Anti-Censorship Group Decries Arcade Machine Removals

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Anti-Censorship Group Decries Arcade Machine Removals


The National Coalition Against Censorship says the removal of videogames from Massachusetts highway rest stops is "constitutionally problematic."

The state of Massachusetts decided to remove a number of arcade machines [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/121471-Massachusetts-Town-Announces-Videogame-Exchange-Program] from its turnpike rest stations following a complaint that they were inappropriately accessible to young gamers. "At the end of the day, those games are there to entertain kids, probably for a few minutes, while their parents are resting from a long trip," Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said, explaining the decision to pull the machines. "I just think it makes all the sense in the world to have it be a more passive" game.

But in a letter to Davey, National Coalition Against Censorship Executive Director Joan Bertin said he had no right to make that decision. "Videogames are protected speech under the First Amendment and, as such, cannot be regulated or restricted by state officials in response to concerns about their message or content," she wrote. "The [Supreme] Court struck down a California state law restricting the sale of certain videogames depicting violence to minors. The [Department of Transportation's] action in removing certain games because some people object to their message or content is equally constitutionally problematic."

Bertain said there is no "legitimate state interest" that justifies the removal of the games and that by "caving in to the demands of one passer-by," Massachusetts is inviting other people to make similar complaints and expect similar results. "It is not a stretch to imagine someone demanding a ban on certain DVDs, magazines, or books. Perhaps other travelers will think it is inappropriate to broadcast news about war or crime, or other televised content," she continued. "It is no more acceptable for the [Department of Transportation] to remove certain kinds of videogames than it would be to selectively remove other materials in rest stops and concessions because some motorists find something in them objectionable."

The complaint against the arcade games came after a family saw them being played at a rest stop near Newtown, Connecticut, shortly after the mass murder at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The NCAC did not say whether it would pursue the matter beyond the letter.

Source: VentureBeat [http://venturebeat.com/2013/01/30/anti-censorship-group-massachusetts-removing-games-from-rest-stops-is-constitutionally-problematic/]


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FoolKiller

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Feb 8, 2008
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Well I for one hope they remove the candy bar machines as I'm against childhood obesity and so they shouldn't be publicly available.
 

lacktheknack

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Jan 19, 2009
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FoolKiller said:
Well I for one hope they remove the candy bar machines as I'm against childhood obesity and so they shouldn't be publicly available.
Nail'd it.

Except removing candy machines is a better idea overall in how much it affects kids.
 

KeyMaster45

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Jun 16, 2008
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I don't ever recall hearing what the games removed in question were. I mean were they staple arcade shooters like Time Crisis, S.W.A.T., or Area 51? Because lordy, those games are so old the violence is laughably fake. Hell I think they all penalize the player for shooting civilians at that.
 

Therumancer

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Nov 28, 2007
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Interesting one. It could be touchy depending on the age of the machines though given how frequently they are replaced.

While it was years ago now, when I worked Casino Security there were similar movements to force the removal of violent machines, it being less of a free speech issue due to it being private property. Ironically the number of machines that were violent did wind up getting removed, but due to a children's safety issue having less to do with the affects of violent media. They were removed in an effort to combat predatory pedophilles, the thing is that machines that can cater to an older crowd presents an excuse for an adult looking for victims to hang out in an area populated by unattended children (even if they SHOULD be attended which is an entirely differant issue). That creepy oppertunist could make an arguement that it's not wierd for him to hang out there if he REALLY likes Street Fighter for example. After a number of incidents efforts were taken (at least for a while) to keep everything as kiddified as possible to make it less easy to present an excuse when a Security officer walks by and passive aggressively inquires why a solitary 40 year old guy is hanging out in an arcade when he doesn't have any children there to take care of, by way of encouraging them to go hang out somewhere away from the kids.

Given that this strategy came about after some conferance with law enforcement, as there has been a lot of brainstorming on how to deal with these kinds of issues with all the child predators out there, it wouldn't surprise me if this complaint was actually an excuse to finally force pulling a lot of machines that the state enforcement authorities wanted to get rid of anyway but couldn't justify just replacing out of hand without a clear reason. Rest Stops are one of the big locations where truely screwed up stuff happens, including kidnapping and child abductions. A lot of the guys who do that stuff are oppertunists who want for the right chance, and that's why areas where they can potentially lurk, and catch kids unattended or in a place where the adults might be distracted due to fatigue or whatever, since it only takes a few minutes to get away with a kid if you have a solid plan.

Sometime take a note of how many missing child reports involve "went missing at a Rest Stop".

This is all speculation, educated speculation, but just a guess none the less. When it comes to bureaucracy oftentimes wanting to do something and having a reason for it isn't enough, you need to have a clear reason, like a written complaint, to be able to document and file to potentially justify spending money. Otherwise it falls on so and so who authorized it without a clear reason, which might be a problem when it comes time for review, and some been counter wants to know exactly why thousands and thousands of dollars of arcade cabinets had to be removed and replaced right then and there.
 

FoolKiller

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lacktheknack said:
FoolKiller said:
Well I for one hope they remove the candy bar machines as I'm against childhood obesity and so they shouldn't be publicly available.
Nail'd it.

Except removing candy machines is a better idea overall in how much it affects kids.
Shit... you're right. The logic behind it means it would never be approved. :(
 

Zombie_Moogle

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Dec 25, 2008
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I haven't heard of the rest stations putting in these "more passive" games

Replace the arcade cabinets with non-violent alternatives & that argument would have credence
(actually, I would absolutely love to see a Katamari Damacy cabinet... can I put in a request? :p)
 

cobra_ky

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Nov 20, 2008
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Wait what the hell??? Which rest stop on the Masspike had Time Crisis??? I've been to damn near every rest stop on that highway and most of them just have shitty Cabela hunting games.
 

