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Friday, January 29, 2016

The State of the Videogame Industry if Hillary Clinton Had Her Way

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Warning: It's a dystopian future. Don't let it become a reality.

I'm sure that Hillary Rodham Clinton would love to be the next president of the United States of America, and in her dreams she would want a position much stronger than the president. One-woman ruler of the country. And if you're so foolish enough to allow that to happen, then you will be rewarding extremist anti-videogame, anti-creativity, and anti-freedom behaviour on her part. If videogame company executives or any self-professed gamers vote for her, then they either have short memories or they're not “real” gamers. This is a litmus test for your gaming credibility.

Hillary Clinton notoriously CREATED the Family Entertainment Protection Act while she was a United States Senator from New York at the end of 2005 as a response to the (inaccessible in-game) Rockstar Hot Coffee mod discovered in the code of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. What this means is that she wanted (and likely still does) the government's hands in the regulation of the videogame industry for the purposes of “protecting children.” I briefly mentioned Hillary Clinton and the Family Entertainment Protection Act in a great article a year ago, but this was a super-important moment in our industry's history — so it deserves more than just a cameo/tangent in another article.

There were five parts to this act (which didn't get out of committee — so there wasn't a vote on it) that I'll briefly summarise. Then I'll tell you what it would've done if it passed as-is:

What is the Family Entertainment Protection Act?

  1. Prohibits the sale/rental of Mature/Adults-Only/Rating Pending-rated games (M/AO/RP) to kids under 17. If a kid shows a fake ID card and buys the game anyway, then the business isn't in trouble. If this is violated, the store manager has to suffer a penalty of $1,000 or 100 hours of community service on the first offense, and $5,000 or 500 hours of community service for each subsequent offense.
  2. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will team up with another expert videogame ratings organisation that isn't the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (we call it the ESRB) and also isn't involved with the videogame industry in any way. This team will randomly sample ESRB-rated games every year to see if the ratings are internally consistent (what goes into T one year would be the same kind of content as what goes into T the next) and trustworthy.
  3. The FTC will secretly audit (and then publicly release the results) game-selling businesses throughout the year and see how many minors try to purchase M/AO/RP games, and how many successfully do so.
  4. The FTC will investigate the content, coding, and mods of apparently every videogame on the market to see if there exists any content that could increase the ESRB rating. If so, the FTC will take action to regulate the situation.
  5. Consumers will be able to file complaints to the FTC over misleading and deceptive videogame content labeling, which the FTC will present to Congress divided by videogame manufacturer.
Hillary Clinton plays Nintendo Game Boy on airplane
Hillary Clinton trying to get gamer cred by playing some Game Boy game. I can't help but think of this.
Photo from the Clinton Library Instagram page. Note their scare-quotes around Game Boy. Why isn't it a Game Woman?

Well, maybe it doesn't seem so bad. Kids shouldn't be buying Adults-Only videogames, after all, and the law would empower consumers to report violating games!

Allow me some space to respond to each of the five prongs of the bill, but before I do, here's an excerpt Senate speech from Hillary that she made about this bill while another bill was being passed. Just for more context:
“But [Child and Media Research Advancement Act] is just one step. We need to do more so children grow up in a safe media environment. In December Senators Lieberman, Bayh, and I introduced S. 2126, the Family Entertainment Protection Act, which would prevent children from buying and renting ultra violent and pornographic video games.
  There is enough research out there now to show conclusively that playing violent video games has a negative effect on youth. We know that these games are damaging to children. We need to take the decision to buy them out of the hands of children and put that decision back in the hands of parents. That is what S. 2126 would do, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to move that bill.
  I am so pleased that we are taking this step forward today with CAMRA, and I am hopeful that it will be speedily approved by the full Senate. It is one step to ensure that children in America grow up safely.”

