Politically energized website GamePolitics has reported
on a New York State specific video game bill newly proposed by the state Assembly that is designed to make the sale or rental of games with mature themes to minors a felony, punishable with time in jail.
In fact, the A08696 bill was approved today by a vote of 130-10, just five days after it was introduced, and mere hours after it was considered in committee, according to an EMA rebuttal to the new legislation.
The legislation was proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and co-sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, and somewhat echoes a similar bill proposed last week by Senator Andrew Lanza to the New York State Senate. Both bills call for an advisory council to review to the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Lentol's bill, however, goes further than this, as it notes that the sale or rental of any video games with themes such as “depraved violence and indecent images” would be a class E felony in New York. The bill defines "depraved" as acts depicting "rape, dismemberment, physical torture, mutilation or evisceration of a human being."
The bill also mandates that video game consoles sold as of September 1, 2009 to feature built-in parental controls. This particular facet of the bill seems redundant however, given that the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii already come with these sorts of controls in place. However, the bill does not specifically call out handheld consoles or PCs, so it remains unclear if these too are to be grouped beneath the governance of this legislation.
The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), a trade association for the retailers of DVDs, computer video games, and console video games, has already responded to the bill, lambasting the New York Assembly for passing bill that the association described as "ill-conceived" and "unconstitutional."
"This bill is ill-conceived and unconstitutional," declared EMA President Bo Andersen. "The proposal to jail retailers and clerks for up to four years for selling certain video games to persons under age 17 is apparently based on misunderstandings about what retailers are doing currently.”
Anderson added: “The requirement that video game consoles include parental controls ignores the fact that the new generation of consoles include them already. Finally, nine similar proposals that have been enacted around the nation in recent years have all been blocked by federal courts on First Amendment grounds. For such an ill-conceived and unconstitutional law, ignorance is no excuse."
According to the GamePolitics report, Lentol's legislation is favored by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, and will go into effect 120 days after being signed.