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back to article Jack Thompson sets about Halo 3

Everyone’s favorite anti-gaming gadfly Jack Thompson is back in action, GamePolitics reports, with yet another lawsuit against the purported public nuisances created by violent video games. Apparently neither dissuaded nor cured by past court orders for psychological testing, the obsessive anti-gaming lawyer made famous ( …

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Him again...

The games companies should pay Thompson, the amount of free publicity he gets for 'em. I can just imagine how TV news Stateside will be running this - split screen with him blabbering away on the left and in-game footage on the right. Cue thousands of kids drooling over their TVs, shouting "Coool!" and pestering their parents to make a quick trip to Best Buy...

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parody of Ali G?

Is this guy taking the piss? pretending to be an actual lawyer then filing really crazy claims?

I feel sorry for his son,

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Newsflash!

Video game released, Jack Thompson outraged! More at 11...

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Wooooow

"Lee Boyd Malvo, the younger of the two “DC Beltway Snipers” was trained on Halo to kill residents within Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. His “mentor,” John Muhammad, knew the efficacy of the first Halo video game in this regard, because the Army in which he served used this same murder simulator to train snipers to kill."

Wow. Just wow.

Apparently Mr. Thompson has never fired a rifle at long range. He apparently knows that in real life, to scope with a weapon, you click on a thumb stick. And, just like in Halo, you don't need to adjust your sights for windage, elevation or movement and you don't need to set up a proper breathing pattern and watch your heartbeat. Everything has a point-and-click interface.

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Anonymous Coward

Hah.

I love the way Thompson's willing to blame video games for bad upbringing. I've been playing violent video games since I was 8 (starting with Doom and working through the Quakes) and I think I've turned out to be a mentally stable person capable of NOT killing everyone in the room at the drop of a hat.

The problem is with bad parenting. Parents who see TV and Video Games as a method of child control and just leave them to play away the hours instead of properly watching them...It's just bad. Thompson's idea that violent Video Games is a "training simulator" is just a load of Bullshit and chips, everyone knows that.

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Silver badge

I am genuinely interested to know...

... Mr. Thompson's views on gun ownership rights. Is he also anti-real-gun? or are guns only bad if simulated?

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JP

A couple of questions:

1: Was that the first Best Buy that Thompson sent his son into to by the game, or did he have to go to a few before his son didn't get ID'ed and was sold the game?

2: Did he let his son keep the copy of Halo 3?

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Disaster strikes

Oh my God ! He has reproduced ! His DNA is going to survive ! This is a major disaster.

On the other hand, now that he has personally sent his own offspring to get a copy of Halo 3 - meaning that there already is an XBox 360 at the home, or I hope - what is the kid going to do with it ?

Is he going to forbid his kid from playing with it ? Or is he going to allow his kid to play the game ? On the one hand, one could accuse him of sadism, and on the other, well he has no business blaming other parents if he does the same.

So which is it, Jacko ? Sadist, or hypocrite ?

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It's not called death

It's called fragging - in which you then respawn.

You cant respawn IN REAL LIFE.

Geeeeeez....

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Anonymous Coward

JT - Great for the industry, long my his rants continue

As much of a pillock as JT is, his rants against the video industry are a good thing. Whilst you have such an inept fool going off on one everytime a FPS or GTA clone is released, people look at him and think, what a clown shoe.

I'll be worried when someone with JT's agenda and a rationally reasoned argument appears on the scene, so give him a pat on the head and say "Good boy!".

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Just For once pleeeeeeaaaazzzze

Will do gooders just for once Fook off. I have been on computer games for 20 years plus. I have 2 healthy kids a real good job with an excellent career a number of houses no debt and I have never thought of killing any real person. BUT people like this who talk about virtual training grounds for virtual snipers to kill virtual enemies makes me want to take of the virtual saftey off on my virtual assault rifle and go CRAZY!! Dont like it dont do it. Just leave it go home to your cave and grow flowers. Leave us too it. How many people play games and have been doing for who knows how many years have really gone postal cause of a game and how many havnt. Reckon 00.001%. How many kids in iraq iran and all over that area are ak47 owners just waiting for a soldier to walk into there sites and have probably never even seen a computer or console game. Why doesnt he start on religion now thats the hidden killer.

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Another loon

Nothing to do with the fact that US citizens can arm bears then... its all the gamers fault

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We should be compasionate with ole' Jack

Clearly he never got that Pong game from Santa that he asked for.... Now he's scarred for life. If he can't have it, then no one can.

