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Industry Sues to Kill Violent Game Law

The ESA leads a fight against an Illinois bill limiting sale of mature-themed games.


July 25, 2005 - Several forces in the videogame industry have filed suit to stop an Illinois bill which imposes strong fines on retailers who sell violent or sexually explicit games to minors. The bill was signed into law today by Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich.




The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is joined by the Video Software Dealers Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association in fighting Illinois HB 4023, which provides a $1,000 fine to individuals or retailers who sell mature-themed games to minors. The bill provides definitions of "violent" and "sexually explicit" separate from the ESRB ratings standards already adopted by the industry.


In a statement today, the ESA describes the Illinois law as a threat to First Amendment rights, and points out that similar laws were shot down in St. Louis, Indianapolis,

and Washington State.


"This law will have a chilling effect on free speech. It will limit First Amendment rights not only for Illinois residents, but for game developers and publishers, and for retailers who won't know what games can and cannot be sold or rented under this vague new statute," said ESA president Douglas Lowenstein.


The statement goes on to emphasize that the games industry, via groups such as the ESA and the ESRB rating system, is effectively identifying mature-themed games and preventing their sale to minors.


Of course, the issue of violence and sexuality in videogames is steaming hot right now in the wake of the Grand Theft Auto "hot coffee" scandal and its ensuing controversy. After investigating sexual content meant to be locked in the retail version of the game, the ESRB changed the rating of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas from Mature to Adults Only. The move had many industry critics questioning the effectiveness of the ESRB system.


The ESA points out that both the average game buyer and the average game player are adults, and that only 16% of games sold in 2004 were rated Mature. Given gaming's diverse audience, the ESA feels games should not be treated more harshly than other media, such as movies or music.

Pandora at S-C.com pointed this out. The Source is possibly a gaming site!

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