Massachusetts Will Consider Video Game Legislation This Week

March 17, 2008 -
The Massachusetts legislature will hold a hearing on Tuesday to consider House Bill 1423, a video game measure introduced last year but not acted upon.

In its current form the bill closely resembles the Jack Thompson-authored Louisiana video game law, which was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court judge in 2006 (see: Judge Trashes Louisiana Govt. Over Failed Jack Thompson Law, Orders State to Pay Legal Fees). Indeed, Thompson was involved in drafting the original version of the Massachusetts bill, as GamePolitics reported in January of 2007.

Although Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has been an advocate of HB1423, the main legislative sponsor is Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry (D, left).

HB1423 is a "games-as-porn" bill which would seek to restrict minors from buying violent video games under the same rationale used to block them from buying sexually explicit materials. That is, HB1423 would define violent games as harmful to minors in the same legal sense as pornography. From the bill:
Matter is harmful to minors if it is obscene or, if taken as a whole, it... depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community, so as to appeal predominantly to the morbid interest in violence of minors; is patently contrary to prevailing standards of adults in the county where the offense was committed... and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.

Given the history, it is unclear why Massachusetts is pursuing a bill of this sort. Last year an aide to Mayor Menino told GamePolitics that officials were aware of the failure of the similarly-worded Louisiana law, but would were hopeful a Utah bill - also authored by Jack Thompson - would succeed.

It didn't - after contentious deliberations in which Thompson called for Utah's Attorney General to be impeached, the Utah legislature dropped the bill over concerns about its constitutionality.

At this point it is unclear whether Thompson has been participating in the recent activity surrounding HB1423. In an e-mail sent to GP following the publication of this story, Thompson writes, "Of course I'm involved, today even."

UPDATE: The Entertainment Consumers Association has issued an alert regarding the Massachusetts legislation to its members via the ECA website. By way of disclosure, we note that the ECA is the parent company of

UPDATE: This morning's Boston Herald has more, including comment from Larry Mayes, Mayor Menino's human services director:
Children aged 17 and under should not be sold this stuff, so they are not getting into the hands of 9- and 10-year-olds. Is it going to be an uphill battle? Sure. But it’s absolutely a battle that the mayor feels he should take on.


Re: Massachusetts Will Consider Video Game Legislation This Week

Governor David A. Paterson signed a package of bills, many of which are focused on public safety and protecting the rights of New York residents. Among the more than three dozen bills signed into law by Governor Paterson, some will enhance protections for children and adults in residential care, revoke teaching certificates for educators who are convicted of sex crimes and ensure the State will explore the negative effects of violent video games.



Massachusetts Treatment Centers

I'm tired of f***ing

I'm tired of f***ing politicions ragging on videogames all the time!!! I think the only reason their doing this is because they just couldn't beat pacman or something like that!!! Those f***ing fags!!!

"and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

Which is impossible to define in my opinion. And that's the reason opinion.

In my opinion something such as X-Men or Batman comic books have serious literary (great stories) artistic (often amazing visual art work) and political (X-Men started as a statement about racism, and Batman touches on too many topics to name right now. And yet for all that someone else is gonna look at those and say "Pfft, thos are just comic books and nothing more". And to use a video game as an example (or rather a series) Metal Gear Solid. The storylines in those games are incredible (if not a little hard to follow at times) so that takes care of your literary value. It's one of the best looking games, that covers artistic. And the plots cover anything from political conspiracies to philosophical ramifications. Yet it would probably be banned, simply for the violence, under this "law".

Who are these to people that think they can decide for me what holds literary, artistic or political value?

/end rant

@ potatojones83

i agree and you know i wish people would start taking the context of the way the content in games are used into consideration. yes there are some rather violent games out there, and quite alot of them too but i think what makes the games different from each other is the way the violence is portrayed in the games and the context it is used in. the majority of violent games i have played over the years use violence in a tasteful manner. and when it is not done in a tasteful manner, most gamers regardless of age end up using that as a reason to criticize a game, not worship it.

these people seem to think that we, and kids as well, are a bunch of mindless zombies who take in everything we see literally and follow it like jesus or something. and in my opinion that is a very unrealistic viewpoint on how the mind works. it also goes to show you that it is in fact THESE people who are the ones who are unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, not us.

This bill will Fail like all the rest. Every bill that's been introduced over the last 2 years has been struck down for it's Violation of the Constitution. This just the government trying to tell us all what is "right" and what we "should" be doing (ignoring all their Hypocrisy).
It's also been proven time and again that anything with "Thompson's Taint" will fail.
Waste of Tax payer's Money (yours and mine).

