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Retail Reaction Statement to Violent Video Game Bill

by Rainier on Oct. 12, 2005 @ 12:03 a.m. PDT

Interactive Entertainment Merchant's Association (IEMA)'s president Hal Halpin reacted today to the recent signing by govenor Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of the A.B. 1179 bill making it illegal to sell Mature rated games to minor.

"We were disappointed that Governor Schwarzenegger signed A.B. 1179 into law.Given his tireless speeches about taking the politics out of lawmaking and prohibiting government waste of valuable taxpayer dollars, this decision seems counter to that message. It is clear that this course will lead only to this law, like all previous efforts to alter the First Amendment regarding violent video games, being overturned - yielding no significant change and squandering much-needed resources," says IEMA president al Halpin

IEMA retailers are already voluntarily committed to inhibiting the sale of Mature-rated games, not unlike the successful self-regulatory efforts of the motion picture business. We would have hoped that legislators would work proactively with the industry to help educate parents about the ratings system, and are disheartened to learn that this politicization of the issue is instead becoming an opportunistic trend. We remain supportive of the ESRB and stand ready to aid the ESA in their lawsuits, as we have done in the past."

The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) has announced plans to collaborate with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to fight a recently passed California law that would fine retailers for selling violent video games to minors.

The VSDA is a trade association for the home entertainment industry. Its members include retailers, distributors and other related businesses. The ESA is the public policy group for the video and computer game industry.

The ESA has overturned other state laws that would have prohibited the sale of violent or sexually explicit video game material to minors, successfully arguing that such efforts have infringed Constitutionally protected rights. The ESA is currently pursuing a case against Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who signed a similar law earlier this year.

The legislation — known as Assembly Bill (A.B) 1179, was sponsored by Assemblymember Leland Yee of San Francisco and signed into law by Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger. It goes into effect on January 1, 2006, and creates a penalty of up to $1,000 for any retailer who’s caught selling games that depict extreme acts of violence to buyers under 18 years of age.

In a statement announcing the VSDA’s intent, VSDA president Bo Andersen called the legislation “a clear violation of the First Amendment” and added that it “provides no meaningful standards to know which materials are covered.”

While the law describes a three-part test for “offensiveness” for the video games, it leaves it to juries to decide what ultimately constitutes a ‘violent video game’ on a case by case basis. With such an arbitrary standard in place, Andersen said “no-one could ever know with certainty whether a particular game would be found to be a ‘violent video game.’”

“Instead of passing laws that are destined to be overturned by the courts, the state of California should be encouraging parents to use the existing video game ratings and content descriptors to make informed choices about whether to bring a particular video game into their home,” said Andersen.

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