North Carolina Introduces Videogame Censorship Law
If passed into law, it would make it illegal for anyone outside of a parent or legal guardian to buy, rent, sell or expose a violent game to a minor. Retailers would have to sell games deemed "violent" in a separate section of a store labeled "adults only," just as many Mom and Pop video stores have rented pornography for years. Keep in mind, we're not talking about Adults Only (AO) rated games. There have only been a handful of those even released over the last decade--and retailers don't carry those games anyway. Under this new bill, "violent games" could be Teen or Mature rated titles, because the law does not recognize the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
To put this in perspective, imagine a State Senator telling you that the Motion Picture Association of America ratings are no longer valid. The only way to see the new "Live Hard or Die Hard" movie, because it's violent, is at a separate theater where they also show pornography. In essence, this bill equates violent games with porn. Turn on cable TV today and you have sex and violence on the free airwaves day and night. Sex isn't even an issue with games, because it's not a subject matter that game makers focus on. And the few games that have, like "BMX XXX," have been abysmal flops. So it's violence that's at issue here.
The law would cover "the realistic visual depiction of serious injury to human beings" in videogames. Well, when you look at next generation videogames like EA's "Def Jam: Icon" or Sega's "Virtua Fighter 5," every fighting game would be against the law. And I'm not even including "Mortal Kombat: Armageddon" for Wii, which includes Fatalities and plenty of virtual blood and violence. Both of the locally made best-sellers, Epic Games' "Gears of War" and RedStorm Entertainment's "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter," would likely be deemed too violent under this bill.
The guise that every politician that's attempted to censor videogames--and make no mistake about it--that's what this is--has used children as a way to get uninformed people to go along with this ruse. In fact, it's not children playing Mature-rated games. Retailers haven't sold or rented M-rated games to kids for years. They've been carding kids for several years now. And if parents allow kids to play "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," that's their decision and responsibility, not the rest of the state's. It's not my responsibility, and I certainly don't want to have to buy a game that the industry has deemed fine for anyone 17 or older in the back of a store marked "adults only."
The average age of a gamer today is 33. The majority of gamers are over 17. And kids under that age shouldn't have a credit card or the $50 to buy an M-rated game--even if they find an outlet that doesn't card them. So it's not the politicians' jobs to "protect" children from violent games. And it's certainly not their job to censor games for the rest of us.
The scary thing is that 29 of North Carolina's 50 senators have already signed on as co-authors of the bill. That means it's up to us to fight this or the bill will pass the Senate and would then would need to be passed by the House of Representatives and approved by the governor. It'd become law December 1.
Granted, organizations like the Entertainment Software Association will fight this, and likely win, as they have in every other state. But it's important for gamers to let politicians know that we won't stand for censorship of any kind.
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