Video game censorship

When it comes to video games society seems to be obsessed with the content, but not necessarily whether the story is well-structured or the characters realistic. There is always a concern that any video game that hints at violence will do one thing, and one thing only: Make the people who play them violent. In today’s society, even the legal system is concerned with the question of how much government should protect its people from offensive material. According to reports, more than 85% of video games on the market contain some form of violence. The controversy surrounding topics such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Manhunt have made the games almost infamous for the violence and aggression that they show throughout game play.

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The ‘No Russian’ starting level of Cal of Duty: Modern Warfare where the player is asked to gun down an entire airport.

However there could be debate over what exactly is deemed ‘offensive’ material: Are guns necessarily offensive, when places such as America deem it a fundamental right to be allowed to own them in your home? Is violence offensive, when sport shows such as MMA and cage fighting get higher ratings when they show more bloodshed? Is sex offensive, when series such as Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight and Game of Thrones draw in huge numbers of viewers with drawn out sex scenes and naked women? It can be drawn from simple common sense that the majority of these answers are based on individual preferences, as what offends one person can be relatively innocent to another and it is this balance along the spectrum that government needs to be wary of.

Naturally, there are games that are a no-go for anyone: Games that promote rape (such as the Japanese released  Rapelay) or make a mockery out of current social tragedies (such as V-Tech Rampage) very clearly should not be allowed in the public domain as they are quite obviously only there to incite offense and upset, and not to provide a gaming experience. But with many games around today, violence is very much integral to the overall story that the game is trying to tell, with many containing an option to commit no violence throughout all of it. In the newly released Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, it is possible to simply run away from the majority of monsters and trap them in rooms so as to avoid having to shoot them point-blank with a shot gun.

The majority of games that have violent characteristics contain these features because they are based on (although admittedly they are exaggerated) real life situations: Call of Duty is a game built around war and so violence is unavoidable, while Outlast and Resident Evil are games inspired by horror and survival. In many action and adventure games such as the ones mentioned above, part of their whole appeal is the use of large guns and multiple explosive devices, if nothing else but to progress the story on with a rush of adrenaline and excitement to keep the player wanting to play more. The undeniable success of games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto show that the demand for these types of games has risen over the years, but it seems somewhat pessimistic to assume that this is because video game players are becoming more aggressive, more violent and more masochistic.

Anyone who has played a video game understands the thrill of a video game: For that time of game play, you are transported into a different world, living a different life with different goals. People who enjoy reading say that they enjoy the imagination of books and the ability of a good book to transport you to a new realm, so why can the same not apply for video games? Video games have become an integral part of our society and in 2016, the majority of people under the age of 30 were too busy running around outside trying to catch Pokemon through the Pokemon Go mobile app game to even think about violence or crimes.

Furthermore, it could be seen as condescending that the government simply assumes that video game players are mindless beings who are easily influenced: An average person won’t go out and steal a car just because they played Grand Theft Auto. If someone wants to commit violence, the fact that they play video games is irrelevant. Research has shown that while video games can increase levels of aggression, it also stated that this can only be problematic in situations of already heightened aggression due to personality type, family life, social factors and other such factors. Due to this, if a person does feel the need to express their frustrations or their fetishes in a violent manner, surely allowing them to do so in a virtual manner is a better solution than having them attack someone in real life. Perhaps that is why video games are as popular as they are, because they allow people to experience different walks of life without any consequences of their actions: Most people wonder what it would feel like to commit crime but are stopped by the fear of getting caught and, most effectively, going to prison. Therefore they play these games to see what it could be like, without having to actually step into the real world to do so.

Final thoughts?

It is clear that while video games may possess aspects that people find offensive, it is also clear that there is a huge demand for games that allow people to experience things that they never would in everyday life. Government needs to keep this all in mind when deciding just how much ‘protection’ they need to give to its people, as to some members of society these video games may be the only release they get that doesn’t involve actual harm or violence to other people.

T xx

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Intellectual Property Law

This is intended to be a very brief introduction to Intellectual Property Law, so as to familiarise yourself with what my future blogs will touch on and some of the issues that they raise.

What is it?

