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The Blogger's Guide to the Galaxy

Violent Videogames Illegal?

No, they're not. I don't consider myself a conservative, but this time I have to side with them and slap the liberals in the face and ask, "What the hell are you thinking?"

California governor "Ah'nold" signed into law Friday a controversial bill that would make it illegal to sell to minors (read: anyone under 18) video games that "depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious or cruel." Violations carry a fine of $1000 per incident.

Now, the "liberals" (and I don't mean in the Rush Limbaugh "every Liberal everywhere" use) are claiming that the law violates First Amendment rights. I cannot dissagree with this charge strongly enough. In my estimation, in order to violate First Amendment rights, they would have to be telling the video game makers that they can no longer develop or publish games that contain depictions of serious injury or explicit sexuality. This law does not do that. Nor does it even attempt to punish the game publishers or developers if these games get sold to a minor. It punishes the point of purchase. And, according to James Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, a group that pushed for the law, the law would be directed towards games rated either M or AO. These games, by the guidelines set down by the ESRB, are not supposed to be sold to minors anyway! So, it is unconstitutional to punish the points of purchase for not doing the right thing and refusing to sell games to kids who shouldn't be playing them in the first place? So, is it unconstitutional to refuse to allow these kids into rated R or NC-17 films? Let's face it, these movies are rated R and NC-17 because they are not appropriate for most kids under the age of 17. The same should apply to games rated M or AO. If the publishers are truly depending on sales to minors to boost their numbers and profit margins, then we've got some serious moral problems to sort out.

There is one way that the spirit of this law could get derailed. As Mr. Steyer states, the law would use the ESRB ratings as a guideline, but the wording of the law never actually mentions the ESRB rating system. In fact, the decision on when a game is too violent or sexually explicit is going to be left up to a jury. If this jury starts to find games rated Teen or Everyone as being too violent or sexually explicit then we may see the start of an agenda that finds that the ESRB is not doing a good enough job at self-regulation. If this is what those liberals are afraid of, then I can see that as a legitimate point. If so, they need to say that, not hide behind the First Amendment argument.

Analysts say that the law will more than likely survive any court challenge, so it will be interesting to see how the law plays out.

Posted on October 10, 2005 at 9:46 pm
A good start

So, I've decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon. "Who knows," I say to myself, "maybe it will be fun." We'll give it a try and see.

I did want to say something about this whole iTunes price situation. So, Warner Brothers doesn't think that Steve and Co. are charging enough for their songs on iTunes. Steve, rightly so, wants to keep the price point where it is, a reasonable $.99 per song. The Warner chief wants the opportunity to start charging more for premium content, i.e. newer and more popular songs.

With some sort of variable pricing, what's to keep a company like Warner Brothers from deciding that their entire catalog is premium content, and should go for $1.20 per song, or more. The beauty of the iTunes pricing model is that everything evens out in the end. Songs that maybe aren't worth $.99 are balanced out by being able to grab the latest Coldplay track for the same price. If this price scheme were truly "unfair", wouldn't it be the consumers who would be complaining? I certainly haven't been complaining about the iTunes pricing. In fact, with the ease of purchasing and downloading music from the iTunes store, I have found little want to head over to the bittorrent trackers and download the latest tracks from there.

Let's face it, this is pure greed talking. By all credible reports, CD sales have not slowed considerably since legal digital downloads became available. So, it stands to reason that companies like Warner Brothers are actually seeing additional revenue from a market that did not exist before. Apple does all the dirty work of converting the songs and handling the transfers and money, so all Mr. Bronfram and his associates do is sit back and watch the money roll in. They see a relatively new and unshaped market that they need to control, just like they took control of the CD market, and the cassette market before that. Does anyone remember when CDs first came out, at around $20-$25 a piece, and the music industry assurred us that when the technology matured, the prices would be cut in half? I, personally, am still waiting for that.

If Warner Brothers and others were taking a loss by allowing Apple and others to sell their music digitally, then I might be a little more sympathetic to their cause. But, until that happens, I'll be right behind Mr. Jobs, iPod held high.

Posted on October 8, 2005 at 9:05 pm
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