Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. Regulation of Games

July 29, 2009 -

So far, every single law seeking to restrict the sale of violent video games has been struck down by the federal courts; it would seem that such legislation is a losing proposition.  So how else might the government try to regulate our favorite pastime?  Writing for Joystiq, lawyer and gamer Mark Methenitis offers two possible scenarios which censorcrats might seek to employ.

The first is to impose content restrictions - not on the type of violence that can be shown but on the type of stories that can be told or the types of characters presented. The idea here would be to ensure that games are politically correct so as not to offend anyone and prevent flaps over perceived racism in games like Resident Evil 5, Left 4 Dead 2, or Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.  Of course, this still boils down to regulating speech so it’s not likely to be any more successful in the courts than restricting violent content has been.

The second is an idea presented by Jack Thompson during his debate with Methenitis at SGC09 earlier this month. Thompson speculated that the Obama administration might address America’s obesity issues by regulating our play time. But how? The government can’t just march into your home and turn off your Xbox. While there is no indication that Obama is planning any such thing, Methenitis explains how such a scenario might work:

When the government wants you to stop doing something, they tax it. Alcohol is taxed. Tobacco is taxed. Certain kinds of less-fuel efficient cars are taxed. In short, the theory is "fewer people buy things at a higher cost." And it's something that can be levied against both retail sales and digital downloads.

Taxing games is not a new idea but with the economy the way it is, now seems like the absolute worst time to try it.  Still, you never know. Methenitis:

It's always difficult to predict what the government may or may not do, or how the courts may or may not rule. The system, however, relies on the vigilance of the public to ensure that our rights are not infringed....

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...


Comments

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

MY heart weeps everyday for the sad, sad road this country is taking.  Stay strong.  Endure!

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

Well, they're talking about taxing junk food and cola to help pay for the new healthcare bills, now with 90% more bullshit (apparently, you won't be able to keep your old insurance or your doctor, by the way), and so I would believe that games would be next on the list.  Hell, they already tax cigarettes and alcohol, and it seems like a lot of people in the current ruling party think that games are in the same vein.

Things that would suck: A tax based on how long you were on the internet, a tax based on how many systems you have, a tax based on how much you download/upload to the internet, etc.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

"now with 90% more bullshit (apparently, you won't be able to keep your old insurance or your doctor, by the way),"

Source?

-Gray17

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

This is also proof, from someone who actually read the whole 1400+ page bill.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

Why does every single mention of government have to immediately morph into a debate about health care?

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

Probably because its the big issue right now in American politics. Like it or love it, this health overhaul will give the government more power over the individual than ever before- to say nothing about how American tax practices are going to change. 

A post-healthcare government will be irreversible and end up with higher taxes and less individual freedom for every citizen.  The questions come down to whether its worth it or not.

This is one of the most profound restructuring of the American government and economy in history- of course it will come up in every discussion.

 

Videogames and fatty foods taxes are just the beginning.  Demolition Man is coming true.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

DON'T GIVE THEM ANY IDEAS!!!

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

And some of us can do no better than to simply regurgitate the talking points of Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck, et al.   

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

Oh, you got me.  Everyone opposed to this is just a crazy conservative.  Good job keeping everything polarized.  Let me direct you to my friend- he's made of straw and you can generalize at him all you want.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

Who said a word about you? But if you think the shoe fits, then wear it to your heart's content.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

In this case, its very relevant; what else would they tax video games based on?  The CDC recently suggested that because Soda and fast food leads to obesity, those things be taxed.  I don't doubt that they'd suggest the same thing about video games after the other two dried up, and suggest that VIDEO GAMES are responsible for the remaining obesity in this country.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

This is the second thread in a row where you've gone on about Obama and health care. This is GamePolitics.com, not Politics.com.

You and that NeoKafka or whatever his name is should pedle your conservative politics elsewhere and stick to the topics at hand. This is coming from someone with largely conservative views.

 

Anyway... neither of those things will ever happen. If anything, with the growth of the industry as a whole they'll receive tax breaks, just to keep the money in whatever jurisdiction/country. We're talking about quite a big pie for people to take a slice of. I doubt we'd ever reach the point where we would see a "sin tax" on video games.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

I thought food items coudln't be taxed.

And of course it will be ,they'll keep hacking at our freedoms under such a guise until there's nothing left.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

I believe, in CA at least, you can only tax food items that have been prepared so they're ready to eat.  So, if you buy a whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, you pay tax on that.  But if you buy a few cuts of raw chicken you don't get taxed.  There may be further stipulations; I'm not an expert on the subject, though.

"De minimus non curat lex"

"De minimus non curat lex"

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

I believe because, like with McDonald's and other fastfood places they're considered services and that's what you're paying tax on. Some states/counties/cities already have "junk food" taxes and this is something that shouldn't have any involvement with on the federal level. I'm sure there are other states that charge sales tax on all food but I'm feeling to lazy to look.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

I think we're finding that 'necessary' food items can't be taxed.  The suggestion is that fast food and food deemed 'unhealthy' CAN be taxed, because it creates a burden on the taxed.

Of course, this raises the whole issue of 'what is and isn't necessary' and 'what is and isn't healthy'.  Some believe meat is unhealthy; will that be taxed?  How about tofu; will that be taxed?  The whole thing is ridiculous and reeks of a social agenda, an agenda which, no doubt, video games WILL be a part of.  The only question, once they begin taxing certain foods, is WHEN.

I find the whole thing ridiculous.  You can eat fast food and still be healthy if you spend time working out.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

And differentiate what you eat. I mean, in reality, everything is good for you on some level ,the key is moderation, which evidently the government trusts no one to do.

Re: Mark Methenitis Offers Alternate Scenarios For Govt. ...

So that's why the 'three cheeseburger a day' diet was such a failure.

Seriously though, I love when you see these people who all they eat is junkfood and they complain that they're 300 pounds.

Having said that, I don't think the government should have the power to force them to change, any more than I think I should have to pay for their healthcare.

 
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