Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

July 29, 2008 -

Last week GamePolitics broke the news that Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) had introduced video game legislation.

The bill, S.3315, enjoys the support of watchdog group the Parents Television Council. If made law, it would:

...prohibit the distribution or sale of video games that do not have age-based content rating labels [and]  prohibit the sale or rental of video games with adult content ratings to minors...

Did we mention that Wicker is running for re-election?

In any case, we now have the full text of S.3315. It is the Senate version of a measure currently before the House. HB 5990, the Video Games Rating Enforcement Act, is a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT).

Did we mention that Terry and Matheson are also running for re-election?


Comments

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

I just recived this from Senator Obama,

 

Thank you for your letter regarding video games. I appreciate hearing your views.

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) is currently charged with rating video games according to age appropriateness. However, many retailers do not stringently follow these ratings, which can rage from "E" for "everyone" to "AO" for "adults only. There has been some significant Congressional activity lately in response to growing concerns among parents that video games have become too sexually explicit and that violent content has been made too easily available to minors. Among these bills is the Family Entertainment Protection Act.

The central element of the Family Entertainment Protection Act is a prohibition against any business for selling or renting a Mature, Adults-Only, or Ratings Pending game to a person who is younger than seventeen. The bill also calls for an annual analysis of the video game rating system, and authorizes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate misleading ratings. Under the bill the FTC would also be able to conduct annual, random audits of retailers – often referred to as ‘secret shopper surveys’ – to determine how easy it is for young people to purchase Mature and Adults Only video games. Finally, the bill gives consumers the authority to register complaints with the FTC.

I understand the concerns of those who believe that Congress is meddling too deeply in this issue and that the proposed legislation could raise free speech problems. All members of our communities, in my view, do have an obligation to ensure that children are protected from harmful material, but that should never come at the cost of denying others their constitutionally protected rights. The challenge here is finding the right balance between these two principles. As you may know, the Senate did not act on the Family Entertainment Protection Act before the close of the previous Congress. Should the Senate consider relevant legislation this year, I will certainly keep your thoughtful comments in mind.

Thank you again for writing. Please stay in touch as this issue develops.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator
 

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

This law will be passed, again.  Then it will be challenged by the ESA, again.  Then it will be struck down, again.  This is our tax dollars at work, people in the U.S.

M. Carusi

Capitol Gaming

augamers.blogspot.com

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

The fact that it expilicitly prohibits the distribution of a game without an ESRB rating raises constitutional questions.  This would lead to a de facto censorship regime, much like what's found in some European countries or Australia.  It would also force every game maker in the U.S who want to distribute, to sign the ESRB's membership contract.  I can not imagine this law, assuming it passes, will survive a court challenge.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

That's pretty much the gist of it. You cannot produce and distribute your speech unless the government or some organization the government approves of says you can.

E. Zachary Knight
http://www.editorialgames.com
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

If they get it through, then couldn't they could go flash games sites like Newgrounds?  I'm sure the PTC and several "parent groups" have wanted to find an opening to attack NG for years now.  The Torture Game 2 and VTech helped burn this desire even more.  Of course they couldn't because of a pesky little law we call free speech. :)

Also the MPAA allows DVDs to be released unrated, why can't we just keep the ratings voluntary?

 

The PTC is crossing the line to see if they can gain more power and the politicians are after fame and glory. (Sound familiar?) That's all it is, another attempt of greed on both ends and leaving the innocent crushed under their ignorant boot.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Does that mean that this game would be illegal?

http://www.johnmccain.com/videogame/invaders/

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

 I'm not sure, but it probably would. I mean, think of it like the Handgun Sales laws. It's written with sales in mind but also counts if you give someone a handgun for free, so I would think the law here would be applied in a similar manner.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Does this mean if I make a videogame in my home and try to sell it out of the back of my car or whatever, that it is illegal?

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Yes. 

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Well, I have e-mailed both my senators, Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley, and my representative Tom Latham.  I hope we can kill this bill.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

"(1) IN GENERAL.—It shall be unlawful for any person to ship or otherwise distribute in interstate commerce, or to sell or rent, a video game that does not contain an age-based content rating label, in a clear and conspicuous location on the outside packaging of the video game."

So many things wrong with this...

1) I'm not familiar with interstate commerce laws, but this seems it would also apply to Joe Schmo in Canada selling his games on Ebay. And even if it's only within the US, how are they going to enforce this?

2) "Video game" not defined. Does it include handhelds? PC games? PC shareware? Downloadable games? Expansion packs? Mods?

3) A little further down it says 'age-based content rating' has to be ESRB. Are we now banning imports?

4) A lot of games - most notably downloadable content - don't have 'outside packaging'. Nor do a lot of used games. Not really an issue because most games with ESRB ratings have them on the cd/cart as well.

The rest is just the same crap we've proved unconstitutional nine(?) times before.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

 1. Inter-state trading is the only way the Feds can have any say in this. That's how prohibition worked. 

2. agreed.

3. Yes, along with indie games and games that predate rating systems.

4. yup.

