Friday, June 02, 2006

HB 1381

It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. I'm pretty sure it will pass the full Senate, probably without objection. The only change I can see possibly being made is changing the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor.

In reading some responses to a Gamespot article, I feel the need to clarify some points. The bill only restricts minors from buying these games. If a kid wants a game they have to get their parent to buy it for them.

Basically it adds video games to a pre-existing law concerning material that is harmful to minors. It has a good chance of passing constitutional review, since it follows the same idea of keeping children from buying tobacco, alcohol, and pornography.

Grand Theft Auto wasn't the only game they had samples from, but all the samples were from games that put the player in the role of a criminal killing police officers and other people.

I thought the discussion that took place in the committee was fair and both side made good arguments. The only problem that may arise is that it makes it a felony to sell or rent these games to minors, instead of a misdemeanor, which one of the senators questioned. Because the law is somewhat vague, the standards might apply to more than just M-rated games, putting the retailers in an uncomfortable position. Unfortunately the bill couldn't use the ESRB ratings system as the standard, because it is a private system and not subject to being changed by a vote of the people.

As a gamer I not comfortable with having Jack Thompson sitting in a chair, five feet in front of my lens, railing against my hobby. As a journalist I couldn't allow my personal feelings to get in the way of objectively covering the story. In the end I came to the conclusion that nothing in this bill would prevent me from enjoying the games that I want to play.

Unfortunately it does nothing to help the children whose parents lack the skills necessary for good parenting. It also won't prevent some kid whose thought processes are so screwed up that they want to kill everyone in sight. These parents don't care what games, movies, music, or magazines are available to their children.

I don't think a parent should totally shield a child from the world; it's rough and they will need some knowledge to survive, but children should have a chance to see the world with innocent wonder and experience the beauty in nature and people before they come to know ugliness and cruelty.

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