Jaffe: Gamers' Rights Efforts are "Pointless and Naive"

Andy Chalk

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Jaffe: Gamers' Rights Efforts are "Pointless and Naive"


The always-outspoken David Jaffe says efforts by gamers to make themselves heard on California's upcoming Supreme Court case are "pointless and naive."

On November 2 the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments on California's proposed law to God of War [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/101654-When-Games-are-Sold-Like-Guns-An-Interview-with-the-ECAs-Hal-Halpin], thinks it's a waste of time.

"While I understand and appreciate and support the emotion and feeling behind gamer's desires to sign petitions and write their representatives to let their views be known on the California games bill in front of the Supreme Court, am I the only who who thinks such efforts are pointless and naive?" he wrote on TwitLonger [http://www.twitlonger.com/show/6it7dd]. "The Supreme Court does not rule based on how a vocal majority - let alone a vocal minority like gamers and other media folks - feel about a case in front of them. At best the court will use solid judgment, facts, and president to make a decisions. At worse they will let their own political agendas rule the day. But either way, what do they care what the public thinks?"

"They didn't care that a majority of Americans wanted a recount for the Presidential election in 2000, you think they'll care that 3000, 5000, 10,000, hell even 5 MILLION people sign some petition?" he continued. "Again, perhaps there is value and I'm missing something but from my view it just seems like a big exercise to make people feel like they are making a difference when - in the end - none of our views on this will matter one bit. The Supreme Court is not a democracy where the people vote on the laws they want enacted."

He has a point. The Supreme Court will, hopefully, rule on law and precedent, not sensationalism and shouting. But there's no doubt in my mind that he's also missing something. The Supreme Court is not a democracy but the United States is, and a lot of what makes it tick is influenced directly or indirectly by citizens who speak out. The die may be cast in this particular case but encouraging political engagement among gamers is never a waste of time. Are campaigns like the one to send game controllers to Leland Yee [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/104144-Mail-Your-Busted-Controllers-to-Leland-Yee] a bit goofy? Sure. But they also send a message: We're here, we vote - and we take this stuff seriously.

via: GamePolitics [http://gamepolitics.com/2010/10/21/jaffe-facts-will-impact-scotus-decision-not-petitions]


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Anton P. Nym

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At best the court will use solid judgment, facts, and president to make a decisions.
I think the underlined word should be "precedent". If that's not a transcription error, you may want to stick a (sic) in there.

Substantially, though, he's correct. Popular demonstrations won't (or shouldn't, at least) influence the Court... folks should be targeting legislators, just as the controllers to Yee thing is.

-- Steve
 

greenflash

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Andy Chalk said:
Jaffe: Gamers' Rights Efforts are "Pointless and Naive"



He has a point. The Supreme Court will, hopefully, rule on law and precedent, not sensationalism and shouting. But there's no doubt in my mind that he's also missing something.




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Yes He is missing something. HIS MIND AND SANITY!
 

ProtoChimp

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*massive depressed sigh* Unfortunately I agree with him. I genuinely think we don't stand a chance.
 

Wolfram23

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I must be missing something, but isn't this basically they want to make ESRB law? (I mean, in essense)... so selling M games to minors is a crime. I'm not sure how that really affects much. But I must be missing something deeper on this issue.
 

Pingieking

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He is right, since the courts don't care about public opinion. We should be directing our efforts at ousting the politicians who want to shut us down rather than the courts.
 

HontooNoNeko

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Who cares if the supreme court hears us or not the law won't pass anyways. I'm more interested in showing them the fact that we are not going to sit back and do nothing while they actively try to take away our rights. If enough people lend support and don't cause any problems maybe even 10% of the people in support of this law won't try this shit again.

There is no such thing as a pointless protest if you don't like something and you aren't even willing to speak out against it why do we have free speech in the first place?
 

