NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer Readies Violent Video Game Legislation

April 18, 2007 -

A campaign promise made by almost a year ago by New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has resurfaced.

Last April GamePolitics reported on candidate Spitzer's plan to legislate sales of violent video games. The former State Attorney General also called for a universal rating system for games, movies and music. At the time, Spitzer said:

Self-regulation doesn't always work... when self-regulation fails, government must step in... New York State must take matters into its own hands. We should follow the lead of states like California, Illinois and Michigan and pass 'Safe Games' legislation...


The (ESRB) does have a rating system... but it's often ignored. Laws protecting underage kids from harmful products are nothing new... But currently, nothing under New York State law prohibits a fourteen-year old from walking into a video store and buying a game labeled 'Adult Only' - a game like 'Grand Theft Auto...'

Democrats and Republicans both have bills that would address these problems, but they have gone nowhere. It is time to make this a priority.

Now, Spitzer is apparently making good on his promise. As reported by Business Week:


Gov. Eliot Spitzer will take a shot at violent videos and video games as part his remaining 2007 legislative agenda... Spitzer said he will soon provide a bill that would target the ratings of video movies and video games "that are often violent and degrading" and can hurt children who repeatedly use and view them...


The Democrat said his approach would be similar to greater enforcement in recent years to stop the sale of cigarettes to minors.

State Sen. Joseph Bruno, Republican Majority Leader, said that Spitzer should prioritize the state's economy, but seemed to be on board with the Governor's position on the video game issue:

It's certainly going to be one of our priorities. We have bills that address that.

As has been reported by GamePolitics, there are several such bills currently under consideration in the New York legislature.


I keep imagining game shops being treated like porn shops whenever I hear of these legislation. Can you imagine GameStop with mirrored windows and people walking out with black bags? Kinda scary.

"The (ESRB) does have a rating system… but it’s often ignored."

Under the sort of "grandma logic" that Spitzer employs, you could regulate any aspect of any action ever. It would be illegal to even enter a video game store - or any store, for that matter - because people "often ignore" the fact that you're not supposed to shoplift. Furthermore, what's to say that, even if consitutional and passed into law, these statutes wouldn't be "often ignored" due to the fact that they're much more of a burden to the business than they are a boon to the concerned parent?

I meant that he would light the $1000 bills, and not the mansion, on fire. But since we're on the subject of wasting taxpayer dollars in a show of complete irresponsibility...

The Motion Picture Association of America's ratings system is neither regulated nor enforced by the government. This system is voluntary, both in submission of motion pictures for a rating review, and in enforcement of any ratings (theater operators are supposed to check IDs). The state can't arrest a kid who sneaks into an NC-17 (no one under 17 admitted) rated movie (as if many of these movies were even released). The theater owner and the guy who rips the ticket and says, "Theater 3 is on the left" can't be charged with any crime if they let a kid into an NC-17 movie. No one's up in arms to change the system.

Video games, like rap music was more than a decade ago, are a hot issue. Any politician who's trying to legislate media in the US should know better than to try it in light of previous Constitutional challenges. I agree with the GP posters who feel this is pandering to a constituancy. I also agree that a likely outcome of all this effort on Spitzer's part will result in taxpayers' money wasted. I find it hard to believe that Spitzer is so ill-advised as to be unaware of this, which makes an attempt to pass video game regulating legislation all the more reprehensible. He may as well spell out "VOTE FOR ME NEXT TIME, BITCHES" with gasoline-soaked $1000 bills in 12 foot tall letters across the lawn of the New York State Executive Mansion, and light the whole thing on fire.

The best way to stop this garbage legislation, and future garbage legislation, is to inform the general public. While Gamepolitics is a great site, lets face it, the readership here is generally one sided. After all, its a site about video games and politics. Your general tom, dick and harry aren't very likely to see the stories about how much taxpayer money is being wasted on these pointless laws.

So how do we inform the general public? Well, an easy way is to write a letter to the editor of the papers that cover the areas being effected by these laws. So to start off, write a letter to the NY Times. Tell them how many taxpayer dollars have been wasted with these attempts to legislate the protected free speech of videogames.

Whenever one of these pointless, press getting laws is released, we as a community should come together and defend our hobby. Inform everyone else that their elected officals are attempting to circumvent the 1st ammendment, and how much money is being wasted.

write to the NY Times here:

Yea, because we all know all New York's crimes (btw I understand the crime-rate there is pretty low per-capita) can be traced back to video games. I'm getting sick of seeing all the Law & Order "ripped from the headlines" stories that keep coming back to video games.

Honestly, other than GTA: San Andres, what mainstream games are there that are rated AO? Do these people even realize how the rating system works? Like the movie industry, when developers start designing and programing the games, I have to assume they have a general idea of what rating they are going for.

