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Comic for: October 13th, 2005
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Gaming News: "Governator the Barbarian"
Posted: Thursday October 13th, 2005 by

While I was away, California governor (and ex-action star) Arnold Schwarzenneger, with the help of Assemblyman Leland Yee, signed California Bill AB1179 into law. This is the game-related law that bans the sale, or rental, of "violent" video games to "children" under the age of 18.
Source: Gamespot [ more info ]

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Now, where I agree with the idea of hindering children from acquiring violent video games, I completely disagree with a few key aspects of the bill.

1. The definition of the word child.
The idea that at 18 a person still needs to be "protected" from violent content, atleast to me, is completely ridiculous. I accept though that the age at which certain physical and psychological changes occur in the human body is still largely under debate. I would just like to point out, however, that, less than 100 years ago, a boy was considered a man at the age of 14. Hell, my grandmother was married at 14.

2. 2x2 inch age restriction printed on the box.
If the rating on a box seems to have had no bearing on a "childs" ability to acquire a "violent video game", why would making the rating bigger help?

3. The definition of violence.
The new law defines a violent video game as as one "in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being." Now, I agree with most of that but "human being" really sticks in my throat. Is a game to be considered less "violent" because you're killing space aliens or dismembering an orc? I think not. The application of the words "human being" to this bill is just plain damn ignorant.

4. Punishing the retailer.
Where there is an inherent responsibility on the part of the retailer to adhere to age restrictions on video games, I find it completely unacceptable that ONLY the retailers are punished for violating this "new law". In my opinion, if retailers have to shoulder some of the responsibility, then parents have to shoulder the rest. If a parent buys a game that is considered age inappropriate for their child, then they should be fined as well. No point in half-assing the law... right? And, I'd be willing to bet the minute parents started having to pay fines for violating the age restrictions that are clearly marked on a game box, we'd see a drastic reduction in the number of "children" getting their hands on "violent video games".

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At any rate, I find it somewhat ironic that a former action hero movie star is now responsible for signing an anti-violent video game bill into law. Don't get me wrong, I know Arnold probably struggled with the decision. But, I'm still amused that "Conan" is now saying you can't swing a virtual sword (if you're under the age of 18).

Now, before you start ranting and raving, keep in mind that similar bills have been shot down as unconstitutional. The ESA already has a lawsuit prepared for when the bill goes into effect (January 1st, 2006). It's highly unlikely that this bill will stand.

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