There, HB 1381 has already been unanimously passed by the house and looks to be moving through the senate now with ease.
So what is this bill?
At heart, it's intended to keep violent video games out of the hands of minors. However, this bill goes ridiculously overboard.
To protect children, it seeks to move video games into the same category as pornography if they don't make the cut of what's considered decent. So what's ok? Well, if it meets these three standards, it's banned:
(a) The material incites or appeals to or is designed to incite or appeal to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors.The problem with this is that the language is extremely vague. What defines "contemporary community standards"? Who decides what incites "prurient, shameful, or morbid interest"? What thresholds does a game have to meet to have literary value?
(b) The material is offensive to the average adult applying contemporary community standards with respect to what is suitable for minors.
(c) The material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
Sadly, for some reason, I have a feeling that the Left Behind game I posted about earlier would make the cut.
While fundamentally flawed due to gratuitously vauge language, the bill is ridiculous in other ways. While some games will obviously cross this line (which is why they're stamped with a big M rating, meaning mature), this bill puts these games in the same category as pornography.
So what's that mean? That means that it is illegal for kids to go into a store to purchase games if the store does not pull these games from the shelf. The exact wording:
It shall be unlawful for a person who is not the spouse, parent, or legal guardian of the minor to invite or permit any unmarried person under the age of eighteen years of age to be in any commercial establishment that exhibits or displays any itemSo what do stores have to do to carry such video games? Same thing that video rental stores must do to adult movies: make an entirely different section for them which minors can't access.
A commercial establishment shall not be in violation of this Section if the commercial establishment provides for a separate area for the exhibition or display of material harmful to minors and designates said area "NOT FOR MINORS" or similar words and the commercial establishment prohibits unmarried minors persons under the age of eighteen years from seeing or examining the contents of material harmful to minors.Perhaps I fail to see the difference here, but how are these video games any different than an R rated movie? Both can contain violent or sexual content. Both are currently carried in commercial establishments. Both are required to have display boxes that are not pornographic or vulgar. Neither can be sold to minors under laws that are already in place.
Thus, I ask, why is it that video games get special treatment? If such things are harmful, why not requre that places that sell movies also have a zoned off area for R rated movies?
So what we have here is a law that overzealously defines adult video games as so horrible that they can't even be viewed in their packaging by minors. "Who cares if kids can't buy them! Just seeing them will corrupt them!"
Not that what constitutes such a game is well defined. After all, pretty much any game out there will have a bad guy that deserves a whompin. So perhaps the only game that's left as safe for minors will be Tetris. After all, falling blocks is safe. Isn't it?