Strazdas

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May 28, 2011
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you have no right to limit acess of games based on player age. whoever decided to remove these machines deserve to be removed themselves from any position of power, for they are obviuosly not fit to make rational decisions.

Also, arcade machines in rest stops? are you crazy? they pull apart rest stops toilets because "You can sell the iron to the junkyard", just think of what they woudl do to those machines?
 

Kopikatsu

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Strazdas said:
you have no right to limit acess of games based on player age. whoever decided to remove these machines deserve to be removed themselves from any position of power, for they are obviuosly not fit to make rational decisions.

Also, arcade machines in rest stops? are you crazy? they pull apart rest stops toilets because "You can sell the iron to the junkyard", just think of what they woudl do to those machines?
Er...what do you think the rating system is for?
 

Strazdas

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May 28, 2011
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Kopikatsu said:
Strazdas said:
you have no right to limit acess of games based on player age. whoever decided to remove these machines deserve to be removed themselves from any position of power, for they are obviuosly not fit to make rational decisions.

Also, arcade machines in rest stops? are you crazy? they pull apart rest stops toilets because "You can sell the iron to the junkyard", just think of what they woudl do to those machines?
Er...what do you think the rating system is for?
censorship. voluntary, granted, but censorship.
 

Hagi

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Apr 10, 2011
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Strazdas said:
censorship. voluntary, granted, but censorship.
You do realize that voluntary censorship is like liquid ice or a square-shaped circle?

If it's voluntary then it's by definition not censorship... It's simply making a choice.
 

Oskuro

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Nov 18, 2009
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Let's not forget that the issue here is not the videogame cabinets themselves, but the precedent it sets.

If a random citizen can get something banned just because it offends them, then we'll approach a dangerous slippery slope where pretty much anything can be banned just because someone objects to it.

The point is to defend freedom of speech.

As Stephen Fry once wisely said:

It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so fucking what?
 

Strazdas

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May 28, 2011
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Hagi said:
Strazdas said:
censorship. voluntary, granted, but censorship.
You do realize that voluntary censorship is like liquid ice or a square-shaped circle?

If it's voluntary then it's by definition not censorship... It's simply making a choice.
Yes it is.
You can censor certain items and the general public may agree with it and it would still be censoring. Thats like saying that sexual content was not censored in 40s.
I for one would not agree with these ratings, and forcing any trader to follow them is censorship. And there are countries where traders are bound by law to follow PEGI ratings. This was one of the very few cases when i broke the law by actually obtaining a 18+ material at 15. Any age based restrictions that are not based on biology is stupid. Persons intelligence is not based on age with exception of brain biology, which certainly does not take 18 years.
 

Hagi

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Strazdas said:
Hagi said:
Strazdas said:
censorship. voluntary, granted, but censorship.
You do realize that voluntary censorship is like liquid ice or a square-shaped circle?

If it's voluntary then it's by definition not censorship... It's simply making a choice.
Yes it is.
You can censor certain items and the general public may agree with it and it would still be censoring. Thats like saying that sexual content was not censored in 40s.
I for one would not agree with these ratings, and forcing any trader to follow them is censorship. And there are countries where traders are bound by law to follow PEGI ratings. This was one of the very few cases when i broke the law by actually obtaining a 18+ material at 15. Any age based restrictions that are not based on biology is stupid. Persons intelligence is not based on age with exception of brain biology, which certainly does not take 18 years.
Brain development certainly does take 18 years, most likely even longer than that. There's evidence of minor development even happening at the ripe age of 30.

On top of that those age ratings are only preventing you from accessing those things without your parent's express permission, which they have every right to it. If they buy 18+ material for you at 15 that's completely fine. But you don't have the right to buy them yourself, just like you don't have the right to vote, drive a car or consume alcohol.

Age matters. Whether 18 is where the line should be or not is up for debate, but denying that there should be a line at all is simply being willfully ignorant.

Nobody is preventing those materials from being circulated in any way, shape or form. Every adult can have access to them if they so desire. Every child has access to them if their parents believe them mature enough.
 

Strazdas

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May 28, 2011
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Hagi said:
Brain development certainly does take 18 years, most likely even longer than that. There's evidence of minor development even happening at the ripe age of 30.

On top of that those age ratings are only preventing you from accessing those things without your parent's express permission, which they have every right to it. If they buy 18+ material for you at 15 that's completely fine. But you don't have the right to buy them yourself, just like you don't have the right to vote, drive a car or consume alcohol.

Age matters. Whether 18 is where the line should be or not is up for debate, but denying that there should be a line at all is simply being willfully ignorant.

Nobody is preventing those materials from being circulated in any way, shape or form. Every adult can have access to them if they so desire. Every child has access to them if their parents believe them mature enough.
Please do not mix biological developement with psychological developement.
I do not believe that parents should have a right to shelter children. denying certain material because of age is sheltering.
Cars and alcohol is different, because those objects can cause actual harm to yourself, and moreimportantly - others.
As for voting, i hated that i could not vote at 16 even though i knew more about politics than the average voter. i do think that 18 year voting restriction is rather stupid.
I agree that the line should exist. and the line should be based on actual human developement and not some aritificial number. currently its based on what used to "finish school and live on its own" type of deal, which not only no longer applies, but is not based in real cognitive developement.
The content circulation is restricted in some cases (like australia bans on certian titles) but yes those are exceptions and i agree that adults have full acess to them. however i believe that teenagers should as well.

P.S. you know i visit more than one forum, and in any other forum i would have been met with "omg your stupid idiot" retort. comments like yours is why i love this forum :)