Recent word that the Entertainment Software Association would begin making political contributions on behalf of the video game industry brought a sharp response from watchdog group the Parents Television Council.
Within days of the ESA announcement, PTC president Tim Winter issued a statement essentially threatening that his organization would target any elected official who “cashed a check” from the ESA
In an interview with Ars Technica PTC’s national grassroots director Gavin McKiernan, explained that video game legislation is central to its dispute with the video game industry. The PTC supports legislation to restrict minors from purchasing games with mature content. The ESA, on the other hand, has historically (and successfully) opposed numerous attempts at such government regulation.
McKiernan told Ars Technica’s Ben Kuchera:
The political issue that has the greatest likelihood of being discussed by legislators is also the one that the ESA has expended a great deal of time and money on, and that is to prevent laws that would assist parents in protecting their children from adult entertainment. The ESA’s contributions will be overwhelmingly based on this issue and their stance on this issue is one that is opposed to the interests of families.
We frequently hear from our members and parents that keeping violent video games out of their children’s hands is a top priority…
McKiernan explained the PTC’s perspective on game laws:
[Previous] laws have been struck down on relatively narrow premises, and the opinions have fallen into two basic lines of reasoning. The first being that the laws were too vague in their definition of what would be prohibited… The second being that some justices felt that there was not sufficient evidence at the time of the hearing to show clear harm to minors as a result of playing certain types of games…
Our members’ greatest concern is with violent video games that can be purchased by children because there currently are no legal ramifications for retailers who sell ‘M’ or ‘AO’ rated games to minors.
We limit the sale of firearms, cigarettes and alcohol to minors because of their obvious detrimental effects. We have reasonable age restrictions for operating motor vehicles. We should employ similar logic and reason with other products that repeatedly have been proven to be harmful to children.