have wrung gory black comedy from ever-increasing levels of violence. Consider God of War III — after you defeat the god Helios in a boss battle, you rip off his head and carry it around for the rest of the game as a lantern.

Now,  in context, it’s absolutely hilarious…but I would imagine a 12-year-old wouldn’t necessarily get the joke. Remember after Fight Club came out, when all the meathead teenagers started their own clubs? Clearly, they did not grasp the satire. Anyways, it’s not as if kids won’t get to play the games. They’ll just have to ask their parents to buy them. (Or they’ll bribe a hobo. But let’s face it: There’s no defense against the decoy hobo.)

And yet, if I may play Devil’s Advocate for a second, if the ban were deemed constitutional, I’d be willing to bet that we’d see something similar to the PG-13ization of Hollywood. There would still be violent videogames, but the action would be bloodless. Frankly, I find the notion of kids playing shooting games where no one bleeds incredibly terrifying. Violent videogames can be disturbing, but sometimes — as in Modern Warfare 2‘s “No Russians” level– they’re disturbing in the right way.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Is California’s ban any different from an R rating? Do violent videogames incite violence, or do they give human beings a healthy outlet for violent thoughts? And seriously, were those kids who started Fight Clubs totally stupid, or what?

Comments (30 total) Add your comment
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  • Kat

    Why do we need the government to be parents to our children? I’m perfectly capable of monitoring my son’s videogames. I don’t need the nanny state to do it for me.

    • Jane

      You might be able to, but others might not.

      • Kat

        Not my problem. Those type of people shouldn’t be parents anyways, so I think video games are the least of their worries. Don’t you?

      • Scytherius

        So I gotta put up with the state regulating my parenting like this because some people are too stupid to raise their own kids? Hell no.

      • a different Kat

        I’m not saying I agree with all this regulation (I like to think things over for a long time and I haven’t really given this as much thought as I’d like yet), but I want to pose a question here. Just for argument’s sake. Couldn’t you make the argument that it IS your problem when other people can’t raise their kids right, because those kids are more likely to grow up to commit crimes that may directly affect (and hurt) you or your family? Would you rather trust everyone to raise their kids right, knowing that many people are in fact doing a terrible job and that it may eventually come back to haunt you, or would you rather allow the government to interfere and do some of the parenting for you and everyone else in the hope that future violence against the community is prevented? Not to sound like a high school government teacher, but… it’s a legitimately tough question. Sure, video games may be the least of certain parents’ problems – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not an important problem to address.

      • a different Kat

        Having said that, I have to add that I grew up watching my dad play the early first-person shooters like Wolfenstein and Doom. It was violent, and there were blood splatters and so on, but I am not even slightly violent or aggressive as a person now, and real life guns completely terrify me to the point that I never want to even touch one or allow one in my house. So I do think it depends on the individual kid more so than the violence of the game…but maybe there’s value in limiting all children’s access in order to limit the sociopathic kids’ access. Maybe?

      • Kat

        @a different Kat, I understand your point. But do you honestly think the Government is capable of parenting anyone? Videogames do not make violent people, I don’t care what studies they do. I would bet you alot of money, that if they actually look at the homelife of their subjects their is more going on there than God of War. We are not going to get people to be better parents just because the government passes some ignorant laws. People need to quit looking at their children as burdens, and look at them as God given blessings. Maybe then, the kids will quit growing up to monsters.

      • culade

        @a different Kat, like Kat said, violent video games do not make violent people and if a kid has problems, hiding games from them won’t help as much as you’re suggesting. it would take more effort than just restricting a medium to fix that kid’s life. educating the kid’s parents on proper care or finding better people to raise the child would be much more beneficial. attacking this fairly new medium comes off as a quick and lazy way to address these kinds of issues, and it’s a waste of money.

    • Nicole

      ok. So I totally agree with you. It should be up to the parents. I don’t think they should ban these kinds of things because I don’t think the government should be involved at all, but…. Kids do stuff their parents don’t know about all the time. And maybe your family’s different, but every mother I ever talked to had no idea what her sons were playing/watching at their seemingly nice friends house or even right upstairs… I’m just saying that it happens and it always will.

