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Tuesday, May 7, 2002
Legislation Seeks to Censor Violent Video Games
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Violent video games have had a somewhat rocky past with the government. Ever since the infamous Columbine incident, some outspoken parents and legislators have sought to place the blame for it on the shoulders of violent games, claiming that they influence children in potentially harmful ways.

As reported in a recent article at MacCentral titled " New legislation would ban violent game sales to kids," California Democrat Joe Baca has recently joined these ranks by introducing legislation, titled "The Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act of 2002," to the U.S. House of Representatives that would make it illegal to sell or rent games containing violent or sexual acts to minors.

If adopted, the legislation would prohibit the depiction of:

  • Decapitation, amputation, dismemberment or mutilation
  • The killing of human beings by the use of an object as a lethal weapon or hand to hand fighting
  • The car jacking of a vehicle
  • Rape or other sexual assault and prostitution
  • Aggravated assault or battery
  • Other violent felonies

Interestingly enough, this legislation comes only a few days after U.S. District Court Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Sr. surprised observers by ruling that video games contain "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech."

(The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has already ruled in a similar case that games are indeed protected speech, but as Judge Limbaugh's district is not in the Seventh Circuit, he was not bound by that higher court's ruling.)

An article recently published at Salon, titled "Playing games with free speech," takes a look at Judge Limbaugh's ruling, calling it "wrong, stupid, and dangerous":

And that could be a disaster for anyone who wants to see games evolve into a medium every bit as culturally relevant as movies or books. It is, of course, indisputable that the world of gaming is replete with titles that have little redeeming value, just as it is true for every other artistic medium. But as Medal of Honor and other games demonstrate, computer gaming has created a new means of conveying complex, relevant ideas. One more uninformed ruling, and the potential of this medium could be curtailed even further, by legislators with elections to win, and ideologues who've pincered it from both sides of the political spectrum. The stakes really are the future of free expression; and as this ruling makes plain, the need for the game industry to mount a preemptive attack is past due. The time for a counterstrike is now.
More information on these stories can be found in the articles mentioned at MacCentral and Salon.

MacCentral: New legislation would ban violent game sales to kids
Salon: Playing games with free speech

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• Legislation Seeks to Censor Violent Video Games6:00 AM
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