US Senator Proposes a Ban on "Manipulative" Video Games

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by sknight, May 10, 2019.

  1. sknight

    sknight [H]Lite

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    Yesterday, US senator Josh Hawley announced a bill to legalize banning of so-called "manipulative" video game design in the United States. The decision was proposed yesterday to US Congress.

    The "Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act" would prohibit all games geared towards children, that implement a "pay to win" model where a player is progressing through the game by paying for it. The Senator also added that titles with paid-for in-game awards, such as loot boxes, are supposed to get banned. For overseeing and enforcing the ban, the Federal Trade Commission would be in charge. The FTC in-turn would hire state attorneys to prosecute companies violating the ban.
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    "No matter this business model's advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices", said Senator Hawley, adding to his point.

    The Entertainment Software Association on Wednesday put out a statement rejecting Hawley's proposal. The president and CEO of the video game industry trade group, Stanley Pierre-Louis, pointed out that numerous countries like Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not classify as gambling.

    Hidden link below for those that wish to see the original article. No trolling here.

    https://www.techpowerup.com/255376/us-senator-proposes-a-ban-on-manipulative-video-games
     
  2. craigdt

    craigdt Gawd

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    The market should handle this.

    We don't need more government regulation.

    But I do hate the recent trend.
     
  3. DeathFromBelow

    DeathFromBelow [H]ardness Supreme

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    Like I said in a previous thread, when you buy gas at the gas station or food at the grocery store or gamble at a casino there's some level of government regulation involved.

    Moving to in-game payments of any sort fundamentally changes the dev/publisher's relationship with players in a way that oversight and standards become necessary. If dev's don't want to deal with that then they can simply not include micro-transactions in their game.
     
  4. nilepez

    nilepez [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Given that this is geared towards kids and most of these P2W models are essentially gambling, I have no problem with this in theory. As always the devils in the details.
     
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  5. MaZa

    MaZa 2[H]4U

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    Gaming companies and ESRB have only themselves to blame, they shit the bed with their own greed.
     
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  6. Jim Kim

    Jim Kim 2[H]4U

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    Don't forget Wallstreet, shareholders and the stock market.
     
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  7. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Legalize banning? That's a very weird backwards way to say it.
     
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  8. Retronym

    Retronym Something big is coming.

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    Its really subsidizing bad parents.
     
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  9. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    I guess the side effect is that most mobile game studios would go bankrupt and people would actually have to use their phones for talking and texting....
     
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  10. HAL_404

    HAL_404 Limp Gawd

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    but it hasn't and so ...
     
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  11. atreidesgoldenpath

    atreidesgoldenpath Limp Gawd

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    IAP totally destroyed the quality of the Apple App Store.
     
  12. Nolan7689

    Nolan7689 [H]ard|Gawd

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    The market isn’t handling it though. The market continuously pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable. Backs off a little and tries again later and consequently is able to push the boundary further. It has finally gotten to the point though that the government is seeing cause to step in, necessary or not it’s here.

    Do you remember over a decade ago when everyone was up in arms about horse armor in Oblivion? And now it’s often said “cosmetics aren’t so bad” it took the egregiously Pay to Win Battlefront 2 to make another uproar against publishers wanting too much for too little. And governments are taking notice, the market has failed.
     
  13. Derangel

    Derangel [H]ard as it Gets

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    The market SHOULD handle it, but they aren't. They are doing the exact opposite. Even when tons of people complain they continue, or find different ways to do the same thing and do it worse. The only way to get the market to handle it is for the market to face a serious legal threat. The last time this happened it forced the market to create the ESRB. Maybe this time it will force them to course correct on their own or it will force the government to step in and do it for them.
     
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  14. alxlwson

    alxlwson You Know Where I Live

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    Should read: The Selective First Amendment Exemption Act
     
  15. Nolan7689

    Nolan7689 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Are you really going to try and claim that lootboxes should receive first amendment protection?

    Because if so, holy shit.
     
  16. alxlwson

    alxlwson You Know Where I Live

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    No... But I am going to claim that video games as a whole are protected by the First Amendment. If loot boxes are deemed to be gambling, then they need to be slapped with an AO rating. Enforce the rating system at POS. It's not the government's job to parent.
     
