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Developer Attends Utah Video Game Hearing, Offers Impressions

You want the inside scoop on yesterday's video game law hearing in Utah? We've got it covered like a blanket here at GamePolitics, including the impressions of a local game developer who attended the hearing.

Although he indicated last week that he would be there, anti-game activist Jack Thompson didn't make it due to what he described to GP as a "pressing litigation matter" in Florida.

Lame duck bill sponsor David Hogue (R) and Rep. Scott Wyatt, apparently the bill's new sponsor, offered an amendment to have HB257 mirror the language of Thompson's ill-fated Louisiana video game law.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, according to an industry source, did a thorough job of explaining the bill's constitutional problems to the committee. As GamePolitics has previously noted, Shurtleff has a friendly relationship with the ESRB, and has engaged in a Utah-based campaign to educate parents about video game ratings.

GP has learned that some legislators apparently left the hearing, causing the committee to lose its quorum just after lunchtime. That development led to an adjournment with no action taken on the bill. Discussions are likely to resume next month.

As mentioned, a video game developer attended the hearing. We provide his report, preserving his request not to publish his name. The content, which arrived in e-mail, has been edited slightly for readability (not that it wasn't well-written, but the author didn't plan on it going straight into a GP article. Material in parentheses was inserted by GP. We greatly appreciate this on-the-spot info):

"Well, Jack Thompson wasn't there today, so I'm disappointed... What did happen is that the sponsor, Rep. Hogue, came up and talked about his bill. He brought up Columbine, and all sorts of school shootings. He described how violent 'videos' were, and how they should be regulated."

"He brought up the American Psychological Association (APA); how violence in video games made kids violent; and how kids between 14-18 are in a critical development stage. And of course, he brought up those favorite whipping boys, 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' and - as Hogue calls it - 'The Bully'."

"Then they brought up an amendment to the bill, and basically changed the bill so that instead of defining certain types of violence, they just use the same three prong test as with pornography. Some committee members brought up the idea of porn equalling violence in video games, asking 'if we can regulate porn, why can't we regulate violence the same way?' At least one committee member did bring up the first amendment, and it was discussed briefly."

"The Attorney General (Shurtleff) came up and discussed the bill and its likelihood of passing court scrutiny. He mentioned that every district court has ruled against every violent video game law made so far, and that the odds of this bill surviving court scrutiny was 'very slim'. Rep. Hogue tried to defend the bill, saying that this bill does something different from other bills, and that it doesn't try to take games off of shelves. Other committee members brought up concerns about supporting a bill that would be 'tied up in the courts' and 'waste of money defending it'.

"Then an old lady came up and complained how society was becoming more violent, and that something needs to be done. She said that this bill needed to be passed, and it didn't matter if we wasted money defending it. It's for the children, etc."

"The ESA guy (apparently a lobbyist - the industry routinely offers testimony at these hearings) came up and talked about how in eight court cases so far, we've won eight of them. He mentioned the ESRB, and how he was working with the Attorney General in promoting the ESRB to Utah parents. Then, during question time, well, some of the committee members were rough on him. One of them nearly accused him of making violent games for kids. Of course, the ESA guy wasn't a game developer, but an attorney, so he really couldn't comment on that. Other committee members appeared to honestly not know what the ESRB was, and has questions about it."

"After the ESA guy, time ran out and several members of the committee had to leave. They tried to deny a motion to adjourn, but they left anyway. They decided that this issue was of too great importance to leave unresolved, so they shelved it until October. I'm rather disappointed that I didn't get to speak, but at least I get a chance to refine my testimony for next time."

Tags: david hogue, jack thompson, legislation, mark shurtleff, utah
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It figures that only the really old, senile people would support these bills. They don't understand that, according to the DOC (don't have time to provide a link), violent crime has been going DOWN. Just because society is different than when they were kids doesn't mean the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Besides, the bill won't even apply to violent movies, TV, and books. What does this old woman have to say about that?
"Now see here young whippersnapper... Hey! You kids get off my lawn!! Now, where was I?... Seriously, where was I? Who are you? I want some tapioca pudding..."

^^The sad effects of old age.

And yes, it's sad that the old people are afraid of change. But hey, what can you do?
Forgive me for being the cynic, but god help me this shit is getting old. You'd fiqure after 8 Fucking Tries, they'd give up and go home. THis is absurd, not to mention Asinine. It's a waste of time, money, and effort.

I hope when they reconvene the ESA takes them apart on this.

