New York Video Game Law Heats Up as Guv Moves Closer to Signing

There is a good deal of buzz this week surrounding video game-oriented legislation passed overwhelmingly last month by the New York state legislature. New York Gov. David Paterson (left) must decide by July 23rd whether he will sign the bill into law or let it die.

In a story broken by GamePolitics on June 24th, we reported that the NY State Senate passed, by a 61-1 vote, Sen. Andrew Lanza’s bill which:

  • requires that games carry a rating
  • requires games consoles to have parental controls
  • establishes a 16-member advisory council on media violence

While the various segments of the video game industry have taken no unified position to date, the Binghampton Press details opposition to the bill from some unusual corners.

Grover Nordquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, said:

This is a feel-good piece of legislation that really doesn’t so anything.

GP: That’s certainly true (see: NY Video Game Bill Barks, Doesn’t Bite)

Robert Perry of the New York chapter of the ACLU, added:

This bill would have the state regulating constitutionally protected speech. The courts will not permit that.

GP: Since the bill doesn’t restrict content or sales based on content, we’re assuming that the ACLU’s Perry is referring to the requirement that games be labeled with a rating, which they already are on a voluntary basis.

Derek Hunter of the Media Freedom Project said:

The bill is unnecessary. The video-game industry is praised as the best at policing itself. They have a great ratings system.

Adam Thierer, writing for the Tech Liberation Front, calls the bill "unnecessary, unworkable, and unconstitutional" in an open letter to Gov. Paterson.

Meanwhile, Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, has apparently issued an alert to IGDA members based in New York, calling upon them to contact the Guv in opposition to the bill.

The key piece of the puzzle will be whether the ESA decides to challenge the law’s constitutionality. The game publishers’ trade group, busy with E3 this week, has not said what it plans to do in that regard. Their most likely response will be to wait and see whether the Governor signs the bill into law. In the meantime they have urged VGVN members to write the Governor in opposition.

Comments made by the Entertainment Merchants Association, however, give the impression that video game retailers believe they can live with the law’s provisions:

The bill is unnecessary and seeks to solve a problem that does not exist. But we do not anticipate that video game software retailers will have a problem complying with its requirements. (It is important to note that NY law already requires DVD packages to display the rating of the movie.)


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  1. 0
    Chance says:


    Hey, I’m out of toilet paper. Where’s the bill of rights?

    Oh right, New York already used it.

    So how about we pass a law stating that EVERY elected representative be forced to READ the constitution before swearing to uphold it?


  2. 0
    Keegs79 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Its really disturbing when politicians think its good to pass legislation that contradicts are rights of freedom of speech. This undermines what we stand for and those responsible for this legislation should feel ashamed of themselves. They have no right for their own political gain! 

  3. 0
    Zero Beat ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ll do you a few better:

    I’ll make it mandatory that people:

    Extract oxygen from the air when they breathe.

    Actively engage in cell division.

    Blink when their eyes are dry.


  4. 0
    Anonymous says:

    I’m hoping to introduce a bill which:

    • requires that people eat food
    • requires that people decide what they’re going to eat
    • establishes a 16-member advisory council on what’s for lunch


  5. 0
    point09micron says:

    As I said in the "Barks, Doesn’t Bite" comments, the gaming industry and gamers should be opposed to this law, because it singles out video games for these restrictions.  The fact that games are already rated and consoles already have parental controls is totally irrelevant.

  6. 0
    Loudspeaker says:

    I’m guessing this is the Gov’s way of a, "Hey look I’m doing something about video game violence by making a 16 member panel." Which really means he needed a way to help his campain finances, so he made a 16 new positions especially for those who "needed" jobs and benefited his cause.  It’s that simple.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  7. 0
    NovaBlack says:

    lol how wierd!

    I was literally coming on to post the EXACT same thing lol.

    Already carry a rating, Already have parental controls..

    so what exactly is this law trying to do.. i dont get what all teh money is being spent on…

  8. 0
    Wyvern says:

    "requires that games carry a rating"

    They do already, voluntarily, and quite informative if you can be bothered to find out what the symbols mean. And the numbers (some people will be that dim)

    "requires games consoles to have parental controls"

    All the current generation of consoles do already.

    "establishes a 16-member advisory council on media violence"

    Translation: 15 Jack Thompson disciples plus 1 token gamer with no nads.


  9. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Yeah, I hate laws that only make mandatory what people are already doing.

    This is like making a law to require people to produce blood. They are doing it anyway, so why are we making it mandatory?

    If I lived in NY, I would be all over trying to convince the Gov that this is useless.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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  10. 0
    chadachada(123) ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is quite literally the most stupid law I’ve ever seen, and definatly the most useless. If I lived in New York, I’d definatly give the Guv a call/email

  11. 0
    Adrian Lopez says:

    The bill is even more useless than GP’s writeup suggests. The requirement that games display a rating is only for games which have actually received a rating.

  12. 0
    Chad Olsen says:

    (It is important to note that NY law already requires DVD packages to display the rating of the movie.)


    Sure, but it does not require the movie to have a rating. I see unrated versions of movies in the capital district walmarts all the time.


    all this law does is create a council so someone gets paid to sit around and do nothing.

  13. 0
    Mike says:

    As someone inside the industry, I’m actually worried about provision #1 – say I’m making a small, indy game and don’t have the clout or money to have the ESRB review it?  Does that ban me from distributing the game intra-state?  Can I slap a sticker on it: "The game has not been rated; buyer beware" and be good?

    Good thing I live on the west-coast…

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