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but...

despite his stupid words, what he's really trying to do is make it illegal to send games rated 18 to people under 18. All talk of murder simulators aside, does anyone here think retailers should be allowed to sell mature titles to children?

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Anonymous Coward

Analogous

"...sent his fifteen year-old son on a sting operation into a Best Buy store in Florida to purchase a copy of an unnamed video game with a mature rating. He didn’t get carded, as agreed to previously by Best Buy, and a lawsuit was born.

Microsoft and Best Buy are both named as parties to the suit."

Yeah, that makes sense. So if you sent a fifteen year old into an off-license to buy beer, and they got served, naturally you'd not only go after the off-license but also go after the brewery, and try and get beer banned... aaaagh.

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Thompson to Ban Pac-Man

Of course if he ever succeeds with these newer titles there's nothing to stop him having a go at classics

I mean pac-man teaching kids to much magic pills while listening to repetitive music

now where's my Technotronic CD.................

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Ash

Nothing to do with games.

I had a big speech all typed up here about games dev's, parenting, and social conformity, but decided that it would be a bad idea to post about it.

Suffice to say it's the parents' fault, and nobody elses.

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What a moron!

I don't just blame this idiot for his uneducated, narrow minded attitute towards gaming, I blame the media for giving him a fair showing! I haven't seen any news reporting of him, but from what I've read he gets acknowledged as actually knowing what he's talking about.

If your kids think that plasma weapons exist, and that running around shooting people is fun, then you need to think more about their education and possibly about seeing a professional mental health specialist.

People like Thomson scare the masses, parents who won't let their children further than their own back gardens incase they get a cut knee or meet a "bad man" will listen to what he's saying and "protect" their children from these horrible computer games without knowing the full facts, these kids will find an alternate method of playing the games / getting the games. Education! Let's teach the kids that killing another creature (not just a human being) in cold blood (Although I'ma a meat eater so don't know how I would explain that one )is neither the right thing to do or is acceptable in society. Teach them to deal with their issues. And as the previous poster said, parents using computer games as a child control tool doesn't help the cause!

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sniper

This is great news!

Since playing a shooting game makes you a marksman, playing driving games means you can drive. Cool. It means no-one has to take a road test, just play a few video games. This means I am a qualified F1 driver, and rally driver too. And I am a qualified pilot, and astronaut.

ain't life sweet.

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Re: Sniper

Excellent, can't wait 'til the Republic recruits me to fly A-Wing's or test modified ARC-170's.

In all seriousness though, it is partially video games fault. Mainly for the fact that they make the graphics more realistic, making mentally unstable kids think "Whoa this is real!"

I remember playing Half-Life when I was 8 and I'm still playing such games and I'm alright... I think.

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Where are all the killers

Games have grown in popularity and have become more realistic over time. Based on the logic above this should mean the world is full of 'trained' killers.

I don't see it myself.

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@ Jason

'This means I am a qualified F1 driver, and rally driver too. And I am a qualified pilot, and astronaut.'

Thanks for that. I've just realised that my 'Populous' training means I am a fully-fledged deity!

Cool. Now who do I smite first?

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Kiddies' toys

Interesting the howls of anger when anybody dares to suggest that playing their favourite blood/gore/hit'n'run/shoot-em-all game might not be a good idea for young children with impressionable minds.

We don't let 10-year-olds watch Reservoir Dogs do we? Or Lock, Stock? Saw? So why are games so different, especially with the excellent 3-D graphics we have now?

Yes, irresponsible parents will leave kids in front of innapropriate games as much as they might do for films - but at least we suggest this is unwise with films, by having a legally-enforced rating system.

Fact is, you guys are just scared that we find out that mindless violence in games is as bad as mindless violence in films, and so you'll have to deal with inconvenient, nanny-state regulation like we have for film.

Grow up, and stop acting like a spotty teenager.

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A room full of killers

I've been playing games (including violent ones) since the day I was born (well almost)

Around a month ago I went to a Retro Gaming event..... yes thats right .... a big room full of people who have been playing games for 20-30 years ...... all trained to KILL ..... my god it was scary being in a room full of KILLERS ..... anyone of them could have gone postal at any point......

But of course no one killed anyone and JT is full of crap

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Dan

@Jason Clery

You forgot professional footballer/basketballer/snowboarder/stealth assassin/golfer.......

Is it like the Matrix, then, where you can learn ANYTHING in the time it takes to download the program...?