 

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Sorry for the double "you"

 

All you have to do is type in your zip code and the will give you a list of people who handle your area.

Then, you choose who you want to bother about the issue.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

If you what to e-mail your senators about the bill

www.congress.org

type in your zipcode and choose you you want to E-mail

already did to both Illinois senators, just have to choose the general issue

It's are government, lets tell them how we fell about the bill

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

I hope it doesn't pass.  If it does, the ESA better call in the lawyers 'cause there are so many things wrong with this law.

It prohibts free speech for one thing and it'll also kill the Indie game movement, as others mentioned above.  Overall I think it's little more than a PR move by the Senators, but I'd hate to see this actually gain support.

*sigh*  And here I thought we could actually go a few months without some idiotic law like this.  Silly me.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Microsoft will now have to get Minesweeper and Solataire rated before distributing their operating system.

Way to go Senator.

E. Zachary Knight
http://www.editorialgames.com
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

I was under the impression this was similar to the NY law (parental controls, ratings on boxes, etc), but it seems more of the usual "fines for not enforcing ratings." It might be struck down (if passed) simply because it doesnt define what a "video game" is, and since it would illegal to sell anything that could be deemed one without a rating, it puts retailers in a tough position.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

So are internet distributed games or pc games excluded from this law or not?

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Afte rcareful reading of the TWO half pages of text, no they are not. If they are distributed in the US, you have to get a rating whether you can afford it or not.

E. Zachary Knight
http://www.editorialgames.com
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

This law will be the ban of the Indie game movement.  It should be challenged and seen as unconstitutional.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Down with Pong and Tetris!!!

Those evil ultra violent games have been destroying America for decades!!!

I would like to also thank the senator for recognising that games like Manhunts and GTAs are good wholesome family games...

Moving on, lets make jaywalking a capital offence!!!

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

 No exceptions for online sales, no exceptions for PC games, it singles out one form of media and puts the force of law behind a ratings board.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

How can you enforce a voluntary rating?

 

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

They don't.  The next step is to either take over the ESRB, or create a new, law-mandiated, federal agency with a nice sounding name like FESRB (Federal Entertainment Software Ratings Board) and start "protecting the children" by making games in which the message they don't agree with gets systematically censored.  Since stores cannot legally sell these games to children, stores are afraid of offering it for sale as it may "entice" children to beg their parents for them, which would be "immoral" and would get the wrath of the government / other watchdog groups.

This would result in the only place where these games could be sold is the internet, which means they won't be within reach of many americans who chose not to shop on the internet, or don't have the means of doing so (like a stable mailing address, a credit card, etc).

This would ultimatly result in the nullification of anything not deemed appropriate for minors being nullified for those who would be able to legally consume the content.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

If this gets signed into law, I guarantee the ink from the President's pen won't even be dry when this gets brought to the courts.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

 Personally, I'm not worried about legislation like this. This changes nothing. Nothing make's it past the ESRB, and we've already got laws prohibiting M-rated sales to minors (if the store even allows that).

It's legislation in general. First of all, it's unconstitutional. Two, no other medium has legislation like this; what makes games any different. Three, most importantly, it's a slippery slope. We make sure every game has a rating, then we make sure there's parental controls, then we outlaw M-rated sales to minors. How much longer until we're outlawing M-ratings altogether? How soon will we be banning certain games, like those continents that have no concept of freedom? How much longer until we abandon everything we founded this country for?

And you can count on the ESA turning the other cheek on this one. Where's Doug Lowenstein when you need him?

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

"...and we've already got laws prohibiting M-rated sales..."

To make it factually and technically accurate:

"...and we've already got retail stores voluntarily prohibiting M-rated sales..."

There, fixed that for you. 

 

 

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Nothing make's it past the ESRB, and we've already got laws prohibiting M-rated sales to minors (if the store even allows that).

Umm...There are no laws prohibiting the sale of M rated games to minors. There are company policies in place at various retail outlets that do that. But there are no laws.

Also, plenty of games bypass the ESRB. They are called indie games. These are developed by people who know they will not be selling the games in retail so they don't bother or they can't afford the rating in the first place.

Under this bill, these indie games would become illegal to distribute. Thus banning free speech.

This law is terrible. It is blatantly unconstitutional on all levels.

E. Zachary Knight
http://www.editorialgames.com
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Where in the US are there unchallenged laws prventing the sale of M rated games to minors.

 

Your post is contradicting itself.

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

He isn't implying there is, he's implying it's a slippery slope to inevitably banning them all together, just like we did with NC17 rated movies and pornographic magazines. Err, hold on...

Re: Text of New U.S. Senate Video Game Legislation Now Available

Read his first line

 Personally, I'm not worried about legislation like this. This changes nothing. Nothing make's it past the ESRB, and we've already got laws prohibiting M-rated sales to minors (if the store even allows that).

 
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Is King right? Should all games adopt the free-to-play model?:

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Matthew Wilsonit is a game worth playing if you have a pc/360/ps304/20/2014 - 9:34pm
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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
 

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