Game Retailers Say No Sale to NY Video Game Bill

May 31, 2007 -
As expected, video game retailers are not pleased by a New York Assemby bill which would make the sale of games containing "depraved violence" a Class-E felony.

The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), which represents video game retailers, issued a stinging criticism of the NY Assembly following passage of A08696 yesterday by an overwhelming 130-10 vote.

Said EMA President Bo Anderson (left):
This bill is ill-conceived and unconstitutional. 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.

The requirement that video game consoles include parental controls ignores the fact that the new generation of consoles include them already...

This bill is impermissibly vague. A8696 seeks to apply real-world standards of violence to the fictional and fanciful world of video games, an environment in which they have no meaning. As a result, retailers and clerks will not and cannot know with certainty which video games could send them to jail under A8696. It was depressing to hear members of the Assembly note the constitutional problems with the bill and then state that they were voting for it.

Comments

One day? How can anyone trust a bill that became law so abruptly? I would prefer to go in depth as to why this bill is wrong, but said reasons have allready been stated multiple times.

It's almost genious too because politicians supporting the law can simply say that game retailers want to sell games with 'depraved violence' to children and that the gamers who are against the bill are simply just desensitized from all the 'depraved violence'.

I do hope this law is shot down before it goes into effect.

any fool that spouts this nonsense of supporting such a failed and flaw bill should be forced to pay part of his wages so the taxs payer dose not have to....taking money from the rich assemblymen would help make their trains of thought run a bit wiser....

@E. Zachary Knight Thanks for the correction! I missed the monetary part. Do you realize that in Korea, companies disseminate for money any "game" they want. The game is "given" for free. The license is what costs the money via subscription.

What this shows me is that every single lawyer in the legislature are signing a vague bill with a HUGE GAPING LOOPHOLE that a non-lawyer can find. It's not simply unconstitutional, it's clearly unenforceable.

This will go to court, be struck down as unconstitutional, and a lot of taxpayers money will be spent to defend a bill that should never have been created in the first place.

What I hope happens, is that the newspapers around New York will pick up on this, and blast the legislature for wasting a ton of money to milk more votes. That should get most of them out of office.

They did the same thing here in Pennsylvania, when the the state legislature voted to give themselves an undiserved and un-necessary pay raise that would've cost the state a ton of money. The newspapers picked up on it, the pay raise was repealed, and most in the legislature either opted not to run for another term, or lost the elections.

@E. Kolb

I realize that the stores like EB and Gamestop would be screwed, but like I said, if this were to happen, I can't see it lasting more than a day or two before gamers and parents of gamers raise hell and force them to overturn the bill. I think they could live without selling games for a day or two and giving the employees a few days off. As soon as they reopened all the fuss would probably increase sales for a few days to make up for it.

It would certainly send a message to politicians that restricting video game sales is a problem for their constituents, not just the people who make them.

I hope Michael Gallagher will come out and visibly support the retailers. Obviously, such a law would affect the publishers as well.

[...] Well that was fast. The Democrat sponsored video game bill I wrote about yesterday has been weighed, measured, and found perfectly peachy by an overwhelming majority of the NY Assembly. This is of course the bill that would make it a felony for game store clerks to sell games depicting scenes of brutal violence to children, which as you can imagine has game store owners sh***ing kittens. [...]

"As a result, retailers and clerks will not and cannot know with certainty which video games could send them to jail under A8696."

Good point, considering "depraved violence" is a rather difficult thing to measure. Even if it said "to minors below the age rating," at least it would be clearer. There is one fallback, it does say punishment only comes if the clerk sells the game (in the annoying all caps) "WITH KNOWLEDGE OF ITS CHARACTER AND CONTENT." Perhaps it's possible to claim you didn't know what was in the game.

@Malhavoc

The thing with that is that stores like Gamestop, EB World, Game Crazy, etc. only sell games and related materials. If they stop selling games period, the profits for hundreds if not thousands of stores state-wide dry up to zero. That hurts them more than it does the state government.

I think the best solution to this issue would be for the industry to just not sell any games in NY as long as the bill exists. Can you imagine the outrage when thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers realize they are going to have to travel out of state to pick up Halo 3, Madden, etc? The politicians would have to overturn the bill almost overnight.

Simply threatening to do so, with statements from EB/Gamestop, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and members of the EMA and ESA would probably be enough to create enough commotion to scare the bill out of committee.

It seems like some assemblyman is taking the stance that "video games are the devil"....

@ Robb

It will not effect parents unless they work in a retail outlet and sell the game to their own kid. The bill only effect retailers who sell the game. A parent giving the kid a game is not considered retail.

@Robb again

It is not ex post facto either. If a retailer wishes to sell ultra violent games to kids now then they can do so. But once this goes into effect, it will have no affect on prior sales.

It might make a recall of current new consoles with out parental guidence controls happen though.

@ AM

Want an example of the assembly men acknoledging it as unconstitutional?

From the original story:
4.) The measure contains a severability clause, which states that if any portion of the proposed law is found to be unconstitutional, such a ruling would not invalidate the other sections.
http://gamepolitics.com/2007/05/30/another-ny-game-bill-democrat-proposa...

What more do you need? I've been hoping that the politicians would learn their lesson on this issue soon. It seems they have, but it was the wrong lesson. Has anyone ever heard of a severability clause? This just sounds unconstitutional.

Oh. I also seem to remember a story on Joystiq in which they name and quote a senator who admits that they are aware that game legislation is "bad law", but he's going to vote for it so it can't be used against him when he goes up for reelection. Makes ya feel all warm and fuzzy.

I am glad that the EMA is standing up for their rights. It is unfortunate that they had no real amount of time to give their objections before these bills were blasted through the legal process.

A chilling effect of this bill is that, as a felony, it is not up to parental guidance to allow your children to play a game that you do not find offensive. For example, if The Adventures of Cookies and Cream were deemed "violent," every single parent who had the game would subject to possible jail time.

Essentially, the bill would be "ex post facto," something that is unconstitutional. Article One of the United States Constitution, section ten says: No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

@ Dennis:

Is this the whole press release?

"The requirement that video game consoles include parental controls ignores the fact that the new generation of consoles include them already…

"

Nuff said.

I wonder how long it will take before this is shot down.

"It was depressing to hear members of the Assembly note the constitutional problems with the bill and then state that they were voting for it."

Does anyone have a solid example of this? In my opinion, an assemblyman saying, "This is unconstitutional, but I'm going to vote for it anyway," is about as dangerous as it comes. Any assemblyman who fully believed the bill was unconstitutional and passed it anyway should recalled (though I don't recall NY actually having a recall system; I thankfully didn't live there long).

yay 1st post =)

anyways, what Bo Anderson is saying is probably almost exactly the same thoughts that all of us had about the bill, just put into well-thought-out words. good job Bo, way to go.

[...] Thanks to GamePolitics.com for the heads-up. [...]

To GameBoy -
a severabilility clause is a very common thing in legal contracts and in other legislative actions. It is not necessarily an acknowledgement that the legislative action is unconstitutional at the outset. A clause of that sort is used to preserve parts of a statute or enactment so that if a particular element of the legislation is later deemed to be unconstutional by a court, then the rest of the legislations still stands.

hi i enjoyed the read

[...] Thanks to GamePolitics.com for the heads-up. [...]

As both a parent and a video game store owner in another state, I can appreciate the intent of the New York Assembly, but ultimately "depraved violence" is on tv, the internet, movies, schools and in homes -- this bill will not protect the children. Although everyone in my store is bound to abide by the ESRB ratings or face termination, it is ultimately the parents' role to instill the values that would make them not want the game in the first place...
 
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