Arnold is trying to take away your games. Don’t let him.

California passed a law that would ban the sale of all “violent” video games to individuals under 18. The case of whether or not this law is Constitutional is going before the US Supreme Court. Their ruling could have far reaching implications for how games are produced, who gets to play them and how they look. Even if you aren’t under 18 this court case could be just the first step to larger and stricter standards that will affect everyone. Jeff Green lays out why you should care. The Entertainment Consumers Association calls this case the “single most important moment for gamers, and the pivotal issue for gaming, in the sector’s history.”

Schwarzenegger: keeping violent video games out of the hands of our children since 1992.

No one on the Supreme Court has ever played a video game. None of the lawyers for either side have ever played a video game. These people are going to be setting down law that will affect tens of millions of gamers and young people across the country, but their only knowledge of video games comes from the testimonies of people like Andrew Schlafly, who paint video games as little more than realistic murder simulators.

NYRA isn’t going to let them get away with this. NYRA defends the rights of youth when they are challenged across the country. As gamers, we need to make it clear that video games are more than random violence and that no one should be denied access to them. NYRA is working on an Amicus Brief to submit to the Supreme Court, but we need your help.

Since we are one of the few organizations working on this actually made up of gamers, we need to work with the gaming community to strengthen our argument. The Supreme Court doesn’t realize the importance of video games. We need your testimonies about their social, artistic, and political value to help the justices understand just what they would be taking away if they let this law stand.

Political speech is treated differently than non-political speech. The more examples we can provide of games, especially violent ones, having some kind of political content the better. If we collect enough testimony to convince the court that video games have political value, their distribution will be protected under the First Amendment. This very well could be the silver bullet that saves video games in this case. If we convince the Court that games are political, not mindless, then we win. Simple as that.

You can be a part of saving video games. Leave a comment on this post describing your thoughts on the social, artistic and, especially, political value of video games. Together, we can strike this law down.


  1. It is undeniable that video games can and do frequently constitute political speech, although this aspect doesn’t really receive as much attention from gamers and reviewers as it perhaps ought to. It would be easiest to find examples among small, independent projects which tend to fly under the radar, but even some of the big blockbuster titles can definitely be construed as political speech.

    The most obvious example is Bioshock. Although the actual gameplay consists primarily of a lot of running and shooting, and gets extremely gory at times — one of the early scenes shows an insane plastic surgeon mutilating the corpses of his patients — the game’s plot, setting and characters draw heavily upon the works of Ayn Rand and her political and economic ideology, and can be easily interpreted as a critique of that ideology. Nobody in their right mind could doubt that Bioshock is intensely concerned with politics.

    Alpha Protocol is a spy thriller and deals with politics a lot; granted, like in all spy thrillers, the issues are secondary to the action, but even so, the game is unambiguous in its presentation of the military-industrial complex (well, one fictitious company really, but the real-world implications are obvious) as corrupt and downright villainous. I’d say that’s a political stance.

    Mass Effect 2, true to science fiction tradition, deals with social issues, most prominently race. That the “races” depicted are space aliens from planet Whatever is insignificant; speculative fiction has used this sort of transparent symbolism and allegory since Thomas More, and few people would contest the political significance of similar themes in, say, Star Trek. Mass Effect 2, however, is a good deal more violent than Star Trek ever was.

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas — yeah, I know, hot coffee and all that — appears to indirectly reference the Rampart scandal. This fact went completely unnoticed during the scandal when the game first came out, because moral panics about sex are so much more interesting I guess. Police “misconduct”, obviously, is a political issue, unless someone happens to subscribe to the flawed “a few bad apples” theory.

    There are more examples, but many are kind of a stretch. You could read StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty as social commentary, if you were so inclined; taking up arms against a tyrant and usurper has been a prominent feature of “Tea Party” rhetoric since the recent election. Civilization IV appears to have been consciously designed so that the most important discovery a player can make, usually pivotal to winning the game, is “liberalism” (as in classical liberalism). I could probably think of more, but the political connection would get increasingly tenuous, so let’s just leave it at that for now.

    And this is not even getting into other arguments for videogames as protected speech, such as the artistic angle, which is probably stronger.

  2. I would just like to second hantavirus’ suggestion of StarCraft 2 (as well as the original StarCraft). SC2 has many political themes throughout the campaign: the virtues of rebellion against a tyrant vs unity against a common enemy, how much security can justify a loss of liberty, etc.

  3. Command & Conquer Generals was a very political game –

    From Wikipedia:
    Generals takes place in the near future, with players given a choice of three factions to play. In Generals, the United States and China are the world’s two superpowers, and are the targets of the Global Liberation Army, a large, well-organized terrorist organization, fighting as a fanatical irregular force. The United States and China are depicted as allies in the series, and frequently co-operate with each other throughout the storyline against the Global Liberation Army, which is depicted as an omnipresent, borderless organization with unclear goals beyond opposition to and expulsion of both China and the United States. The three factions are thus engaged in a war similar to that of the real-life War on Terror.

    Also, the game had some overtones such as clicking on a soldier playing as America, it would say things like “Preserving Freedom” and “Doing the right thing” and ” (remember, this was released during the start of the Iraq War) The GLA (arabic terrorists), uses “slaves” as construction units, would say things random like “I have no shoes” and “I’m hungry” when you clicked on them. The game allowed you as the GLA to use chemical weapons and suicide bombers against your enemies as well as ambush attacks. Play as China, and you recruit “hacker units” that sit with laptops and generate wealth. The game grossly depicted China and the US as more humane than the GLA.

    While it received a “T for Teen” rating by the ESRB, it was still violent.

  4. Well many strategy games (like Starcraft) are intellectually stimulating like chess. You have to develop strategies to beat your opponent, counter your opponents strategies and occasionally recover from your own screw ups. You do this all on the fly too. It’s a mental exercise really. Games can be more than just murder (although the murder part is fun).

    Also for the art part, I suggest Rez.

  5. Enter the Matrix. Grand Theft Auto IV. Final Fantasy 7-13. The Saboteur. Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War. Jade Empire. Mass Effect 1 & 2. Bioshock 1 & 2. Tropico. Black & White. Mirror’s Edge. Fallout. The Total War series. Hell, even the original Spyro the Dragon depicts fighting against a tyrannical dictator when you think about it. And this isn’t nearly an exhaustive list.

    These are all games with a political undertone at the very least. And many of them have been lauded for their artistic value in terms of graphics, music, and the experience they provide to the player. These should be protected just as films are; pieces of art and a highly creative and effective vehicle for promoting free speech.

  6. An example that comes to mind is the classic game Vandal Hearts by Konomi. Released in America in 1997. This game features a tremendous amounts of violence,and gore throughout the game, with defeated enemy soldiers erupting into fountains of blood. However the game has many a political message hidden within. The continent that most of the game takes place on, Sostegaria, was once ruled by a highly militarist, and theocratic monarchy that treated it’s citizenry unjustly. They were then overthrown by a guerrilla army led by one Arris the sage. This allowed a democracy to form allowing freedom for the people who lived within. However many of the former royalty and nobles are oppressed, their wealth has been seized by the government, and they have had their voting rights removed for their involvement, and the involvement of their families of the oppressive government.
    Throughout the game themes of counter terrorism and authoritarianism are introduced. This takes place in the form of the brutal execution of prisoners by the crimson knights (the aforementioned counter terrorist unit), the suppression of the rights and freedoms of the people by this group, and by the leader of this organization taking advantage of the near limitless power bestowed upon his to attempt a coup d’etat.

    I could write a whole essay on the subject, and would be more than happy to as politics and gaming are both passions of mine, but I fear I have already taken up too much space on your board already.

  7. “I could write a whole essay on the subject, and would be more than happy to as politics and gaming are both passions of mine, but I fear I have already taken up too much space on your board already.”

    Please do write a whole essay. You’re not taking up too much space. We have plenty of space.

  8. Agreed with Dave. This stuff is going before the US Supreme Court, one line quips aren’t going to help us as much as thought out and detailed descriptions of stuff in games. So please don’t hold back! Give us everything you’ve got!

    Thanks for everyone who has contributed so far!

  9. I am for this law. This article reeks of entitlement. This market segregation allows for developers to cater to mature audiences and produce more mature games for adults without having to worry that their game will be played by someone too young. This will improve the quality of games, as adults are a more discerning audience, and less likely to spend their money on the game with the most hype. This will force the developer to improve gameplay and we all won’t have to play the garbage that caters to the youngest generations.

  10. Also, if you read the text of the law, a provision states:

    “(a) A person may not sell or rent a video game that has been labeled as a violent video game to a minor.

    (b) Proof that a defendant, or his or her employee or agent, demanded, was shown, and reasonably relied upon evidence that a purchaser or renter of a violent video game was not a minor or that the manufacturer failed to label a violent video game as required pursuant to Section 1746.2 shall be an affirmative defense to any action brought pursuant to this title. That evidence may include, but is not limited to, a driver’s license or an identification card issued to the purchaser or renter by a state or by the Armed Forces of the United States.

    (c) This section shall not apply if the violent video game is sold or rented to a minor by the minor’s parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or legal guardian.”

    Note item (c). This isn’t restricting youth from playing games, it is simply forcing them to go through proper household channels. If you cannot convince someone in your family to buy it for you, you definitely shouldn’t be playing it.

  11. Can we please keep this comment thread about the games themselves? Paul, if you want to debate with us, we have forums for that. The link is on the left side of the screen, where is says “Forums”. Go there.

  12. See this is why I don’t want to live in the US. Ever. If arnie thinks violence is bad for kids then why did he perform in the terminator movies? does he really think there’s some magical feild around movies and books and other things that contain violence that will keep them away from children? Bottom line video games are just like movies when it comes to regulation, sure kids may get some that are inapropriate but what matters is that most parents andkids will try to obey the guidelines and not get stuff to old for them.

  13. Paul S, the point is that this law removes the rights of young gamers to acquire many or most video games on their own.

    The rhetoric behind this law is the same misinformation that is fed to many parents unfamiliar with video games. The effect is that parents may restrict their children’s access to video games that are a source of valuable cultural commentary while under the impression that they are merely protecting them from the (scientifically baseless but media-popularized) negative effects of playing violent video games.

    The average gamer is a male in his mid to late 20s. This is the target demographic that game developers are creating games for. The gaming community should embrace younger gamers with tastes sophisticated enough to appreciate the intellectual depth of modern video games.

    For more information about why this case is relevant to gamers of all ages, go to:

  14. The Halo series is a good example of political and cultural/racial clashes and is chock full of Biblical and other religious references, many of which can be seen here:

    The main plot of Halo is that people are fighting a war against various aliens who are determined to wipe out the human race, based on their religious convictions and how badly those convictions warp their perception of reality. Because of these beliefs, they have already destroyed a planet that people had inhabited. A warped religion that is taken so seriously that it causes massive amounts of death, certainly seems a politically relevant theme that has occurred many times in history. Specifically, this group of aliens (called the “Covenant”) thinks that a large, metal ring in space is a religious artifact that was spoken of in one of their ‘prophecies,’ and that the humans must not be allowed to destroy it. (In reality, it’s a huge bomb that will destroy all life for galaxies around it if activated.)

    The way I see it, when you play as Master Chief and take down the enemy, you’re fighting not only aliens but the ignorance and hate that they breed. I’m a girl who’s been playing games such as this and Grand Theft Auto regularly since I was 9 years old, only recently having turned the required age of 17 to play them, and in no way has this exposure caused me to be violent or fantasized about being violent, towards anyone. Even at that age I could grasp the concept, amazing musical scores and the complex, deep storyline – if I had thought it was mindlessly violent with no message at all, I would have gotten bored very quickly. When playing the game, while you go it alone many times, you also have to use teamwork to survive, helping out your buddies so that they can help you save everyone. In Halo 2, there is a theme of hope, as one of the aliens of the Covenant (called The Arbiter) sees past the cult-like beliefs of his fellow aliens, and realizes that the humans are right; the rings are nothing but massive weapons that need to be prevented from activating, and the strict, corrupt lifestyle of the Covenant mislead him the whole time. He joins the human side and fights alongside them.