Well look at the bright side, Yukimura. It seems that some politicians are finally taking a hint and have done research about the other eight spectacular fai- I mean tries. Don't forget that some of the committee members did bring up the point that such a bill would a. never survive a court challenge and b. cost a buttload of money to defend. It's slow going and there will always be those blissfully ignorant meatheads in office who will try time and time again, but at least we're making some progress it seems.
Everyone over there is obsessed over thes violent 'videos' They MUST be talking about video cassettes. Yeah, thats it. Otherwise if they were after violent video GAMES, thay would have said so.

Please, video cassettes may be obsolete. But they are not violent. Besides...I like them.

- Warren Lewis
No, no, no...they were referring to Video Girls, like in the old anime Video Girl Ai. Can't say I blame them, that chick WAS pretty violent.

gold_frame

11 years ago

You mean...

terminator44

11 years ago

Re: You mean...

hayabusa75

11 years ago

No...I mean...

gold_frame

11 years ago

Re: No...I mean...

gold_frame

11 years ago

Re: No...I mean...

gold_frame

11 years ago

He's still bangin on about bully, hasnt that been rated T already? do these guys ever do any research about what they complain about ever?
Apparently not. In fact, it seems like they don't do any research at all. Rep. Hogue continues to claim that all those other bills that failed in court were different from his bill, since his bill doesn't take violent games off the shelves, but merely restricts purchase. That is simply false, and if he'd actually taken the time to *read* those bills, and the court decisions against them, he'd know that.

Re: BULLY

rammsoldat

11 years ago

Re: BULLY

hayabusa75

11 years ago

Re: BULLY

rammsoldat

11 years ago

Re: BULLY

anticron

11 years ago

Re: BULLY

mcfly0612

11 years ago

Re: BULLY

jdmdsp911

11 years ago

That the old lady wasn't in fact "He-who-must-not-be-named"???? His character is sooooo discredited now that I wouldn't put it past him "dressing up" to get some credibility. Certainly any little old lady would have more believable comments against video-game violence than him!

Or he could've just as well taken up cross-dressing... Then blame GTA for it!
haven't had that first cup of coffee yet?

In a way, I'm glad JT didn't make it. Looking at how clueless almost everyone there was, he probably would have held court over everyone, using his demagoguery, lies and distorted "evidence" to mislead everyone, and he probably knew that. This is exactly why his career need to be brought to an end, as it seems despite his constant failures, he always seems to find people ignorant enough and afraid enough to listen to him. And demagogues often thrive on both ignorance and fear.
I'm pretty sure that the "Old Lady" in question is the Utah legislature's crazy-must-testify-on-every-bill lady... every state legislature has one... some have two. In addition to the crazy constituents who call every day (twice on Mondays), again, every legislator has atleast one in their district (and if you happen to be a member of the Kennedy/Shriver clan, you get several that cross the line from lonely, bored harmless old lady to creepy stalker).

Generally, the legislators roll their eyes when they get up to talk, and just tune them out.
Ok, something I am noticing as a bit of a one-off topic to much of this debate (in general, not just this session).

I have often heard people comment on the disconnect between how our sociaty views erotic material vs how it views violence. What was that saying? "Suck a Tit and it is NC-17, cut off a tit and it is PG-13". The type of people who get bent out of shape about things tend to get far further disturbed by sexual content then by violence. Compared to other countries esp.

This has always seemed rather backwards to many, that violence should be less tollerated then sexuality, not the othe way around. One thing I see many of the anti-game people trying to say is that violence should be pulled to the same level as sexual content and at least bring them in sync, which I have to say actually makes a bit of ethical sense. I don't agree with it since I think it should go the other way (i.e. sexualy should be pulled to the level of acceptance as violence) but at least it is an attempt to unify things somewhat... deal with a pretty nasty gaping hole in our ethics system. And while I may dispise what they are trying to do, I think they at least deserve a little credit for that one element.
The major stickler issue with defining what violence is "bad" has always been context. Sucking a tit is sucking a tit. Unless the sucker is <2yrs old, it's porn.

Hitting a guy over the head? Not so clear without context. Is the guy doing the hitting a police officer? Is the guy getting hit an innocent bystander, or a murderer who was caught red handed (literally)? Is it ok if the man hit was a Nazi, and the hitter an American soldier? What if the man being hit is a zombie, or an alien? What if it was a cartoon of any of these acts, is it still the same amount of violence? What if he hit him with a rubber stick, or a night stick, or a bat, or a sword? If the guy doesn't react to the hit, was it still just as violent as if he'd collapsed? What if both man and man being hit were laughing? What if it was a man hitting a woman? Or a woman hitting a man?