@ Twin-Skies
First, I agree with you.
Second, Because the moral outrage isn't with TV and movies anymore, It's the Video Games that need regulation now. Helps Politicians with agendas get more votes too. exploit the ignorant parents.

Try pulling this crap in Minnesota and see what happens.

Minneapolis, Mn


You shouldn't, in my opinion, knock the legal standard if you're pro-gaming. It's almost impossible to find anything that lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. And that's precisely why the anti-game laws are struck down by the courts. Because it's almost impossible to find that a video game lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. The standard protects video games. It doesn't threaten them.

its funny on how all they gata do is move words around add some periods and their you have it a new bill they hope psses man the bs tax money gets spent on these old politics phase out. cause they just dont see the real prblems of the world..

I emailed the representative who was mentioned in this article and she told me she agreed that parents parenting are essential.

Plus there is going to be a hearing on it....she just didn't tell me where in the email.... :(

@Jack Thompson, soon to be disbarred...

Greetings from Mexico...

Yeah, maybe it will be constitutional like a month or two, and then it will be dismissed like other bills in the past.

Just out of curiosity, everyone does realize that one of the major advocates of the bill (Mayor Menino), while admittedly not involved in the legislative process for this bill, was one of the ones invoking 9/11 after the 2007 Boston bomb scare?

It may have been mentioned, but I felt like it needed to be brought up. This is the quality of politician supporting this bill!

@Jack Thompson, Attorney

it will never be constitutional until movies and books are involved as well.

and I don't see that happening, despite the fact that movies show you, in great detail, how to assemble and use a gun, and books, including the Holy Bible, describe violence in great detail.

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

"Matter is harmful to minors if it is obscene or, if taken as a whole, it… depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community, so as to appeal predominantly to the morbid interest in violence of minors; is patently contrary to prevailing standards of adults in the county where the offense was committed… and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

Forget videogaming - that line described 75% of the garbge on TV. Why not axe that first?

Something to keep in mind, for those of you who live in the United much as the Democratic Party would like to flaunt their commitment to liberal ideals and artistic expression, etc. it seems that they are the most prone to call for such legislation. While I can understand why the college crowd in your country is so excited for a change from conservative leadership, I would say that certainly Hillary Clinton's credibility as a liberal is suspect as she would seek to restrict, in any form, video gaming.

you can not bind law to age ranges, you can not ban media, the best you can do is slot it and let the populace decide from there on out, thus why I like a nice universal system that can offer age range slotting for all media.

IMO age sloting is a tool the media and retail industries can use to show the public a generic but helpful guide to age ranges.

Super Mario Bros.

“depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community"

ie. Stomping on heads, kicking turtles, and throwing balls of fire.

"lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.”

Key word "SERIOUS"
literary... "the princess is in another castle" x 7
artistic... too cute to be "serious art"
political... a giant mutant turtle tyrant captures a princess... seriously?
scientific... mushrooms make you bigger and a 2D universe

Seriously, Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, did Monsignor Ryan Memorial H.S., Boston College, or Suffolk University have a copy of the US Contitution for you to read. You need only read the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to understand... YOU ARE AN IDIOT. I mean seriously why do dems try to take away our basic freedoms (first amendment, second amendment, etc...) then complain when terrorist's freedoms are violated.

"...and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

GG. The bill is doomed just like all the others.

...that is perhaps the vaguest proposal for law I've ever encountered. You're telling me we can give any celebrity (and even those slightly related to said stars) a trashy reality show and nobody complains. But Snake snapping necks in what is perhaps the most intriguing saga in interactive entertainment (arguably - I'm well aware that Sneak King has the potential for limitless sequels as well) is not considered even remotely artistic? Obviously they're blind to the tireless work of the level and character designers. Literary? Quite literally the codec dialog contains volumes of discourse more infectious than Tom Clancy. Political...yeah, MGS has been doing it since the 80's way before politics became trendy. Scientific? Well if you ignore the genome soldiers, cloning, hi-tech arms race, and fantastical anti-heroes then no it isn't very scientific at all. And I suppose if you ignore all of that then it really is just a game about mindless violence that all youth should be protected from - after all we wouldn't them to look up from their Newlyweds boxset...


And here I just saw on the news that they're trying to open up more casinos in Mass. Consistency? Pfft, what's that?

"...lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

The sad part of this, is, its in my state. Nice to see my hard earned tax dollars going to waste. The bill will fail on the grounds of constitional rules. Since by defination, every one of these violent video games, is political. Every one of them is a form of artistic expression. Every one of these, takes ALOT of coding.....there's quite a bit of scientific value in this.

