Video Games: Not Art, Not Media…Just Plain Evil

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Courtesy of Gary DuVall comes this anti-video game attack in the Land of Lincoln:

"Video games are not art or media," says Illinois state Sen. Deanna Demuzio. "They are simulations, not all that different from the simulations used by the U.S. military in preparation for war."

Demuzio is the sponsor of a successful bill that would, in the AP's summary, "require store owners to determine which games are too violent or sexually explicit for anyone under 18. Anyone selling them to a minor could be fined." Gov. Rod Blagejovich is in favor of the law and a version of it has passed the state legislature, too. All they're haggling over now is whether you could get jail time for selling Grand Theft Auto to an underage kid.

Most laughable (we're crying on the inside) are the on-the-record quislings in Springfield:

Other senators said the courts have already struck down similar laws elsewhere. They predicted the Senate-approved measure would never take effect and the state would end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Still, even some critics said they would not vote against the measure for fear it would be used against them politically.

"I'm going to vote for this bill, but I'm voting for it for one reason—because this is a political bill," said Sen. Mike Jacobs. "If I vote against it, it will show up in a campaign mail piece."

Whole profile in courage here.

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  1. Uh, isn’t all visual art just a simulation of a sort?

  2. require store owners to determine which games are too violent or sexually explicit for anyone under 18. Anyone selling them to a minor could be fined.

    First, I’m against the whole concept of the bill.

    But even if I favored regulations on video games, I’d still be completely baffled by the notion that the store owners get to decide which games are appropriate. I mean, what’s to stop a store owner from deciding that Grand Theft Auto is appropriate for young kids?

    I guess it shouldn’t be a shock that the people who want to regulate video games are too dumb to write a law with teeth. But it should be a relief.

  3. if you ever needed an example of how republics weaken into democracies and decay into populism, lawlessness, chaos and ultimately tyranny — here you go.

    the executive in illinois could care less about constitutionality. he knows power, and power is populism — constitution be damned.

    these sorry folks, beholden to a sheeplike electorate susceptible to propaganda, count on a less-populist branch of government to do what’s right.

    my question: what if they don’t? what if that branch has been packed by kept men and cronies of the populist execuive that the senate couldn’t keep out? what if it’s populated by majoritarians and seeks to nullify its own authority?

    just thoughts to keep in mind as we destroy the inherent value of the united states senate and reduce it to a rubber stamp.

  4. WARNING: NORMALLY RELIABLE LIBERTARIAN, STRAYING FROM RESERVATION.

    “Video games are not art or media,” says Illinois state Sen. Deanna Demuzio. “They are simulations, not all that different from the simulations used by the U.S. military in preparation for war.”

    Ignore the silly “war” part, for a second. Given the remarkable advance in graphics, isn’t it possible to argue plausibly that video games are simulations. Why does this matter?

    Consider: Suppose a private vendor wanted to sell hardcore pornographic DVDs to children. (Think Debbie Does Dallas.) He doesn’t use the mail. He doesn’t broadcast anything. He’ll just sell any disc to any kid, no matter how young. No carding.

    It’s my understanding that this sort of behavior is prohibited.
    It’s my understanding that most libertarians don’t really have a problem with that.

    Now, in what way would a DVD be different from a video game which could, quite conceivably, include live action depiction that’s just as explicit as Forrest Pump?

    We may not like the moralizing language used by the legislators, but I think this might count as just extending current law to keep up with the times and changing technology.

  5. Its times like this I’m ebarassed to admit I live in this state…

    Honestly, though, it doesn’t come as a real shock. Blagejovich is in a politically desperate situation, hes on the outs with his major backers here in Chicago (his father-in-law Dick Mell and King Daley) and needs to find support in the socially conservative suburban and downstate crowds. He knows he can do this by “protecting” kids. Its just another example of terrified yuppie parents who can’t stand up to their kids expecting the government to step in and protect their precious little darlings. “Sorry honey, you can’t have God of War, I want to buy it for your but its against the law. Have fun at the rave!”

  6. Thoreau,

    I think what they’re going for is more like the FCC” We’ll know what obscene when we see it” concept. In that case, the store owners will be in constant fear of liability and err on the side of caution. To me, that kind of abitrary standard is worse.

    As to Sen. Jacobs fear of being labelled a supporter of immorality in letter campaigns, Why not call them on it? Nothing quite like voting in a candidate who will stand by his convictions, eh?

    Finally, if video games are not art or media, why is it that games with more compelling stories, better playability, and better graphics sell better?

  7. Does anyone remember some talk a century or two ago about a free republic based on the notion of individual rights? Yeah…that would have been a good idea.

  8. if you ever needed an example of how republics weaken into democracies and decay into populism, lawlessness, chaos and ultimately tyranny

    Whoa! For a minute there, I thought gaius was going to post a “Revenge of the Sith” review!

  9. just thoughts to keep in mind as we destroy the inherent value of the united states senate and reduce it to a rubber stamp.

    Since all that is being talked about is allowing approval by majority vote, I guess this means every legislative body in the country is a rubber stamp.

  10. but I think this might count as just extending current law to keep up with the times and changing technology.

    Then wouldn’t it make more sense to craft laws such that technology has nothing to do with it? Otherwise you have to keep revisiting laws whenever technology changes.

    On the other hand, I guess it’s OK now for kids to see smutty cave drawings.

