NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

February 4, 2013 -

Do you like playing "direct-shooter" video games?

Well, whatever they are, you can't play them at the Paterson Free Public Library in New Jersey anymore.  Prompted by a petition from library staff members, the library's board voted last month to ban the play of such games on computers at its facilities.

Why?

“We felt we should do everything we can to prevent our kids from learning these behaviors,’’ said library board member Irene Sterling.

“We feel a responsibility to the kids of the community,’’ said the library’s director, Cindy Czesak.

Don't agree?  Neither does the National Coalition Against Censorship who last Friday sent a letter to the N.J. library criticizing its new policy.  The letter reads in part:

It is no more acceptable for a library to ban access to certain kinds of video games than it would be to selectively remove other lawful materials. Library patrons,including young people, have a First Amendment right to make their own decisions about literature, art, informational materials, and entertainment without having those choices limited by the subjective views of library officials. Library officials attempt to justify their decision by claiming that they are acting in parens patriae.

 

However, librarians are not baby-sitters, and they have no way to know that their views correspond with those of parents or guardians. Moreover, the policy apparently applies to patrons of all ages, including adults and minors who are accompanied by an adult.

You can read the entire letter here.  It is also signed by The Center for Democracy and Technology, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Source: NCAC

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


Comments

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

I didn't know you could play video games on a library owned PC, let alone install them. At all the libraries I have been to in my area, there have been time limits on who long you can be on. Like fifteen to thirty minutes tops.  That's maybe enough time to check email, maybe a social media site or two. And to at least print off a document or two. But to install and play a game? Must be a lot more lenient libraries out there than the ones I've seen.

 -W

Consumer responsibility is just as important as Corporate responsibility.

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

The ban might be due to the noise and distraction factors.  Video games have the tendency to cause the player to forget they are in a library and shout or talk out loud.  Games are more of a communal experience than an intimate experience.  They can be the latter but tend to be the former.  Books tend to be the opposite.

- Left4Dead Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

"Left4Dead": I would like to refute your post. Games are quite very much a personal, intimate experience for many of us and almost never (if ever) engage in "communal experiences" with them. I refer you to the following video for further discussion of that topic: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/6718-Only-The-L...

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

Sometimes this guy is reading newspapers and gets angry about what he reads and shouts. We haven't banned newspapers yet. 

Also, our computers have no external speakers. Headphones are required for sound.

- Physical media forever!

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

I know at my local library system, the computers do not have external speakers and use headphones whenever sound is needed. So noise from the game itself is a non-issue. As for people getting overly excited and loud, that may happen, but that is no reason to ban games. If someone is being too noisy and not quieting down, that is a problem with the person and not what they are doing. So ban the person not the game.

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

Ban all non educational art. See how far that goes...


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

The only thing wrong with this is that the library should be banning all video games, except for those which are reviewed and white listed for educational content.

Why a Free Public Library would let people use them to install and play video games is stupid.

I am completely against censorship, but fair and appropriate use policies are not censorship. 

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

We're talking libraries. They let people watch PORN, even when others complain. Yet games aren't allowed?

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

Ahh, the media is a wonderful thing, isn't it. A few highly publicized incidents makes you forget that there are an estimate 120 thousand libraries in the USA alone, and most of them would never "let people watch porn"

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

We're talking public libraries, of which there are only around 9,000 in the U.S. Academic, special and school libraries probably aren't allowing patrons off the street to surf the net in their buildings. 
 

Anyway, you are right that most libraries do not allow porn. Many states (like Kentucky), while protecting first amendment rights, also conform to regulations concerning children's protection, which extends to what might appear on library computer screens, so in most cases libraries will ask you to leave if you start viewing sexual content. It often goes against their "Acceptable Use Policy." I guess they might be using this same platform to ban violent games from in-house library use (which, most of the time, you don't have to install as they're online FTP games). But I would think of all places on Earth, a library would be the last one to jump to conclusions and start censoring people since, you know, they stand for free speech and get all up in arms over banned books.

 

How do I know these things? I happen to be a librarian.

- Physical media forever!

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

So you're basically saying that yes, libraries all use other policies to judge what's allowed and what isn't so fairness can't be expected from a public environment?

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

"The only thing wrong with this is that the library should be banning all video games, except for those which are reviewed and white listed for educational content."

Are you saying that romance and sci-fi novels have inherent educational value or are you classifying games differently from the books, movies and music libraries carry?

"Why a Free Public Library would let people use them to install and play video games is stupid."

I doubt they are letting people install games. THe policy probably refers to people playing web based games. I know that is what the majority of game players play at the local libraries here. Anyone with installed games are using their own computers.

"I am completely against censorship, but fair and appropriate use policies are not censorship."

They are censorship when a certain medium is held to a different standard than other mediums the establishment carries.

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

Not all print media is available at a library, becase not all of it is appropriate for free distribution. They use a blacklist system to maintain that. For example, not many libraries would consider carrying Playboy.

Video games are a little harder to monitor and rate. A whitelist system is far more appropriate.

To answer your question, YES, I'm classifying them differently. They should be.

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

As a librarian, you are wrong on so many levels. There are indeed free public libraries that carry the likes of Playboy (even if it's hidden somewhere in the back). M-rated games, NC-17 movies and hardcore erotica fiction are just some of the things you can find in public libraries.

- Physical media forever!

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

Well, I have been to the library. They carry a number of books that contain pretty graphic descriptions of sexual acts. I have also seen many books that contain pretty graphic descriptions of violence. I have also seen at libraries several graphic sexual and violent movies. Saving Private Ryan and Cousin Cuisine come to mind there. Yet putting Call of Duty on the shelf or letting someone play Quake III in the browser is somehow worse? I don't think so.

Re: NCAC and Others Protest Video Game Ban in NJ Library

Let's not forget one "good" book that millions upon millions would fight to the death for if it were ever banned:  the Holy Bible.  Seriously, it contains graphic depictions of violence, sexuality, physical and emotional abuse, and, to quote Penn Jillette, "advocates prejudice, cruelty, superstition, and murder".  Yet it's recommended reading for children...

No matter what anyone might argue, a double-standard is a double-standard.  And censorship is censorship no matter how anyone chooses to rationalize it.

 
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