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As WP's senior editor, I edit review and preview articles, attempt to keep up with the frantic pace of Rainier's news posts, and keep our reviewers on deadline, which is akin to herding cats. When I have a moment to myself and don't have my nose in a book, I like to play action/RPG, adventure and platforming games.

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Video Game Industry Sues Oklahoma

by Judy on June 23, 2006 @ 5:33 p.m. PDT

The computer and video game industry filed suit today in Oklahoma, requesting the state's new video game law be overturned. Similar laws have been deemed unconstitutional by six federal courts in five years, all rejecting the claims that violent video games incite aggression.

"Legislators have sold parents a bill of goods for political expediency," said Doug Lowenstein, president of the ESA, the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. "They know the bill will be struck down, they know it's based on bad science, and they know it won't help parents do their jobs. What they won't tell voters: we just picked your pocket to the tune of a half million dollars, the amount the state will have to reimburse the ESA after the inevitable decision is made to strike down the law."

The law criminalizes the sale or distribution of violent video games to minors, even by their own parents. By subjecting a parent to criminal liability for providing a video game to their child, the state of Oklahoma is the first in the country to pass a law that takes the unprecedented step of telling parents that the government knows better than they what games their children should play.

"Parents, not local police offices, should decide what games are suitable for their children," said Lowenstein. "We stand ready to work with parents to provide them with information about the Entertainment Software Ratings system, which has been called the most comprehensive rating system for any entertainment medium in the country, in order to help parents make informed choices about the games their children play."

"The law's definitions are so vague and imprecise that no video game retailer could ever know whether a particular video game is covered by the restrictions," said Bo Andersen, president of the Entertainment Merchants Association, the not-for-profit international trade association for the retailers and distributors of console and computer video games and DVDs. "No retail clerk should suffer the ignominy of a criminal record where no reasonable person could determine whether a particular video game may legally be sold or rented to a minor."

Lowenstein said the ESA is disappointed that the legislature opted to enact the bill rather than pursue constitutional and effective ways to work cooperatively with industry, retailers, government, parent groups, and health groups to educate parents about the ESRB ratings and content descriptors and the parental controls available in all next generation consoles.

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