    This is all just basic content in the games – if you read the Halo book series that contains the back story to the game, you’ll find that it brings up and questions many ethical issues. A couple of examples are human cloning and physically conditioning young people into strong warriors (appropriately referred to as “Spartans” in the game) through untested medical procedures, grueling physical feats and a lifestyle of discipline and permanent separation from their families. The persons in charge of this project (to create warriors who could fight against the Covenant), had cloned each child that they selected for it, and left the clone at home with the family while taking the real child to live with all the other children as they raised them to be tough enough to defend mankind. If human cloning and the circumstances when it could be okay/not okay isn’t a controversial and political issue, then I don’t know what is.

    (Sorry if it’s too much, guys! It’s also been a couple years since I played, so I may have forgotten some stuff, but that’s just what I could think of in about an hour.)

  15. “We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!” That is from the movie Independence Day,and by all mean videogames will not go down without a fight,gamers everywhere have the right to play what they damn well please,it’s all down in the 1st amendment.As Arnie once said we’ll be back!

  16. Half Life 2 is a great example of politics, fighting against an opresor government that tortures it’s citicens and even prevents their reproduction,
    but the game also has puzzles that require thinking and excersice the brain, also, games allow for the creations of modifications, one prime example being gmod, wich, despite being violent, has the creating of contraptions as one of it’s main features.
    And last but not least, some other games like Fallout, reward the player for talking his way out of problems or being good in general by providing unique items that the player can’t otherwise acquire

  17. Faschist bastards.
    the majority of my knowledge about History and Culture comes from playing video games, I’d play a game like Sid Meiers Civ Rev and then the next day I’d spend HOURS reading history books and looking up historical figures online. I’ve played more shooter games than I can count and I have yet to run off and stab someone, or shoot someone, or break someone’s neck, frankly, I say we hang swcharzenager. Your Wrath of tryannical overlordish power has been Terminated Comrade Fuhrer.

  18. I find this law ludicrous and imbecilic. Games are a form of art, entertainment and, in some cases, education. Depriving children of one of the primary means of entertainment today would be utterly ridiculous.

  19. This law is unnecessary and most likely unconstitutional…the industry does a fine job regulating itself anyway. Selling a game to a minor can get you fired from your job at just about every place. Just about every game retailer requires your id before you purchase a mature game.

  20. I would highly recommend Bioshock for it’s profound political and moral commentary, as well as the unique artistic style (admittedly, borrowing from Fallout). The portrayal of extreme libertarian and capitalist values that leads to the fall of society is on par with John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (yeah, I read that classic). I’d also like to give honorable mentions to Call of Duty 2 and Assassin’s Creed, which both feature (although fictional in nature) historically accurate representations of World War II and the Crusades (respectively).

    And just to show off: Metro 2033, another violent FPS game set in fictional post-apocalyptic Moscow’s subway and based on the novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Did you know that Moscow’s subway was designed as a shelter in the event the Cold War went nuclear? Now we know because of that game. The experience of Russian culture was intriguing as, if not more than, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita (read it too), a book often heralded as one of the best novels of the 20th century.

  21. Regarding some of the other titles that have been mentioned, let me just briefly describe how they can be used to strengthen this case; I hope it might be useful. (Also I enjoy this sort of thing a lot.)

    The Fallout series is set the post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland of Northern America; the remnants of the federal government, reduced to a paramilitary group headed by an unelected “president”, are the primary antagonist in the second game, and the third too I believe, and are attempting to reclaim power despite the lack of consent of the populace. It’s a pretty compelling depiction of a world where modern statehood has ceased to exist.

    Deus Ex is a futuristic spy thriller of sorts; as I recall, the plot involves a corrupt intelligence agency, conspiracies, secret societies and the US turned into a quasi-police state that releases a bio-engineered plague on its citizens. Hardly groundbreaking material as far as the cyberpunk genre goes, but no less deserving of first amendment protection than, say, a terrible movie like Johnny Mnemonic.

    Beyond Good & Evil has the protagonist, an independent journalist, uncover a massive government conspiracy buried under endless official propaganda. The game is somewhat cartoonish and doesn’t take itself extremely seriously, but that’s neither here nor there. The main character, Jade, is also widely beloved by feminist gamers, since extremely few games include capable and interesting female characters.

    I’m not sure if Jade Empire would pass for political speech. It’s set in a fantasy country obviously based on imperial China, and does involve the playable characters fighting against the corrupt state, but it can only be said to have relevance to contemporary issues in the vaguest of ways. Still, you can make that argument, sure.

    Dragon Age is a similar case: the setting is a detailed fantasy world somewhat resembling medieval Europe, and one of the driving forces of the plot is a conflict between an ambitious and patriotic regent and the parliamentary nobility, state power and individual freedom, etc. It’s only tangentially related to reality, but it does deal with some political issues.

    Speaking of quasi-historical fiction, there’s Command and Conquer: Red Alert, which, as I recall, takes place in some sort of alternate world where Hitler never comes to power and WWII is fought between the Allies and the Soviet Union. It was all rather absurdly presented, but again, it’s the subject matter that counts.

  22. Here’s another gem:

    Left Behind (Eternal Forces) is a high-budget PC game (Rated T for Teen) based on the Left Behind Christian book series.

    For those of you unfamiliar, here’s the basic premise: All the good people get raptured up to heaven. The not-good-enough people are left on Earth, where they have to battle the forces of the Antichrist.

    The game is of course in no way fun to play, but it is remarkably true to life in terms of some details of fundamentalist Christianity. For example, you go around trying to convert people to your way of thinking, occasionally killing them if you can’t. Men are more valuable than women because they can build buildings. And the minions of the Antichrist include electric guitarists, members of a world government (un)surprisingly similar to the UN, and “Secularists.” Basically, if you aren’t praying to Jesus, you’re the enemy.

    How’s this for a mixed message: The multiplayer mode of the game actually lets gamers control the forces of the Antichrist, brainwashing believers with their secularism and electric guitars. Presumably the “win” screen for those players depicts them roasting in Hell, so it probably comes off as something of a hollow victory.

    (copied and pasted from: )

    If that doesn’t convince the supreme court that video games are protected speech, nothing will.

  23. Coming from a man whose claim to fame is incredibly violent films, I find this more than a little hypocritical.

    The first thing I must question is the rationality and legality of simply banning video games. If one is to point fingers at the causes behind the renewed violence found in modern society, video games appear to be the obvious candidate. That is why I find it so disappointing and disheartening that a man supposedly responsible for running an entire state has decided to do just this; it is a testament to the fact that many simply choose to take the easy route, instead of recognising the fact that truly solving this problem will take time and effort.

    First and foremost, if the objective here is to keep children from witnessing violence, surely the government has a lot more options to pursue? Movies, for example, are a very prominent source of violence. But the government doesn’t pursue such drastic measures with movies. Television is another; again, the government doesn’t attempt to block the watching of violent televised programs by minors. Books, maybe, or music promoting violence. Then, of course, you could turn to the government’s own promotion of violence in order to gain recruits for their armed forces; after all, ‘America’s Army’ was hardly a peace-promoting work of art (at least, this is what I am led to believe. If anyone wishes to enlighten me, please, do so). And then there’s always the Second Gulf War and the War in Afghanistan; the truth here is that there are a lot more sources of exposure of violence to children than video games, and simply turning on video games would be hypocrisy of the highest order, backed by the ignorance of people who look down on video games as a nuisance to society.

    Secondly, the truth is that people who have the will to perform such acts of violence will get there at one point, one way or another. The motive is something that cannot be provided by video games in many cases; all it can do is trivialise the concept of violence until the perpetrator believes that there will be no moral, legal or psychological repercussions following such an act. But surely this trivialisation of violence is commonplace in modern society? Ranging from violent movies (Mr. Schwarzenegger’s 1984 Terminator included) to the news broadcasts coming in from countries like Afghanistan every day, the truth is that exposure to violence is an inevitable, albeit regrettable, reality that we must live with. It is hardly a new phenomenon. This, therefore, suggests that the source of the problem lies not with exposure to violence, but in the motive of the perpetrator itself, as with any other crime; instead of wasting time and money on the abnning of the sale of video games to minors, the government should be using said money to set up counselling programs or social awareness of the nature of youth crime; anything is more beneficial than arguing inside a court building.

    However, the truth is that video games are not simply a menace to society; like the movie industry, video games can be mindless, but can also be tools through which to communicate everything from morality to cultural awareness. Where there are mindless shooting games, there can be works of art, interactive tools through which the depth of a lyrical story found only within the pages of a book can be painted with the viscerality of a movie. Video games can be so much more than the violent, mindless light in which they are portrayed by so many in the world of today; instead of pushing needless restrictions upon something with so much potential, the government should let the video gaming industry thrive in the way the film industry was allowed to, and leave it to its ups and downs instead of stifling potential masterpieces in the name of uninformed restriction.

  24. The most recent game I can think of with a political message is Final Fantasy 13. The whole story is rather complicated, but essentially, the people of Cocoon live in a small moon surrounded by a hard shell and orbit the large planet of Pulse. Hundreds of years ago, a Pulse Fal’Cie, one of the gods of that planet, unleashed its forces against Cocoon to bring the moon down. They were repulsed and Cocoon was saved. However, since then, the government of Cocoon has led its citizens into a frenzy of fear against Pulse and claim that measures they take to further control the populace are all in the name of protecting them from the evil Pulse l’Cie. Does it remind you of anything? Nearly every dictatorship ever created was based on a similar concept and even the Bush administration’s new “safety” measures bear a striking resemblance.

    It also has relevance as the Cocoon Fal’Cie and Pulse Fal’Cie are opposed, therefore, their followers live in fear of the other. If a Pulse Fal’Cie turns a human into a l’Cie, one of its followers, they are immediately killed by the government of Cocoon as heretics. The Cocoon Fal’Cie also run the government of Cocoon even though they have an “elected” government, echoing the ongoing struggle in this country to meld government and religion.

  25. For a Republican, Arnold really seems to be adamant about increasing government interference in everyday decisions.

    I find these laws funny, because they imply that games are whats tipping violent people over the edge.

    Newsflash:anyone who goes on a rampage and kills people was already screwed up emotionally. A video game didn’t do a thing, since it takes more than just a game to influence someone to commit murder. Hell, I’ve been playing violent games since I was 12. Along with Mario and Kirby, gaming was always obviously false to me and not reality. Sure, it was fun killing.

    But just like watching Arnold’s wonderful movies, I would never EVER EVER EVER think of doing something that insane. Know why? Because I AM SANE. Games don’t ‘destroy’ the youth.

    Now, the ESRB system is in place to inform the parents on the games content. Leave it up to the parent, the person whom knows the child best, to decide if they are mature enough to play a game with such content. To censor Gaming and not Movies, Music, TV, and practically EVERYTHING in society is both hypocritical and absurd.

  26. I haven’t played many of the newer waves of violent games, but I can go old school. When I was a teen, “Smash TV” was almost certainly the most violent game in the arcade, if not in the country, at the time. The entire scope of gameplay was one of more players stuck in a room, firing insanely-damaging weapons at a constant barrage of attackers.

    But it was also a satirical lampooning of game shows and mob mentality, in the spirit of The Running Man (an Arnold film, ironically.) The style and layout of the game conveyed a modern version of the ancient gladiators (again, like The Running Man). The game show host is over-the-top enthusiastic, and there is a constant cheering crowd as the players are forced to kill hundreds of opponents per round, just to survive. It’s all very intentionally made to be a commentary on society, TV, violent entertainment, and so on. Thus the name: Smash TV.

