Cali Senator Discusses Interactive Violence, ESRB "Conflict of Interest"

Illustration for article titled Cali Senator Discusses Interactive Violence, ESRB "Conflict of Interest"

You may know California Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) as one of the most ardent critics in politics of violence in video games. A bill he authored intended to legislate the sale of violent video games in his state was recently ruled unconstitutional in federal court, and Yee, along with Gov. Schwarzenegger, are currently appealing the decision. He also urged the FTC to investigate the ESRB in the wake of the Manhunt 2 ratings controversy, and regularly speaks out against video games he believes are "ultra-violent."


Consumer site GameCyte recently interviewed Sen. Yee and asked him to explain why he thinks games are more dangerous than other forms of violent media, such as films and television:

LY: Well, the bill that we had, that was signed into law, is a bill that deals with interactive violent video games. It's not just any violent video game - it is the interactive nature of these violent video games that are particularly harmful to our children. This is where literally, youngsters are sitting with their computer and pushing buttons not hundred s of times, but thousands - hundreds of thousands of times, whereby their action is coordinated with what happens to a human being, what happens to an individual. So pushing a button will then decapitate someone. Pushing a button will hack of a limb of a particular individual, burn some individual. It is this interactive nature that connects your behavior to a particular consequence that is particularly horrific.

In the interview, Yee emphasized the "interactive nature" of games as being problematic, a similar position to the one taken by advocacy groups such as the Parents' Television Council, despite the absence of definitively conclusive research that shows direct causation between interactive games and violence. However, he also specified he opposes the concept of censorship, and recognizes that some video games are beneficial. In particular, Lee discussed the reason he opposes the ESRB:

think there's two major problems with the ESRB (the rating board): one is that there is a conflict of interest. The money that is used to sustain their particular activity is paid by the industry — the industry that that board is supposedly trying to regulate. So long as you have that conflict of interest, there's no way that anyone's going to believe that these rating scores are going to be objective.

Number two, the ratings are not valid; because the way in which you determine those ratings is that you get a snippet of these particular video games. The industry will provide you with some of the information that causes one to rate in a particular way. So, getting the information from the industry; number two, not being able to look at all the content, the rating system is a flawed and an invalid system. It is those two reasons that I don't believe that the ESRB is accurate for our parents to make some informed decisions about whether or not these games are appropriate for kids.

Discussing Game Violence with Maturity: Senator Leland Yee [GameCyte]



Erring on the side of caution has never helped anyone. Humanity evolved by taking chances. And we've got to a point in our history where we are doing better than we ever have. There is no need to protect the children any more, wrap them up in cotton wool and keep them "living".

Hell, even the poor of the world are living longer and better lives.

Furthermore, this protectionist attitude has massive potential to fuck up the kids more than anything, and turn those fucked up kids into fucked up adults.

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'Cotton wool kids' losing basic skills

* Parents are mollycoddling children

* Kids will lose basic skills, say experts

* Anxiety disorders on the rise

PANICKY parents are breeding a generation of "cotton wool kids" too afraid to climb trees or ride their bikes, NSW's most senior child guardian has warned.

Mums and dads are so fixated on keeping their children safe that children are growing into nervous adults without acquiring basic survival skills along the way.

NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People Gillian Calvert has cautioned that alarm over stranger danger and traffic means that today's children are missing out on simple pleasures.

"Over the past 10 years we have seen a real reduction in the range at which children can leave their family home and move freely," Ms Calvert told The Saturday Daily Telegraph.

"Kids tell us they can't ride their bikes around streets any more."

The simple joys of childhood such as bike riding, climbing trees and even just crossing the road are basic skills that are in danger of being entirely lost.

And doctors report that robbing kids of their freedom is pushing up rates of anxiety disorders in even the very young, while reducing play is denying children motor skills.

The data were presented at a From Page 1NSW Commission of Children and Young People and University of NSW conference.

"There are real concerns about reduced play opportunities," the university's Sports Medicine Unit director Dr Carolyn Broderick said.

"Fundamental motor skills are developed through play as well as balance co-ordination and strength. And a lot of play equipment has gone from parks because of fear of litigation.

"Children now have a fear that wasn't there in the past."

Dr Broderick said research shows a significant drop in free play time and a quarter of parents were actually discouraging their children from playing sport because they were worried about injury.

But it is not just backyard cricket that has gone missing - research in state schools found international events such as terrorist attacks were making children feel insecure.

"Some children expressed fear of global threats such as war and terrorism and had a general insecurity about their own future and their community's," Ms Calvert said.

"These concerns meant they lived life in a restrictive, guarded way, either as a result of restrictions imposed by others or themselves."

Child expert Robyn Monro Miller warned fearful children would grow into fearful adults.

"Even the RTA says children shouldn't cross the road by themselves until they are 10. How does the magic age of 10 mean you can cross a road?"

Sydney University's Brain and Mind Research Institute director Ian Hickie confirmed rates of anxiety in children were on the rise because of parents obsessed with keeping their child safe.

"Parents think the world is more threatening and the idea is you have to protect them from the world," he said.

Recent research found children as young as two were being treated for anxiety.