NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

March 28, 2013 -

Oblivious to a Federal Trade Commission report released this week that said that only 13 percent of under-age secret shoppers it deployed (as part of a Secret Shopper Survey program in 2012) were able to buy video games from national retailers (see the story here) New Jersey Assemblyman Sean T. Kean (R-Monmouth and Ocean) has proposed a bill that would fine retailers for selling "mature" or "adults only" to minors and another that would allow minors to buy those same games with parental consent. Wait, what?

The first proposal prohibits the sale of any video game with an ESRB rating of “mature” or “adults only” to a person under the age of 18. Violating this law would carry a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for each subsequent offense. In addition, the Attorney General would be given the legal authority to issue cease and desist orders against the retailer and award punitive damages to the minor.

A separate bill would permit minors to purchase video games containing mature and adult content only if their parent or guardian is present during the purchase and gives their consent verbally or in writing at the time of the sale. Penalties for any violations are the same as with the first bill.

The second bill actually undermines the first bill in a lot of ways because you don't want children bringing notes to retailers saying their parents said they can buy an age inappropriate game because there is a LOT of room for children to bend the truth in order to get what they want. Also parents can currently buy any games they like for their children - they don't need another law to cover that.

"The ESRB’s ratings are designed to alert parents to the content of the games, however, they do not preclude a retailer from selling them to minors," said Kean. "The bottom line is games rated ‘mature or adults only’ should not be sold to minors. The [games] are often very violent, sexually explicit and deal with themes not appropriate for children."

Assemblyman Sean T. Kean should probably spend more time reading the ratings system and understanding the high levels of enforcement video game retailers have (compared to other entertainment industries) selling products at retail before rushing to write two bills that are worthless.

One is clearly meant to generate income and to create a solution where there is no problem. The other creates confusion and a loophole to get minors games they shouldn't be buying by themselves. If Assemblyman Keen is your elected representative in Trenton, you may want to drop him a note letting him know that his confusion on the issue of video game retail makes him look kind of silly.

Source: Politick NJ by way of PHX Corp.

 

 


Comments

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

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Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

Wouldn't the ESRB have to agree to being deputized as a quasi-government organization if such a law went into effect?

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

It's been a while since I looked at the law but I don't think it works that way.  From what I understand, you can't give a non-gov't entity the force of law whether it agrees to it or not.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

It's time to start fining (and jailing) politicians.

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

"The [games] are often very violent, sexually explicit and deal with themes not appropriate for children."

Name ONE sexually explicit game available at retail, Kean.  I dare you.  I double dog dare you.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

I'd wager he'd either mention the God of War series or GTA. I did have to laugh though at the part where it mentions it would fine any "adults only" game, don't recall seeing any of those in my gaming career in the US. 

JAPAN on the other hand...

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

If he did, I'd happily point out that no game in either series is sexually explicit.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

No more so than an R rated movie.

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

Oh hell, the sex scenes we've seen in games (that you could actually by off the shelf here) don't come anywhere even remotely close to what you can commonly see in an R rated movie.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

"Oblivious to a Federal Trade Commission report released this week"

I would say that he is also oblivious to the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law with very much the same wording. Can these politicians be any more stupid?

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

Not stupid at all.  The move costs him nothing (the whole thing is on the taxpayer), can not have consequences that come back to bite him, and provides a useful talking point when elections come up.

It is unimaginative, but a pretty solid political move.

Re: NJ Assemblyman Proposes Bill to Fine Video Game Retailers

Very few things are infinite.  Stupidity is one of those things.  So yes, they can be more stupid.

Scary, huh?

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Chris Kimberley

 
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