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Kotick: Schwarzenegger law "beyond absurd"

Tue 21 Sep 2010 12:41pm GMT / 8:41am EDT / 5:41am PDT
Politics

Activision Blizzard joins coalition to battle violent games ban

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Publisher Activision Blizzard has brought its significant weight to bear on the forthcoming Supreme Court judgement concerning a proposed ban on the sale of violent games to minors.

It is thought that the ban would lead to the withdrawal of adult-rated titles from a number of major US retailers, while games industry figures have argued that it would be a violation of First Amendment stipulations concerning free speech.

Activision Blizzard has filed the 27th amicus brief requesting that the Supreme Court does not rule in favour of California's proposed statute in the case of Schwarzenegger vs the Electronic Merchants Association.

Said boss Bobby Kotick "Our First Amendment has survived intact for 219 years amid far greater technological, historical and social challenges.

"The argument that video games present some kind of new ominous threat that requires a wholesale reassessment of one of our nation's most treasured freedoms and to take that freedom away indiscriminately from an entire group of our population based on nothing but age is beyond absurd.

"These are the same attacks Americans have witnessed against every previous emerging entertainment medium and genre including books, comics, rock 'roll, movies, TV and the Internet. In each case, freedom prevailed.

Kotick went on to argue that California was "wasting taxpayers' money", and would have better spent its effort on raising parental awareness of games' existing rating system in the US. He also pointed out that the games industry provided thousands of jobs to California.

Added Activision Blizzard EVP George Rose, "Some proponents say they want to act on behalf of parents when all this law will do is swap a self-regulatory program the federal government itself has shown is extremely successful with a taxpayer-funded bureaucracy the state can't afford and attempt to enforce rules that are vague and impossible to comprehend.

"At a time when our schools are out of money, child care centers are closing and health clinics are unfunded, how is that exercise of common sense? Law enforcement time is more productively spent on our streets and highways eradicating real crime, not patrolling check-out lines at our neighborhood stores."

Yesterday, the Entertainment Software Association announced support from 182 expert bodies in battling Schwarzengger, including the US Chamber of Commerce and the Motion Picture Association Of America.

29 Comments

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

814 644 0.8
First time I agree with Kotick in quite a while, not the first time though.

"Acting on behalf of the parents". That is not the tank of a government of the free world; the parents must be the ones taking care of educating and watching what they children buy/shell, even if they are "ok" with a child playing God of War, for example.

They also say that a parent can be 100% with it's child watching what he does or how he spends it's free time. Well I'm sorry; but I believe that is exactly his duty. Is it hard? I guess it is... but if you are not up for the "challenge" maybe you should think twice about how much of a capable parent you will be.

Just my opinion, of course.

Posted:4 years ago

#1
The Electronic Software Association's Essential Facts for 2010 says that parents are present 93% of the time video games are purchased or rented, 64% of parents believe video games represent a positive aspect of their childrens' lives, and 86% of the time children get permission from their parents before purchasing a game. To me, it would seem that if parents are willing to let the government step in and raise their children, then they are showing an unwillingness to take responsibility to for their child. It would seem that some parents today don't want to raise their children. That is where this whole problem stems from.

If complacency wasn't so embedded in the American culture, perhaps these types of situations wouldn't arise. However, until people stand up for what they believe and take responsibility for their actions, this will continue to happen. It's sad that a country supposedly based on freedom is constantly facing someone trying to take freedoms away.

What I would like to know is how Schwarzenegger has been "affected" by violent video games. I anticipate an answer vague enough to be attributable to a variety of situations that aren't even remotely related. I would love to see the statistics that definitely prove a direct causal link between video games and violence in children. I guarantee it can't be done.

Posted:4 years ago

#2
Without addressing anything serious or obvious topic of freedom, Schwarzenegger is a man who made his name using the appeal of simulated action and violence right?

Posted:4 years ago

#3

Terence Gage
Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
@ Joshua

And serious comedy too -- don't forget about Junior and Twins!!

