Governor Granholm signs Michigan’s new video game law.

Michigan now has a law that makes it illegal to rent or sell Mature and Adults Only rated games to minors. Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed the law yesterday and it takes effect on December 1st.

“Making sure that our children are protected is an essential function of government,” Granholm said.  “This new common-sense law is one more tool we can provide to help parents protect their children from the effects of violence and graphic adult content.”

Except that it won’t likely make much difference seeing as the majority of these games are purchased for children by their parents. It will be interesting to see how many parents suing other parents we get when little Timmy ends up being able to play GTA over at little Bobby’s house as the bills I’d seen proposed weren’t limited to retailers. The bills signed today were the two House bills while the two Senate bills look likely to be passed in the coming weeks.

“The graphic nature and wide availability of these games should disturb all of us, whether or not we are parents,” Granholm said.  “I am proud to sign legislation that will protect children from this kind of content.”

None of this legislation will make up for bad parenting. Without parents being more involved in what their kids are consuming and who they’re hanging out with it won’t make a damn bit of difference whether or not they can legally buy mature rated games.

Interestingly enough a couple of weeks back I was at Best Buy with my daughter so she could buy a copy of Dungeon Siege 2 with her birthday money. I didn’t realize it at the time, but apparently DS2 is rated Mature due to “blood and gore violence” which I find to be pretty amusing as it’s nothing compared to many, many other mature rated games out there. There’s certainly no more violence, gore and bloodshed in this game than there was in the Lord of the Rings movies and those only got PG-13 ratings.

Anyway, Courtney’s 15 and the girl at the cash register required that she show some form of valid ID. Courtney does have a State ID card which she showed, though she was very confused because she’d never been carded in order to buy a video game before. The girl at the register looked at the card and then looked at me and I nodded and said, “Don’t worry, I’m her Dad and she has my OK to buy the game.” Still the girl wasn’t sure if she should allow Courtney to pay with her own money or make me pay for it myself. This was before the law was signed. I can only imagine the idiocy that’s going to come from it once it goes into effect. Assuming, of course, that they actually try to enforce it. If it’s enforced as well as the laws against cigarette and alcohol sales to minors is then it’ll have no effect at all. It’ll just be another thing the police can “crack down” on every so often when they need to bump up the PR a bit.

11 thoughts on “Governor Granholm signs Michigan’s new video game law.

  1. As a GameStop worker for 2 years I can tell you that it was enforced before there was a law requiring it to be. Obviously I didn’t enforce it if the parent was standing right next to their kid but I did inform them of the rating. Although being knowledgable about games I probably would have let someone buy Dugeon Siege 2 underage… Nothing wrong with that game.

  2. Awhile back on this site there was some discussion about how modern American kids are rarely left to their own devices; In contrast, when i was a kid (in America’s Great NorthEast Swampy Wilderness (think a land more aking to Ewoks than Thoreau)), we could run around in competing packs reliving our own peculair versions of Lord of The Flies meets Animal Farm.  Rarely would we encounter adults in our warren of forest paths or from the look-outs of our treetop and underground fortresses.

    I think that lack of supervision was important, and healthy.  Some of our pre-adolescent victims left to live under our chaotic-tyranny might think differently.  But, by and large, we did little harm to eachother or our surroundings (except when we dammed a local stream and subsequently flooded several houses’ basements).  Indeed, when we ever did do harm, we learned from our mistakes, if not immediately then in the subsquent years’ hindsight.

    Allowing your kids to fuck-up is important.  Whether that’s choosing to surf porn all day and smoking pot rather writing that term paper, or choosing base games that teach neither resource-planning, military-strategy, nor other skills modern society values.  When they make choices, and reap what they sow, they learn causes and effects.

    Meanwhile, it is also important to be an active critic within your kid’s myopic little bedroom-world.  EG:  “You know Jammal, if you don’t get an A in English on that term paper you’ll either be kept back this year or get to spend the summer taking English over again.”

    I have just as much of a problem with micromanaging parents as i do with absent parents.  The ratings system, alone, is sufficient.  We don’t need laws dictating parents’ choices, or methods for raising the little adults in their midsts.

    rob@egoz.org

  3. I think you guys are missing the point… The need for a law is wrong, the reason for creating the law is not. A parent can still go in and buy an M rated game for their kid. Most stores wouldn’t sell an M rated game to a kid anyhow, now it just makes it illegal to do so. Just like it is illegal to sell a kid a playboy at 7-11. Obviously you can’t really compare an M rated videogame to a magazine dedicated to pornography but both have intended age requirements. The law isn’t going to affect anyone except those who were already in the wrong.

    Please don’t attempt to attach any bias to my statements, all I have done my entire life is play videogames and I am only 19 now. Probably 75% of the games I own are rated M, and my parents bought them when I asked them to. Yes, they were aware of the game’s contents but they also know they raised me to be able to differentiate between reality and fictional entertainment.