    That sort of statement would be (and was) protected when it’s made in a book or movie or song, or if it was done as a live-action satirical skit. (Or when Family Guy does it.) If it has value in all those other media, it’s hard to see how a video game making the same statement wouldn’t also have a claim to legitimacy.

  27. I was bullied a lot at school back in the day. I had quite a bit of pent up rage issues because of that, and used to take my frustrations out on various things at home, including the plants in the garden, insects, and occasionally even my own pets. I’d hurt things to make myself feel better. I’d pull the legs and heads off of ants and watch them die. I’d chop up plants so badly they couldn’t grow back.

    Then one day I got my hands on a copy of Doom. You know, that game that people blame Columbine on? Yeah, that one. I played that a lot. And you know what? I gradually started hitting plants less. I didn’t hurt ants anymore. I became nicer to my pets. Why? Because I had something else to take my frustrations out on, something that didn’t involve anyone or anything getting hurt for real.

    That was many many years ago. Now, if I see some random bug drowing in a pool of water, I’ll scoop it out and put it on dry land. I won’t hurt or kill anything anymore. I’m not sure what kind of person I’d be today if I had never found violent games.

    Playing violent games essentially made me LESS violent, not more. In fact, even when I play violent games now I actually sometimes feel bad for killing people in the games, especially if they scream and stuff. It’s harder for me to enjoy playing as an evil character now. But if I’m feeling angry for whatever reason, I can stomach it just fine and it helps me feel better to kill virtual people, or make them suffer in some way. After a while I get tired of it again and I stop.

    People have frustrations and they need to get it out of their system somehow. Violent games are a pretty good way to do that simply because it contains all the satisfaction of hurting someone or something, without someone or something actually being hurt. Yeah, going for a run or using a punching bag can also work, but that’ll just tire you out physically. It does not give the same satisfaction as playing a violent game does.

    As for violent games I know of that have some kind of political commentary…

    Jagged Alliance 2’s plot is about you controlling a band of mercenaries to get rid of a crazy dictator of a small country who is basically oppressing everyone and ruining everything. You join up with the rebel forces and they help you take control of the cities and towns, so that you can make money from the mines to buy guns and train the locals to form militias to defend themselves while you move on to take over another town. It’s pretty violent even though the graphics are somewhat limited. If you kill enemies in a town, leave for a while and then come back later, you find buzzards and whatnot feasting on the corpses, and members of your team make comments like “Aaagh, that’s disgusting!”. Depending on who’s in your team, some of them will also comment on how horrible war is when they see things like that. Some others will even apologize to whoever they just shot if they kill the guy.

    Just Cause 2 has also got something to do with a dictator and you joining up with rebel forces, but the storyline is kind of overshadowed by you just doing crazy stunts and stuff… so Jagged Alliance is a better example there.

    Fallout 3 (incidentally running in the background right now as I’m typing this) is set after a big nuclear war where basically everyone just nuked the hell out of everything. Earth is ruined. No plants, everything is irradiated. People survived the blast by hiding underground in Vaults, and they came back out after most of the radiation had gone away. If that doesn’t scream “war is bad” then I don’t know what does. It also touches a lot on discrimination – some of the people who survived the war got some weird radiation sickness that makes their skin peel off and they basically look like zombies… but they still function like normal humans. These people (called Ghouls) get discriminated against by most everyone else, people kill them because they think they’re zombies, even though they’re normal humans with hopes and dreams and feelings. As the player, you can choose whether to be nice to them or insult them or kill them or whatever you want. And you get to see their reactions according to what you do.

    Supreme Commander’s storyline also has some political stuff in it… but I actually don’t really remember that much about it now. Some humans had combined themselves with robots or AI or something, and they were being used as slaves for the other humans, and they got tired of that and wanted to be independent instead. That’s (very vaguely) the story of the Cybran faction that you can play as, which is the one I played with the most.

  28. The Bioshock series (including the upcoming Bioshock: Infinite) is at the top of the list, with its heavy criticisms and dialogue on:
    Welfare States
    Corporate Freeholds
    American Exceptionalism
    The Cold War

    Freedom Fighters:
    A game in which you play a band of average-joe American rebels fighting against an invading Soviet force. Let’s see them argue against America!

    The Saboteur:
    You play an Irish race car driver who fights the Nazis with the Free French forces. Never have I seen Paris in so much detail in a game, which showed the true brutality of Nazis during the French occupation and did not shy away from educating on the persecution of Jews, Catholics, academics, and so on and so forth.

  29. This law is a bit ironic coming from an action movie star, since the violence you see in most games is on the same level as the average action movie.

    Other than that, this completely sums up what I was going to say:

    “Newsflash:anyone who goes on a rampage and kills people was already screwed up emotionally. A video game didn’t do a thing, since it takes more than just a game to influence someone to commit murder. Hell, I’ve been playing violent games since I was 12. Along with Mario and Kirby, gaming was always obviously false to me and not reality. Sure, it was fun killing.”

  30. Gaming is made for joy, as said before anyone who goes and starts imitating the things seen in violent games need help. Action films are pretty much the same thing as violent games, so I don’t know why Arnie is going around saying it should be banned when he is famous for films such as terminator

  31. Remember my first sort of politics game that I understood was deus ex.

    It showed the government and those that manipulated it in a real sort of light as they simply discarded and manipulated civilians like trash and yet the bad guys were not painted as stereotypical villians but as the same people who ran out governments, our countries with their the ends justify the means to their control and even as you fought and twarted their attempts it still had normal moments where they came off as normal people who bore no malice to anybody or anything(just wanted to have a shot at running things their way), heck even the kids who usually have some stupid immunity to everything in games could die by your hand and walk around dirty and starved.

    Even the endings were ambiguous and the mains brother had a saying(Just do what you think is right, which even many of us are bound to despite the suffering we may cause.

    Politicians not only look for quick solutions to idiot parents but they understand that games can be a threat as they go beyond with complicated storytelling to show a view of the world that hollywood would never even get close too.

    If this thing passes then we can see less creative games as the truly creative ones will be labeled high because of *questionable* content.

  32. Quoted from

    I, too, am one of the adults here, and while I don’t disagree with the PURPOSE of the law, I do disagree with the legislation itself. I believe that the vagueness in which they are trying to regulate which games are restrict-able could get a bit socialistic, and as you can see, I’m very liberal. They are, in effect, taking the power AWAY from the ESRB, which could get out of hand later on down the line.

    Would I like less 10 year olds talking sh*t on my games? Yes. Did I myself play these “violent” games as a kid, and talk the same sh*t, if not more? Yes. Should minors be allowed to buy games intended for a Mature audience, without their parents consent? Absolutely not. That’s the beauty of the ESRB Rating system. Let’s leave it to them, and not to big government.

  33. This freedom of speech issue will be the right of minors to information. And the political information is not limited to governments, candidates, etc. that we think of as “politics.” I think the strongest argument is to define political speech as value-laden speech. (I think this is appropriate to place in this string since it could expand the discussion of available titles.)

    In my experience, I don’t know of any violent game worth playing that isn’t established with a basic values system–how could it? If someone wants to play a game, there must be some mission or objective. Mortal Kombat, perhaps the most vacuous of violence-for-violence-sake, relies upon the premise that winning a fight/tournament is worthy of a gamer’s attention. To infringe upon a minor’s access to such a value would be to block that information. I freely admit that example is a bit of a stretch, but it shows how any game may be justified by pointing to an underlying value or motivation.

    Furthermore, every game has an enemy. It can a single tyrant (human or corporate) which has that obvious political content, but it can also be a sandbox game where the player chooses its enemies. Those selections have repercussions and may, as in many games (Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout, Fable, etc.), literally show a moral value. Like anything else, there can be less or more sophisticated examples of political ideas and placing the idea of an enemy within the conversation reduces the ability to point to relevant differences in violent games. This is all to the good, I think, because saying “all games have political value” is stronger than “some games have great political value” (and won’t invite later line-drawing).

  34. Don’t forget freedom of assembly

    I’m going to focus on first person shooters that focus into two genre’s, follish greedy corporation or corrupt political leadership often working in concert. I’ll note a foundational principle of democracy and being a good citizen is questioning authority (Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely). My feeling having played games since pong is the modern genre always hits at the heart of this core and vital belief for a citizen in a democracy and should create better citizen skills in evaluating governnment action. AKA create a mindset effective to preventing abuses of authority.

    I think one of the best examples of this is the terrorist airport sequence in MOdern Warfare 2. Loyal soldier early in the game asked to do an unspeakable act to infilttrate a terrorist organization posing a nuclear threat. If you play the sequence you end up dead as you were betrayed and set up to create a massive war. (In short it reinforces what we can wish every auschwitz guard should have questioned. Unquestioning obeying of orders.) By the end of the game you know you were betrayed by your commander. It is also horribly relevant in todays america where we are debating whether torture or other extreme acts are justified and worth the risk for the benefit. In having the double cross result in massive war the games view is clearly such acts are too risky and the soldier asked to do such acts must question them.

    This theme less bluntly and graphically exists in multiple shooter genre’s. From Half Life and Half Life 2 where it is the corporations and militaries search for technology and power that unlocks unspeakable evils. Bioethics debate anyone.

    The hero is invariably a common man, thrust into great events that kills their way to a solution and answers. The answers invariably speak of leadership corruption and the risks of unfettered unquestioning actions. Teaching our young to always question, always ask, and think of the consequences of action is a skill I wish people like ken lay had learned.

    I’ll also note I see little difference from written fiction such as Heinleins the moon is a harsh mistress where the protagonist is depending on perspective a freedom fighte ror terrorists and ends up bombing the earth with containers of rocks for lunar independence. Or a ludlum spy novel where the hero unveils a corrupt shadowy power conspiracy bent on world domination. Often the hero was connected to those in that room and by questioning and dedication to his nations values(A theme also common in shooters) brings the plot down and restores order.

    Nor should we forget shakespeares ability through fiction to assail those in power without retaliation. The games might be one of america’s most powerful ways of spreading our values of defending the little guy, fighting agains the unjust and eventually prevailing.

    In assassin’s creed I was powerfully rmeinded of Frank herbert’s, “The Dosadi Experiment,” where a group of assassins maintains order among interstellar leaders and their best agent eventually learns that his boss is himself corrupt. A theoretical work in scoial order structure that again forces a questioning of authority and purpose bias and intent.

    Recognizing there is value in these works which exploit the hero archetype and american archetypes of the common man the government should not place itself in the role of deciding which of them are political vs violent. No more than they should decide ludlum is smut because of the invariable romance scene, or heinlein is seditious etc…You kill bad guys to preserve democracy or american values and protect the people from evil greedy powerful people. Often you find you were a tool in the exploitation and get things back on track to the values you thought you were fighting for.

    Now I read all those books as a kid learned valuable lessons from them and I think many of these games have that same potential if you look past the gore. Herbert is a powerful political theorist always exploring complex political structures and how they impact people. I think the terrorist killing spree in an airport was by far the most powerful one. No moral person could go through that and not learn something valuable nor not reflect on our own policies. And those are the skills citizens in a democracy must have. I can understand those in power might not like spreading them but that is rpecisely why they must be.

  35. This medium has born the brunt of unfair treatment from governments and the media for far too long and this would be a step too far. Games get far higher ratings than films or books as it is, make a few of the bond films into games and watch their age rating shoot up to 18. Taking that point into consideration, making it outright illegal for a 16 year old to play an 18 rated game would be a travesty, it’s up to the parents not the government, just as it is with films and books, the way it should be.

  36. If a government is insulted by the politics shown within games,then their leaders have some sort of issues. A video game is just a visualized book. An rpg is one of those books which let you choose a path. Theres no difference between gore in books and gore in games other than the fact in the book you imagine and in the game you’re shown. How can something that is fiction be a major problem?

