Spector's fears for US violent game ruling

Epic Mickey dev concerned games might be denied first amendment protection

Junction Point boss Warren Spector has highlighted the need for the games industry to battle political efforts to bar the sales and rental of adult-themed videogames to perceived minors.

"November 2nd could be the start of a timeline where we're the first entertainment medium denied first amendment protection," the Deus Ex and Epic Mickey creator claimed at the PAX conference.

Although the motion from assorted states, including Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenneger, has previously been denied, a further Supreme Court ruling is due in November.

11 states are believed to be pursuing tighter regulation.

Major games industry figures fear that tagging violent titles as adult-only will lead to their removal from store shelves.

Spector claimed that it was important for the games industry and gamers to embrace the mainstream (perhaps referring to his own Mickey Mouse project for Wii) in order to achieve social acceptance and become "an art form worthy of study."

"We spent 20 years trying to convince people that we were cooltrying to show them just how cool games were ... and we won," he claimed of traditional gamers and fellow developers.

"But we need to get past not wanting to let other people in the club. We won, and we feel bad about it."

Despite this, he felt gaming was moving into something of a golden age. "When your grandmother and little sister are playing games, it's harder for people to look at it as a way to make political points."

Warren Spector's full PAX keynote may be viewed here.

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Latest comments (5)

James Prendergast Process Specialist 11 years ago
Maybe this would never have been a problem if the ESRB rating system reflected the movie rating systems like is seen elsewhere in the world. AO has a stigma about it (not to mention the games and definitions currently rated under this label) but 18+ doesn't.
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Lee Ward Education 11 years ago
I see this as a bunch of politicians about to be put out for pasture using this as part of their campaign to drum up support. Normally I'd be saying "I'm wondering why parents can't decide for themselves?" but as I work in a school I've found that it's quite shocking the numbers of parents who have a superiority complex, think they know better than the school and it's managers do and spoonfeed their kids like they are incapable of making decisions themselves, getting them out of trouble when they've done wrong and in general being pad parents. That's not to say they're all like that though of course. It's all down to inexperience trying to better the experienced. Since when have politicians ever had any credibility as far as law in IT is concerned?

No wonder we've got things like 4chan and the various hacking communities that have no rules, and they're all taken up by minors: Incompetent parents and even more incompetent politicians.

As per James above, AO reeks, and as Warren has highlighted, it's bad for the industry, especially if retail won't stock AO titles.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lee Ward on 6th September 2010 6:44pm

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Adam Moore Studying Game Simulation and Programming, DeVry University11 years ago
I guess that if parents would regulate their kids game play alittle bit more. For example GTA had a MA rating which was good for that game, yet people like my mother in law were letting children that were 9 to play it. The games have a rating but I do agree that the ESRB ratings are very strict.
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Eric Galaviz Managing Editor, vividgamer.com11 years ago
I agree with James. 18+ doesnt have a stigma attached to it and all this bill would do is fine people who sell games to minors and add a 18 logo on the front. Game companies are supposed to be self regulating right now, which they obviously aren't doing so all this does is make it a little more official by making it a law. The parents can still buy the games for their kids, all this does is help with preventing kids from buying M rated games.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game11 years ago
It can be a bit hard to understand looking at it from the Uk, 18 certification here isn't seen a a stygma in most cases, in fact growing up it was a badge of coolness. But then consumption is different, I understand in parts of the US a lot of games are bought in big dept stores and supermarkets who try to project a family image? Here we buy them in games stores, music stores, and yes supermarkets, but they don't seem to have the same problems, they just treat them like other licenced age controlled goods like alcohol or cigarettes.

From my perspective though, I don't think making sure games made for adults aren't sold to 11 year olds should be seen as a bad thing. It actually gives a better image when some polititian tries to score points about evil game nasties corrupting kids if you can say, "we didn't make these for kids, they shouldn't be able to buy them, and if a parent bought it for a kid, they were warned it may not be suitable".

It also should allow for more freedom if you can make an adult themed game without having to answer to the charge of putting the content in a childs hand. It puts more onus on the parent or shop keeper to make sure they are acting responsibly rather than the creators.

But like I said, I appreciate I come from a different cultural perspective.
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