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Old 26th April, 2002, 03:51 PM
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If you are a gamer, or have ever loved a gamer....

WARNING: The following link does contain some language inappropriate for younger readers. If you do not like seeing inappropriate language, or you are young, and know your parents would not approve of it, do not click on the link.

If you have any interest in games at all, you might wanna click here. I'll post a few relavent tidbits, in the event there are those who heeded my warning above.


"The Intersection of Gaming and Law

Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Chief Justice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, *wants a war*.

And, folks, let's give it to him.

Judge Limbaugh's was the gavel heard 'round the gaming world. On April 19, 2002, his Honor struck a chillingly brutal blow to us - he publicly (and very *unnecessarily*) proclaimed, in a 26 page opinion, that video games *are not* speech. Not that they merely aren't *protected speech*, he ruled that video games, as a matter of *law*, are not "expression" and do not convey a "particularized form of expression". This guy said that any story, speech, expression or idea, conveyed via video game, "is purely inconsequential" and that the story is "totally divorced from [the] purpose of expressing ideas, feelings, or information unrelated to the game itself".

BACKGROUND

The case starts like this. A bunch of county politicians in St. Louis passed an ordinance that essentially regulates games, on a content level, according to the ESRB ratings system. I'm sure their act has nothing to do with any upcoming re-election bid or what have you (*wink*). In typical, knee-jerk, *ignorant* fashion, the county included that their ordinance was motivated by the fact that, "exposure of children to ...violence contained in some video games has been correlated to violent behavior, and in fact the perpetrators of recent school shootings in Columbine, Colorado; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Paducah, Kentucky were reported to be avid fans of such video games..." Well, how noble of them to let these scumbag bad apples ruin it for the bunch. How ignorant can ya be?

In any event, the law says that anyone who allows a sub-17 kid (for our purposes today, let's call them "minors") to play a mature game in their arcade, or sells them a mature game in their shop, or rents them a mature game in their local Blockbuster is, well, *busted* unless a parent has given approval is some form. They have essentially codified the ESRB by local rule. All this little law does is say "OK, kid, one of your parents has to be here and say you can play this evil, violent video game".

The Interactive Digital Software Association (hereinafter "IDSA") took the county to court, rightfully saying that games are free speech and are entitled to First Amendment protection. They argued that the ordinance improperly violated their protected speech, etc. And so, after filing their complaint, they promptly filed their Motion for Summary Judgment (this means, in a nutshell, that there's no genuine dispute as to the material facts and therefore IDSA is entitled to judgment. The facts are "undisputed" and IDSA "wins" as a matter of law.

They didn't win, folks, but here's the rub. The judge didn't just deny their motion solely on the grounds required to do so. No, no, Judge Limbaugh went beyond the call of duty by unnecessarily ruling that video games aren't speech while also lending credibility to those academics who won't shut up about violent video games *causing* real violence. He sided with every anti-gamer who's ever lived and spun it into a nifty little 26-page "**** You, Degenerate Gamers" in his denial of IDSA's motion.

And he didn't even *have* to do it.

I don't have a problem, per se, with this ordinance.

I do, HOWEVER, have a major friggin' problem with the black evil it hath spawned. I have a problem with the state condoning lazy parenting. I have a problem with someone who seems a competent jurist, Limbaugh, buying the crap studies of the left-wing quacks in academia about some correlation between violent games and violent kids (anyone who's taken a stats class knows they can screw the data to say whatever they want). These studies are all a sham. Period. Further, I have a problem with the absolute lack of awareness that the court had in writing its opinion and its total ignorance of gaming on any meaningful level. Case in point - the judge ruled after seeing, as the only real gaming evidence, the games the county brought with them (IDSA didn't bring any games with them which I believe is a strategic failure). And what cutting-edge titles did the county bring for good Judge Limbaugh to rate and review (and CITE in his opinion)? "Mortal Combat" (sic), "Fear Effect", that gleaming jewel of 3D technology, "DOOM", and everyone's favorite survival horror classic (get ready, OMG, here it comes) ...

"The Resident of Evil Creek".

But, I have the biggest problem when I see the words, "Even if [IDSA] could establish that ... video games *are* a form of expression, their ... argument still fails..." Folks, that's legalese for, "I don't actually have to rule on whether games are speech, I can still **** ya." It means that he could have declined to rule on the speech issue because it was irrelevant. It means that because he DID rule on it, he's looking for a WAR with us, the gaming community.

THE SHOT HEARD 'ROUND THE 'NET

Plain and simple, Judge Limbaugh says that games aren't speech. I won't bore you with all the details, but he's essentially ruled that video games contain no expressions of meaningful ideas, they lack the requisite "message" to be protected speech. He compares them to Pinball and BINGO. He (or his "I don't want to do any real work" Ivy League law clerk lackey - don't think for a second I don't have your number, pal) states in the opinion that, "The Court reviewed four different video games, and found no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech. The Court finds that video games have more in common with board games and sports than they do with motion pictures." He goes on to say, and I paraphrase, that Bingo, Blackjack, and the like are "wholly devoid of the requisite communicative and informative elements necessary" to be speech, and that any communication "in furtherance of the game" is "DIVORCED from a purpose of expressing ideas, impressions, feelings, or information UNRELATED to the game itself." This is very dangerous, folks.