Posted:4 years ago

#4

Temi
Web design

48 9 0.2
Making fame off that doesn't mean he has to be ok with letting kids partake. The first question to ask is "Should kids be allowed to play these games?" If no, then the next is how do we stop them. The law is not particularly evil as its aim is right IMO.

Kotick is saying all this just to protect his business. Ignore the troll

From the bottom quote alone, would you not agree with the law? I thought these games couldn't be sold to kids in the states already though.
"forthcoming Supreme Court judgement concerning a proposed ban on the sale of violent games to minors."

"It is thought that the ban would lead to the withdrawal of adult-rated titles from a number of major US retailers,"

are they sure that will happen?

Posted:4 years ago

#5

Radu Ciu
Product Manager

21 0 0.0
@Temi There is a rating system already in place. Ignoring it and banning salling "violent games" is like using a sledgehammer to open nuts, someone is bound to get hurt.

And i agree with Kotick here if selling violent games is banned when can we expect the same for :music, anime,television, internet, books, newspapers... take your pick.

Posted:4 years ago

#6

Pete Thompson
Owner / Admin

177 101 0.6
I dont really get this, If a game has an age restriction on it then surely any decent respectable parent would adhere to that restriction.. Im all for it, It will mean less bitching and gobbing off in games lobbys from kids who shouldnt legally (By age restriction) be able to play the game.. I honestly dont see the point in having an age restriction if parents let their little cherub of 10 play an 18 rated game, They'll be going out and renting porno's or buying smokes for them next..

And we all know that theres no way a parent will sit and watch his/her kid play the likes of MW2, If they do and they allow them to behave the way they do online then shame on them..

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 21st September 2010 4:36pm

Posted:4 years ago

#7

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@Temi tried to send you a PM to give my thoughts on the problems in the US market but you're set to refuse them... :)

Posted:4 years ago

#8

Temi
Web design

48 9 0.2
@James Prendergast oh sorry. Changed it.

@Radu Ciu

I wish the article had linked to details of the law. It could be something like "selling alcohol or cigarettes to minors will land your store in trouble" and not a matter of removing the items from the store completely. Of course, parents would still be able to buy it for their kids and you can't stop that. The best step is to make it a law that stores can't sell them directly to minors.

Posted:4 years ago

#9

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@ Temi, Heh, either the GI.biz networking component is broken (because i can't add you to my contact list or send you a PM - if it has been enabled).... or the really great restrictions on me because i'm 'not part of the industry club' are stopping me from interacting with the people who are. i.e. I'm registered under a student account.

[edit] Yeah, i'm completely restricted to only interacting with other students. I just didn't want to burden this thread with useless personal comments that are only marginally relating to the post in question.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 21st September 2010 5:45pm

Posted:4 years ago

#10

John Donnelly
Quality Assurance

313 38 0.1
As other people have stated that other countries have laws that restrict the selling of content like music, games and films/movies to children just look at the UK for example.

The issue is this law singles out games and nothing else that is why it needs to be shot down.

I am not against a law but it has to be fair to the content makers and adult gamers.
Last time I seen a study the average age of a gamer was now in the late 20's so there is no reason why we cant have the types of content that we are enjoying today.

The one thing that susprises me is why the state is trying to bring in this law when there are a large number of game related lobs in both LA and Frisco.

Posted:4 years ago

#11

Patrick Williams
Medicine and Research

93 61 0.7
Beyond the conflict of interest where their games are played by millions of irritating teenagers, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Posted:4 years ago

#12

Lewis Marriott
Functionality QA Tester

10 0 0.0
@Temi

Walmart sell a lot of censored versions of CDs in the USA, and in the past have refused to sell certain albums until they have been censored. They sell more music CDs than any other store in the US. Go figure :-)

Posted:4 years ago

#13

Chris Nash
QA Engineer

47 23 0.5
Good point - Wal-Mart also refuse to stock AO rated games (equivalent to BBFC 18-rated, or so I'm told), putting further pressure on devs to reduce the violent/sexy content of their games. Where are the thousands of angry people, complaining about how Wal-Mart violates their 1st Amendment rights? Are they only deployed for high-profile media cases like this?