Intellectual property law is a wide umbrella term that is used to encompass many different aspects of the creative world. In short, intellectual property law aims to protect the expression of creative work in it’s many varying forms. Many of them do overlap so that alone can raise confusion! A little bit of the basics:

Copyright Law

This area of IP is governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. It is defined under Section 1, subsection 1 as being a property right which subsists in the following descriptions of work: (a)original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, (b)sound recordings, films  broadcasts, and (c)the typographical arrangement of published editions. In layman’s terms, if you have an idea and have expressed it as a book, a drawing or a song, then that is automatically protected by copyright law and as such, no one can steal your idea and pass it off as your own.

Patents

Patents relate to inventions. Anything that an inventor creates can be protected by a patent. Under Section 1, subsection 1 of the Patents Act 1977 a patent may be granted only for an invention if the following conditions are satisfied: (a) the invention is new, (b) it involves an inventive step (i.e is not simply an ‘upgrade’ on a current invention) and (c) it is capable of industrial application (i.e can the invention actually be used in everyday life). There are however some exceptions (S.2) such as a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method; a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation; a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, or a program for a computer; the presentation of information.

Design Rights

These are closely linked to Patents and are concerned with protecting the overall shape and appearance of a particular object. This type of protection is automatic and last for either  10 years after it was first sold or 15 years after it was created, whichever is earliest. If you wish to protect your design for longer, there is still a formal registration procedure available as long as your design meets the criteria; be new; not be offensive (such as featuring graphic images or words); be your own intellectual property; not make use of protected emblems or flags (Olympic rings, for example); and must not be an invention or how a product works (you’ll need a patent instead!). If the design meets all these criteria, then a registered design right will protect it for 25 years, with a renewal needed every 5 years.

Why is it needed?

Without getting too bugged down in the legal theory surrounding IP Law, it is needed in order to protect a persons’ creative expression. An artist can protect their paintings, a writer can protect their novel and a musician can protect their albums. Personally, I find IP Law fascinating, because it is to some extent allowing people to protect their own ideas and creative outlets in a more theological manner than strict property law. For example, if I were to write a book, and someone was to steal the physical copy of the book, that would be a crime for stealing my property. But if someone was to steal the overall story, publishing the entire story under their own authorship name, then that would be a crime for stealing my intellectual property and my creative expression. In short, it prevents someone taking credit for work that someone else has done.

Why the fascination?

I have always been surrounded by very creative people: My father is a drummer, so I was brought up surrounded by musical instruments and musical scores. My mother is a photographer and studied as a journalist, so I think that is where my love of writing stemmed from. From as long as I can remember, I have been a reader. My main goal in life is to have a personal collection of books that rivals the British Library! However, I can just about draw stick men, my photographs are always blurry and the closest I got to mastering an instrument was the recorder when I was 8. I found that my true calling was in the academics, and it was during my time at law school I discovered a way of using academic means to help protect creative outlets.

This subject is easily the marmite of the legal world: You either love IP or you hate it. And I absolutely adore it.

I hope this brief introduction has helped you understand the basics of what I will discuss throughout this blog, and I hope I can instill some of my passion in you as you read.

T xx

Hello!

Welcome to my blog!

Now bear with me as I am very new to all of this. So…the basics:

My name is Taylor. I was born in England and have lived just outside of London for pretty much my entire life. I have recently graduated from university, where I completed my Masters in Law last September and at some point I will hopefully get a training contract that will allow me to become a qualified solicitor.

But I’ve always been a writer. For as long as I can remember I have been writing stories. My main goals in life are to save animals and to have a library such as the one Beast gives to Belle. So I read…a lot. When I was 11, I was already reading the likes of Jane Austen and Stephen King and am now making my way through all of the classics: Jekyll and Hyde was amazing, as was Lord of the Flies.

Which lead me to here…a way to combine everything that I love into one platform! So my plan for this platform is, as it stands, a place for dumping my thoughts and interpretations about today’s legal stories. As the law is so wide reaching I can not guarantee what area of law I will focus on: For now, let’s say this will be intellectual property based musings, most likely relating the legal implications of video games, films and fashion. Now none of these are by any means ‘small’ aspects to cover and so this will probably be something that is developed over time.

As far as I am concerned, no one will ever read this. I will be buried somewhere in the deep web under far more talented writers and far more exciting personalities and topics. But if you are here, hello and welcome, and I hope I can share with you a little bit of trivia for the day, as I try to get my head around learning something new.

Much love,

Taylor xxx