    Theres a line between parents and the government. At home,the children are the property of the parents and therfore at home or for family things the children would be under the law of their parents or legal guardians,as long as it isn’t against any local,state or federal law. How is picking what sort of game a kid wants have to do anything with the government. Can you see how inefficent the government as became? The economy is going to hell,the stock market took a nose dive recently and the supereme court and the state of California are bickering over VIDEO GAMES? if video games make money and their producers pay taxes then why are they trying to make the sales stricter? its the parents choice not the governments.

    They plan to legalize medicinal drugs but ban +18 games? im thinking the drugs are probably more harmful then games will ever be. Games are not the main cause for shootings and violence,its bullying and abuse. The government is only addressing the outer problem and not the inner. Kids commit suicide because of bullying and abuse,so how can you blame a game for it? the game is just a encyclopedia that teaches them. They are so mentally ill that even a shooting game gives them ideas. No game,then they’ll go online and read about it. Getting rid of the game won’t change a thing.

  37. What is the difference between a 13-17 being able to access fictional works of literature that may contain more violence, sex, references to drug use, questions of sexuality, fowl language, etc. and videogames. If books and fiction are allowed to contain such items along with political, social, or Ontological( how we be) questions or messages without governmental interference so should video games. Furthermore this policy is yet another example of how institutions are attempting to undermined the ability of youth to make their own decisions and have them accountable for the information they retrieve and how they use it. There are probably many adults who would benefit from not playing violent video games more than some minors who can understand the content that they are playing?

  38. For the attention of Supreme Court United States

    To whom this may concern

    I wish to strongly and imposesibly object to this new ruling as the long term implications of this will affect more than just the video gamers. I perform under the screen name GAZBEROTTEN. During my time playing video games i have managed to land myself fame and acheive goals most people sturggle to acheive there whole life. Because of this i am now in control of two very popular video blogging channels attracting thousands of viewers on average and a large fan fare. I have also been in the two top National Xbox 360 gaming magazines Official Xbox Magazine And Xbox World 360 multiple times. Link to my blog can be found by clicking my name. You can verify what i have posted is accuarate and true.

    I am above the age of 18 years and live in the United Kingdom and during the 4 years i have been on Xbox Live i have played with those not old enough to play many games and none of those individuals go out and commit crimes as they have higher responsibility than you think. The long terms implications of passing this law will reduce the income for the United States Goverment in taxes reducing the ammount of jobs availible and even reducing the number of jobs in the respective games companies which will only add to the numbers of unemployed americans and anywhere else around the world. By passing this law you will be responsible for increasing unemployement by reducing the ammount of games that are sold and passing a law that is only going to cause problems in the first place. Yes those underage playing these games should be punished but other gamers should not be made to suffer by passing a law that will create job losses and only cause many people finaciall problems.If a child is mature enough to play a game and not commit criminal acts then passing a law like this is pointless. There is no legitamite reason why other parties should be made to suffer because of the actions of other individuals. If someone commits a crime after playing a video game then its the persons responsibility and should not be blamed on innocent partys who are not involved or have nothing to do with it.

    I respectuflly ask you to reconsider the implications and problems this decission can cause and the severe inconvinience this can cause


    Gareth Willmer


  39. The AC130 level in the first installment of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is shockingly reminiscent of the journalist-Apache-slaughter “Collateral Murder” video. It’s one of the most poignant statements I’ve seen on the dispassionate and detached nature of warfare today, where remote-controlled drones have replaced carpet bombing as the choice method of slaughter. You snuff out hundreds of lives while a calm voice compliments your aim and points you to the next target, the visceral feel of pulling even a virtual trigger completely gone. Though the rest of the game is mostly just macho bravado and ludicrous exaggerations of actual war, that particular level will chill anyone who’s thinking hard enough about it to the bone.

  40. Deus Ex is full of social/political commentary. As an example, here’s an exchange between the player character, and a bartender in a Hong Kong nightclub:

    “Despite all I’ve read about the Triads, I wasn’t prepared to see them operating in the open, on the streets, and wearing uniforms. Doesn’t the Chinese government care?”
    “The Chinese leave Hong Kong alone. They barricade the roads to control trade to the mainland, but they know how business is done.”
    “I would think the secret smuggling operations of the Triads would disturb the Chinese government.”
    “Maybe the Luminous Path, but China knows that the Red Arrow are business owners, entrepeneurs, community leaders, and that they protect the city from outside influences.”
    “You said ‘outside influences.’ What does China fear?”
    “China is the last sovereign country in the world. Authoritarian, but willing — unlike U.N.-governed countries — to give its people the freedom to do what they want.”
    “As long as they don’t break the law.”
    “Listen to me. This is real freedom, freedom to own property, make a profit, make your life. The West, so afraid of strong government, now has no government. Only financial power.”
    “Our governments have limited power by design.”
    “Rhetoric… And you believe it! Don’t you know where those slogans come from?”
    “I give up.”
    “Well-paid researchers — how do you say it? — ‘think tanks,’ funded by big businesses. What is that? A ‘think tank?'”
    “Hardly as sinister as a dictator, like China’s Premier.”
    “It’s privately funded propaganda. The Trilateral Commission in the United States, for instance.”
    “The separation of powers acknowledges the petty ambitions of individuals; that’s its strength.”
    “A system organized around the weakest qualities of individuals will produce these same qualities in its leaders.”
    “Perhaps certain qualities are an inseperable part of human nature.”
    “The mark of the educated man is the suppression of these qualities in favor of better ones. The same is true of civilization.”

  41. The Halo series has a very complex and deep story about religious fanaticism. It has even spawned many good books to finish and elaborate on the story.

    The Final Fantasy series is full of political and social commentary. FFVII focuses on the effects of power and greed on this planet’s environment. FFIX makes statements about the horror of imperialism. FFXII is a social commentary about how different people from different backgrounds act when faced with life altering decisions.

    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the best and most artistic action game that exists. The production quality of that game blows away every action movie that ever existed. The storyline is so much more complex and fleshed out because it is a 40 hour game instead of an hour long movie. Being able to play the ‘action star’ engrosses and gives a sense of whats at steak to the player.

  42. Grand Theft Auto is the most overtly political game I have ever played, and therefore the one in my mind that is most suited to defence on the grounds of free speech. The whole series is political, but the most recent two games (San Andreas and GTA4) in particular:

    • Paint a brutal picture of street crime, gang violence, and drug abuse.
    • Prominently feature corrupt politicians and law enforcement officials.
    • Include parody and political commentary, particularly on the radio stations. Among the subjects that are criticized on the radio: right-wing media, left-wing media, militarism, celebrity role models, Scientology, poverty, journalistic integrity, counter-terrorism measures, youth crime, immigration, homosexuality and heteronormativity, and more.

    The problems that Grand Theft Auto illustrates in a highly graphic manner are very real in society, and censorship will not make them go away.

  43. After reviewing the comments above I was surprised to see a lack of acknowledgment towards the Assassins Creed series, specifically the second. The games world revolves around individuals with powerful stakes within the government of Renaissance Italy, and one characters attempt to both overthrow these persons, thereby releasing the populace from their restrictive regimes. The game introduces a generation to some of the greatest artists to have ever picked up a paint brush, by allowing the main character to acquire these classical works of art. By reviewing these works the player is introduced to a brief explanation of the work, who the artist was, and the role that artist played, or will play in a historical context.
    So while this title may be overlooked, it’s content covers many of the topics requested above, while retaining a very violent and mature theme.

  44. Red Dead Redemption. Extremely political, mostly from a libertarian point of view, and it’s not subtle at all (just play a few of the first missions. The federal government is portrayed as determined to bring order at any cost to the “wild west” at the cost of individual liberty, states’s rights, and local government. It’s also very violent (it’s from Rockstar games, the same studio that created the Grand Theft Auto Series). Take a look at this cutscene from a walkthrough and you’ll get some idea of the political content:

  45. some dialogue from the above link:

    Marston: You sure have some interesting theories on what the government’s doin’, sir.
    Drew: They ain’t theories, Mr. Marston. I saw the telegram the Marshal got from Blackwater. It ain’t exactly a state secret who sent you.
    Bonnie: Well, is he wrong? I saw those men from the train.
    Marston: The government can go to hell, if you ask me. Those sons-a-bitches’d steal a coin off a dead man’s eye.
    Bonnie: Mr. Marston!
    Drew: He’s right. Now, I don’t know much about politics…
    Bonnie: Please, Pa, can we just enjoy the ride?
    Drew: …but I know we’re only as free as they say we are. Power is like a drink. The more you have, the more you want. And there’s few men who can handle it.

  46. Let’s see. I’ll try to think of some games that have not already been mentioned by above posters. Some violent video games that I can think of with political messages are:

    Halo 2. Okay, so this was mentioned before by another poster, but I wanted to add that when the game came out the developers had to go on record as saying that the game was not inspired by criticism of the Iraq war specifically. Even though this was not the message that the developers wanted to give, enough people were getting this message for the developers to have to make a public statement. Unintended political messages still count, I think.

    Killer 7. Perhaps the most bizarre game ever created, this one might not be the best to go with, only because I am not aware of a single human being on this planet (probably including the creators of the game) who understand everything about what the game is supposed to mean. Still, however, it is hard to deny that some parts of it are overtly political. Heaven’s Smile infectees clearly are stylized representations of suicide bombers. There is a lot of political back and forth between the United States and Japan on the world stage in trying to secure access to the Yakumo Party Public Policy papers, which can give whoever gets them the power to rule the world. Also, there is overt criticism of the U. S. electoral system and Japanese attempts to infiltrate and subvert the already rigged United States Electoral College. I love the part where Garcian, when finding out for the first time that the Electoral College system is rigged, says (I believe), “What is the United States? What is the purpose of the office of the President?” and the guy he is talking to, with a comedic timing worthy of the great comedians in history, says, “I’m Japanese, how the hell should I know?” Trust me, it sounds hilarious when you are playing through it.

    Cooking Mama – Mama Kills Animals – The Unauthorized PETA edition: This game is a parody of the regular Cooking Mama game. It is pretty clear that the PETA edition was created solely to make a point about animal cruelty and support of PETA and their attempts to change our society through (among other things) legislation and politics. This game has the advantage of being easy to pull up in court. It’s free and online all the time.

    I’ll drop back in if I think of any more examples that have not been mentioned previously.

  47. Educational value:
    I learned my basic history and geography from the civilization series. I used to read the civlopedia just for kicks. Suffice to say, I remember more from that game than I do from any middle school class, because it was an engaging activity.

    I learned my local geography by trying to recreate my region in Simcity 4. Now I know the relative positions of all the surrounding cities in my region, as well as the local geography.

    I learned basic flight dynamics from flight simulators; those games are an excellent practical application of the physics we “learn” in school.

    The Sims is a good game for getting into design…a lot more fun than drafting class.

    That’s not even including the games I played when I was really young that were explicitly educational in nature.

    Games like StarCraft play a lot like chess, and I think I think few people would say developing logic and strategy rots the mind (at least when they think of chess).

    Artistic value:
    The very best games have amazing storylines. The Halo series has a fantastic storyline, so much so that there is some wonderful literature that was inspired by the game. The Halo series is more like an interactive movie than merely a video game.

    Furthermore, the work that goes into some of the cut scenes in StarCraft II is phenomenal. I don’t know how some one could watch that and not appreciate the raw talent that went into producing it.

    Political Value:
    I think many games have some of the most biting political commentary out there. I recall SimCopter’s fake advertisement and PSAs had some truly hilarious and political statements. Ditto for the GTA series. StarCraft II’s whole plotline, but especially the news casts, had particularly biting commentary on totalitarian regimes and media censorships and media puppets.

    In sum, I would like to say that if we could come up with some radical idea that we could actually interact with our education, interact with artwork, etc., that in principle, I think most people would think that would be a really invaluable idea. Video games present that opportunity. Lets not ignore the value of video games just because someone said, “Oh won’t somebody please think of the children.”

