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Misguided senator has shallow complaints about the ESRB in advance of the Supreme Court's impending decision

When it comes to video games and politics, most discussions start and end with the phrase, "Politicians don't understand video games." And that's it. Not a very complete discourse, but politicians are hard at work proving the statement correct as Leland Yee, a Senator from San Francisco, spoke recently about nonexistent problems with the ESRB.

Yee has issue with the fact that the ESRB is paid for by video game publishers. That kind of relationship, he contends, is suspect at best.

"Clearly, they're not going to legitimately and appropriately place any markings on any videogames, because it's in the interest of the video [game] industry to sell as many videogames as possible," said Yee.

Well gee, that logic does seem sound, though we'd never accuse the ESRB of being too lenient. Go on, Senator...

"You never heard of an AO rating whatsoever, because that would limit your market share," opined Yee.

Actually, you do, and publishers almost always adjust their games to receive M ratings, as no major retailer or console manufacturer will distribute AO-rated games. And the ESRB does not always publish AO ratings if the publisher chooses to change the game.

The ESRB is under strict scrutiny from third-party agencies to ensure it operates with fair and unbiased treatment. Yes, it's impossible to crush every instance of bias, but Senator Yee's attitude is merely another cynical jab at the games industry (during an election year, no less) meant to influence the upcoming, potentially-landmark Supreme Court case, Schwarzenegger v. EMA,  which will determine whether a newly passed California law is constitutional. The law would restrict game distribution to minors based on what the government deems objectionable, usurping the industry-established ESRB rating system.

And by the way, Senator, the film industry works the same way as the games industry, and the MPAA bemoans the censorship films suffered before the industry succeeded in self-regulation. So maybe we should go back to submitting films to the government for approval, too? Books even? Oh, we could even burn the ones we don't like! Yeah, that's right, we're not above hyperbole and slippery slope arguments to make our point... we can play this politics game too.

Every single similar case that has gone before the Supreme Court has been struck down, citing First Amendment rights. However, the Court makeup is considerably different now than it was during the last time such a case was heard. The Court will hear an oral argument tomorrow - stay tuned.

[Source: GameSpot]

Nov 01, 2010

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25 comments

  • Sharkbot - November 2, 2010 5:09 p.m.

    These politicians are causing global warming by wasting their breathe. This is basically me trying to tell a rocket scientist he's doin it wrong.
  • mosasayyad - November 2, 2010 6:39 a.m.

    I was really concerned about this, and then i realized I'm Canadian, and I'm not a minor. So it doesn't really matter. if it passes, and you guys are all mad then move up here. we have better chocolate bars.
  • CurryIsGood - November 2, 2010 5:48 a.m.

    I blame Hitler Also end the EsrB and just have no rating because violent games do no make kids violent
  • kneehighsocks - November 2, 2010 3:59 a.m.

    @ twinkletitsMcGee Unfortunately changing the letters to the same system the MPAA uses probably wouldn't do much good, just because video games are a scape goat for politicians. They see it as easy votes from people who think video games are the "Devil", and make their kids kill people. Like my friends parents who wouldn't let him watch Saturday morning cartoons because, and I quote "...they are evil.", and yet they owned Van Helsing on DvD.
  • matt588 - November 2, 2010 3:44 a.m.

    HAH, GR makes learning fun; just got out of a medical industrial distribution class. here's a fun fact: EVERY released drug that kills x00,000 people and gets recalled was approved by the FDA. funny how video game ethics are more scrutinized than drug ethics.
  • twinkletitsMcGee - November 2, 2010 3:04 a.m.

    This guy is fuckng retarded. THey don't make NC-17 movies either because a lot of people wouldn't get in. Would switching to the same letters that movies use help anything?
  • NightCrawler_358 - November 2, 2010 2:13 a.m.

    on a somewhat related note, i think there should be some more ESRB ratings. Theres a pretty defined line between Halo's M and God of War's M. of course I'll play it either way, but that would prevent alot of complaints and stuff.
  • Shenlong4517 - November 2, 2010 1:42 a.m.

    Sigh. Just... Sigh.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - November 2, 2010 12:31 a.m.

    Lol, dumb people.
  • Valcrist - November 1, 2010 11:22 p.m.

    Seriously.... its ppl like this that make me want to facepalm mself hard enough to break my skull. Great article GR guys, wonder if you could submit it or something like that for the hearing tomorrow? BTW, i wanted to ask, what is the game developers stance on this issue? it seems blizzard will be at the hearing, but what about microsoft sony an nintendo?
  • therawski - November 1, 2010 11 p.m.

    By the way, Americans are still dying in the middle east, probably for the oil you used today.
  • therawski - November 1, 2010 10:57 p.m.

    Let's all have a big ol facist bookburning for god and country!!! I was being sarcastic, I'm glad the gamers are a big enough demographic to have a voice in this, but it is the duty of all Americans to know: "First Amendment – Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
  • shadowreaper72 - November 1, 2010 10:48 p.m.

    Why is our country ran by a bunch of dumbasses?
  • ventanger - November 1, 2010 10:22 p.m.

    @mrdurcruft I said that as a call to put a STOP to "party shit", but whatever.
  • TruckThunders - November 1, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    Our government is already in enough debt. Do they really want to add "Rating and regulating video games" to their list of things they don't have time or money to do. Nice article in response to the Senator. Thanks for posting this.
  • 8bitBaby - November 1, 2010 10:08 p.m.

    i wonder if the esrb will take the same path as the cca (comics code authority), and after a few decades just fade away.
  • MrDuracraft - November 1, 2010 9:19 p.m.

    @ventager Let's leave party shit out of this. It is the majority of all politicians, Republican or Democrat. Seriously, the ESRB does a good job of keeping the ratings appropriate for games. They do no worse of a job than the people who rate movies do. But people like Mr. Fucking Lee don't get stuff that's as simple as that.
  • ventanger - November 1, 2010 8:59 p.m.

    Yea, let's make another government agency to rate videogames instead of a regulated industry-run panel. More government, higher deficits, and thousands of more of useless state employees in a useless attempt to protect human beings from their own decisions. Also to note, Leeland Yee is a Democrat. Yep. Not a ground-shattering revelation but another reason why Republicans alone shouldn't be shouldered with the slander that they're always the ones trying to censor things.
  • batmanboy11 - November 1, 2010 8:55 p.m.

    Idiot. I really hope we don't lose the law suits to these tools.
  • RadimirWackytov - November 1, 2010 8:43 p.m.

    They could always just do what almost every other country does and lump movie, TV and game ratings under the same rating system. But then, I supposed you'd have the ultra-liberal, 'free thinking' idiots who'd scream 'FACSISM!' the moment that you suggest that it's government-funded.

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