Insomniac Games' founder and president Ted Price has passionately spoken out, via legal brief, against the recently passed Louisiana violent game bill, which was temporarily blocked from being put into effect last week by U.S. District Judge James Brady.
According to a new report by the Game Politics website, a 21-page brief entered on Price's behalf, and additionally notable because he is the Chairman of the Academic of Interactive Arts and Sciences, details his views regarding the legislation. It was filed in support of the Entertainment Software Association and Entertainment Merchants Association lawsuit to overturn the bill on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
Price also noted that much of the terminology used by the legislation is vague and subjective, and open for interpretation “in an attempt to establish boundaries for what is and is not prohibited in saleable or rentable videogames.” Price offered the example of the phrase “appeals to a minor's morbid interest in violence” used within the text of the law, noting that “it is difficult to understand what constitutes 'a morbid interest in violence,' and it is not clear to game creators where an interest becomes 'morbid'.”
Price noted in his brief that he feels that the law in question "ignores the artistic merit, relevance and sophistication of today's video games by essentially treating an ambiguously defined subset of games similarly to pornography and controlled substances such as alcohol and cigarettes."
The insomniac founder also noted, according to the report, that "...'violence' is an incredibly broad term... Does the 'violence' referenced in the Act include... a boxing game, a football game, a World War II game, a game featuring contact between cartoon characters... game creators (are) given the impossible task of guessing the intent of the Act's creators."
The report also wrote that one of Price's chief concerns is that games, such as those from his company's popular Ratchet & Clank franchise, that are currently labeled as "T", indicating that they are appropriate for a teen audience, could be unfairly victimized by the law. "With this Act in place I would feel very uncomfortable including even cartoon violence in our games," noted Price in his brief. "The main characters in Ratchet & Clank are not human and resemble cartoon characters. The characters 'kill' each other, are 'killed' by the main character and occasionally 'dismembered' in comedic ways."
He continued: "My concern as a game developer is that there is no predictable or settled interpretation of the ambiguous definitions in this Act. This means that the games my company and I create could conceivably be covered by this Act. If we have no way of truly understanding how people will apply these terms , it is very difficult for us to freely design games without feeling that the same statute will apply to our games.”
Price's conclusion? "From my perspective as a game designer and developer, I also feel that this Act severely infringes on the rights of every developer in my company to freely express him or herself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."
Under the law, a person found guilty of selling such a game to a minor would face fines ranging from $100 to $2,000, plus a prison term of up to one year. In addition, the legislation would allow a judge to rule on whether or not a video game meets established criteria for being inappropriate for minors and be subsequently pulled from store shelves. A hearing for a permanent injunction against the bill, which was drafted with the help of controversial Florida attorney and anti-game activist Jack Thompson, is set for June 27 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.