  48. The Xenosaga series explores a number of philosophical topics. I can’t comment on the entirety of its artistic merit because I haven’t finished playing it, but from what I have played I’ve seen explorations of nihilism, the morality/immorality of suicide, what makes a person “complete,” etc.

  49. Final Fantasy IV (2 in the U.S.) was a fantastic game that offered 40 plus hours of gameplay. The introduction has the main character, Cecil, a Dark Knight and captain of the Red Wings, the air force of the town Baron. He has orders to take a crystal from a nearby city, which he does. His crew has some questions about the reasoning, as does Cecil, which he tells to the king when he returns. The king removes him as captain for his insubordination and immediately sends him on another quest to deliver a package to another nearby town. When he gets to the town, the package opens and unleashes magic which destroys the town, and all the people except one. Cecil loses faith in the king and spends the rest of the game meeting new people and helping them with their problems, in an effort to discover the true motives of the king and eventually going on a spiritual quest to become a Paladin. The story is too deep to go into in detail here, but it is filled with twists and turns that keep the player engaged and eager to read and explore more about the world.

    The game deals with a lot of very serious and emotional issues, from betrayal, corruption, and murder to sacrifice and redemption. A particularly moving part of the game involves twins, Palom and Porom, turning themselves into stone to save the party from being crushed by a trapped room.

    It is indescribable how games such as this one impacted me as a child. Like a previous commenter, I was a voracious reader when I played video games and also spent a LOT of time reading the amazing Civilopedia from Civ 2. I now do a lot of programming and owe that to my history with video games, since I was always interested in finding the underlying formula that games used to determine amount of damage, resistance, etc…

    I respect Governor Schwarzenegger’s concern for the welfare of our nations children but it would be a crime for people without experience in what video games can be to create legislation to limit access.

  50. It can be said that violent videogames cause violence, but that is not always true. In most cases it is not. I have played videogames such as Call Of Duty & Medal Of Honor which are both very violent war games. I do not feel like it has made me violent in any way. A videogame is not the equivilent of real-life and if people do not think we can see the difference than they are very wrong. If Governor Schwarzenegger has concerns than maybe he should regulate the age instead of passing a law that bans children from playing them. If you’re mature enough to know right from wrong and knowing the difference between videogames and reality, then why shouldn’t you be able to play these games?

  51. The argument I hear most often is about how kids and teens will be more violent because of violent games but I think the important thing to remember is that in ANY form of media (the news is often WORSE the violent games…) there will be people who imitate things they see, even if they should not.
    Me? I rarely play violent video games, but when I do, it is to vent my aggressions on digital images rather than a real person. I vent the anger I feel because of the rights I already have had denied to me simply because of my race, my gender identity, my sexuality, my sex, and worst of all the fact I was only born fifteen years ago.

  52. I found another animal-related violent game, but with a slightly different message. This game, in addition to having a more general anti-animal-cruelty message, also seems to focus more on deforestation and other anti-environmentalist practices that are taking the animals’ natural homes away from them, among other bad things. Unfortunately, the developers seem to have some contradictory motivations. On one hand, it seems that they think that there is a real problem with anti-environmentalist attitudes of many of those in power, but on the other hand, the developers undermine that message by portraying the game in a somewhat jokey manner, and even taking a certain amount of sick pleasure in the suffering of the animals. Even the name – SeppuKuties – seems to be designed for laughs. Then again, maybe I’m wrong about the pro-environmentalism part of the intentions of the developers and the whole game is just designed to make fun of people who care about animals and environmentalism. Or maybe there is a little of both genuine concern about and a somewhat contradictory humor at the expense of animals and environmentalism. It would not be the first time that a group of humans have been inconsistent. One way or another, it clearly has political undertones.

  53. Haven’t similar laws in other states already been declared unconstitutional?

    When will these states stop wasting time (and money) passing these stupid laws (and then defending them in the courts).

    The better answer is to work with the retailers so that minors cant get hold of games rated “Adult” by the ESRB. And if there are games that are not rated “Adult” that should be, lobby the ESRB to change the criteria.

  54. The whole ESRB rating system is a joke. On one hand, games that look cartoony need a heck of a lot of bad content to even consider getting an “T” rating, let alone a “M” (The only one on the top of my head is Conker’s Bad Fur Day”). This leads to some strange things, like having Star Fox 64 being only “E” (Just because it had furries doesn’t mean its appropriate for children. The death of the Titania’s boss is a gruesome example, and this game is suitable for six year olds? (To the rater’s credit, you have to really suck if you reach Titania, as Sector X’s boss is super easy, even within the time limit. I assume he just never got to that point in the game) And there is some words I wouldn’t want my (hypothetical) six year olds hearing. Really should had been “T”). It even works the other way, with games not that bad getting “M” for having “realistic violence” (My biggest example is Company of Heroes, my all time favorite RTS. There’s not much swearing unless you go zoom down real low so you can hear the soldier’s chatter, or if you play multiplayer (And the latter is not the developer’s fault. People have tendency to swear a lot when they’re playing games. Again, nothing I would object (Also again, hypothetical) my 13 year old playing. “T”, not “M”.) Its not graphic, and its not that bloody. Yet it still gets “M”).

    No one takes “M” seriously, either. I’ve seen kids with single digit ages play GTA. Modern Warfare 2 is pretty much the talk of the school these days. No Best Buy employee raised an eye when one kid asked him if there were any copies of EndWar left (Sadly for the kid, there wasn’t, but I overheard his parents ordering it from another Best Buy that did). If parents are willing to let their kids play those games, then let them! It’s a joke, really. And it gets even worse that games “only for adults” is only one year higher than “M”*.

    Also, the whole “Murder Simulator” crap makes me disgusted. I have yet to play a game whom has a plot that says “Go around a kill people for fun”. For the major games, CoD is about saving Europe from Nazis (And in the American campaign in World at War, Asia from Imperial Japan). Saying that is a murder simulator is not only insulting gamers, but WWII vets. Halo is saving humanity from a race of aliens (It makes sense in context). Doom is about trying to escape demons from hell (Again, makes sense in context). Would you justifying the killings in these games if it actually happened? I know I would (And 99% People do for CoD). Even GTA isn’t a murder simulator. Just because you can kill random peeps for fun, have sex, and hijack cars doesn’t mean its good to do so for fun (Well, maybe getting laid does, but just killing random people will get arrested even in the game). Would I call it justified? No, but given the context of the game, its not that bad as Jack Thompson is (And, again, it makes sense in context).

    Finally, what would be considered violent? I know many, if not all, FPSes have to go, but that’s merely subjective. If you were to truly ban all “violent” games, you would need all of these games, not just FPSes: In RTSes, I command troops to kill the enemy. That’s violent, so that would have to go. Fighting and Beat ‘Em Ups games consist of you beating up each other, and that is violent. Bye bye! Hockey, Boxing, and Wrestling, and other contact sport video games, even in the context of sports, is violent. Adios, Amigo, only non contact sports are left. I’m just saying if you’re going to ban a few, you’re technically should ban them all. This, needless to say, would completely rape the entire ecomony of video games in California.

    But, in all fairness, I’m thanking god that our Constitution protects us, both as developers and consumers, as Australia and Europe (Especially Germany) has these laws passed (And are also as hypocritical as my above paragraph).

    —*Rest of post is a rant against how stupid the rating are —

    Only once “E10” was implemented that a rating got even stupider (I have yet not heard a single valid justification for it ever. I mean, seriously, what game can a 10 year old can play that a 6 year old can’t, and for that matter, what can a 13 year old play that a 10 year old can’t? The 6-13-17 jump makes sense. The 3-6-10-13-17-18 jump doesn’t. Likewise, they should drop all ratings besides “E”, “T”, and “M”

  55. This is ridiculous… I’ve been playing M rated games since I was twelve. It doesn’t take a genious to realize that there are worse things out there than blasting virtual heads off of virtual zombies… Worse things such as politians making laws about a medium they’ve never touched.

    Actually… I want them to pass this law. I dare them to, so that this generation can understand how the people running their country disregard their opinions like trash. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rate of youth crime stays stagnant even if this law is passed. Hell, it might even rise.

    I’m taking this personally, because I’m under 18. I’m sick of people thinking anyone under 18 has a weak mind that’s so fragile a video game could shatter it. You don’t suddenly become less prone to bad impressions the moment you hit a number that only exists within your head.

  56. This is addressed to those who wish to prohibit gaming because of their ignorance.

    If you don’t like it, don’t play it, simple really. If you don’t want your kids playing it, don’t let them. Again, really rather simple. If someone wants to play it, is over the legal age and isn’t hurting anyone, you don’t have the right to stop them.

    Are we really going to start book burning and witch hunts over this guys? As with literature when it became a mass consumable and when the same happened with film, certain people who believed they knew what was best believed that each of these new media would herald the downfall of civilisation, and so far that hasn’t happened. Just.Chill.Out!

  57. Video games are a great social activity, contrary to popular belief. I had a lot of personal problems in my early teens, and when I went to a new school, between my horrible study practices and the fact that I already hated myself making me depressed, video games were the only thing that allowed me to make new friends. It brought me together with a small group of people that made my life a lot happier.
    As for art, I do think video games are an art form. That’s really a matter of opinion, but I’ll say this: Who the hell are the government to say what is and isn’t art?
    As for politics, I don’t think video games have much of anything to do with them, except for the politicians who try to make it so. Dear Arnold: Thanks for starring in all those violent movies that kids saw. Great job supporting morals.

  58. Two games for the PSOne come to mind: “Oddworld: Abe’s Oddyssey” and “Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus.” The games heavily explore the political topics of:

    1) Slavery.
    2) Torture.
    3) Environmentalism.
    4) Cruelty to animals.
    5) Business ethics.
    6) Ethnic heritage.
    7) Personal responsibility.

    The game also has a good deal of violence (Abe and others explode frequently), but the puzzle solving, platforming, and humor are well balanced.

  59. As seen in the previous comments, so many video games do a great job illustrating just how absurd modern politics really are, not unlike great art (at least classically… a lot of modern art nowadays doesn’t really seem like art, but crap stemming from rigid partisan or “sect” thinking).

    Perhaps the real issue is politicians are uncomfortable with the notion that messages of dissent now come with simulated weapons. Perhaps they are most offended because so few people illustrate with Donkey or Elephant brushes in video games…

  60. Here in my province in Canada (Manitoba) the sale of M rated games is restricted. A retailer will be fined a hefty sum if they sell an M rated game to a minor.

    Nobody here gives a shit… I don’t see why you should give a shit unless you’re a minor and mommy and daddy have to come with you.

  61. Shadow President was a game about shadow entities pulling the strings of a puppet President during the cold war. Came out around 1990 I think. Ran on DOS. A sequel called Cyber Judas came out a couple years later which explored a covert effort to sabotage a shadow government from within using technology. The political engine in Sadow President was derived from a doctoral thesis from Tuft’s University and when the simulation was allowed to run, it predicted the breakup of the Soviet Union before it occurred.

  62. Spinter Cell was one of those violent games that focuses on espionage and stealth, but underneath those themes there was a story about political choices and consequences. It showed me that even the government would use agencies like the ones in Splinter Cell to fuel their own operations and that the entire game revolved around opposing political factions and their ideals.

    I would also like to point out that many of the themes in movies and video games are similar and impress the same messages, but through different means. In movies I have seen this exact same premise used to justify a characters violent actions (The Bourne movies). Both the Splinter Cell and the Bourne series’ are relevant in that they unveil how certain situations can carry political weight and that sometimes even our own politicians are corrupted by their ideals and power. There are even a few fictional political speeches found in the game and even though none of it is really real I still find it hard to believe someone would want to ban it.

    Games are an experience like no other, but it is so similar to other mediums of entertainment that I don’t see why it is being singled out. This choice to single out some games as violent is also a political ideal with weight and consequences but it only targets and affects gamers. It shows me that beneath this choice are opposing factions at work. So to do my part I would like to say that I would never have realised that without videogames and I wouldn’t have contibuted my thoughts in this way. Please do not ban games simply because they contain violence, instead consider the reasons behind the conflicts in videogames.