  11. I can hear it now…

    “My opponent, Senator Jacobs, believes in freedom of speech. Join me, along with great Americans like Gov. Blagejovich and Sen. Demuzio in eradicating this scourge from our land.”

    Yeah, I can see it happening; we’re more than halfway there already…

  12. Eh, he’s not terribly popular downstate (at least around here), but then I’ve lived here my entire life and still can’t figure out my fellow “Suckers”.

    I think the last governor we had that was worth a damn was Altgeld; see what sticking your neck out did for him)?

    Leine in T-2:30

  13. William, I feel your pain.

    Heretic, pushing buttons and physically loading and firing a rocket lancher aren’t quite the same, visuals be damned. Accept this and you may venture back onto the reservation without having ever felt like you left it.

  14. “I’m going to vote for this bill, but I’m voting for it for one reason — because this is a political bill,” said Sen. Mike Jacobs. “If I vote against it, it will show up in a campaign mail piece.”

    Uh, if I was running against Sen. Jacobs, I’d much rather have the above quote in my “campaign mail pieces” than any sort of nonsense about video games. He might have considered this before opening his big fat mouth.

  15. I think it’s a misunderstanding. He’s saying simulations but he’s hearing stimulations.

  16. I’d much rather have the above quote in my “campaign mail pieces” than any sort of nonsense about video games.

    You can appeal to the voter’s intellect or the voter’s emotion. Which one do you think is going to be more effective?

  17. Demuzio is an idiot. A simulation is an attempt to faithfully model or reproduce an actual or potential real-world situation. Most video games–especially the ones that the nannies are so concerned about–have nothing to do with attempting to reproduce real-world situations. They are FANTASY environments. The only thing these games have in common with simulations is that they are all computer programs.

  18. allowing approval by majority vote

    the problem, mr dean, is that you can’t envision any circumstances under which this would be a horrible idea — even though history is replete with examples of suicide by populism.

    i see you’ve learned the majoritarian cant very thoroughly, though. here’s your treat!

  19. Can’t wait for the activist judiciary to strike this one down. Stack it a bit more and we won’t have an activist judiciary standing between these laws and us anymore.

    Hopefully I’ll have lived a fun life and be dead by the time you youngins need to resort to revolution.

  20. Video games already have ratings. If they’re so intent on keeping harmless fantasy out of the hands of the miniscule fraction of children who can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality, why do they need store owners to be the censors?

  21. Can’t wait for the activist judiciary to strike this one down.

    If they do. This tactic backfired in my home state where the General Assembly and governor backed a no-smoking-in-public-places ordinance that was very popular with the health-nanny groups (and a handful of idiot politicians). The idea, of course, was that the “judiciary will strike it down.” So they passed it, sat back and waited for the courts to strike it down…

    They’re still waiting…

  22. why do they need store owners to be the censors?

    Because if start training people to think things through, assume a little personal responsibility and then make decisions for themselves who knows where the madness might end?

    By the way, is anyone else surprised that Sen. Mike Jacobs got his seat the old fashioned way, he inherited it from his dad.

    If anyone else would like to send an email telling him how impressed they are with his display of spinelessness, he can be reached at jacobs@senatedem.state.il.us

  23. “The idea, of course, was that the ‘judiciary will strike it down.'”

    Wasn’t this the same illogic Bush used when he signed McCain/Feingold?

  24. Can’t wait for the activist judiciary to strike this one down.

    After reviewing a video with excerpts of the games in question, I see nothing inappropriate about this law. It would be wrong for unelected judges to strike it down.

  25. Most video games–especially the ones that the nannies are so concerned about–have nothing to do with attempting to reproduce real-world situations.

    It’s hardly a stretch to claim that games like GTA:San Andreas, the recent WWII shooters, the Hitman series, and even games like Doom 3 are “simulators” — the developers spend lots of time and money to make the environments and the gameplay experience as realistic as possible in the context of the story. That’s a big part of their appeal.

    Of course any parent with three brain cells to rub together should know that those games are rated M for a reason. How hard is it to put the damned PS2 in the family room and check every now and then to see what games are lying around?

    The bill as passed is quite a read. It is not restricted just to video games — movies, books, magazines, audio recordings etc. are all covered. It makes a feeble nod in Miller‘s direction in its definition of “Harmful To Minors”, but seems to take much more relish in, for example, defining “sado-masochistic abuse”. It’s insteresting, too, that games like Doom 3 don’t necessarily count as “violent” in the context of the bill:

    “Violent” video games include depictions of or simulations of human-on-human violence in which the player kills, seriously injures, or otherwise causes serious physical harm to another human, including but not limited to depictions of death, dismemberment, amputation, decapitation, maiming, disfigurement, mutilation of body parts, or rape.

    So killing Nazis is “violent”, but graphically drawing and quartering fluffy little baby ducks is A-OK because they aren’t human.

    There’s also a web site for this legislation that features a handy “report a retailer” form. Amazing.

  26. Yeah, ban Space Invaders- it promotes “hate” against “aliens”.

    Ban Pac Man too- it teaches kids to take “power pills” to get strong.

  27. Ban Pac Man too- it teaches kids to take “power pills” to get strong.

    Wasn’t there a rave era joke that went something like, “If video games really had the power to influence young minds we’d all be running around in the dark, gobbling pills and listening to repetitive music”

  28. We should ban chess. I teaches impressionable young children to use people as pawns and to jump on queens.

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