The context restrictions become complicated quickly.

Not to mention the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that only sexual conduct (so far) is exempt from 1st Amendment protection. (Not counting criminal acts like child porn and incitement to riot).

The tricky bit comes when in order to determine what violence is "bad", you need to know the context, which means that it's art because you're telling a story, which means that it re-gains 1st Amendment protection due to the clause about artistic merit...

Re: Porn and Violence.

jythie

11 years ago

Re: Porn and Violence.

kincyr

11 years ago

This bugs me. Why should we listen to this woman? Is she an expert on violence, or video games, or anything? She claims that society is becoming more violent, but we're not. I'm repeating what everyone here already knows, but violent crime is at an all time low.
I'd really like to see the ESA combat some of these lies next month. I'd like to see them point out the drop in violent crime since the Playstation's release, the fact that the APA's report does not prove a causal link between violent video games and violent behavior, and the fact that Bully is a T rated game with no guns.
If an old lady can testify, does that mean anybody can? GP must have readers in Utah. Can we try to get some truth into these hearings?
well, the guy who described the hearing was there to testify but never had the chance due to the early adjournment. He tells me he plans to go back in October.

We'll have another story tomorrow from yet another GP reader who attended.

As far as the old lady, no reason she can't show up an speak, just like you or I could.

When Delaware held a hearing earlier this year, a GP reader attended, spoke, and was interviewed by the local paper.

http://gamepolitics.livejournal.com/232843.html

Very cool. And a very appropriate way to address the issue...
I wonder if he shares Rep. Hogue's delusional view that other states' bills failed because they "tried to keep these games off the shelves rather than just keep them out of the hands of children."

Plus, while I fully support that old lady's right to speak, she clearly demonstrates "big-government" thinking. No matter how much money you waste, it's ok "because it's for the children." Just keep throwing money at a problem until it solves itself, right?

I'm actually quite surprised at this committee. They seem a heck of a lot better at critical thinking than the previous groups in Louisiana & Oklahoma. Questions about the 1st Amendment, worrying about whether it's even capable of surviving a court battle, or whether it's worth millions on a doomed effort...

I think some of these members have actually been paying attention to what's been happening in their neighbor states.
good point.

It's interesting to note that Hogue's bill had dissenters in the Utah House, where it passed 56-8. The audio is a good listen...

http://gamepolitics.livejournal.com/219294.html (if you have to scroll thru a list, the bill is HB257 S01)

Also, the bill just flat out died in the Senate, which tells me they just didn't want to touch it for some reason.

I've also gotta think Shurtleff has big influence in Utah. AG's are often the next in line for Guv. Not saying that's the case, but it's a very big position in state politics.
Reality: 1
Old lady: 0

"doesn't matter if we waste money defending it" ?
it's obvious that she doesn't give a damn about anyone, because it always matters if you waste money.
Of course they shelved it until October. That'll be handy for them to do some last minute vote pandering.

Just tell the old lady that they'll have to divert funds from senior medical care to the defense of this bill. That'll change her mind.
It's either Saving the Children or Social Security, grandma! Not both!

jabrwock

11 years ago

But our least-favorite attorny just emalied me:

"The only people who oppose these bills are senile young people. Grow up."

I'm pretty sure it was directed at my comment at the top of the page. I didn't think he would email me in order to reply. Has he done this to any of you guys?
So... I guess this means you 'll be suing me for hosting this blog on LiveJournal where your e-mail address could be found...
Although he indicated last week that he would be there, anti-game activist Jack Thompson didn't make it due to what he described to GP as a "pressing litigation matter" in Florida. -He wet himself and has to find who to blame.
Then an old lady came up and complained how society was becoming more violent, and that something needs to be done. She said that this bill needed to be passed, and it didn't matter if we wasted money defending it. It's for the children . . . .

I find it odd that a likely member of the Great Depression era is so willing to waste money. My gramma has a conniption fit when one of the younger kids in the family doesn't finish a can of soda pop. I guess the "Old Lady" in the article doesn't mind wasting other people's money.
no one ever has a problem wasting other peoples money if they have no morals.
My grandmother is the same way with things like soda and stuff. Gotta finish all of it, literally cant leave a drop in the can or a crumb. Though I will admit she does know how to make a good meal with very few ingredients, inherited ability of the Drepression or just good cooking skills?
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