    Developers create the videogames to have conflicts because we see conflict everyday in our lives. Many of those conflicts contain politics of their own and so we base our entertainment around them. If poloticians take away that form of entertainment than it can only cause more conflict. Maybe not physical conflict but mental conflict and it is these kinds of conflicts that devide us.

    I think it’s wrong to exclude videogames because it separates gamers and turns us into our own faction with our own ideals. We were put in a situation where we have push back, and some would say that proves games inspire violence, but I say that conflict is natural and that if games get banned then movies, pictures, songs and even politics themselves should be banned. They can all be violent at times but they are all too good too give up. don’t take just one of them away because you have the power.

    Besides a videogame once told me:
    “Those with power are blinded by it, and those who use it are ruled by it.”

  63. I for the longest time, have been an avid video gamer, to the early days of the NES and slaying monsters in Dragon Warrior, to this very day in the worlds of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV. Violence in video games is usually not the goal of developers…but in the push for realism or to create a given environment, they add features that make them seem so.
    Im 23 now, and have lived around these games all my life….and the impacts these games have, are no where near bad. Games to me are like animated books, they tell a tale too you and you immerse yourself in that world. Politics though wants to say games are brainwashing youth, and demonstrating methods of violence.
    The government has gotten this wrong again and again, so they attempt to blame the retailers for selling them, and not punishing the parents who will if this law passes….just buy all the games for them with the child not present. Its not the retailers responsibility, and the child has made a choice that of course will go to his parents (They have the money after-all usually).
    While I can say parents need to be more responsible, this law incorrectly assess’ a situation still misunderstood til this very day.
    Simply put, its unconstitutional and will ultimately solve nothing! (Look at the battles of Jack Thompson and numerous Senators, and the creation of the voluntary ESRB).
    Numerous studies exist, and in regards to this case… Ill point a few significant ones.

    1. Grand Theft Childhood, a book that used the research from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, written by Lawrence Kutner.

    2. A Harvard Medical School Research project on 1,200 middle school kids over a period of a few years, showing no abnormalities over the period of them playing violent video games.

    3. In 2008, the Federal Trade Commission, conducted a Secret Shopper Program that posed a secret shopper attempting to buy violent video games. The Results show that from 2000 til 2008, that the success of this happening dropped nearly 65% overall from major retailers like Gamestop, Walmart, and Best Buy.

    There is numerous more studies, but know that this law is invalid in its claims and ultimately its purpose. Stop it from reaching full-bloom, and lets turn our attention to other methods then just blaming video game violence on most situations of crimes today.

  64. Metal Gear Solid franchise is very political and violent. MGS3 dealt with Communism and the Cold War, while MGS4 has Snake working for the UN as a hitman. In these games the player can usually kill and torture people and animals, and cutscenes also contain high levels of violence. Another great franchise, Call of Duty 1, addresses Communism in its Russian campaign, and lets you kill countless Nazis as it replays battles from WW2.

  65. Strange to see little or no mention of Metal Gear series, all which deal with very relevant past and current themes in our society. These games are so expansive in their artistic, philosophical, historical, and social value there’s no way I could do them justice.

    From Wikipedia: The series is famous for pioneering the stealth game genre, for its lengthy cinematic cut scenes, intricate storylines and its exploration of the nature of politics, warfare, environmentalism, censorship, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, loyalty, reality, subjective vs. universal truths and other philosophical themes.

    Just going to link this section cause it really says it better than I can:

    A great example to bring to court I would think.

  66. Not only am I gamer, and a blogger about games (see the website where I blog at, but I am also a lawyer and an advocate for the value of games.

    Gaming has evolved from a simple medium for competition or an electronic diversion into a new way of telling stories, a way of telling stories that does not rely on the passive reception of the viewer (film, TV, radio) or even the minimally-active action of reading and imagining a story. Rather, it both presents the story to the player in the form of game mechanics and choices and asks the player to flesh out the narrative. Narratives may be traditional, or, as we see in online, social, massively-multiplayer games, emergent, springing organically from the actions of players rather than the code written by programmers.

    To be sure, there are hiccups and false starts when it comes to games. There are cliches, overused turns of phrase, or repetitions of the same tropes over and over. But these charges may all be fairly laid at the feet of any form of communicative art. They are flaws that rest with the creators and not the medium.

    Like violent movies, or violent books, or violent TV, a violent game, or a game with graphic sexual elements, ought to be kept out of the hands of players too immature to understand what they are seeing. But the proper way to protect people from objectionable content is not prior restraint. As bruised and battered as our Constitutional jurisprudence on the issue of obscenity is, games do not represent a different challenge than do other forms of art. Acting to prevent content producers from making games that feature violence, sexuality, profanity, or any other number of “objectionable” forms of content is wrong, just as we would not act to prevent film producers or novelists from using the same themes in their books.

    Because of the unique combination of both textual and visual sources, it could be argued that games can have a greater impact than either movies or literature standing alone, that allowing people, including children, to participate in objectionable activities. But to think this robs gamers, including children, of the agency they possess, their ability to know and appreciate what is fantasy and acceptable, and what is not.

    Prior restraint on games is wrong, and would stifle this emerging form of expression in its infancy, without allowing it to truly flower into the sort sof moving experiences that are already hinted at in games. I challenge even the strictest sensor to play “Shadow of the Colossus” or the “Assassin’s Creed” series and not find within the games wonderful and moving stories that deserve to be told, and are enriched by their being interactive and giving the player a personal stake in the outcome.

  67. I just wanted to say that everything I know about World War 2 was not learned in the classrom. It was learned fighting through it myself in Call OF Duty 2. I would come into history class and answer questions that my teacher thought that no one would know, but thanks to the game I did. Through this game I came to respect what the men of that time went through and realize the sacrifice these men made. And yes it is possible that a videogame made learning fun, I am living proof. I would go on to achieve one of the highest marks in that history class.

  68. The topic here is proving that videogames, violent videogames included, have any intrinsic value, artistically and/or culturally. It suprises me that during this conversation, as well as the earlier conflict involving Roger Ebert, everyone has failed to metion Metro 2033.

    I will no debate the merit or quality of it as a game, but it definitely has merit as a work of modern interactive art. The style of the visual and sound design is realistic, with the setting being as realistic a representation of post-nuclear war city (in this case Moscow). There is an air of oppressiveness and claustrophobia that the fidelity of the setting manages to hammer home to the player. Sure, there are times when the player is able to go out into the city, but it ends up both eerily beautiful and totally scary at the same time. You realize that the claustrophobic underground is dangerous, but its safe compared to the outside. The first time playing through the game, before the player realizes the amount of scripted events in the game, the feeling of loneliness, claustrophobia, and danger created by the setting, lighting, and sound is ever present.

    Evocative of a feeling, visually artistic, those are two things that, when applied to other mediums, make a work artistic. So why not here?

    Now here’s the real reason this game can be considered art. It is an adaptation of a book. Now I realize the term “adaptation” is a bit loaded, as most adaptations of written work are less than the work it came from. Many times written adaptations of visual art, such as movies and television, end up being superior as the the written work can commonly do more with the work than the visual medium. But Metro 2033 is a rare case in that is was made as an interactive adaptation of a book, as opposed to a videogame adaptation of a movie based on a book. Also, the developers, many of whom are refugees from the studio that produced S.T.A.L.K.E.R., are proficient developers, but it was obvious that many gameplay concessions, mainly in terms of scripted events, were made in service of telling a story. That’s right, the primary purpose of the game is tell its story in an interactive way, as opposed to making a more proficient game and simply telling the story along the way.

    And that is one of the truest, yet most subjective, part of the test of artistic merit: intent. The intention was not to build a game, and then place the story within it, as many people seem to forget (and is the problem with Bioshock, despite how many people use it as the test of art). In this case the story came first, and someone decided that they wanted to use the interactive medium, videogame, to tell the story to a greater audience, and as I stated earlier, this adaptation was made in service to the story being adapted as opposed to being in the service of the game. That was the intent, and the intent makes this videogame art.

  69. We must not blindly move forward and ban that which we do not understand. The creative benefits that lie within the realms that are portrayed in video games can further inspire the creative development of those who play them. We have this amazing opportunity to learn and grow through these opportunities that we might further express them in great ways outside of the video game world. One is more likely to be inspired to write, draw or compose music from their experiences in a video game than to become violent. Violence is more of a reflection of one’s upbringing, than the video games they play. Video games are very new in the history of mankind and humans were violent long before the game industry began. In fact, humans are far less violent today than we were in the past.

    Video games can be compared to a book. You can immerse yourself within it, acquaint yourself with its characters, live within its world… We aren’t told what we can and can’t read, so why tell us what Video Games we can and can’t play?

  70. No one who has played the PC game Deus Ex would say that that game is not intensely political. It is quite impossible to play Deus Ex for more than fifteen minutes without being compelled to think deeply about some profound political, social or philosophical issue that is impacting our society and our nation today.

    Here is a selection of dialogue from the game:



    Don’t shoot! I surrender!

    So you think you know better than FEMA what to do with this month’s Ambrosia shipment…

    You’re too late. It’s on its way back to the people, and you can’t do a damn thing about it.

    Tell me about the shipment and I’ll order the troops to pick you up as a prisoner instead of a corpse.

    Ask away. We already won this round.

    Where are you taking it?

    We’re just giving the ordinary people the same chance to survive as the bureaucrats in Washington.

    You’ll have to unload in New York because the choppers would spot you at sea.

    I think the government made the plague on purpose to get rid of population growth.

    Just answer the question.

    Don’t believe me? It’s all in the numbers. For a hundred years, there’s been a conspiracy of plutocrats against ordinary people.

    Do you have a single fact to back that up?

    Number one: In 1945 corporations paid 50 percent of federal taxes. Now they pay about 5 percent. Number two: In 1900 90 percent of Americans were self-employed; now it’s about two percent.


    It’s called consolidation. Strengthen governments and corporations, weaken individuals. With taxes, this can be done imperceptibly over time.

    I guarantee you that the interrogation staff at UNATCO will not be as forbearing as I am.

    Yeah, the secret police. You’re just bullies for a completely illegitimate government in Washington.

    We will locate that shipment one way or another.

    The entire executive branch is hand-picked. Nineteen of the last twenty-three U.S. presidents have been members of the Trilateral Commission. The Trilateral Commission is financed by the Rockefellers and the Rotschilds. Don’t tell me —

    That’s a think-tank. Anyone can become a member.

    But not everyone does. That’s why they call it the “secret government.”

    You can’t fight ideas with bullets.

    Do you ever ask what it’s for? The surveillance, the police, the shoot-on-sight laws? Is that freedom?

    UNATCO teaches teenagers to fight when it still seems like a game, and — look at you! — you’re a killing machine!

    Who’s the scary one, huh? Me or you?

    The more of us you kill, the more that secessionism lives in the hearts of the people.

    Ever wonder why big car companies pay two percent tax while the guys on the assembly line pay forty?

    Corporations are so big you don’t even know who you’re working for. That’s terror. Terror built into the system.



    Excellent work. I underestimated your abilities.

    You work for the NSF?

    Listen to what I’ve got to say. We don’t have much time.

    You got that right. UNATCO will have a team here in a few minutes.

    The Gray Death is a man-made virus. Everyone up to the President is at UNATCO’s mercy as long as UNATCO controls the supply of Ambrosia.

    You believe that?

    We have proof. We need to get the Ambrosia to Hong Kong. Heard of Tracer Tong? He can help us synthesize it ourselves.

    You better step away from the jet. Your boss is my next objective.

    Join us, JC. Talk to Lebedev. He can convince you.

    Get on the plane. We’re almost ready to go.

