[MUD-Dev] Games are not speech?

Sean Kelly sean at ffwd.cx
Sat Apr 27 10:22:01 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


Software in general seems to be throwing the lawmakers for a loop.
Whatever happened to the lawsuit where that cryptography professor
won the ruling that source code is speech?  It hasn't seemed to have
applied in the cases regarding DeCSS.

And politicans will jump at any excuse they can find to pursue their
pet platform.  This is a good quote from the PvP rant:

  "exposure of children to ...violence contained in some video games
  has been correlated to violent behavior, and in fact the
  perpetrators of recent school shootings in Columbine, Colorado;
  Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Paducah, Kentucky were reported to be
  avid fans of such video games..."

I suppose no one told this man that correlation is not causation.
I'm sure those kids ate food as well, but no one blames the food
industry for causing these shootings, perhaps as a result of
gastrointestinal upset.  First it was D&D, then heavy metal music,
and now computer games.  And before all of those it was something
else.

And what about games that have been adapted to movies?  As in the
PvP rant, "Mortal Kombat," "DOOM" (eternally in-progress) and
"Resident Evil" among them.  The games are not speech but the movie
adaptions are?  Somehow I find this argument weak.

Ultimately, all language is the manipulation of a finite set of
sombols to convey meaning.  This includes books, movies, CRPGs,
board games, mathematics, source code, body language, etc.

What about art?  Many would argue that computer games have artistic
value, and art is implicitly speech, therefore are not computer
games speech?

Perhaps this is a fortunate ruling.  It means that I could slander
whoever I wanted within the context of a computer game and since it
wasn't speech I could not be held liable for what was conveyed.

Still, I don't see any consistency in the statement that games are
not speech, yet they caused or enabled these kids to do violence.
If games are not speech, then how was this impetus or information
conveyed?


Sean

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