Posted:4 years ago

#14
i would just like to compliment everyone who has posted so far for keeping this a friendly intelligent conversation instead of throwing around F bombs and insults like a bunch of children. Too many times "fan boys" turn these types of conversations into mud slinging because they get overly sensitive or aggressive, all that does is distract from the real content of the topic at hand.. Again thank you, it has been great to read this discussion!

Posted:4 years ago

#15

Carl Muller
Programmer

10 0 0.0
From a practical point of view, it is a bit of a pain if every town, county and state in the USA passes their own different version of the law with their own ratings organisation (or as that law is now sets it to "whoever the local judge is at the time") instead of accepting the current national organisation that gives age ratings to games. The definition "(A)(ii) It is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors." could vary from area to area even within California!

The UK law by contrast nominates an national organisation that rates violent games (BBFC) so it is at least practical (although possibly expensive for "indy" releases, since they charge for ratings).

It is hard to tell what the exact law is, but the one that got rejected by the supreme court a while ago seems to be one that started off allowing injections to diabetic children be made by foster parents if they have training. AB 1179

It says that violent games must have a 2 inch * 2 inch "18" written in white on black. I suppose that could be a sticker put on by the retailer.

Posted:4 years ago

#16
compelling argument made by bobby i fully agree with wat he has to say

Posted:4 years ago

#17

Jamie Watson
Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment

179 0 0.0
one of the good points made by Kotick in quite a while but i fully support what he is saying.Now if only someone could do the same think to austrilia (were im from) so that we can get a R18 rating....

Posted:4 years ago

#18
OK maybe I'm not understanding this correctly. Being British not entirely sure what the US system is. In contrast over here we have (for now) 2 systems, PEGI which rates games, but there are for advice only and can be ignored by retailers, and the BBFC which rates only violent games, and again it's only for submittal from the publisher (but usually if someone doesn't submit it won't get sold)

As of feb (i think) next year the entire PEGI system takes over from BBFC and becomes law, so it will be illegal to sell a 16+ game to anyone under 16, same with the other ratings 3+, 7+, 12+ 16+ 18+.

is this the system Arnie is trying to get in to law, do the americans have a system akin to what we have now, and Arnie is trying to get it to what we will have in February?

because as someone who works in retail (PT) i hate it when i refuse a kid a sale of a game, only for mum to come along and buy it. Of course it will be the same mum who says games are evil and should be banned when little timmy hits a girl in the playground...or something.

proper rating system enforced by law = good.
banning games from sale = bad.

Posted:4 years ago

#19

Pierre Vandenbroucke
Assistant de production

47 0 0.0
I'm in favor of the law on 1 condition. Reviewing completely the rating sustem. I feel like games are rated way harder than movies are.

Few examples (these examples refer to PEGI and French TV rating organisation)

CSI the Xbox 360 videogame : 16+.
In both, you will see blood, violence, sometimes bad languages, use of drugs or alcohol. But is there a big difference between the show and the game? Some people argue that in games, the fact you're taking part in the action is more dangerous...

Another example.
Deadwood (sex, violence and alcohol in a western themed world.) : 10+
Red Dead Redemption(violence and alcohol ref in a western themed world. any sex ref?) 18+.

Why can a 11 years old boy watch deadwood and CSI but not play CSI or RDR?
What are the ratings for Deadwood and CSI in the US/UK?

Posted:4 years ago

#20

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@ Pierre - Deadwood is rated 15 or 18 - depending on the episode.
[link url=http://www.bbfc.co.uk/search?searchwhere=db&q=deadwood
]http://www.bbfc.co.uk/search?searchwhere...[/link]
Red Dead Redemption is 18.