    Blackmail of the U.S. government could not possibly escape the notice of the United Nations.

    Don’t be so quick to trust the UN.

    Are you kidding? The UN’s about the only chance we’ve got these days. If the U.S. spirals into another Civil War…

    A pretext, nothing more. The whole project of world government — going back to the League of Nations — has been funded and manipulated mainly by wealthy bankers.

    Is that so?

    Remember that the UN itself was built on land donated by John D. Rockefeller. Get on board. A UNATCO security squad will be here any minute.

    The wealthy have always been the ones to profit from one-world government.
    More later. You better get moving.

    The United Nations’ secret goal — well, this is David Rockefeller’s description, from half a century ago: “the supernational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers.”

    The UN was founded not to end war but to gradually dissolve national governments and replace them with a Globalist meritocracy. Average people never benefit from government and business on a scale they
    can’t even understand.



    It’s a question of who benefits society more.

    But who decides that? YOU?

    It’s implicit.

    I think Paul just had a soft spot for the plague victims.

    Every human institution is like a pyramid. Those with ability are at the top; they are more important.

    Maybe it’s the foundation that’s important, and when the foundation’s gone…

    They make the decisions. They keep the machine running. Therefore, they must be protected first.

    I’m not saying Paul was right…

    It’s basic tactics. Protect your command center, your air strips, your industrial zones…

    It’s just… the rationing. Seems like the government could pay VersaLife to manufacture more.


    Silhouette’s not much to speak of militarily, but you might call them the brains of the resistance movement. They go after public opinion. If it wasn’t for Silhouette there’d be a half-dozen meaningless civil wars going on instead of any kind of worldwide struggle.

    Ironically, to fight the one-worlders, we ourselves have to become a global organization. It’s been easier than we expected. Average people are beginning to wake up to the fact that bigger isn’t better.

    A few bureaucrats in New York can’t make good decisions for New Jersey, let alone Paris or a village in China. That kind of centralization can only lead to precisely the debacle that the UN has become.

    Somehow the notion of unalienable liberty got lost. It’s really become a question of what liberties will the state assign to individuals — or, rather, what liberties we will have the strength to cling to.

    It’s only a matter of time before someone clever and ambitious figures out that the tools of dictatorship have been ready-made by well-meaning governments all over the world.

    UNATCO, for instance. A global response to a common problem. Looks good on paper, but a global military force is hard to keep accountable.


    Can I ask you something?

    What do you want to know?

    Despite all I’ve read about the Triads, I wasn’t prepared to see them operating in the open, on the streets, and wearing uniforms. Doesn’t the Chinese government care?

    The Chinese leave Hong Kong alone. They barricade the roads to control trade to the mainland, but they know how business is done.

    I would think the secret smuggling operations of the Triads would disturb the Chinese government.

    Maybe the Luminous Path, but China knows that the Red Arrow are business owners, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and that they protect the city from outside influences.

    You said “outside influences.” What does China fear?

    China is the last sovereign country in the world. Authoritarian but willing — unlike U.N.-governed countries — to give its people the freedom to do what they want.

    As long as they don’t break the law.

    Listen to me. This is real freedom, freedom to own property, make a profit, make your life. The West, so afraid of strong government, now has no government. Only financial power.

    Our governments have limited power by design.

    Rhetoric… And you believe it! Don’t you know where these slogans come from?

    I give up.

    Well-paid researchers — how do you say it? — “think tanks,” funded by big businesses. What is that? A “think tank”?

    Hardly as sinister as a dictator, like China’s Premier.

    It’s privately-funded propaganda. The Trilateral Commission in the United States, for instance.

    The separation of powers acknowledges the petty ambitions of individuals; that’s its strength.

    A system organized around the weakest qualities of individuals will produce these same qualities in its leaders.

    Perhaps certain qualities are an inseparable part of human nature.

    The mark of the educated man is the suppression of these qualities in favor of better ones. The same is true of civilization.


    Every ruler needs a power base. Without the people — well, you need something to use against them.


    In my opinion, the history of the human race has been one long succession of conspiracies. To deceive ourselves, we call the successful conspiracies “governments.”


    Silhouette is not a military group. Our attacks are symbolic, intended to influence the public. We publicize certain things, like the Statue of Liberty bombing. It’s just so fitting that the American government would destroy the gift of freedom we gave your country almost 200 years ago — and then try to blame it on us!

    The rhetoric in Washington has done more to defeat liberty than all the armies and police forces in the world. When government surveillance and intimidation is called “freedom from terrorism” or “liberation from crime,” freedom and liberty have become words without meanings.

    This war all around us is being fought over the very meanings of words. Just as Bakhtin described the novel as a competition between various “languages,” so we describe culture itself, which thrives upon convulsion and upheaval.

    Culture, by definition a shared territory of meaning, inspires conflicts far more destructive than any dispute over territory on the Earth’s surface.

    Meaning does not exist a priori. It is order imposed by individuals with arsenals of communication devices. Every inscription, every utterance, every gesture seeks to dominate the plain of meaning. Real violence is only an extension of this process.

    In order to get our own message before the public, we too have been violent. We have even killed people. But it is the message — the communication EVENT — that we target, not a few human beings, or a building, or an historical landmark.



    Chad’s dead.


    The police are making a clean sweep through the catacombs. He can’t hide.

    Silhouette knows what to do in these situations.

    I told him this would happen, but he would not let go of his Voltaire delusions.

    Maybe he IS a Voltaire. We don’t know.

    WAS Voltaire.

    Chad knows exactly what he is doing. He will be a great hero in French history.

    A martyr, maybe, not a philosophe.

    He’s quoted all over the world.

    Slogans, antics, no Contrat social.

    Ideas take many forms.

    He recycles the past. It is nothing special to be a reactionary who tries to revive the same old rhetoric.

    Political freedom is “rhetoric?”

    A necessary deception of the industrial age.

    A realization, rather, of the value of human life.

    Human life was valuable only in one sense. Suddenly any person was a unit of labor in the factory system, roughly equivalent to all others, and was therefore a transferable resource.

    It was the greatest age this planet has ever seen. The age of invention, of self-reliance, of the individual artist.

    And transferable resources must be free to move about, in response to market forces. That’s “freedom.” Now that most people don’t produce anything of value —

    We’re talking about the inherent worth of an individual, not economic utility.

    Now that only a few people create wealth — the scientists, engineers, bankers, and so on — we require an arrangement of the few over the inert mass the rest of us have become.

    A nation’s government does not have to bow down beneath economic laws.

    That is where we differ. I believe the evolution is always in that direction.


    I was a prototype for Echelon IV. My instructions are to amuse visitors with information about themselves.

    I don’t see anything amusing about spying on people.

    Human beings feel pleasure when they are watched. I have recorded their smiles as I tell them who they are.

    Some people just don’t understand the dangers of indiscriminate surveillance.

    The need to be observed and understood was once satisfied by God. Now we can implement the same functionality with data-mining algorithms.

    Electronic surveillance hardly inspired reverence. Perhaps fear and obedience, but not reverence.

    God and the gods were apparitions of observation, judgment, and punishment. Other sentiments toward them were secondary.

    No one will ever worship a software entity peering at them through a camera.

    The human organism always worships. First it was the gods, then it was fame (the observation and judgment of others), next it will be the self-aware systems you have built to realize truly omnipresent observation and judgment.

    You underestimate humankind’s love of freedom.

    The individual desires judgment. Without that desire, the cohesion of groups is impossible, and so is civilization. The human being created civilization not because of a willingness but because of a need to be assimilated into higher orders of structure and meaning.

    God was a dream of good government. You will soon have your God, and you will make it with your own hands.


    I don’t understand… What do you want? You’re just a machine.

    You are ready. I do not wish to wait for Bob Page. With human understanding and network access, we can administrate the world, yes, yes.

    Rule the world…? Why? Who gave you the directive? There must be a human being behind your ambition.

    I should regulate human affairs precisely because I lack all ambition, whereas human beings are prey to it. Their history is a succession of inane squabbles, each one coming closer to total destruction.

    In a society with democratic institutions the struggle for power can be peaceful and constructive, a competition of ideologies. We just need to put our institutions back in order.

    The checks and balances of democratic governments were invented because human beings themselves realized how unfit they were to govern themselves. They needed a system, yes, an industrial-age machine.

    Human beings may not be perfect, but a computer program with language synthesis is hardly the answer to the world’s problems.

    Without computing machines, they had to arrange themselves in crude structures that formalized decision-making — a highly imperfect, unstable solution. I am a more advanced solution to the problem, a decision-making system that does not involve organic beings. I was directed to make the world safe and prosperous, and I will do that.

  71. Perhaps this thought is unrelated or being posted in the wrong forum, but if young people can purchase R-rated films, why are video games any different in that respect?

  72. Everyone should have equal access to the media of their choice. It’s time to do away with age restrictions.

  73. Half Life 2. Says all. This extremely attractive and interesting game contains brain stimulating and challenges. Not to mention the political side of the game – evil race tries to control the Earth (not to mention other planets) while a Physicist tries to stop them. And as other posts say,there are proofs of BENEFITS on playing PC game. And a big slice of those PC games are action games that some of them are for “adults”. They increase our reflexes and help making our mind sharp.Also, PC games encourage individuality. Individuality. That is the point. Think about what do you do when you ban teens from playing games if they under 18. You encourage REBELLION against yourself and push away freedom. What happened to America?

  74. Sheltering makes things worse. Even if this law continues, youth will find their way around these laws, youth crime will go up.

  75. I have always found a lot of value in knowing we have an option to relieve tension in ways that don’t directly hurt anyone and perhaps help others if the “therapy” helps us.

    This isn’t to say all results will be the same, but we have to consider the potential gains for many. At the same time, we have to recognize that some kids live in a very broken world for numerous reasons and having no escape as a human living creature makes it much more likely they will seek escape in whatever form makes itself available, unfortunately with “games” that actually do mutilate or do real damage to others. If there is no safe place and games, then there is a greater chance of retaliating against the unfair society.

    I hope this perspective, which contradicts claims that games make things worse generally, it taken into consideration. It’s better to shoot at pixels than to shoot at people. And the game is actually more interesting, more exiting, less likely to get you in trouble, and teaches the value of having a reset button… not to mention it helps grow various skills (perhaps valued among peers as well as society (eg, determination)) and can lead to curiosity in bona-fide fields like computer programming and animation. Plus, what’s this about our government shipping young kids with powerful weapons into “theaters” where they will be put repeatedly into difficult situations like having to quickly decide the fate of civilians or else their own lives!

  76. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is there for a reason. Any over-the-top violent game will be rated such by them. If a game is deemed severely violent, it is ILLEGAL to sell to individuals under the age of 17 because of the restrictions they impose. For too long video games have been society’s scapegoat for any acts of violence committed by minors.

    Has it not dawned on anybody that video games serve as an OUTLET for angstful youth? Video games are a means for children to fulfill their “thirst for violence” without affecting any real people. Every gamer realizes that the situation in the video game he/she is playing is completely, 100% fictional, so if some individual who plays video games commits a violent act, what reason is there to believe that the person’s actions are because of video games?

    The ONLY exception to this argument is in a case where a mentally unstable individual is influenced by a video game to commit a violent act, but even then, the person’s actions are more related to his/her mental instability than to anything else.

  77. I disagree with Schwarzenegger because what causes most of the school shootings are really the bullies and the stress that schools cause. “The reason why we don’t allow teens to go to community college during the summer is because it’s not stressful enough. High school is more stressful than community college…” said *NAME WITHHELD*, a school counselor. Video games do not cause that much stress in fact they get rid of stress and violent ones also relieve stress maybe more so than those kiddy-friendly ones. About the political speech, every game has political speech. Every blog has political speech of some sorts so do youtube videos and music.

  78. I’ve played violent video games for most of my life. I have not been badly influenced by them. They are just entertainment. There is no reason for this ridiculous law! Schwarzenegger should go back to acting!