The Problems With The Family Entertainment Protection Act

Now then, my rebuttal. It's a wall of text, so be careful. It's very important, though:
  1. First off, games aren't even sold with Rating Pending. It also punishes the manager, rather than the person who actually sold the game, regardless of if the manager has tried to train employees to follow the law.. ...Though they'll probably get fired by a very mad manager. Anyway, this bill was drafted before the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/Wii and the advent of digital sales and the overwhelming popularity of online play. As we at KoopaTV know very well, these online marketplaces have restrictions as to what users can purchase based on the age they provide to the console manufacturers. In some cases, users cannot change this age to simulate having a parent purchase the game for them, making these marketplaces even more restrictive than a brick-and-mortar game store. The bill states that evidence of compliance is an “online age verification system, in the case of online sales,” which basically means every console manufacturer would have to, by law, ask that you fax them a copy of identification or you'll be assumed to be under 17. This would be a horrible violation of consumer privacy, because now every videogame manufacturer would have a database of our drivers' licenses, passports, or if you're going Facebook-style, Social Security cards. Not something I particularly want, especially when Sony gets hacked every time you look. That said, this would make for a fantastic argument for why you should buy physical games over digital ones! But yeah, digital purchasing would decrease significantly the more barriers you put over it. Also, those fines would be expensed as a business cost, and those costs would be passed onto the consumer in the form of higher prices at retail.

  2. Exactly what “organization with expertise in evaluating video game content and that has no financial or personal interest, connection, or tie with the video game industry” exists? To emphasise, that would be an organisation composing of gaming EXPERTS that has no connections or ties with the gaming industry. In case you're not sure, it's very easy to have a tie with the industry. If you've ever been in the credits for a game before or you're family or friends with someone who has, you have a connection. If you have any stock in technology companies that are in the gaming field or even Google or Apple, that's a financial interest. If you're so much as a fan and want to see a company do well, that's a personal interest. This requirement is freaking impossible. There are people without ties, connections, or interest in the videogame industry, sure. But these people PROBABLY aren't going to be experts.

  3. It's not much of a secret if you know ahead of time it's going to be a thing. Apparently, if this bill passed, tax dollars would go to getting FTC thugs into GameStops and whoever else sells videogames and they'll just suspiciously yet inconspicuously spy on cashiers all day. I'm not really sure how practical this is, since GameStop and Best Buy and other companies don't hold records for the age of everyone who purchases a videogame. So either they'd start requiring that (making the point-of-sale transaction much more uncomfortable and longer) and the government will audit that record-keeping, or the FTC really would have random people in suits and sunglasses standing there. If you know an FTC guy is standing over the counter all day with a clipboard, then I'm not sure how it'd be a secret audit unless he's somehow invisible AND silent. This'd be something you'd have to be on-the-scene to know, since security camera resolution probably won't give you your needed info, either. Incidentally, the FTC ended up doing something like this anyway (by recruiting underage children into their schemes) and in 2011 it was reported that the voluntary enforcement system done in the videogame industry was stronger than every other industry, including music and film. That said, it doesn't meet the definition of “audit” and was described as a “survey.”

    FTC Federal Trade Commission undercover survey children purchasing M rated games
    You'll notice the large drop between 2003 and 2006, the years before and after this plotted yet non-ratified law.
    Voluntary self-regulation works.

  4. The FTC would have to look into the code and assets for as many videogames as “to the extent practicable,” which in a government that funds itself on easy money from the Federal Reserve and borrowing from China, means they can go a long time doing this. With thousands of videogames coming out per year and many more already released, the FTC would be able to ask for massive budget increases and it'd be many people's full-time jobs just doing this. Of course, all of this is without any value-added to anyone. Just throwing money out. Videogame companies will have to be careful about the assets they use — no nude T-models. It doesn't matter if the content cannot be accessed by gamers, because as long as it's accessible through “other technological means” (going into code) it'd fall under FTC regulation. Additionally, the bill's definition of “videogame” would make normally unrated-by-the-ESRB actions, such as online play and user-generated content, fall under the FTC's regulation. This would either make inappropriate genitalia drawings in the Miiverse stage of Super Smash Bros. For Wii U cause the game's rating to rise to M, or more likely, any creation of user-generated content would have to be pre-screened by the videogame company/ESRB/Federal Trade Commission before being public. This would pretty much prevent the birth of user-generated content, which would prevent things you see today like Minecraft being used for education purposes. Every new addition would have to go through a burdensome review process, which will make most people say “screw it.”