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Parental control

I worked in the games industry for ten years before moving on and people like Jack don't actually understand the nature of what a video game is. It is a form of entertainment that is still in its infancy and is relatively an easy target. Films and Media have had to face this kind of barrage for a number of years and there will always be arguments as to whether a game or film can influence someone but there are a couple of issues here.

FIrstly most of the games Jack talks about have age ratings and are for mature audiences. The reason for that is that people can differentiate between what is real and imaginery.

Secondly parental control is needed to stop buying 18 rated games for their 7 year old kids.

Maybe we should look more closely into why people are disfunctional and a very high percentage of the time people were bullied or were described as loners or had other symptoms of "disfunction" yet it is the game that is blamed rather than looking at the core issues.

I get very annoyed by people of this type that don't actually look in to the real issues and take the option of making a quick buck,

What an idiot!

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@ Hayden Clark

There is a legally enforced ratings system for games as well. Has been for a very long time.

Hence Jack Thompson's complaint against Best Buy for not asking his son for ID when Halo 3 carries a rating... In the UK, for example, it falls under the BBFC '15' rating as evidenced by the big graphic on the front, side and back of the box.

Those claiming to be completely normal despite having played age-restricted games whilst well below that age are making an entirely different point, whether they acknowledge it or not.

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Anonymous Coward

There's a Halo 3!

There's a halo 3, omg, when did that happen?

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Anonymous Coward

@Hayden Clark

Nobody is suggesting as such, I dont think. And I don't hear howls of anger.

I agree that games are not that different to films for a young impressionable child. A child probably should not be able to play 'Manhunt' on the Wii, but it doesnt mean the game should be banned for everyone on the basis that, on completion of the game, I will go into the street and garotte an innocent bystander. The point that annoys me the most is that it is the media perpetuate this obsession with some sort of link between violence and video games which is unfounded. It did used to be films a few years ago but no-one mentions this now. Fact is if a normal child watches only 'My Little Pony' all their childhood I'd put my house on the fact they won't run around painting horses pink and combing their hair in their adult life. If they're 'not right' they might have a good go at it.

However, I for one would appreciate not having to play and listen to kids online, so would welcome stricter enforcement. Anyway, as has been said, the issue is gun law in the US not gamers.

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@Hayden Clark (again...)

Thompson's 'thing' is that videogames turn normal, well adjusted people into psychopathic killers. clearly this isn't true, and Thompson becomes a joke.

the shame of it all is, if he dedicated his time to educating parents about the existance of the classification system for games, and encouraging shops to enforce this policy properly, he'd be doing a great job.

personally, i'd be inclined to believe he's in it to get his mug on TV.

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I remember it all as though it were yesterday..

The sweat was running in cold beads down my back, my finger on tense the trigger as I crouched behind a low brick wall, scarecley breathing in case they heard me, furtive glances left and right, you can never tell for sure which way they'll come from in an urban environment and then I heard them, two I think, their footfalls beating an adrenaline rhythm towards me. The one in front passed straight by me never looking back, I staid still, hold ing my breath, the second one passed. I let them both have it in the back. They were soaked, there wasn't a kid on the street that was safe from me and that water pistol.

Of course it was a different age then, there were no computers when I grew up and I started to play Battle Ships using a pen and paper. I feel it was this that gave me my deep insight into maritime warfare strategy. Years later as I infiltrated Castle Wolfenstein and realised I could kill German shepherds (alsatians) as easily as Germans soldiers I wondered if there was any humanity left in me. If only I'd stopped. But I didn't. My killing spree went on using the company LAN to play Doom with a buddy and frag those b*stards on the 3rd floor, they didn't cut it as marines, I didn't even think about the moral consequences as I let rip into them with my chain gun. There is no hope for me now, I have just installed Stalker and Bioshock. My colleagues here in IT at the investment bank don't realise that I am deadly with a mouse and any day now I might get a call from the SAS asking me to come in and just pick up that sand coloured beret..... "no training required mate, boy have we got a lot to learn from you! So imagine you had a boss fight in Iraq at expert level and the USAF had just bombed the crap out of you because they thought your Land Rover looked like two camels with scud launchers on them and there were no medi-kits and you didn't have the cheat code for.....".

Yeah I know, you play the hand you're dealt in this life and my cards were marked when I got that cowboy outfit and cap gun on my fifth birthday. Natural born gamer that's me.