After all, violence tells a story. Doesnt have to be a good one. The opening scene to the movie Saving Private Ryan, is/was the most gory 20 minutes of violence. And every second, tells the story. Braveheart, is another excellent film that is very gory.

But games, are pretty gory, even though they tell a story. But instead of us as the viewing audience, we take the role of the hero(ine).

The whole Tom Clancy series of Rainbow Six: RS1, Raven Shield, Vegas 1 & 2, Ghost Recon 1 & 2, GRAW 1 & 2, Sum of all Fears. Each of those are pretty violent....but they have a great story, alot of art, and a fair degree to create them.

Still, time to write my congressmen....Kennedy and Kerry....

Wow...politicians really CAN'T learn from experience. Is there an upper limit on the intelligence they're premited to have?

Sure, they can ignore the fact that violent (and most other) videogames drastically increase spatial awareness and other positive attributes. And they can ignore that videogames have less violence than television and are not causlly linked to real-life violence or even aggression.

But, by this point, how are they still unaware that such a bill will go the way of the nine precedents in this sort of case, and die because it's flagrantly unconstitutional. Not to mention, wholly ineffective in its stated purpose, and a waste of taxpayer money.

The U.S. really needs to start requiring classes on the Constitution that politicans must pass before entering office. And maybe tach them how to do a Google search, since their support for such laws is so blatantly uninformed, ignorant, asinine, and plenty of other derogatory advectives. Perhaps being required to learn at least the bare minimum about a product or implementation or whatever it is they intend to effect, and preferably being required to do intensive study on it, would help keep the bandwagon morons from throwing away money in a time like this.

So Republicans are against due process and fair treatment under law while Democrats are against freedom of speech. @_@

[...] in Massachusetts will hold a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would treat violent games like smut. That is, it would be a crime to sell them to a minor. Jack Thompson originally advised the state onbill in 2007. It is similar to Thompson’s Louisiana bill that was declared unconstitutional in 2006. So why is Mass wasting time with it? read more | diggstory [...]

How legislation for parents who can't montior what their kids bring into their god damned house?

Why is it always the media's fault for parental ineptness?

You people are clearly all missing the point here, there's something far worse than kneejerk legislative proposals at work:

Children aged 17 and under should not be sold this stuff, so they are not getting into the hands of 9- and 10-year-olds.

There can only be one conclusion: Teenage Massachusettsians (or whatever the hell people from Massachusetts are called) have clearly created (or more likely they've been influenced by computer games to STEAL) a time machine and are corrupting THEMSELVES!!! They're waiting until they reach the legal/recommended age for purchasing violent computer games, buying them and then immediately taking them back in time to corrupt younger versions of themselves! Thats not only a threat to children but the paradoxes it would create are a threat to all causality!!!

You know what? I want that legislation to pass one day. I want them to make it illegal to sell these games to minors.


So that a month later, when minors are still getting violent games, politicians might actually realize, parents are the number one supplier of these games, because they think throwing shiny stuff at Junior to shut him up is good parenting.

The worse thing is the fact that, they don't want to just make it illegal for a minor to buy an M-rated game. They want anything THEY see as violent to be illegal. How do I know Kingdom Hearts won't be illegal? It had me whacking away at things with a weapon. IT MUST BE BAD!



Once again my faith in humanity is tested by politicians

The bill is constitutional and will be held constitutional.

You ever wander if some of the attacks on video games are based on a misperception of what the M rating stands for? Most of them admit that they've never played the particular games they tend to target, they just accept what they've been told by others. I mean, maybe these people really think Mature is the equivalent of NC-17? If the legislature attacked based on the Ao ratings, they might have slightly more legal ground to stand on from the "games as porn" perspective. They still face the problem of legislating a 3rd party rating system, but conceptually, they would have more of a chance than going after the equivalent of a R-rated film.

Just an idle thought.

@Godkarmachine O Inary
Nah then they'd only end up blaming piracy & trying to ban the internet entirely or at least force us all to use something like AOL

I think I've been playing too much Sam & Max, I'm starting to sound like Bosco

"Go back to bed America, your government is in control once again...
You are free to do as we tell you! You are free to do as we tell you!"

- Adam Freeland, 'We Want Your Soul'


You have a point there. Eventually they'd just say these kids got the games off of the internet by stealing their parents credit cards because they games taught them how. Games like GTA where you kill prostitutes, sure there is no mention of stealing credit cards. But prostitutes die in that game, so it must obviously teach you how to be a criminal, steal, kill, and rob.