He just looking to capitalize of the VA shooting and get some points w/ the voters by saying, "Hey look, I'm doing something."

didn't i read that video game industry self regulation was working? this should be a short one.

"Self-regulation doesn’t always work… when self-regulation fails, government must step in… New York State must take matters into its own hands. We should follow the lead of states like California, Illinois and Michigan and pass ‘Safe Games’ legislation…"

yeah. good luck on that one.

Self-regulation doesn’t always work… when self-regulation fails, government must step in… New York State must take matters into its own hands. We should follow the lead of states like California, Illinois and Michigan and pass ‘Safe Games’ legislation…

2 points from this

1. Self-Regulation that works 70-90% of the time means it's not failing

2. Why yes, why not follow those states and make game laws that fail to waste money?

Man, T2's attorneys must eat this shit up. I bet you they're already planning their future purchases as soon as Spitzer said he'd go forward.

You gotta love the world we live in: mommy and daddy both work all day so that they can afford all of the finer things in life. ($50K cars, expensive vacations or clothing.) Because of this obsession with material things and keeping up with 'the Jones's", their children are left to be parented by "the village." BUT, when the village doesn't raise the child "as good as the parents SHOULD have" the parents go off and find an excuse for what went wrong. (ie. videogames.)

Let's stop playing the role of victim. If you are concerned what your kids play YOU need to monitor it. We ARE helping you by providing a rating, but if YOU don't inforce it - who's fault is that?


Because you already got this nonsense out of the way?

go ahead. let him make an ass of himself. see if i care.

Thank god i live in MN

Bring out the unconstitional stamp. Because this bill is dead of arrival.

This guy who shot up Virginia Tech and killed 30 people didn't play video games that we know of. He did write disturbing fiction, however. I recommend we immediately enact legislation limiting the sale of adult-oriented books and plays, and require parental consent and identification to buy pencils and typewriters.

Way to go, Eliot. Don't be a dick.

This governor is using the Virginia Tech incident to promote his political agenda. Of all the times for him to bring this up he does it now when the tension is really high. My theory is this is only the first of many laws that will be going through.

Another thing I would like to note, I work in a video rental store. We have signs all over explaining the ESRB system where we rent out video games, but no one reads them, or gives them a passing glance. Its not like we have just one, we have one on every shelf there is, but still grandma/grandpa/mom/dad still rent out the games like Leisure Suit Larry.

The Governor's contact information:


Eliot Spitzer
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224


another troli heres a clue when you put these restrictions on all media inculdeing books let me know untill then you are scapegoating and viaing for thought control.

"The (ESRB) does have a rating system… but it’s often ignored."

There it is! You worry about kids playing "adult" video games, yet who is the one's ignoring the ESRB ratings? The parents! Tell the parents to start giving a shit about what their kids play and get the fuck off the video game communities' ass.

So now videogames = cigarettes. I can't wait for the "infect truth" commercials where pretentious assholes demonstrate the evils of games to the masses- thereby infecting "truth".


Hmm...I wonder if the guys at PA would cover a state like they did for JT. "For New York, because New York wouldn't"...imagine an entire state getting upstaged by two men.


Or that it was far better than the MPAA's. But you don't see this joker attacking the movie industry.

Anyway, I'm just glad he had enough sense not to bring the VTech shooting into this. Heaven knows we have enough people jumping on the bandwagon head-first *cough*Dr. Phil*cough*.

But currently, nothing under New York State law prohibits a fourteen-year old from walking into a video store and buying a game labeled ‘Adult Only’

And yet they couldn't because stores choose not to carry games labeled AO, and even if they did their odds of not being turned down are poor. Sounds to me like self regulation is working just fine. Thus no reason for the government to step in.

I see that Governor Spitzer would like to contribute taxpayer money to the ESA and their attorney's. The more important question is; when will the taxpayers realize that these politicians are frittering away money?

"The Democrat said his approach would be similar to greater enforcement in recent years to stop the sale of cigarettes to minors."

So games cause cancer? Is that it?

Cigarettes = proven to cause harm

Games = assumed to cause harm

"We should follow the lead of states like California, Illinois and Michigan and pass ‘Safe Games’ legislation…"

And follow their leads even further by getting taken to court, getting a preliminary injunction thrown in, followed by more lengthy court battles, and ultimately having to pay a couple hundred thousand dollars to the industry that you tried to stifle when your new law gets declared unconstitutional.

I love how he makes the references to the other states that have tried, but doesn't point out the fact that out of those 3 states, only California's hasn't been completely ruled unconstitutional yet, but is well on its way. He also doesn't mention the fact that Illinois has to pay half a million dollars to the industry and Michigan has to pay $180 thousand because of their failed attempts at legislation.