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  17. Derangel

    Derangel [H]ard as it Gets

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    The ESRB has had YEARS to do that. Remember, the rating system in the US is not government controlled. The ESRB is run by the ESA, a lobby group for the game industry (also the folks that run E3). Game publishers are the sole reason the ESA and ESRB continue to exist as they are directly funded by the industry, this means they have a vested interest in not biting the hands that feed them. The ESRB will never rate a game like COD AO because that would be counter to the wishes of Activision.
     
  18. tempertantrum

    tempertantrum Limp Gawd

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    I find 1. the freedom of speech argument dubious, 2. the appeal to "the market" handling it hilarious, and 3. the quotes around manipulative insulting.

    1. There are already a ton of restrictions on freedom of speech, with the understanding that speech is itself an act that can negatively impact or endanger others... you don't complain about slander, libel, threats, false advertisement, inciting violence, etc., which are all restrictions on speech. Why is clearly regulating targeting children with manipulation such a big deal?

    2. The market would push to sell children as slaves if it could, and indeed, it has, for much of history, including now. (Human trafficking is still a major business, and it's mostly kids who get tricked into it.) The market has never, does not, and never will protect people from things they can't protect themselves from. Since the bigger the companies are, the more power they, the more power to keep them from abusing their power the government needs. For example, if even the world class engineers at google and apple can't protect themselves from manipulation by the companies without government help, do you really think you can? Many parents are too busy being wage slaves (not their fault) and even many good parents don't have the time to research to understand or even realize the dangers. Children are basically free targets for predators, and if there was ever something the government should be protecting, it is them. This power should be targeted and focus, of course (which is why I say "right sizing" government, and anyone calling for "small government" needs to square up their ideals with reality). In this case, why not require a system that forces parents to

    3. I know it's a quote, but there is no question that this is manipulation. The whole damn industry is literally based off of the psychology of manipulating the human mind, which kids with a much less developed pre-frontal cortex. Anyone suggesting otherwise is full of it.
     
  19. Ur_Mom

    Ur_Mom I'm Not Serious

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    I've found those details and overreach are usually the problem. There is a problem, but you have people that know nothing about video games making these regulations and decisions. They'll screw something up. Or the wording will screw something up, or they'll make it affect things we don't want it to, but they added it in there.

    Some things do make sense, I just don't trust the people writing the bills to do it right.
     
  20. tempertantrum

    tempertantrum Limp Gawd

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    I mostly agree with this, which is again why I push for clearly targeted protections/regulations. Of course, you want to make it broad enough so there's not loopholes and it catches the things it needs to, otherwise the laws are useless and the number of required laws to deal with everything becomes impossible to navigate. (Imagine if they had to have a law about speeding for every single kind of vehicle? Just invent a new category of vehicle et viola! you can't get in trouble for going 500 MPH!) Also, suggesting that the regulations are "usually the problem" ignores the problems that are the impetus for the legistation - ie, the real problem exists before the regulation, and hopefully since no regulation can be perfect, any problems that arise from it will be less then the original problem.

    It would be nice if we voted in people who weren't either completely ignorant or in the pockets of corporate lobbyists...
     
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  21. raz-0

    raz-0 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Things that represent the telling of stories or conveying of ideas are speech. A merchant interface isn't for the most part. Fake virtual currency flavor 946 (without even leaving that one game), is not.

    And then there is the position of is it something of value? Do didgital objects have value. The entire software industry says yes, and if that is the answer, it's gambling. It's no different than a slot machine or a raffle. Both of which have government regulation now for pretty well established reasons.

    For those of us with self control on the issue, they have made gaming unfun in many areas. This sucks, but doesn't deserve regulatory intervention.

    Additionally, they have ballooned revenue, but this is at the cost of exploiting those with little self control when faced with a gambling model of financial interaction. This situation does tend to be regulated in most locations. Why we are limiting the argument to children is beyond me.

    It is coincidental that by clamping down on the bullshit activities used for exploitation in the second case, a lot of the financial incentives that have caused the first case go away.

