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The rating systems on the video games and their origins in the united states

A Legal Approach George M. Accessibility standards, video games, technology, Americans with Disabilities Act. Abstract Video game accessibility may not seem of significance to some, and it may sound trivial to anyone who does not play video games.

This assumption is false. With the digitalization of our culture, video games are an ever increasing part of our life. They contribute to peer to peer interactions, education, music and the arts.

A video game can be created by hundreds of musicians and artists, and they can have production budgets that exceed modern blockbuster films.

  1. A practical guide to game accessibility.
  2. For example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits the unlawful copy and dissemination of electronic media, including video games 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014, from http.
  3. Child Development The first is the social benefit that a person with a disability may experience through gaming.

Inaccessible video games are analogous to movie theaters without closed captioning or accessible facilities. The movement to have accessible video games is small, unorganized and misdirected. Just like the other battles to make society accessible were accomplished through legislation and law, the battle for video game accessibility must be focused toward the law and not the market.

Video games can connect people of different ages, races, and religion around the world. Some have a false negative association with the medium due to unfounded news reports usually following a mass shooting.

However, empirical evidence suggests that video games can confer great benefits to their users, ranging from increased dexterity for surgeons to digital realms for young people to develop social and interactive skills; and there is great potential in developing this tool for educational and therapeutic purposes.

What's more, video games occupy an ever increasing sector of our economic and social world. For better or worse, they have taken the place of traditional activities. Hence lays the need to ensure that this medium, product, or service is provided in an accessible manner. The importance of accessible video game design is rooted in the idea that a significant portion of the population is not excluded from participating in the same activities as their friends and family members.

The barriers to accessibility are usually mere oversights that can be remedied with little or no cost, and accessibility features or options do not fundamentally alter the underlying content.

To achieve equal access in this industry, a legally binding accessibility standard for video game design ought to be adopted. The following examines that notion. Their purpose is not to confer a benefit to people with disabilities, but to ensure equal access and opportunity.

ESRB Content Descriptors

They are civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on disability akin to the Civil Rights Act of 1964's prohibition on discrimination based on sex and race. Communication barriers along with education, transportation, and architectural barriers are just a few examples of the obstacles that people with disabilities encounter daily.

The ADA ensures equal access through two main mechanisms. The first is by accommodating the individual with disabilities. This can include providing an American Sign Language interpreter for a person who has hearing loss or allowing a service animal into a restaurant regardless of a no pet rule.

An entity may also be exempt from providing the accommodation if it can prove that doing so would be an undue burden because of the cost and difficulty Americans with Disabilities Act Title III Regulations, 28 C.

Game Rating Information

The second mechanism is by designing physical facilities under specific scoping requirements. These Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines state the required number of accessible parking spaces, clear door widths, counter heights, and many other design specifications to ensure equal access. The mandate for equal access has been interpreted to apply beyond that of physical structures.

Congress could not have intended such an absurd result" Carparts Distrib. In National Association of the Deaf, et. However, The ADA has not been held to apply to video game design. The Court ruled against the plaintiff, holding that Sony is not a place of public accommodation as a manufacturer of video games. Whether video games are a good is somewhat of a grey area. In fact, software companies have traditionally classified games as a service Lane, 2012. Ultimately, the difficulty in applying the ADA to the medium is that there exists no direct historical equivalent for comparison.

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act "follows a string of laws, passed in the 1980s and 1990s that were designed to ensure that telephone and television services would be accessible to all Americans with disabilities, and the … law contains groundbreaking protections to enable people with disabilities to access broadband, digital and mobile innovations — the emerging 21st century technologies for which the act is named" Twenty-First Century.

The Conversation

Before signing the bill into law on October 8, 2010, President Barrack Obama stated, "The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act will make it easier for people who are deaf, blind or live with a visual impairment to do what many of us take for granted — from navigating a TV or DVD menu to sending an email on a smart phone. It sets new standards so that Americans with disabilities can take advantage of the technology our economy depends on. These changes are about guaranteeing equal access, equal opportunity, and equal respect for every American" Remarks by the President, 2010.

The laws purpose is to increase the level of participation in the American political and economic system for individuals with disabilities by "increasing the access of persons with disabilities to modern communications" Guide, n. In other words, the law recognizes the importance of communication technologies and that any accessibility barriers to these technologies impacts citizen participation.

Much in the same manner, a television program or film without closed captioning can limit a person with hearing loss's ability to understand the contents therein. Whether the barrier is physical or digital, the impact is the same: In the modern day of technology, access to digital media is essential.

It is how we shop, learn, date, work, and play. The importance for an accessible digital world becomes more significant because the digital market is replacing the physical market.

A widely known example of this phenomenon is the demise of the print newspaper Plunkett, 2005. In sum, the statutes mentioned above were designed to ensure equal and full participation in the American democracy and economy for individuals with disabilities; and the laws apply to every part of life or at least ought to according to their legislative intent see National Association of the Deaf, et al.

For a number of reasons, including the laws' inability to evolve, individuals with disabilities are being left out of the digital world. A failure to adopt or amend these laws to include new technologies would mean that a part of our society would be segregated for individuals with disabilities and would counter the very essence of these laws.

Video Game Laws and Regulations The bulk of video game regulation deals with censorship, piracy, and addiction.

  • Why game accessibility matters;
  • Accessibility standards are by and large flexible and allow for multiple design options or exceptions in cases of undue hardships or impossibility Department of Justice, 2010;
  • In the Includification document, Ablegamers president Mark Barlet abandons the ideal of applying universal design to video games;
  • Origins" the 2009 mainstream accessible game of the year;
  • In very rare instances, developers have been benevolent and patched in accessible features after the fact see Donovan, 2011; see also Yin-Poole, 2011.

