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Maryland, Indiana Prepare Video Game Bills

Maryland, Indiana Prepare Video Game Bills

January 4, 2006 | By Nich Maragos

January 4, 2006 | By Nich Maragos
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Soon to join the list of states which have introduced legislation against the sale of violent video games to minors, a roster which currently includes California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Delaware are new entrants Maryland and Indiana, according to video game weblog GamePolitics.

Though the California, Michigan, and Illinois bills have been temporarily blocked or rejected by the courts, two new bills are soon to be introduced into the Maryland General Assembly. The first, sponsored by Wade Kach, is relatively minor, imposing penalties from a $5,000 fine to a year in jail for selling Adults Only-rated games to minors. Given the small subset of games to receive the rating, and the general refusal of retailers to carry games with the Adults Only mark (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was pulled by every IEMA member store upon its re-rating in July 2005), the practical effect would be close to nil, according to many commentators.

The second, sponsored by Justin Ross, would be more far-reaching, as it's reportedly a "California redux." The reference is to California AB1179, which would impose its own content ratings over and above the Electronic Software Ratings Board marks, and penalize retailers who sold games bearing the government-created ratings to minors with a $1,000 fine. AB1179 was recently halted by a California district court pending review of its constitutionality.

The precise substance of both bills is currently unknown, as neither of them will be formally presented to the General Assembly until a reading next week.

Also as yet unrevealed is the exact nature of the Indiana legislation sponsored by State Senator Vi Simpson, though it once again appears to be a bill preventing the sale of violent video games to minors.

In a statement to the Associated Press regarding the Indiana legislation, Simpson said that "We're not setting ages or changing the ratings, we are asking retail agencies to enforce it. Right now, kids can walk into just about any store and get their hands on a video game in which they can shoot police officers, use drugs, steal cars, rape women or even assassinate a president. That's frightening to say the least."

Previous Indiana game legislation involved an Indianapolis city law preventing minors from playing or coming into contact with violent arcade games, and was struck down by federal courts over its constitutionality.


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