  5. Well, since the consumer complaint report would be tabulated by videogame publisher, it'd be an amusing competition for which company hides the most information from the ESRB. Or how many complaints people submit saying that Super Smash Bros. Melee should be rated DOWN to E10+. Fun fact: In the current FTC complaint system, you can anonymously submit complaints and give as much or as little information as you'd like. Given the maturity of some of the videogame industry's customers, you can bet there would be a lot of troll submissions and it'd be someone's full-time government job with cushy government benefits just to laugh at them and check then off as looked at. ...Or maybe they'd take them seriously. Don't expect these folks to actually understand the videogame industry when they regulate it.

Basic summary of my rebuttal: Videogame publishers and videogame sellers would have to go through a dramatic increase in the costs of doing business and suddenly have these regulatory reporting requirements. These would damage the privacy rights of consumers, reduce or stop innovation, raise prices, create unemployment within the gaming industry, probably raise taxes and the national debt, create a new federal bureaucracy, and kill user-generated content. All to make a federal mandate for what companies already voluntarily do — that is, not sell M-rated games to minors. Did Hillary foresee these possibilities, or was it just a knee-jerk reaction to exploit — for political gain — a time period where emotions were running high, at the expense of freedom and liberty? What difference does it make? She's either a cold and calculating politician, or she's a very incompetent legislator. Neither of those sound appealing.

Hillary Clinton child mini-me look-alike impersonator kid brainwashed youth
You know what is REALLY having a negative impact on youth?
Hillary Clinton inspiring children to wanting to be just like her.

Hillary's History of Political Manipulation

Hillary makes a big stink about PROTECTING THE CHILDREN that are DAMAGED by violent videogames. She also claims that the federal government regulating the sale and manufacture of videogames would put the decision-making “back” into the hands of parents. This is an absurd argument, because government regulating choices always puts that decision in the hands of the government, not the parents or your doctor or anyone who should be making the decisions. The choice is and was ALREADY in the hands of parents.

Similar to how climate alarmists conclude that man-made global warming is a “settled” issue, the Family Entertainment Protection Act claims that,

“This evidence is so strong, [...] ‘the scientific debate over whether media violence increases aggression and violence is essentially over’ and [...] [there is an] ‘overwhelmingly [...] causal connection between media violence and aggressive behavior’.”
This is patently false, as found by the Supreme Court in 2011 when they struck down the California version of the Family Entertainment Protection Act in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. Studies conducted afterwards draw the same conclusion. Turns out the science wasn't settled after all, but that's a term pre-emptively thrown around to try to shut down debate and make the opponents look like the enemies of science. And who'd want to be labeled as against science? (Team Art, that's who!)

All of the co-sponsors of the bill, along with Hillary? Democrats. The guy who wrote the California version? A Democrat, Leland Yee, incidentally arrested in 2014 for corruption charges. Now, since the bill didn't go to vote, we don't know how this would go along party lines. Since Republican Rick Santorum was still a senator, I'm sure he'd vote for it. It's just telling that all of these “we must use the government's power to PROTECT THE CHILDREN!” authors are Democrats when the popular narrative is that the politicians out to restrict your civil liberties are all Republicans.