For example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits the unlawful copy and dissemination of electronic media, including video games 2014.

The industry's regulation is far more comprehensive in foreign nations. South Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism regulates nearly every aspect of the video game industry including censorship and addiction Harlan, 2010; see also Ministry of Culture, n. The industry is deeply intertwined with the country's culture and economy, which makes it difficult to both promote and regulate the medium Woo, 2013. After the all too frequent gun massacre case, child protection groups urge legislators to pass laws prohibiting the sale of violent video games; but such laws have been held to violate the First Amendment Brown v.

After examining the laws of the nations mentioned above, one will find a complete absence of any accessibility standards for the medium. A lone exception in the United States is the application of the CVAA to the "the communications functions offered via gaming" Richert, 2012. Gaming industry representatives requested that they be exempt from the CVAA's requirements; but the FCC denied the request after noting "how important gaming has become for social interaction, education, and even the fostering of professional and intimate relationships" Richert, 2012.

The FCC's determination concerns the communication elements of video games and not the design elements.

The Benefits of Gaming Generalizing and categorizing the entire medium into one group to identify its benefits and why accessibility ought to be a priority is a nearly impossible task.

Just as with any other medium, the content and benefits vary. Some games may be purely narrative and may resemble an interactive film, while others may not contain any narrative at all. The purpose of this paper is not to classify gaming as an art form nor is it to identify innate values within specific games; but the following section identifies benefits that some video games may confer upon some individual gamers.

  • With the digitalization of our culture, video games are an ever increasing part of our life;
  • This also ensures that a person with a disability is not relegated to a specific chain of restaurants because that chain is the only one that has a specific accessibility feature.

Child Development The first is the social benefit that a person with a disability may experience through gaming. A video game can allow a person with a physical disability to compete with a non-disabled person. Bonding and making friends are essential parts of a child's development, and the interactions that children can have with their peers through video games can contribute to these developments.

Video games have replaced "board games or activities like bowling" Olson, 2010, p. Other than developing self-worth and confidence by besting the peers, multiplayer video games can provide a test site where children can practice a "social give-and-take through [in game] activities" Olson, 2010, p. In this digital realm, "young people [can] negotiate rules and discover the boundaries of acceptable behavior—such as the point where creative strategies are viewed as crossing the line into cheating or taking unfair advantage" Olson, 2010, p.

  • Murdoch predicts gloomy future for press;
  • The more important question and answer is whether or not the law ought to require that video games be designed in an accessible manner;
  • Some have a false negative association with the medium due to unfounded news reports usually following a mass shooting.

What's more, studies suggest that video games can be used to find a "common ground that young people [especially those with learning disabilities] can use to make friends" Olson, 2010, p. Video games can also "purge negative feelings" and "promote positive moods," teach "leadership skills such as mediation, persuasion, and motivation," and foster creativity Olson, 2010, p. Cognitive and Intellectual Several studies suggest that video games essentially train the mind.

  1. For example, Infinity Ward, the developer of many popular titles, patched a N0m4d control scheme into Call of Duty 4.
  2. Our research provides an opportunity to use video games as a way to empower young people to manage their own mental health and well-being, and potentially circumvent psychological distress.
  3. Hence lays the need to ensure that this medium, product, or service is provided in an accessible manner. Making video games accessible.

Bavelier and Green 2006 conclude: Video game play has been shown to dramatically enhance visuo-motor skills. In particular, video game players have been shown to possess decreased reaction times, increased hand-eye coordination and augmented manual dexterity.

Video game play has also been shown to improve spatial skills such as mental rotation, spatial visualization and the ability to mentally work in three dimensions. In addition, video game play has been shown to enhance numerous aspects of visual attention including the ability to divide and switch attention, the temporal and spatial resolution of visual attention, and the number of objects that can be attended. The Foundation of American Scientists finds that "video games … can teach higher-order thinking skills such as strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation the rating systems on the video games and their origins in the united states execution, and adaptation to rapid change" 2006, p.

The tools however need to be accessible. For instance, a person with a physical disability may be able to benefit by honing his or her dexterity or reaction time; but the lack of accessibility features, like color blind options, may make it impossible to make use of the video game.

They can provide an alternative outlet for stress relief Weber, n. Video games can also help a person who becomes disabled later in life retain his or her self-identity by being able to enjoy the same hobby as before the disability. With the proliferation of online video games, video games can be used as a tool to connect to individuals across oceans. These interactions can encourage individuals to learn about new cultures and languages.

Why video game accessibility matters The arguments to create legally enforceable accessibility standards for video games mirror the arguments to have accessibility standards for restaurants, government buildings, and swimming pools. They range from the economic to the social and cultural. A substantial portion of the community of people with disabilities may not be able to reap the benefits mentioned earlier because no legally binding accessibility standards exist.

Even if the cited benefits did not exist, there is still no justification for the lack of accessibility standards. As mentioned before, the goal of equal access laws are to create a society in which people with disabilities can fully participate. There exists no mandate inherent in civil rights laws that the portions of society that ought to be accessible also be beneficial in some manner or another.

Liquor stores are not exempt from having accessible facilities or providing reasonable accommodations. Developers have a general attitude that "accessibility is a wasted effort, … time-consuming, difficult work just to water down your idea to a lowest common denominator for a tiny minority who wouldn't even want to play games anyway" Moss, 2014.

However, some developers see the economic benefit of trying to reach an already interested segment of consumers rather than trying to appeal to new consumers Zahand, 2007. What's more, accessibility features do not "dumb down" games, as can be seen by the very complex Dragon Age: Origins, and the recognition it received for being the most accessible game of 2009 Ablegamers Awards, 2010.

What's more, there is a need for such features to be uniform, and there is no such guarantee if each individual developer can pick and choose which accessibility features to implement and how to implement them.