CSI is equivalent or lower than most of the DVD series at a rating of 15.
[link url=http://www.bbfc.co.uk/search?searchwhere=db&q=CSI
]http://www.bbfc.co.uk/search?searchwhere...[/link]

As far as i'm aware, the BBFC have done an excellent job in keeping film and game ratings essentially equal compared to other countries and systems. One reason for this is that the systems are basically identical - both of them are exclusion-based. Another reason is that the ratings system works within the social/moral boundaries of the country it is in: Retailers do not refuse to stock 18+ rated films, TV works or Games as they are not equated with morally wrong or pornographic representation under this rating and as such the rating system is fully functional.

I can't speak for all other countries as i am only most familiar with the UK/US systems.

More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_ratings.

Posted:4 years ago

#21

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

952 180 0.2
And here's Arnie guest starring in Expendables speaking, haha.

Posted:4 years ago

#22

Temi
Web design

48 9 0.2
Expendables is not meant for kids so no problem there.

I am pretty sure kotick wants these games in the hands of kids for his sales numbers, so don't agree with him all the way just yet. He has his reasons behind what he is saying and you can't ignore the Bias.

Posted:4 years ago

#23

Michael O'callaghan
Studying MA Computer Games Art (Character)

6 0 0.0
A system that makes parents aware of ratings and an infrastructure to help prevent retailers from selling games outside the right age group is fine. I have a part time job at GAME (for those who don't know its the UK's leading games retailer) and we have strict rules about who to sale games rate 12 or above similar to any shop owner would have in the sale of cigarettes or alcohol. if we do sale to a person below the rated age we could get a large fine, be instantly sacked an in extreme cases be prosecuted (I believe it can involve jail time though I cant quite remember) in any case suggesting that they shouldn't be sold at all is definitely extreme, hell if were concerned with selling potentially dangerous things cigarettes kill and alcohol undoubtedly has a direct link with violence and crime but I don't hear anyone suggesting to take them of the shops...

Posted:4 years ago

#24

Shane Sweeney
Academic

366 292 0.8
If American wants to enforce the sale of Video Games based on there countries own ratings standards like almost every other Western nation does, I have no issue.

What I do have issue is that they single out video games and not apply the same rule to Cinema or Music.

Posted:4 years ago

#25
Don't Republicans have anything better to do than waste taxpayer money trying to limit peoples' rights? Lord, we have an economy to save and Schwartzie just wants to play god.

Posted:4 years ago

#26
I'm in favor of the general spirit of the law (prevent violent games from getting into the hands of minors), but the specifics are troubling. For one, the law proposes a new ratings system independent of the ESRB. The language contained in this proposal is eerily (and troublingly) similar to the language in the obscenity laws. It is vague, subjective, and could be used to cover everything from Mario titles to true hack 'n' slash games like God of War. That's my biggest problem: that, unlike legislation regarding movies and music, the law is not based on the pre-existing (and remarkably effective) self-regulatory ratings system.

Posted:4 years ago

#27

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

814 644 0.8
Let it be known; this guy is A FRAUD!.

While he is supporting the anti-ban group, his company has blocked EVERY IMPORT OF BLACK OPS FROM THE EU to Germany. The reason?; forcing us to buy the ultra-censored German version. Not only this is Hypocrite, but also goes against EU's free market laws.

Is this the way you "Love Games" Kotick?, is this how you treat your customers? by adding to Germany a extra level of restriction? (one that, in particular, was deemed unconstitutional here 5 months ago).

I take back what I said in my first comment; let it be replaced with Tim Schafer's opinion about this guy.

Posted:3 years ago

#28

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

451 162 0.4
Alfonso, if he did that doesn't that make him a pro-censorship guy? I'll reserve my judgment for your scenario until I see some info on it but surely if a pro-censorship guys ia against this kind of censorship that sound be more han enough.

Kids are way more mature than we think anyway, I remember the golden days of ELSPA when I could go to some stores and but 12 and 15 rated games at the age of 10. Even two years ago I was in the line for the release of GTA4 with fake ID, and any mother would agree that a 15 year old is pretty much mature enough to see anything you would get in games. So a review of the systems in place is way overdue, at the age of 15 everyone has already seen plenty of blood from daytime TV to have themselves disallowed from playing a game with it in.

Posted:3 years ago

#29

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