Let's not forget about all of Hillary's anti-business proposals and statements. If it were up to her, she'd raise taxes on businesses and raise the cost of hiring employees, based on her support for Obamacare and her opposition to the Bush tax cuts. She also tends to be against free trade. You know what happens when you make it harder to import, export, and hire? Higher prices, less games, and less jobs — including the jobs of the parents of the kids that Hillary supposedly cares so deeply about. But hey, that extra money will keep the kids safe and go to funding al Qaeda allies! And, ain't that funny, those al-Qaeda folks ended up killing the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. But to Hillary, what difference does it make?

An anonymous user of the KoopaTV Feedback Form Part I responded that they were “especially disappointed” with my treatment of Hillary Clinton in KoopaTV articles, claiming it wasn't Fair & Balanced and also “incredibly disrespectful.” Quite frankly and objectively, I stand by any and all comments I've made about Hillary on and off KoopaTV. She's evil, and I think it's an objective assessment for a videogame-focused website to make given her anti-gaming policies. Usually KoopaTV uses hyperbole and exaggerated humour in articles, but I'm absolutely serious and rhetorically precise for this particular article.

Hillary, of course, is against online trolls and hateful comments online, and believes she would be a model citizen for the Internet denizen to be inspired by. Right, let's replace negativity with... all the nasty stuff Hillary is. It's hilarious that Hillary Clinton views herself as the perfect role model, though.

It bears repeating: America and the videogame industry would be in a much darker place if everything Hillary Clinton has fought for up to this point happened. Don't make it a reality.

We've already endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Democrat presidential primaries for 2016. At least he doesn't have an anti-gaming track record, and his views are also consistent. Would Hillary try something like the Family Entertainment Protection Act today? Maybe not, and maybe she “evolved” her views on this issue — like every other issue — but why risk electing someone who will say and do anything to be elected and stay in power?

Just to emphasise: It is mutually exclusive to consider yourself a gamer, and to also be a Hillary Clinton supporter. 

If you know anyone who is considering voting for Hillary Clinton, do them, videogames, and the United States of America a favour and share them this article. Ludwig's general distaste for Hillary Rodham Clinton somehow grew even stronger than it already was in the process of writing this article. How is that even possible? Give your thoughts on that, plus Hillary's history of trying to suppress freedom of speech and industry in the comments! Also, if you can add any more commentary on anything else commented on in this article, including the Family Entertainment Protection Act, go ahead.

For a videogame portrayal of the future of America where Hillary Rodham Clinton is the ruler, play KoopaTV's very own Capture the Confederate Flag!
KoopaTV wrote on other ways Hillary is a bad person here, when she announced her campaign.
KoopaTV also graded Hillary's performance specifically in the first Democrat debate.
Fortunately, this bill didn't pass. However, that leaves Hillary with no accomplishments whatsoever.
The threat of massive regulation and surveillance isn't over. Now the NSA and FBI will want access.
Take a look at Iran to see what a regime that bans games is like. Then ask if you want that.
For all of the other Hillary articles on the site, click here for the Hillary Article Index!
Game developers are eagerly doing what they can to drive a Hillary Clinton win, despite how Hillary is against the industry.
This article was awarded the prestigious Best KoopaTV Article award of 2016!
The person Hillary Clinton lost to that stopped her from becoming president thinks violent videogames are shaping young people's behaviours...
Several Congressional sessions later, a bi-partisan group of Senators is trying to regulate videogame loot boxes.
Years later, Hillary Clinton tries to position herself as an ally of gamers. It's lies.
By comparison, Bill Clinton succeeded before Hillary Clinton did at passing legislation that would regulate in the name of children, except it's the entire Internet.


  1. Kind of a useless law, kids will ask parents to buy the game for them anyway, and hasnt hilary ever head of ebay or being able to download games digitally....

    1. It was 2005, so not many fols were doing that.

      This law would regulate that as well, though wouldn't stop parents buying M-rated games from the store. It would make digital purchasing extraordinarily complex.

    2. Well those are the moments im happy I dont live in the US

    3. Looks like y'all are regularly the best in Africa.

  2. Replies
    1. ...You were too young for it to be your fault she got that position, ya?


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