Don't Mess With Texas

Posted by jgaudiosi :: Legal

Star_1They do everything bigger in Texas. Texas real estate developer Star Locke (love the name--and that bird on his head) is using videogames as one of the three evils he's focusing on in his (longshot) run for the Governor's office. (For those wondering, abortion and soda are the other two vices he's targeting.) Star wants to impose a 100 percent tax on all violent videogames sold in Texas. But consumers won't foot the bill. As part of the Family Security and Protection Act, the videogame publishers would be fined a 100 percent tax on the cost of each violent game sold in Texas.

Star's plan would also bypass the established Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) in favor of a 10-member panel that he'd choose to pick out any videogame "containing any form of human violence." The good thing about this whole story is that incumbent Governor Rick Perry (Republican) is expected to win again and remain in office.

You do have to give Star credit for going the "tax route" with violent games. So far, the other politicians (all of whom are actually IN office), have attempted to fine the retailers who sell games to minors. Star bypasses that completely by taxing all violent games. It's a different form of censorship, but you have to give him credit for originality. His approach on abortion was to charge any clinic that performed an abortion a $10,000 fine. And his 50 percent tax on any soda that contains "glucose, fructose and sucrose" was also unique.

While it's nice to know that Star won't be taking office any time soon, and that he clearly is using the freedoms of this great country to try to change things; writing about new forms of videogame censorship gets old. There's a never-ending collection of crazy, old politicians out there using videogames to grandstand. Granted, games like "25 to Life" aren't helping the situation (that debacle of a game is likely to gain more sales from negative political publicity than from its horrible game reviews), but this country gives us the freedom to choose our entertainment.

I don't want some crazy Texan or some scheming ex-First Lady to dictate what games I can buy. There are simply too many games 18 and older out there for the game industry to ignore. That means more Mature-rated games will ship. Just as Hollywood has found that R-rated comedies like "Wedding Planners" and horror like "Hostel" can still find a huge theatrical audience, game companies can hit pay dirt with quality M-rated games. "50 Cent: Bulletproof" sold over 1 million copies last year for Vivendi Universal Games.

As bad as "25 to Life" is as a game, I still want to have the choice of buying it as a consumer. If I can choose from thousands of R-rated movies, and even porn if you want to go that route, why can't I have the freedom to buy an M-rated game without being taxed or being preached to or worrying about some other parents' "children."

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