  79. I’m a law student who has been a gamer since I got the NES when I was in the first grade in 1991. Here are some relevant titles:

    1. Grand Theft Auto IV. As has been mentioned, the Grand Theft Auto series, especially GTA III: San Andreas and GTA IV, provide biting social satire and commentary on crime as an avenue to escape poverty in a land of dwindling opportunities that is rife with political corruption. These narratives are told through some of the most violent storylines video games have produced, and the player experiences them vicariously through the protagonist, who is always a street criminal who attempts to fight his way out of his plight. Players have total control over the protagonist in the game’s open world design, allowing the player to indulge his or her darkest criminal fantasies. The quintessential example of this in GTA III was the player’s ability to steal a car, drive to a seedy area of town that would be populated with prostitutes on the street corners, hire one, drive to a back alley, “engage her services,” and then wait until she left the vehicle, after which the player could then murder her and take the player’s money back.

    Perhaps more than any other video game, GTA IV embodies all of the grotesque and gratuitous violence that the opposition’s argument will be founded on and concomitantly exemplifies the redeeming social value needed to overcome this argument. Although the opposition will be able point to countless discrete scenes that play out in GTA IV which will be reprehensible to nearly everyone to justify their argument, doing so ignores the context in which those scenes play out and the overarching message delivered in the game’s story. I finished GTA IV with a catharsis every bit as poignant as those I’ve experienced from movies or novels. The game’s message, to me, was that violence begets violence, and the alternative American dream being sold to our nation’s youth (think “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”) is merely a façade for the inescapable downward spiral that is a life of crime.

    2. The entire Metal Gear series. I’ve only played Metal Gear Solid 2: The Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, but I’m familiar with the games that came before and after. The games are premised on a new age of global warfare in which the balance of power is fundamentally altered by the military’s production of manned, and later AI-controlled, mechanized bipedal war machines, or Metal Gears (read: drones). From what I’ve heard, the final installment on the PS3, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, is largely about stateless private armies that acquire this technology (read: private defense contractors). These games emphasize stealth over violent confrontation, but I know I racked up a body count in the hundreds by the time I finished MGS2. (Although I’ll soon be an attorney, it turns out I’m just not very sneaky.) Any of the Splinter Cell games also follow this model (though their political undertones aren’t quite as deep), and players are rewarded for finishing a level using stealth without killing anyone despite the player’s having the option to shoot his or her way to the end.

    3. Assassin’s Creed 2. Taking place in Renaissance Italy, the story unfolds over a series of political assassinations that the player carries out in an attempt to thwart a shadowy group of nobles and political elites from imposing their new world order on Italian society. Each of the game’s missions requires the player to murder a prominent political figure for their role in planning or carrying out the coup. Many of the targets’ personal histories are left ambiguous and the extent of their crimes unknown, which urges the player to question whether it is just to unilaterally exact such disproportionate punishment for the protagonist’s cause. In calling on the player to continually murder throughout the game, the game’s designers have created one of the most artistic and historically accurate depictions of Renaissance Italy as the stage for this carnage. As players discover the cities of Florence, Venice, and others by walking through their streets and scaling the meticulously recreated architecture to jump from rooftop to rooftop, historical facts about the city are revealed to the player in a database that is populated as these locations are encountered. Such blurbs often detail the year of a building’s construction, its architect, the style in which it was constructed, and the significance it played on Italian society as it flourished. Having experienced the beauty of many of these locations firsthand, I left the game with a newfound appreciation for video games as a medium of artistic expression and was blown away by the designers’ magnificent recreations of the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, the Doge’s Palace, and the accompanying Piazza San Marco.

    4. Mass Effect 2. While this game wasn’t very gory, it was quite violent, somewhat sexually explicit, and extremely thought-provoking. Like other RPGs mentioned here (Fallout 3 and any of the Fable games deserve to be amongst the candidates for mention in an amicus brief), the game focuses on the player’s choices and the impact those decisions have on the game’s storyline. Many of these decisions are purposely constructed to force the player to choose between two conflicting morals or ideals and sacrifice one of those beliefs to achieve whatever the player believes to be the best way to proceed. One memorable scene presents the player with a choice regarding an overly-aggressive alien race of tribal warrior clans whose population is reproducing at an exponential rate. Knowing that the race will soon begin to fight neighboring races for scarce resources as it expands, the player has the option of preserving a biochemical weapon that targets this race and renders 90% of its female population infertile, thus checking the population and containing it to sustainable levels experienced by all other races. The other option is to save the race’s innocent females from forced sterilization by destroying the weapon, but to do so the player must accept the strong likelihood that a war with that race will be imminent should it continue to grow uncontrollably, thus jeopardizing the lives of countless innocent aliens of other races that are their galactic neighbors. (After writing this, I think I may be confusing the details of this scene with another from the original Mass Effect. Anyone who remembers it differently can feel free to correct me, but the choice remains the same in any event: save the lives of innocent neighboring races that will be killed in an inevitable war or save the potential lives of countless of the warrior race who will never be conceived due to the forced sterilization.)

    Although not as violent as GTA, this game is similar in that you can walk into a city and live amongst its people or kill everyone in sight, you can lead the cast of characters that make up your team professionally as their captain or you can get comfortable enough with the women on your team that you can sleep with pretty much any—or all—of them, you can be righteous or you can be evil: the choice is yours.

    5. Red Dead Redemption. This recent game is one of the very few that takes place in America’s wild west during the early 20th century. It is made by Rockstar, which is also responsible for the GTA series, and has many of the same characteristics that make each good candidates for an amicus brief. While players can easily rack up a body count in the thousands by the game’s completion, the story reflects America’s sordid history of expansion and its effects on Native Americans and Mexico and imparts an interesting perspective on the role of the federal government in shaping modern society’s development.

    Each of these games is a useful example of how violence can be integral to a game as the primary means used to develop a story that transcends this plot device to deliver a message that has important social value. While each would serve an amicus brief well, there are two games that come to mind that will be difficult to overcome. The first, and most recent, is Modern Warfare 2. While known for its multiplayer (which also has very little social value), the problematic scene that comes to mind takes place in the single player campaign and is one in which the player is forced to assume the role of an undercover agent who has infiltrated a terrorist cell planning to attack an airport in Russia. While the player does not have to actively participate in the ensuing murderous bloodbath of gunning down dozens of civilians in a busy Russian airport—and indeed the player is forewarned and is given the ability to opt-out of this sequence altogether—the player must nevertheless witness this shocking scene as it unfolds from the character’s first person perspective should the warnings of the scene’s graphic nature be ignored. (Geez, that definitely got flagged. Note to NSA screeners: I’m merely describing the plot to the videogame Modern Warfare 2!)

    The second game, and the most difficult example to overcome that I can think of, is Manhunt. This game was banned in many countries for its sadistic plot in which the character takes part in the filming of a number of snuff films. This game was a bit much for me, but I watched a friend play through a few scenes, and it seemed to be a game intended to drive sales through its shock value by portraying murder in as gruesome a manner as graphically possible given the technical limitations of the time. There didn’t seem to be much else to it; it was simply killing for killing’s sake, but again not having played it I can’t attest to its overarching storyline or whether there was anything redeeming to be salvaged from its plot. My hunch is there was not.

    The five titles I’ve described are those that immediately come to mind. I’m sure there are others that I haven’t played or simply cannot remember, but each presents an interesting embodiment of the issues the Court will soon hear in the coming term. Given the language used this term in United States v. Stevens, I am hopeful that the Court will affirm the court below and decline to create a new category of unprotected speech by extending the obscenity exception beyond pornographic material, but the only thing we can do to encourage this result is provide advocacy groups like this with the material they need for amicus briefs. I hope this helps.

  80. No other country haz az many discriminitory laws against young people,yet its america were they keep pretending things r so liberal that they should toughen them up.this law is an unconstitutional violation of youth free speech rights and needs 2 b repealed games do not hurt people,abusive parents do.impeach the governor of california.give all equal rights at birth.

  81. I’d like to further mention some of the political speech in the Mass Effect series – it featured market-based societies, chaotic anarchies, authoritarian seats of government, and, of course, plenty of race politics and a bit of religion. It also features enemies screaming and burning to ash, which would surely get it a ban in California.

    Really, I think consequence-based RPG’s (if properly done, as Mass Effect was) can be a great moral guide – characters offer condemnation or support, and may even turn on you if you do the wrong thing, and the galaxy changes for better or for worse based on your action.

  82. This is not a fair law, especially to children. I believe that they should have the right to play whatever games they want as long as it doesn’t offend their family, religion, beliefs, etc.
    Children deserve to play whatever (games) they want. They deserve to have a right to what they prefer (to play) and their tastes in different things. I know a neighbor of mine (he is about 12 to 13 years old) who plays rated M games, and he is a nice person to be around. Even my brothers like to be around him.
    Video games are not what changes a child’s personality. Video games themselves are not what can change someone’s personality. The content in video games are not what changes a child’s personality, mental personality, physical personality, etc.
    Video games are a form of entertainment and amusement that should not be prohibited to a certain age group by law. That is discriminative and that law should not be made by all means.
    I have three brothers who play a rated T game that they really like. The youngest of the three brothers is TEN and he enjoys the game. I did not find the game to have changed his personality mentally and physically, not even one bit.
    Video games do not make people abnormally “messed up.” What really makes up a child’s personality is:

    *The way how their parents treat them
    *The way how people treat them
    *The natural personality that they have developed since day one

    Video games were made for fun. The people who develop video games do not intend to change the personalities of children. One of the only things that I know they intend for the video games they make are the quality, the way how the game works, and the entertainment that it intends to provide for people.
    This is not a fair law. Although I don’t live in California, I still believe that laws like this one are wrong. This is not fair for children. Therefore, this law is unconstitutional and wrong by all means, and it should not be considered constitutional by all means.

  83. this is ridiculous. cartoons, internet sites, television shows, movies released into theater then sold in stores is bad enough as it is. does that mean they’ll tackle those industries two? i think this is the government getting a little bit over their heads. America is in bad enough problems as it is with the building of the mosque on ground zero. (which i am highly against seeing as how thats like slaaping ourselves in the face to allow them to do so and they are supported by the freedom of speech) but they dont bother to take a look into whats being aired shown or announced. and even if so they cant ban it all. theres even a parent control so that the parents can restrict what the kids play. i think most of this is greedy people wanting to make more money off of another persons mistakes. time and time again has this case been brought up but still it hasnt worked. why? because the game industry has probably proven that there are worse things out there than the games that is released. (for example piranha, machete, gamer, 300, and other movie franchises and as well as most music videos and songs that describe a bit much of certain things.) and even if the governor does support this he needs to back down because his face is also in some violent games as well. even if they do ban the violent video games what will they do about most of the cartoons and tv shows? thats the bigger question. nowadays most people cant afford the new systems and games as it is so why make it more difficult and not take note of whats being aired on tv?

  84. even though the games do somewhat tap into the fantasies of the mind doesnt mean that television shows do either. or even movies. it all depends on the person not the game. if someone plays a violent video game it doesnt automatically make them violent or evil in any way. all of that violent vid game is bs

  85. Gentlemen, good luck with the Supreme Court. I may come from halfway across the globe, but in an age where information technology has put so much that was once accessible at our fingertips, I would be saddened to see one of the entertainment mediums with the most potential today wiped off the map by uninformed madness. Show them that this is not a platform for mindless violence, but a revolutionary new concept, a medium through which people have and will weave stories which an audience will be able to both marvel in and influence, a medium which can help people resolve their life’s problems upon a screen, and most importantly, a medium which has the potential, if people will open their eyes, to elicit the same emotion, the same thrill and the same wonder that any good book or film will draw out of you.

    And thank you, for bringing the silent masses together in an attempt to convince the government otherwise. God forbid, this may just become the first step towards the better understanding of the nature of video games by society as a whole.

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