I guess when he said "we should follow their leads" he was meaning "I like wasting taxpayer dollars on fruitless pursuits that gain me points with the soccer moms out there."

Oh no! I mentioned gaining points! Politics must be a video game, therefor it must be banned! /sarcasm

Odd I wans't aware that you can still buy AO copies of San An.

Did he even read the FTC's report? The one that explicitly says that while self-regulation stillisn't perfect, it's getting much better?

"Good Morning,

My name is Governor Smith and I am a resident of the state of California. I recently heard that Gov. Spitzer is planning to introduce legislation which would prohibit the sale of violent video games to minors. The bill would also introduce a universal ratings system that would rate movies, music, and video games. Gov. Spitzer also mentioned that similar laws were being passed in other states such as Illinois.

I would like to commend Gov. Spitzer for his future donation of taxpayer money to the attorneys that represent the Entertainment Software Association. Anyone can see that even though similar legislation (usually not as proactive as Gov. Spitzer's bill) in other states were passed and voted into law, they were also subject to judicial review. Upon review these laws were declared unconstitutional and were thrown out. On top of that, the states were ordered to pay the legal fees of the ESA.

Some notable contributors include Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois ($510,528.64), Rep. Roy Burrell of Louisiana ($157,548.00), Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan ($182,349.00), and the collective amount "donated" to the ESA over the past five years is close to $1,500,000.00 (Illinois, Indianapolis, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Washington). Some deadbeat states have been slow in the donation process and have been ordered to stop "waffling" and construct a payment plan (Illinois).

I certainly hope that Gov. Spitzer puts up a spirited fight for the bill that he is designing. The more time and effort that is put into defending the bill means that people like Katherine Fallow, the lead attorney in the Louisiana case, can continue to charge the taxpayers approximately four hundred and fifty dollars per hour.

In closing, I would simply like to thank Gov. Spitzer for announcing that he will donate money to the attorneys that represent the ESA in the near future. I hope that this future donation will be reflected in the polls come election season. I also hope that Gov. Spitzer never decides to move to California and run for a political office here, because we owe enough money as it is."

Just sent this letter to Spitzer's website (http://www.spitzer2010.com/). I certainly hope that more people send letters and e-mails of similar ilk in order to demonstrate what happens when you run hand-in-hand with these video game laws. They're like prostitutes; you're having great fun at first but you only end up owing money and probably a STD to boot.

[...] - Thursday night was an IGDA New York chapter meet. It was mostly a brainstorming session, to figure out what events and directions the chapter could and should explore, to generate awareness and activity in regards to game development in the Big Apple. One suggestion was to hold public debates on various topics, such as the Governor of New York’s proposed bill that would regulate violent video games. In addition to Eliot Spitzer, or in case we can’t get him or his people, I suggested that we should maybe approach everyone’s favorite, Jack Thompson to talk, since he’s always up for any chance to spew his anti-video game dogma. Though this was before I found out that IGDA’s Executive Director, Jason Della Rocca, recently challenged Thompson to a debate, which led to series of ridiculous emails. So yeah, maybe having him come and talk is a pretty stupid idea after-all. Which, I know, I should have known already. [...]


[...] Maybe we could take a look at this NewsFactor - Hotmail woke up Monday as the new Windows Live Hotmail. Microsoft announced that the successor to the popular MSN Hotmail is being rolled out globally today as part of the Windows Live family of online applications, in 36 languages and with several enhancements. Maybe this could help nY Governor Seems To Think The Constitution Doesn’t Apply There Right after a judge in Louisiana blasted lawmakers there for passing a law trying to ban the sale of violent video games to minors when it clearly wouldn’t stand up in court, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer says getting a similar law passed is one of his top legislative priorities. Now, considering that Spitzer’s a lawyer and used to be the state’s attorney general, you’d imagine he might be, you know, familiar with laws and the Constitution and stuff. But apparently not. Despite court after court pointing out that these laws are unconstitusional, he wants to press on. Why don’t we save everybody the trouble, and just have the video-game industry estimate what their legal bill to get the law overturned will be, and just go ahead and send Spitzer the bill now? That way, the outcome will be the same, except New York taxpayers won’t have to watch Spitzer and the state’s legislators waste their time and money in passing the bill. My friends also told me that bill Gates headed to space? - Seattle Post Intelligencer With former Microsoft engineer Charles Simonyi currently in space, AFP reports that Bill Gates may be next. But it's not exactly first-hand information. …Xbox 360 Spring update: Live improves and expands read on to check out what awaits you Permalink TrackBack [...]

I couldn't understand some parts of this article NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer Readies Violent Video Game Legislation, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.
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