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Louisiana Senate Passes Video Game Violence Bill

Louisiana Senate Passes Video Game Violence Bill

June 7, 2006 | By Jason Dobson

June 7, 2006 | By Jason Dobson
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According to a report from website and a statement sent to Gamasutra by lawyer Jack Thompson, Democratic Representative Roy Burrell's HB1381 bill, covering violent video games, has been passed by the Louisiana Senate. The bill was passed by the Louisiana House of Representatives by an unanimous measure of 102-0 in May. The bill will now go to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to be signed into law.

The measure proposed by HB1381, which was drafted with the help of controversial Florida attorney and anti-game activist Jack Thompson, would allow a judge to rule on whether or not a video game meets established criteria for being inappropriate for minors and be subsequently pulled from store shelves. In the event the bill becomes a law, a person found guilty of selling such a game to a minor would face fines ranging from $100 to $2,000, plus a prison term of up to one year.

In a statement released by Jack Thompson, the lawyer commented: "The corrupted and corrupting video game industry will, of course, challenge this law once it is signed by Governor Blanco. The reason is that this industry, through the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), its developers' lobbyist, the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), and the retailers' lobbyist, IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association) are involved in ongoing fraudulent conduct in marketing video games that contain adult material to children. The sale of video games containing sexual material harmful to minors is a criminal act. The Federal Trade Commission has this spring found that 42% of the time, Mature-rated video games are sold to kids under 17!"

His statement continued: "The "Hot Coffee" scandal last year revealed the industry's deception, and in fact the ESRB found just weeks ago that another game which it had not reviewed adequately Oblivion had to be given a Mature rating, after tens of thousands of Teen-rated copies were sold. The ESRB refused to recall this deceptively labeled game, despite the nudity and sexual material therein. These sales to kids constituted arguably criminal acts."

If signed into law, it seems likely that the measure will be immediately challenged by the ESA, which has been instrumental in the striking down of other bills on First Amendment grounds.

"We oppose HB 1381," commented ESA president Doug Lowenstein in response to the bill, "which would add video games containing violent content to the State's 'Harmful to Minors' statute, and is no different from other laws already stricken by the courts."

While being presented by Senator Craig Romero on behalf of Burrell, the report claimed that Senator Rob Marrioneaux attempted to amend the bill by “adding language” taken from another game-related bill, SB340, which recently passed the Senate, and which deals only with sexual content in games, not violence. The motion by Marrioneaux to amend the bill failed, however.

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