    The new law can even be positive for gamers because now the blame will shift even further to the parents when their child plays an M rated game and goes on a school shooting spree. Let’s see them bitch about GameStop and the gaming industry when they know damn well the only way the kid got that game was through their own dirty parental hands.

  4. In the State of Michigan there is no law I know of that makes it a crime to sell an R rated movie to a minor or, for that matter, a ticket to see an R rated movie.

    House Bill 4703, just signed into law by the Governor, makes it a civil infraction with a fine of $1,000 if a retailer simply fails to post a sign explaining the ESRB ratings some place prominent near the video games.

    Senate Bill 416, one of two more bills addressing video games expected to be signed by the Governor in the coming weeks, prohibits the “dissemination (sell, lend, give, exhibit, show, or allow to examine or to offer or agree to do the same), exhibiting, or displaying of certain sexually explicit matter and ultra-violent explicit video games to minors” with fines upwards of $5,000 for the first infraction, $15,000 for the second infraction, and $40,000 for the third infraction.

    There are exceptions to that law as follows:

    1. A parent or guardian who disseminates an ultra-violent explicit video game to his or her child or ward.
    2. An immediate family member of the minor who disseminates an ultra-violent explicit video game to the minor in the immediate family member’s residence or the minor’s residence.
    3. An individual who disseminates an ultra-violent video game to a minor who is a guest in the individual’s residence.
    4. An individual who disseminates an ultra-violent explicit video game for a legitimate medical, scientific, governmental, or judicial purpose.

    So I guess that rules out the parents suing other parents scenario I mentioned earlier, but that only makes this that much more idiotic of a law. It gives parents a false sense that their kids won’t come into contact with these games which just isn’t true.

    It also means that I can legally give my daughter a copy of Dungeon Siege 2 and I can let my nephew play it here in my home, but if I give my nephew his own copy for his birthday (I’m an Uncle, not an immediate family member) I’ll be guilty of a state civil infraction. Assuming, of course, that the law is ever actually enforced and my brother were to turn me in. You don’t see a problem with that?

    Then again I’m already guilty of violating several different Michigan laws including the laws against blasphemy and swearing, seduction (which is a felony under Michigan law though I’m well past the expiration date for prosecution on that one), and at least a couple of sections under the indecency and immorality section. Not the least of which includes swearing in front of women and children (In front of? Hell, I’ve sworn at some of them.) and probably the bit on “lewd and lascivious cohabitation and gross lewdness” from when I lived with my wife prior to her being my wife. This website probably violates a few laws in Michigan as well seeing as women and children can gain access to it and there’s aspects of it that could be considered “obscene” in terms of language and content and the fact that it contains blasphemy on a regular basis. So I suppose being guilty of violating a video game law probably won’t be any different for me.

  5. I imagine in a couple of years I’ll be charge with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for buying them an ‘M’ rated game for buying Courtney and ‘M’ rated game for Christmas.

    I like the sentiment of this unnecessary legislation as parent can use all the help they can get.  In reality it will become just one more bureaucratic cluster.  Pretty soon you’ll have to be 18 to sell ‘M’ rated games in a market where the ratings schema is worse than that of the MPA.

  6. House Bill 4703, just signed into law by the Governor, makes it a civil infraction with a fine of $1,000 if a retailer simply fails to post a sign explaining the ESRB ratings some place prominent near the video games.

    Check me on this…the law doesn’t actually SAY ESRB ratings. It says “a rating system” and specifically says “‘Rating system’ means any video game rating system shown on the exterior packaging of a video game when it is sold or rented.”

    This leads me to two possible interpretations:

    The sign that explains rating systems MUST include what “**** Maximum PC” and “AFA approved” means as well as ESRB.

    A company can choose to ONLY explains what “**** Maximum PC” means, and can ignore other rating systems that happen to be on the outside of it’s packages.

  7. Obviously video games aren’t being treated fairly. R rated movies should also be illegal to sell to a minor if you follow the same logic. Posting ESRB ratings right on the counter and throughout the stores has been a policy at GameStop for years. The rules the law lays down about are totally within reason, in my opinion, but the fact they had to make a law just to enforce those rules leaves me scratching my head.

  8. The rules the law lays down about are totally within reason, in my opinion, but the fact they had to make a law just to enforce those rules leaves me scratching my head.

    Because the help isn’t consistent with making sure they don’t sell to minors? 

    I went into EB Games fairly regularly for over a year buying rated M games without getting carded.  I was seventeen at the time, but I looked probably around 14, same as I do now.  Finally I got carded by the manager of the store, and when I explained to him, that I hadn’t worried about it (had no ID on me, had to find my dad in the mall) because it had never happened before he basically said Well can you tell me who it was that you bought from before because I need to “rip him a new one.”

    I didn’t rat out the guy who sold them to me because he was a cool guy and I didn’t want him to get in trouble.  I probably should’ve though.

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