  • Michael

    effectively this is a bunch of politicians who’ve never played a video game in their life treating games like they’re a pornographic media. I’m not a fan.

    • Mac

      So then why not let kids buy any video games they want, including the pornographic ones? Is it okay for the Feds to censor some categories, but not others? Why then not violence?

      • ChronicLurker

        I’d like you to try sending a seven-year-old (your own, preferably) into the bookstore to buy Night by Elie Wiesel or Devil in the White City or Lolita. The government already does censor some categories and not others.

    • The Jackal

      So them watching something natural like sex is bad, but watching someone brutally massacre others is ok. Makes sense.

  • jordan

    what i dont get is that videogames arent that different from movie entertainment, and everyone knows how violent movies are, but the only reason these idiots are getting upset is because videogames of the console generation are new and are considered immature and vile. Plus none of these people probably have ever played a videogame in their lives so what are they to do judge for?

    • The Devil

      Actually, if you’re going to compare videogames to movies – movies also contain a rating system.

      • EvilCornbread

        Right, and games have ratings too (though they’re stupidly biased, any PG-13-equivalent content results in the highest non-porn rating of M).

        But the point is that it’s not _illegal_ to go to an R-rated movie. It’s a voluntary system. And I don’t like the idea of a board of people, in this case the ESRB, deciding what is and isn’t illegal.

      • The Devil

        Movies- still need parental supervision for Rs.

  • Scytherius

    I can handle my own kids thank you very much. Government stay the HELL out of parenting. You’ve got other problems with which to deal.

    • Mike

      Yea, take that evil government. Let me feed my kids into a diabetic coma. Let them smoke Mary Jane’s and drink Jaeger Bombs!

    • The Jackal

      Yeah, because kids are stupid and always do what parents tell them to do. What do you think he is doing at Timmy’s house?

      • Dan JD

        Then maybe you should take that up with Timmy’s parents, who apparently let their son buy those games in the first place?

  • Mike

    This is no different than stopping kids from seeing rated R movies. Where the hell have you been the last 25 years. Oh yea, overbreeding.

    • The Jackal

      Exactly. Hey government, don’t tell me how to raise my kids. Now where is my welfare check and foodstamps?

    • Dan JD

      Since when does anyone stop kids from seeing R-rated movies, though? People brought children to Watchmen. And even sans adults, I’ve seen plenty of teens get into R-rated movies. Heck, I got into one as a teen with no problems and I was a shrimp who regularly got mistaken for a middle schooler senior year of high school.

  • Derek

    You may be a responsible parent but the sad truth is that many are far from it, and I think there definitely needs to be SOMETHING to discourage kids playing ultra-violent videogames (trust me, over hearing a 3rd grader talk about how many cops he killed last night is not a good thing). However, what exactly is this gonna do? Kids aren’t supposed to be able to buy Mature games anyway…

  • praptomowow

    I’m a fan of GTA itself..
    But I think that many of us should start about to carry our kids into the good things…

    Visit my blog at
    learninginteresting.blogspot.com

  • Happy Go Lucky

    Most retail stores won’t sell games to minors anyway so I doubt this will really change things.

  • The Jackal

    All you loving, caring parents who are worried that there kids can’t play the latest violent video game can still go out and buy it for them, they are not regulating who can play it, just who can buy it, you know like they do with alcohol or cigarettes, but maybe we should lift the age ban on those also, don’t want the government involved in that kind of stuff do we?

  • ShotgunShogun

    Well seeing as how I’m old enough to do anything now, I really don’t care.

    • Suraj

      @shotgunshogun
      you should though. I just turned 18 this month, but the problem is, developers want money, so if they cant sell to a certain group of people theyre gonna make sure that their games will satisfy the criteria so that their games will be available for everybody. This is going to compromise new features and innovation in a lot of gams.

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