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Two hundred years ago

If you were 14, you were pretty much military age. No battlefield simulators for you, just a quick lesson on how to load a musket, a pair of boots, and maybe a cushy job in the baggage train.

A hundred years ago, if you were an American, if you were 14, you were probably getting ready to go fight in WWI. Even more chance of both suffering and inflicting grisly death.

Fifty years ago, WWII; although they tightened up the regs, and made sure you at least had a convincing fake ID indicating you were 18.

The fact is that for nearly a thousand years, every generation has been less violent than the one which preceded it.

People that blame video games, or private ownership of guns, or easy access to violence in movies or TV, or James Joyce, or Karl Marx, or whomever you want to point at and declare, "That's what's tearing society apart!" is just glib, specious reasoning.

To wit: America (and, obviously, I'm an American) has a population of over 300 million people. Of them, let's assume a sixth of them have had at least some contact with video games during the course of their lives. That would be more than 50 million people "trained with murder simulators."

Also, guns: We'll get even crazier, say that about a sixth of Americans, if they don't own a gun personally, they know where to buy one, steal one, borrow one. Say another 50M people could arm themselves if they so desired.

So, between the gun owners and the game players (assuming some overlap), here in the states, we've got roughly 70M+ citizens who have experience with both video games, and actual weaponry.

By the logic espoused by many authoritarians, American society should look something like Grand Theft Auto at this point. However, once you peel back the shock journalism surrounding the issues of media and gun violence, you see that our murder rate is actually quite on par with the rest of the developed world, and quite a bit better than other countries which have unrestricted gun ownership. (Congo, anyone?)

Statistics on actual crime rates: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/data/table_01.html

Coincidentally, one will noticed that in fact, since the advent of really good 3d graphics cards, murder rates have declined by thousands per year, with the exception of the early 1990s, when George Bush Sr. was running the country into the ground.

A final thought, as well: Generally, it's been observed that the vast majority of perpetrators of murder have come from poorer social and economic backgrounds. Most murders are a product of theft, ethic or religious conflict, or organized crime. While there are notable exceptions (mass killings by students, or .00001% of American murders that have happened in the last decade), the profile type of a murderer is that of someone who could not afford, or would have no interest in, video gaming.

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the only violence bought on by video games...

I ever witnessed was my eldest brother smashing a controller to pieces, but that was because he was a sore loser.

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Anonymous Coward

@Rob Mossop

Actually there is no legal weight behind the video game rating system in the United States. The ESRB ratings, and any adherence to them, are a completely voluntary, self-policed system.

MPAA ratings for motion pictures in the U.S.A. are the same way; perhaps it is only because they have been around longer that you are much more likely to be denied admission to a Restricted film than you are to be denied the purchase of a Mature game.

This is all a bit off the points you were trying to address, I just wanted to correct some misinformation so people don't have the wrong impression of the systems in place stateside.

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@Paul Darcy

Paul,

I think you should go pick up a copy of Halo and take your aggression out in game. It sounds like you are on the verge of a breakdown :P

So, go kill someone in game before you feel the need to do it in RL.

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no driving test required

Heck thats gonna save me shedloads of cash.

Man I'm glad I spent that 20 quid on Need for Speed Underground.

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Anonymous Coward

What I find interesting

is that Thompson verified the complaint, which in English means that he swears to these allegations under penalty of perjury. This means he could by liable if one of his allegations, say, about Lee Boyd Malvo turns out not to be true.

From the last line: "Under penalty of perjury, I declare the foregoing facts are true, correct, and complete..."

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Jack Thomspon

YOU GO, GIRL!!

Heh. Wouldn't you like to bump into him in an empty, dim backalley? I'd turn him into part of the wall.

The judge should prosecute for continual harassment via frivolous lawsuits, and make him pay the company's lawyers fees. He'd be broke soon enough and go away.

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Nutcase lawyer

You'd think this clown would get the point from all the other dismissed frivolous lawsuits he's filed. There is a reason he has failed to get any video games banned. He's a joke and badly needs therapy.

Wonder how his kid likes Halo 3?

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I am NOT the law

Now, I don't know much about the legal process, but if Jack sent his son out to buy something he knows he shouldn't have been allowed to buy by law, is he himself not accessory to the crime?

Pretty irresponsible parenting, if you ask me.

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A few things...