Then they ban credit cards to prevent future purchases.

You ever get the feeling that all this protection we give kids is unhealthy for society? I mean, they are trying to eliminate everything in our lives that they deem bad, rather than talk to us about it all. Instead of being parents, they want everyone else to nanny us so they can feel like their job is done.

Then we get out into the real world and wind up slapped around because we weren't prepared.

Or maybe that's the goal? They want us all to be in a bubble of joy, so when we grow up, we won't know anything but smiles and apple pies.

I see that Ignorance and Stupidity is at work in Massachusetts.

Rep. Forry, and the mongoloid mayor of Boston should get their heads out of their asses, straight and simple.

Where are 9 or 10-year-olds buying "violent" games? Bizzaro World?

Besides that, the ESA and FTC report that 90% of M-rated game sales are to parents. The NPD Group estimates M-rated games make up only 15% of all game sales. And the FTC says minors trying to purchase M-rated games are refused over half the time.

Let’s see….15% of total sales, 10% of that is 1.5% and 42% of that is 0.63% of all game sales.

Since when does 0.63% of all video game sales warrant unconstitutional legislation? Why the hell do we even “need” legislation in the first place? After all, video games are protected by the First Amendment, and like I’ve been posting, if you’re going to infringe on a Constitutional right like freedom of speech based on the claim that the speech in question is “dangerous”, then you better damn well show absolute proof of that. It’s NEVER been done. There is no proof that any harm will come of anyone playing a “violent” video game.

If there is a danger so clear and so threatening to the American people that causes these self-righteous politicians to step on the First Amendment, wouldn’t any rational thinking person have to believe that the danger would have to be so obvious and clear that there would be no argument against it? Especially since you’re directly contradicting a Constitutional amendment.

We, the American people, have not been given any valid reason to believe that this abridging of our freedom of speech is necessary. There just simply isn’t any evidence at all of any danger from “violent” video games. This “protection” from “violent” video games isn’t needed or wanted for that matter, but please feel free to use everyone’s tax dollars for protection from things like a 10-foot storm surge from a Category 3 or greater hurricane or the fuselage of a 747 airplane entering the workplace or the home.

Another giant waste of taxpayer money.

"Matter is harmful to minors if it is obscene or, if taken as a whole, it… depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community, so as to appeal predominantly to the morbid interest in violence of minors; is patently contrary to prevailing standards of adults in the county where the offense was committed… and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

Could not Super Smash Bros Brawl be lumped into that category by some people? It's fun, don't get me wrong, but does it have any real purpose in its "violence"?

@ potatojones83, Clever
Of COURSE the MGS series should be banned! How can a torture porn murder simulator that encourages us to critically question US government policy have any political value?

As for this law...*headdesk* The only good thing about it is that it doesn't drag in the ESRB ratings. Let's take a closer look, shall we?


Lack of spellcheck does not inspire confidence.

"matter is harmful to minors if it is obscene"

There is no factual basis for this. Also note how no definition is provided for "obscene", it just goes without saying.

"or, if taken as a whole, it (1) [is a porn game] (2) [offends the standards of a few adults who want to ban the game for the rest of us] (3) is patently contrary to prevailing standards of adults in the county where the offense was committed"

What "offense"? The "offense" of selling a "harmful" game to a minor? But if it's counted as an offense, then isn't it already presupposed to be "contrary to prevailing standards"? This clause is either unnecessary or could be used to show that any game is "harmful to minors".

"and (4) lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

The sad thing is, even if a violent game (say, MGS4) has SLAPS, under this law your average retailer will look at the cover and the M rating, assume it's another Generic First [sic] Person Shooter, and refuse to stock it. I know that was my first impression of the MGS series. And how can a game HAVE SLAPS for adults but not for minors?

Also notice the "And" clause joining (1), (2), (3), and (4). Under this law, then, almost all M rated games would be exempt due to not having any sexual content...or the word is actually meant to be an "Or", which could be used to ban ANY game, violent or not, deemed to be lacking SLAPS.

Why am I ranting? It will never pass anyway.

Speaking of which, does anyone know the status of Ahhhnold's appeal to the Supreme Court?

He didn't get to the choppa in time, he is going to have to wait a while

Some people never learn,or can't read.

Am I the only one who thought this story would have been much cooler if instead of House Bill 1423, it was House Bill 1337

The Boston local Fox station just did a little roundtable thing on this with a couple people that i wouldn't care to remember, and... really, they had a bunch more common sense than any national show i've seen in a long time, because for the majority of it they were basically going 'Let's the parents decide, not govt, etc.'