    Of course this leads to the inevitable comparison to collectible blind purchases. MTG comes up often. While logically there are parallels, a bad ratio for them are 1:120 or so for rare items. Compared to a lot of video game loot crates/boxes/etc., thats literally an order of magnitude better odds as odds exceeding one in one thousand are increasingly common. The ONLY gambling system that gets away with odds that shitty is the lottery run by the government.

    There will be consequences to this behavior at some point. The free ride won't last forever.
     
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  22. tempertantrum

    tempertantrum Limp Gawd

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    It's targeted at children because we don't let children have control of such things - they aren't mentally developed to be able handle these things. Just like we don't let children go to the store and buy lottery tickets, I think the solution isn't to stop the industry, but rather place some limits on it.

    It's hard to compare getting an in game item to getting millions of dollars - the odds don't line up, but neither do the prizes, so that's apples to oranges in that regard.

    I'd love to see the government get out of gambling, but they are the biggest addict to gambling of all, with the taxes... It's sad that school funding was pushed into that as a source of revenue, while community support was reduced, and now they are even pulling the lottery money away from schools and wondering why they are having troubles.

    What are the "consequences" and "Free ride" you speak of?
     
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  23. nilepez

    nilepez [H]ardForum Junkie

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    The value isn't there, but the cost can be quite high. If they want in game purchases, that's one thing (and see something that changes my mind, I don't think that's something where the government needs to intervene), but loot boxes are essentially a slot machine. And some games I've played that have them they literally sound like a slot machine when you buy something.

    To me the solution is if you have loot boxes that you can buy, it's an Adults only game. This has the side benefit of possibly convincing companies it's not worth using them, since nobody under 18 can buy the game (which is a win for most of us adults too), but if the company thinks they can make big bucks with them without kids playing then loot boxes stay in their games.
     
  24. nilepez

    nilepez [H]ardForum Junkie

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    There is no way a bill like this will get passed without input form the industry. I'd go as far as to bet that if they start seriously considering it, the industry will act before a law is passed.

    I'm no for censorship. I'm not even fond of restricting GTA to AO, but I'm find with no gambling in games that kids can buy
     
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  25. raz-0

    raz-0 [H]ardness Supreme

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    If you expect to exploit those with a personality that can't cope with it, and steal the government's customers, expect to get put out of business or taxed out the ass. The government will get theirs.
     
  26. nightfly

    nightfly 2[H]4U

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    Slippery slope. Once you regulate to protect children, you open up the door to protect feeble minded adults, too (senior citizens with credit cards who buy useless time shares, midnight infomercial crap; and, of course, all the gullible just plain stupid people, etc.). All of those demographics are extremely susceptible to deceptive selling and advertising, which corporate America depends upon to sell their crappy products too (that includes the selling of politicians to the masses). So it's in corporate America's best interest to have no regulation.
     
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  27. ThatITGuy

    ThatITGuy Limp Gawd

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    Ratings means nothing when the ratings are done by a group that is within the industry and when kids can easily bypass the age check on AO. Blaming bad parenting is a strawman. There are even people 18+ that are negatively affected by these mechanics. Not everyone in the world is as clued in and intelligent as the people here on the [H]. I have watched as games went from games that tell a story, to games that just try to keep you playing as long as possible; from full games, to partial games with planned DLC; from games that allow user modification, to games where skins and other "enhancements" to the game are sold to you. Game publishers have been slowly pushing and pushing the threshold to see just how much they could get away with for years now. Things were bound to hit a critical mass at some point, it looks like we are getting closer and closer to that point.

    i do think it would be interesting if they made it so that AO rated games could only be purchased as physical media (along with the required 18+ ID check, but then the industry would just influence things so that nothing got an AO, other than those items developed/published by someone without the money and influence to buy a lower rating.
     
  28. Nolan7689

    Nolan7689 [H]ard|Gawd

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    ThatITGuy Stores won’t carry AO rated games last I checked.
     
  29. tempertantrum

    tempertantrum Limp Gawd

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    It's not aimed at adults. It's aimed at CHILDREN. And the government doesn't have "costumers." That's some incredibly lazy and ambiguous arguing you are doing there.
     