3AM

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While I agree that the courts will not and should not listen to public opinion when deciding a case, I still think we should voice our opinions, even if our voices just waft away into the air. I feel the danger of doing nothing is what has lead us to the complacent place we're currently at. Thinking our voices don't matter (even when they don't matter) keeps us the silent sheep our governments prefer. I say stand up and be counted even if you're the only one doing the counting. At least you'll know you care and that you tried to make a difference. But always vote. If you don't, shut up (of course excluding those not old enough to vote).

And who knows, maybe our legislators and game producers will hear our voices. It could happen...
 

JUMBO PALACE

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I'm sorry some of us are not so cynical and jaded as to think that we have no say in the future of our own country.
 

0over0

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He's correct in that if people want to have an effect on the laws, they need to target the politicians (not that the judges are immune to political influence, though), in both positive and negative ways.
 

RatRace123

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He's pretty much right about the futility of our efforts, but it's really all we have.
Unless, of course! I get what he's really saying, petitions and outcry are pointless...
We need to start killing people... MWA HA HA HA HA HA!
 

Bretty

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He is totally right about all of this. People will not sway that court. And even if it could I could only imagine the horrible letters that they would have to go through from 'gamers'.

And OP, 'THIS IS A DEMOCRACY'... really? Since when has that meant anything regarding changing of laws in your nation? You Democratically voted to bring in Gov't sponsored health care... hows that going?
 

Andy Chalk

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ProtoChimp said:
*massive depressed sigh* Unfortunately I agree with him. I genuinely think we don't stand a chance.
Then where have you been?
I'm so sick of this attitude that gamers have today.
"Oh the governments taking our games away again"
They couldn't do it back when the fear was at an all time high. People are not that ignorant to video games anymore, even adults that don't play games know the whole debate is silly and childish.
 

Andy Chalk

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Bretty said:
He is totally right about all of this. People will not sway that court. And even if it could I could only imagine the horrible letters that they would have to go through from 'gamers'.

And OP, 'THIS IS A DEMOCRACY'... really? Since when has that meant anything regarding changing of laws in your nation? You Democratically voted to bring in Gov't sponsored health care... hows that going?
and a majority of the people said they didn't want it. It doesn't matter if their views are based on irrational fears and nightmares of socialism, the majority ruled.
The democracy part is a gimmick but it does function.
 

Andy Chalk

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HontooNoNeko said:
Who cares if the supreme court hears us or not the law won't pass anyways. I'm more interested in showing them the fact that we are not going to sit back and do nothing while they actively try to take away our rights.
"They're takin our rights!"

Yes glenn beck is very fun to watch but it's not a great place to take your world views from. They are not taking away your rights with video games. Where were you when they invaded a foreign country without giving us the real reason or when they passed an act that allowed them to spy on any american that they "suspected" of being a terrorist. No the video games, that's what always mattered, right?
 

JeanLuc761

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derelix said:
ProtoChimp said:
*massive depressed sigh* Unfortunately I agree with him. I genuinely think we don't stand a chance.
Then where have you been?
I'm so sick of this attitude that gamers have today.
"Oh the governments taking our games away again"
They couldn't do it back when the fear was at an all time high. People are not that ignorant to video games anymore, even adults that don't play games know the whole debate is silly and childish.
I'm with you. I think we have a strong chance of winning, both due to the nature of the debate and the massive amount of precedent.
 
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Wolfram01 said:
I must be missing something, but isn't this basically they want to make ESRB law? (I mean, in essense)... so selling M games to minors is a crime. I'm not sure how that really affects much. But I must be missing something deeper on this issue.
This has been covered by other people in other threads. Effectively it would be less like making a film classification and more like labelling M rated games in the same category as ponrography, which would lead to rules about where they're allowed to be displayed in stores, advertising etc.

And also, the Film classification system (as I understand it) isn't actually a law as such, so right now the ESRB is the same as film classification. It would be making a crucial difference between films and games (sorry for the extended comparison but it's about the best way I can sum it up)

Like I say this has been covered extensively in other threads, so I'd recommend digging them out before this thread gets overtaken by another round of 'Define the law'.

