Florida Passes Videogame Censoship Bill

Posted by jgaudiosi :: Legal

DiazA Florida Senate Commerce and Consumer Services Committee passed a new videogame bill (Senate Bill 492) by a margin of 7 to 1. Similar to the California Bill AB1179, which has since been halted and called unconstitutional, Republican Florida Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla's bill would impose fines for retailers renting or selling violent games to minors of up to $1,000 per offense. In addition, the bill calls for additional government-approved rating stickers (like an "18" for Mature-rated games) that would be attached on every game sold in the state, separate form the voluntary Entertainment Software Ratings Board system.

While it's unlikely this Bill will move much further, or ever make it through the system, it's yet another example of politicians wasting time and money on censorship. Florida has plenty of problems of its own, ranging from hurricane clean-up to hanging CHADS. Real violence should be addressed over videogame violence.

Calling out games like "Grand Theft Auto," Diaz de la Portilla told the Miami Herald that "children often do not realize the harm they are causing themselves through the exposure to graphic sexual and violent content found in many of today's video games."

On a positive note, Governor Jeb Bush said that "parents ought to take control over their children's lives." That's exactly what the millions of Americans like myself have been saying. The majority of game players are over 17 (90%) with the average age being 30. We have the constitutional right to play games, even if they are violent.

And although sex is always thrown out there by politicians, today's games do not have sex in them (aside from the "hot coffee" hidden code, which is an anamoly). Sexual content in games would warrant an Adults Only rating, which would kill any chance of selling the game to mainstream America through retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. So the sex in games grandstanding is a moot point.

On the violence side, "Hostel," "Saw II," and other R-rated movies make millions of dollars and no one cries foul. That's because the movie industry already faced, and won, its censorship war. Even the porn industry has passed through the censorship stage. I remember the music industry also going through this phase. And it wasn't long ago that radio and TV came under fire post-Super Bowl XXXVIII. That leaves the game industry, the fastest-growing entertainment sector, to fight the local, state and federal government on censorship issues.

With re-elections coming up and a presidential run in the wings, videogames will continue to come under fire by politicians who know nothing about videogames or, evidently, the constitution. They do know how to "protect children" from all of these violent, sexual games that are so abundant and so easy to walk into any store (presumably a long walk with no car) and purchase with their children's credit cards.

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