  30. tempertantrum

    tempertantrum Limp Gawd

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    The "slippery slope argument" doesn't even remotely apply here. We have a *ton* of restrictions and regulations around children already, and no, they don't just randomly "slip" into adults. Cars, guns, medicine and other drugs (like alcohol, nicotine, and weed), are all regulated for children, and if anything becoming less regulated for adults. No one is moving to stop adults from getting scammed, even though old folks have been getting scammed for hundreds of years. Unless you think "slippery" means a slope of hundreds of years...
     
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  31. tempertantrum

    tempertantrum Limp Gawd

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    I think the real answer here is that the OS's (Android and iOS) *should* have had better restrictions on in game/app purchases, and controls for children. That won't happen on their own because they make money on this, so of course they have to be told to do so. Child locks on financial accounts seems like a no brainer to me, and of course wouldn't affect adults using their own phones. No slippery slope, no coddling adults, and minimal legislation required, if any at all.
     
  32. atreidesgoldenpath

    atreidesgoldenpath Limp Gawd

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    I love the traction this is getting. The gaming industry is drunk from the micro transaction model and now is basically implementing Bellagio style slot machine mechanics on all ages of people without restriction.

    I don’t want these mechanics for my children or even for myself!
     
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  33. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Not sure I agree.

    Look, there is nothing these guys are doing that doesn't exist in other forms in the world. I think the children angle is shallow and without merit. Who's giving their kid unfettered access to a credit card? If they are, then they deserve what they get.

    What needs to happen here is people need to learn some self control. If you ask me, this is a great way to learn it. Add to this the fact that if you allow the government to do this, you'll be hiring another 500 government servants to manage this "regulation", and they'll do a crappy job of it anyway.

    Oh, and that guy looks like a pussy
     
  34. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Wait up, where's the proof that this is really a problem, aside from a few news stories that cry foul against these game devs while casting stupid people as victims?

    This is just more of the same dumb shit, trying to make the world "safe" for people, blaming the big evil nasty profiteers for people's stupidity and gullibility.

    People need to learn some fucking self control.

    Kids don't need access to a credit card and when kids do stupid things that's a learning opportunity, not a wake up call to the nanny state.

    And if people can't control themselves and continue to be stupid with their money, then this is a damned good time to invest in EA.

    Look, we're mostly all gamers here to one degree or another. And most of us don't like some of the industry trends and how they effect the gaming experience. I'm there too. But I'm not looking to use make believe "think of the children" tactics to use the federal government to enforce a change in my preferred entertainment platform.

    I know it sounds good on the surface, and that we could hope for better games again. But this isn't the way to it. People need to look at games like this and just not buy them, or refuse to make micro-transactions. No mo money means no more of these shitty practices, people wised up, the run is over. The assholes will move on and try something else, but others will adjust and settle back on decent paying models and those will be the long term winners, for all of us.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  35. Darunion

    Darunion 2[H]4U

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    Yea if these companies get forced out of their current model they will quickly find a new way of doing the same thing (likely finding a loophole). If the sales model just dies off they will have to change their strategy entirely. I dont like microtransactions and how they do it, but I don't want more government control over it either.

    Why is the government always overreaching and tyrannical until someone wants them to ban something they don't like?
     
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  36. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    The government ...... as long as people keep looking to the government to solve every perceived problem in their lives we are going to have problems. I'm not saying that we don't need a government, we certainly do. But I think people need to accept what is their's to control and manage and not ask the government to make the world perfect for them.

    We're all people, we all do what people do. Honestly, put any one of us in the place of these executives and stock holders and do we really think that we would vote any differently? We would all make the exact same decisions for the most part. The choices in our own best interests, it's what we do.

    This Senator is doing the exact same thing. He'll push this bill, claim some votes, make some friends, and he'll claim responsibility for creating some jobs ..... government jobs, or if he's really slick, it'll generate a contract for citizens getting jobs without the official government tag. And if it fails, it'll still be good to use, laying blame on the other guy "obstructionist / catering to greedy predatory businesses / etc. It's a win win card and they are all playing it.
     
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  37. RPGWiZaRD

    RPGWiZaRD Gawd

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    Who decides whether it's manipulative or not?
     
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  38. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    By my figuring, we all do, for ourselves. But not everyone agrees.
     
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  39. alxlwson

    alxlwson You Know Where I Live

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    I would imagine that a psychologist or psychiatrist could make such a determination.