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Violent Video Games Bill Gets Approved In California

by Rainier on Sept. 9, 2005 @ 1:11 p.m. PDT

The California State Assembly approved legislation to limit children’s access to extremely violent video games, now only needing the signature of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to become law. Assembly Bill (AB) 1179, formerly AB 450, calls for ending the sale and rental of violent video games that depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, to persons who are under 18 years of age.

The bill authored by Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/Daly City) would make retailers who violate the act liable in an amount up to $1,000 for each violation. In addition, such described video games would have to be labeled with a designation for adult sale only.

“Unlike movies where you passively watch violence, in a video game, you are the active participant and making decisions on who to stab, maim, burn or kill,” said Speaker pro Tem Yee, also a child psychologist. “As a result, these games serve as learning tools that have a dramatic impact on our children.”

“Governor Schwarzenegger is no longer an action star but an elected representative of all Californians; I am hopeful that he will consider our children’s best interests by signing this commonsense legislation into law and giving parents a necessary tool to raise healthy kids,” said Speaker pro Tem Yee.

While Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) claims to be a non-biased ratings board that gives parents a valuable tool in deciding appropriateness of games for their children, they are funded by the makers of video games who have a financial interest in making sure their games are not rated AO.

“Clearly the ESRB has a conflict of interest in rating these games,” said Speaker pro Tem Yee. “Plain and simple, parents cannot trust the ESRB to rate games appropriately or the industry to look out for our children’s best interests.”

Yee’s efforts have received overwhelming support from Californians, including the California Academy of Pediatricians, Commission on the Status of Women, California Psychiatric Association, California Psychological Association, NAACP, California Alliance Against Domestic Violence, Girl Scouts, and the California PTA. Most recently, US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced nearly identical legislation at the federal level.

“Studies prove that playing these violent video games are bad for kids mental and physical health,” said Jim Steyer, Founder of Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization of 750,000 regular users dedicated to improving children’s media lives. “The health threat involved with kids playing such games is equivalent to smoking cigarettes.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 70 percent of thirteen to sixteen year olds are able to purchase M-rated (Mature) video games, which are designed for adults. Ninety-two percent of children play video or computer games, of which about forty percent are rated M. Mature-rated games are the fastest growing segment of the 10 billion-dollar video game industry; in fact the top selling games reward players for killing police officers, maiming elderly persons, running over pedestrians and committing despicable acts of murder and torture upon women and racial minorities.

“These violent video games are learning tools for our children and clearly result in more aggressive behavior,” said Randall Hagar, California Psychiatric Association’s Director of Government Affairs.

Earlier in the evening, the Senate approved AB 1179 on a bipartisan 22-9 vote. The Governor now has 30 days to sign or veto the bill.

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