He's saying that even a story told within the context of the game is only in furtherance of the game as a medium - he's saying that the story is "inconsequential" and it's merely a vehicle to get through the game. He's trying to head off future arguments that would cite games like the Final Fantasy series, the Legacy of Kain stuff, even the abysmal, God-awful Metal Gear Solid 2, in support of the free speech of games. You might be saying, "haven't games reached the same level of speech that movies or novels have". While I completely agree, he doesn't. To his credit, he recognizes that the court cannot differentiate between different types of content within the same medium. To his discredit, he notices that some courts have ruled that games are speech, but, because there's courts that disagree, he "has difficulty accepting that some video games do contain expression while others do not" and therefore "finds that [to say video games are protected speech] is a dangerous path to follow". Video games, as a *medium* are not protected by the First Amendment under this ruling.

The county will move to dismiss based on IDSA's loss on Summary Judgment. Limbaugh will dismiss. IDSA will appeal to the Court of Appeals and we'll *hopefully* have good news. If this goes to the Supreme Court, and I suggest this issue is significant enough to merit certiorari, I suspect we'll win on the free speech issue.

Allow me to preach to the choir. This ruling wholly and totally ignores any progress video games have made commercially, technologically, artistically and socially. It's a blight on rational jurisprudence and a pox on the system. It's the embodiment of so much ignorance, prejudice and scorn that it's numbingly sickening. Judge Limbaugh disappoints me - he is clearly out of touch with current American life and has some axe to grind with the gaming industry. It's like he hates that new-fangled "Iron Horse" thing-a-majig or is threatened by "that Rock and Roll" that the kids like. Limbaugh doesn't just not *get it*, he doesn't want to get it, he wants it GONE.

Games are no different than the movies we watch or the novels we read. The sheer level of interactivity we posses with these electronic storybooks we call video games, in my opinion, elevates them to a level beyond film or prose and is an even heightened form of free speech. Just look at those titles you've played where the story was so compelling or lively that the *game* wasn't the point at all - the *story* was the point.

They are, unequivocally, speech.

Atticus XI - The Lawyer of Doom

Disclaimer: Any and all opinions expressed here are those of Atticus XI - The Lawyer of Doom and are not necessarily those of Penny Arcade. The foregoing is editorial commentary and/or parody and nothing written herein is legal advice."

(ed: Edited by Wally for both content and space)
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Old 26th April, 2002, 07:19 PM
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Look to see a lot of these cases. As both sides warm up looking for " The right" case to take before the Supreme Court. By the way the " far right" is worse on games than the " far left" , the FAR right sees a devil, the left sees Columbine neither of them see or want to see the us, " The Gamers"
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Old 26th April, 2002, 08:38 PM
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The draw back is, it goes much deeper than, "Oh, woe is us gamers!" Keep reading PA. It updates a few times a day, sometimes with the artist of the strip, Gabe, putting in his two cents. And as an artist, he has a unique perspective. Here's some of what he had to say.

"There is one thing that wasn't mentioned that probably bothers me more than anything though. This is a huge slap in the face to every artist who works in the video game industry. This ruling says that the work of an artist whose medium is videogames is not a valid form of expression. Could this same judge stand up and declare that artists who work in clay or oils are equally incapable of conveying ideas through their work? This is the same government that recognizes a crucifix in a jar of piss as not just art but protected free speech. Not only that, the artist Andres Serrano actually received $15,000 for his work from the National Endowment for the Arts. "Piss Christ" as he calls it was a federally funded endeavor. This is the kind of stuff our government considers speech but a masterpiece like Shenmu is incapable of conveying an idea? I keep expecting Rod Serling to appear and tell us all that we've all just entered the middle ground between light and shadow."

He brings up some good points. It's not just that we're told our games have no redemming value, but those artists who put these games together are told they're not worth crap.
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Old 27th April, 2002, 12:56 AM
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hmmm. yeah, iread that earlier today.
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Old 27th April, 2002, 04:42 AM
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Games most certainly fall under "freedom of speech". A texture is a digitized painting. A 3D model is a digitized sculpture. The music playing in the background is art, just the same as what we here on the radio. And then there is the way all this marvelous media comes together, the code! Ask any coder, coding is as much an art as a science . . .

Video games are a multi-billion dollar a year industry, don't expect that industry to just go away in to the darkness without a damn good fight . . .
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Old 27th April, 2002, 09:50 PM
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Unfortunately there will always be lazy parents.
While a lot of the time this is good cos it allows normal people to grow and find their own life. In a minority the kids arent able to handle the freedom and go nuts.

<sarcastic>
Hell why not ban cars then there would be no car crashes.
Take coloured chalk out of the classrooms, bring back black and white TV. Make everyone say prays or they get burnt!!
</sarcastic>

Yep the sane and competent people will always be plagued by the insane and incompetent people.
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Old 28th April, 2002, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by loop
Unfortunately there will always be lazy parents.
And that's exactly the problem. The video game industry has been very self regulating, following the ESRB standards. Any more, any game that is sold has an ESRB rating. And they aren't hidden. Just like how movies have ratings. However, just like not all theaters check people for IDs on R rated movies, not all retailers check for ID on M rated games. And there's the problem. With the parents and retailers.
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Old 28th April, 2002, 03:40 PM
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Also whats to stop me buying a reasonabley family friendly Hlf Life and then getting a mod turing it into "baby killer 99, now with more innocent victims"
The games arent at fault, its a lot of the freebies you can download of the net that can make games seem needlessly violent.
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Old 15th February, 2005, 08:00 AM
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I think thats what the Judges problem is, he knows that most of the net cannot be regualted (extremely violent mods) so he is attempting to cut off the entire supply of games to solve the problem. Personally, i think the Judge is blowing hot air up our arse, but thats me....
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Old 30th October, 2005, 10:54 PM
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Nice digging for that one lol
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Old 31st October, 2005, 04:06 AM
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HAHAHA! Got me!
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