On Topic, I think he has a point. No matter how much I may dislike it (and be unable to affect it being a Brit) but the Supreme Court does not rule on public opinion, and the cynic in me says that they probably will rule on the basis of the Moral Guardians ranting this time, probably coming up with some clever legal term to describe exactly why videogames and videogamers don't have the same rights as the rest of America.
 

hitheremynameisbob

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Wolfram01 said:
I must be missing something, but isn't this basically they want to make ESRB law? (I mean, in essense)... so selling M games to minors is a crime. I'm not sure how that really affects much. But I must be missing something deeper on this issue.
What you're missing is the reason the ESA made the ESRB in the first place. Congress threatened that if the industry didn't regulate itself they would create a federal ratings board. The difference between a legally binding, federal ratings board and a private, voluntary one is pretty damned significant for the industry. One of these two has legal penalties, fines, and enables the creation of lawsuits against retailers who don't enforce the rules, while the other has no consequences whatsoever (except the marketing regulations the ESRB does legally enforce, but those are relatively trivial). The latter - the "no consequences" thing, is what we have now. The problem with the other one is that it creates a downside to the selling of video games that doesn't already exist. While Gamestop isn't going to stop selling games anytime soon, (that's their only product), you can bet your ass that Walmart, Target, Best Buy, ect... will all start seriously considering it once they're vulnerable to pre-set penalties and, even worse, the threat of lawsuits when they inevitably fail to fully enforce "Mature" ratings. You can tell your employees to card, but that doesn't mean they'll always do it. The problem with legally binding ratings is that these outlets, which move a pretty damned huge portion of the industry's product, don't rely on video game sales to stay in business. If there's an inherent risk to selling them, you may see some of these retailers start to shy away from carrying "Mature" games, which means that the profitability of these games takes a hit while that of non-"Mature" games stays the same. So which are game developers going to make more of? You guessed it - the ones that the retailers want to stock.

It doesn't necessarily mean that this will happen, of course, but there are other concerns, too. You need to understand HOW the State of California is trying to win this case. They're trying to get violent games declared as legally obscene - to effectively negate their protected status as first-amendment-protected media. Once this has been done, especially at the national level like this, things can get MUCH worse. The biggest worry needs to not be what the immediate results of this case will be, but what will happen down the road if that particular stipulation of the argument is agreed upon by the Court (and it pretty much has to be for California to win the case). If that happens, down the road we may not just see a ratings system enforced by law, but severe restrictions on what content can actually be depicted in games, and that's something that I think we can all agree is bad. Consider - when was the last time you saw a mainstream retailer stocking a game with something that could be considered legally obscene under the current definition with regards to "offensive sexual material"? Retailers generally don't touch anything more hardcore than HBO for those purposes, and even that's a stretch. There are other parts to the definition of "obscenity," but what California is trying to do COULD lead to the expansion of the definition of "obscene" to apply to a certain degree of violence in the same way that it currently applies to pornographic material, and I think it's pretty evident why that's not a good thing for us.
 

hitheremynameisbob

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MelasZepheos said:
And also, the Film classification system (as I understand it) isn't actually a law as such, so right now the ESRB is the same as film classification. It would be making a crucial difference between films and games (sorry for the extended comparison but it's about the best way I can sum it up)
That's exactly right. The MPAA is a private, industry-run body that functions in a way very much akin to the ESRB.
 

Danzaivar

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Wolfram01 said:
I must be missing something, but isn't this basically they want to make ESRB law? (I mean, in essense)... so selling M games to minors is a crime. I'm not sure how that really affects much. But I must be missing something deeper on this issue.
This has confused the hell out of me too. Selling an 18 rated game to a minor in the UK is already a criminal offence, and hasn't made a bit of difference to sales. Can't really see anything in this except Americans hating it when they lose their rights, or something. *Shrug*