First and foremost:

"Halo 3 is widely expected to be the most successful video game in history"

Wow! Even though I agree that it is ONE OF the few games that are highly anticipated, I wouldnt call it THE MOST SUCCESSFUL VIDEO GAME IN HISTORY. Heck, even Halo 2 was more anticipated than Halo 3 and it was seen as the same game as Halo 1 with a few additional maps and new single player.

But yeah, JT isnt proposing that we ban all violent video games (he might personally believe so, but this isnt in his current agenda). All he is saying is that the retail outlets follow the guidlines as per the ESRB ratings for games and not sell M games to children etc. Thats not a lot to ask since hes just trying to give a law, that already exists, some teeth. Will he go all cuckoo headed and claim video games as the end of society as we now know it and the greatest evil of all? Quite possibly. But until then, the good that he does or is trying to do shouldnt be overshadowed by his beliefs and views since they arent what hes trying to pass off into law.

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Dan

@Counter Lawsuit

Surely someone will cotton on to the fact that Jack Thompson willingly sent his underage son in to best buy to buy an age restricted game and counter-sue him for negligence of a minor ? =)

It would serve him right as well. The more important question I suppose really is what did his son think of the game ? Was it cool ? :D Or is daddy keeping it away from his 'impressionable' son and only daddy is allowed to play it ?

Thompson is an idiot. Games don't make people violent. Society and bad parenting makes people violent. The vast majority of people I know who are violent, are people that don't play computer games. They would have trouble even turning one on. Whereas those people who do play computer games are perfectly normal. Yes there will be the odd one or two people who do play and are violent but thats the same as in any scenario. The vast majority of gun owners are responsible individuals, but there is always a potential Dunblane or Hungerford nutter amongst them.

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Parent's Responsibility

"...sent his fifteen year-old son on a sting operation into a Best Buy store in Florida to purchase a copy of an unnamed video game with a mature rating."

I guess we'll see this guy giving 'Good Parenting' lessons soon, then, given that attitude.

It's probably illegal to do that, too.

As for the argument about using games being training for going out and ganking people at random with a gun, I'm pretty sure all those water pistol fights you had when you were 7 are better training for pointing a gun at someone than any video game can ever be.

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Illegal?

"into a Best Buy store in Florida to purchase a copy"

With what? If not cash (unlikely), he must have had a card, which can't have been his, etc...

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike Richards

The smiting's only part of the Deity deal, there's a downside. Every time you make the Beast With Two Backs you could produce a new Messiah. This would result in a new religion and end up spawning intolerance and causing a few wars (or so history teaches us). You'll just have to refrain from this activity for the good of us all........:-)

TeeCee

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Epiphany

I have just had an amazing idea.

Why not build parental control into the firmware of consoles so the parents of a child can set the age rating of games that they feel their child should be allowed to play.

Then if little johnny manages to get his hands on a mature rated game the console will simply tell him he isnt allowed to play games of that age rating and to go and ask his mum or dad for the code to allow it to be played.

Then it wont matter what best buy will sell to who, it still wont work on the kids console at home.

Or is that just too easy

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Where are the kids supposed to play the games?

Using JT's own logic -- he must have let his son play the game. Otherwise, there would be no point in shops checking age when selling games -- because parents would stop their kids playing anything inappropriate.

OK, you say, but what about those kids whose parents don't stop them? Well, that means that the parent either decided their child understands that what they're doling is fictional and lets them play it for that reason (as many of my peers parents did with violent films) or, the parents don't care -- in which case there are more things to worry about than video games.

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i think he actually has a point this time

If all he's after is restricting the sale of mature rated games to people underage(i don't actually think he is going to stick to this though, he'll be back onto ban everything that isn't fluffy in no time).

I think it's perfectly reasonable to restrict rated games and stop them from being sold to kids, as long as its hammered into parents that this actually makes them more responsible for what their kids are doing. If you have a problem with 8 year old little Johnny playing manhunt 2, well you can't blame the store for selling it to him anymore, you'll actually have to make a decision yourself on whether you want to allow him to play it or not.

In the UK we do have the ratings system backed up by law and its reasonably effective at stopping kids buying 15/18 rated games themselves. What it doesn't stop though, is idiot parents buying whatever game they're asked to becuse they think 'all games are for kids'. Then being shocked when they find out thats not actually true (probably from some news story, rather than the large red 18 rating on the front of the box when they bought it)

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It's not that it's too easy...

"Why not build parental control into the firmware of consoles so the parents of a child can set the age rating of games that they feel their child should be allowed to play."

That wouldn't be good for the corporate bottom line, now would it?

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