Legislation

All posts tagged Legislation

Entertainment Consumers AssociationThe Entertainment Consumers Association has issued an action alert for its members asking them to contact Congress in order to oppose a recent bill that would authorize the National Academy of Sciences  to study whether “exposure to violent video games and video programming” has a harmful effect on “children.” This bill is in response to a White house proposal in the wake of the Sandy hook school shooting last year and is part of a larger agenda by the White House.

The ECa takes issue with the proposal on a number of fronts. The first being the bill’s primary backer Senator Rockefeller.

The ECA has numerous concerns about this and feels that this is a distraction to finding the real cause of these events. Senator Rockefeller himself, who has championed this legislation, has, on the record, stated that he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision that video games are protected free speech. In his remarks on the floor of the US Senate, he said:

“Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons.”

With all due respect Senator, the highest court of the land has reviewed the scientific research and concluded that video games do not cause violence. The non-scientific personal opinion of the Senator should not get to overturn the Supreme Court ruling.

Other concerns being that the proposal ignores existing research on the positive influence of video games and that this study may induce further power grabs by federal agencies. You can read the full statement at the action page.

As game developers, we have a strong interest in the movements of elected officials when it comes to gaming. Studies such as those proposed above can have a direct effect on our business, especially if they result in efforts to regulate the games industry and the games it produces. While the ECA is primarily a consumer organization, its many interests effect game developers both individually as gamers but also collectively.

So please act now to express your opposition to this legislation and consider joining the ECA and support its efforts to protect gamers and their interests.

Disclosure: I am a member of the ECA and a contributor to ECA publication Game Politics.

The Supreme Court of the United States recently decided to review the California Law that would regulate the sale of video games to minors. There is a 10 court precedent that is in favor of the video game industry which means that the Supreme Court would most likely rule in favor of the video game industry as well.

But if they do, will that be the end of all such legislation? My answer is no. I base this off of what has happened in Oklahoma.

In 2006, the Oklahoma Governor signed into law a bill that would make it illegal to sell violent games to minors. This law was immediately challenged by the video game industry and ruled unconstitutional. I won’t go into details about why as the reasons were the same as all prior and subsequent laws.

Was that the end of this legislation? No.

Shortly after the bill was struck down in court, a new bill was introduced that would force video game retailers to distribute literature with all game sales that explained that violence in games can have harmful effects on children. There were several problems with this bill. For one, there is no such causal link between violent games and any harmful effects. For two, the bill required that this literature was to be passed out with all game sales, not just the violent ones.

This bill never made it to a vote and was not introduced the following session.

In 2009, Oklahoma began to consider the prospect of providing tax incentives to game developers. Oklahoma already provided incentives to the film and television industries. A good idea to begin with.

Unfortunately, supporters of prior attempts to regulate game sales injected this bill with restrictions on which games can apply for incentives. A game company cannot apply for incentives on funds spent in the creation of M and AO rated games. This restriction is not reflective of anything in the language for film and television incentives.

This bill has not made it out of committee for the last two session due to Oklahoma’s budget shortfall.

This is just one state’s reaction to having their regulatory law struck down as unconstitutional. Will California be any different? Will the federal government be any different? There are people in our governments and people in positions to influence government officials that still feel that games should be regulated in some way. So it will not end any time soon.

Eventually the attempts will stop. Eventually the cries of distrust of the games industry will subside. Yet, there will be a stigma associated with games for many years just as there still is for Rock and Roll and Dungeons and Dragons.