The one detail that bugged me was when one guy said that he thought it would pass through (though he said before and after this that he didnt want it to) was comparing it to the state's recent ban on trans fats. Like 'Hey, they banned trans fats here, why not M-Rated games?'

Kinda... not the same boat there, buddy.

Jack Thompson, massacre chaser says: "The bill is constitutional and will be held constitutional."

Just like the bill in Louisiana, Jack? Or the bills in California, Oklahoma and Illinois?

If its about the same as another bill that was UNCONSTITUTIONAL....then WHY are they trying to pass it AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

"HB1423 is a “games-as-porn” bill which would seek to restrict minors from buying violent video games under the same rationale used to block them from buying sexually explicit materials"

This alone makes it unconstitutional.

Guaranteed unconstitutional and more taxpayer $$ down the tubes.

Boston should go back to fighting the real threat: Lite Brite.

gotta love people that think "yeah, I know that this bill won't work, but we have to try! we have to waste money for the children!"

because if their ignorance was food, no one would ever go hungry.

can someone clear up on how the esrb isnt working or isnt enough?? i just dont get it a ten year old cant just walk into a gamestop and leave with a copy of any mature rated games, i know im 24 and i still get id'd now and than. even if they do the parents can set a lock on the system so that it whont play it, you know kinda like the block for tv.. and the rating are so damn abvious look at the front and back of mass effect how the hell can you miss the esrb or not understand it the thing is stupid proof, now look at the resident evil 3 cover and tell me how long it takes you to find its rating.. as for this so called porn in games wtf!! am i the only one that knows how easy it is to see REAL porn on the internet.. so can any one tell me what the hell im missing here?? as for violence thats another wtf!! their has been violence since men and women existed their will always be violence thats just REALITY should we ad more to it by means of games probably not, but i dont think that its fare to legally sell guns to ppl even with background check, some do go crazy and go on a killing spree not every gun owner does it but every tree has a bad apple.. at the end of the day when someone gets killed by a gun than thats the BIG picture it was done by a gun so why not ban that? so can game haters just stop it already if you wana make a change than go after the real problems GUNS DRUGS and all thareal issues out their.. dont try to blame games for human retards its not a good enough scape goat!!!!


That's true. Given the current track record on these laws this one has no chance. It just seems to me the people drafting these things assume that because something is a video game it somehow automatically disqualifies it from having any kind of the above mentioned merits. I can't say if this is true or not, that's just the way it seems to me.

Apparently it's just easier for the mayor to act and stay uninformed than to learn about modern times.

now i'm not some guy with a big, fancy lawyering job, but doesn't Thompson's twice-failed attempts to write a bill on this kind of make him suck at knowing how the law works?

why would ANYONE then try to emulate that?

my theory: Mass WANTS the bill to fail.
doing something makes them look like they care, and having the bill fail makes it look like it's not their fault everyone's kids suck.

Man, whoever wrote this is being an idiot.

Even if this bill is passed it won't do anything.


The Miller test it's patterned after does nothing. Nobody understands what obscenity is, legally, and apparently that includes legislators. The obscenity of pornography means it can't be sold AT ALL. It means that the government is allowed to use prior restraint to pull its publication and it isn't considered a violation of the first amendment.

Even with pornography, this practically never happens. So why does anyone think that pursuing this line of reasoning with something as mundane as simple violence is going to do anyone any good.

What they NEED to pattern it after if they want to get somewhere is the laws that states have forbidding the sale of pornography to minors. This has nothing to do with the miller test OR obscenity. It has its own definitions of pornography that are considerably more mild than the Miller test for obscenity.


"Of course I’m involved, today even.”

So, you've tweaked the law to make it constitutional? Or are you just too busy printing off letters to mail to the AG to threaten him (figuratively speaking, of course! ;)) should he/she call this a bad idea?

If you look at the proposal there is a number of truck sized loop holes. First off what "prevailing standards" in the adult community (i mean governors with prostitutes, bill clinton, corrupt cops, etc etc), and who set up these standards, I am 21 years old, thus I have been a legal adult in this country for 3 years now and not once have I been asked to give my feelings or input as an adult on such things. Secondly, and this is the big one, part of number 4: "lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors". Now on this all one has to do is prove that even the most violent of video games, or most controversial, has some sort of "value". For example, the manhunt series, aside from being an overly bloody version of Arnold's "The Running Man", does have a somewhat of thought provoking story, for example *spoilers* why is Cash put where he is by the Director, and what sort of person would do such a thing, and for what reason. Get someone to defend something well enough and through our joke err i mean exceedingly just justice system and anything can get around this "law"
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