Misguided Video Games Bill To Do Some Good?

Having played video games for the better part of my 33 years, most of them violent, I staunchly believe that violent video games don’t make people more violent; and regardless of the numerous debunking of “studies” that supposedly proved the point, many people still believe otherwise.  One Oklahoma State Representative by the name of William Fourkiller would be one of those people who do not believe as I do.  However, rather than trying to put a ban on violent video games, attempting to impose a government bureaucracy in the place of the ESRB, or threatening to call the FBI on every media outlet and entity on the planet with an opposing view (like some disbarred Florida attorneys we know), Mr. Fourkiller is trying to pass a law that will do some good; and yet I feel strangely conflicted.

House Bill 2696, proposed by William Fourkiller, would implement a 1% tax on any video game that is rated T for Teen, M for Mature, or Adults Only by the ESRB.  This video game tax would directly benefit the Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund and the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund, splitting the proceeds the two entities.  While I commend Mr. Fourkiller’s efforts in championing funds for two programs that could surely use it, my problem with this bill is three-fold.

  1. By singling out video games, Mr. Fourkiller’s bill insinuates that video games are the sole cause of bullying, effectively writing into law that the United States acknowledges that video games are violent.  We’ve had this discussion numerous times in front of courts, and that’s a no-no.
  2. The bill declares that a violent video game “means a video or computer game that has received a rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board of Teen, Mature or Adult Only.”  This is also incorrect.  Looking at games such as Ubisoft’s Rocksmith or Konami’s Puddle (of which both are rated T for Teen), these games do not portray any violence.  They are not violent video games and should not be deemed as such.
  3. The bill only taxes “violent video games” and not other forms of violent media such as movies or music containing explicit lyrics.  If an excise tax on violent media should be implemented, it should be so across the board.

I understand Mr. Fourkiller’s point of view, however misguided I feel it is, and respect what he is doing.  However, he has taken a line directed at video games to declare them violent in written law, and regardless of where the proceeds go, this I cannot abide.

To take a look at the bill for yourself, you can head on over to the Oklahoma State Legislature’s website here.

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