Proposed Oklahoma Tax Break Excludes M-Rated Games

From the good news/bad news department:

An Oklahoma state senator has proposed tax incentives for game developers – but only if their project is eligible for a T (13+) or lesser rating from the ESRB.

It was longtime GamePolitics comment moderator E. Zachary Knight who alerted us to the measure, SB644. The proposal by Sen. Anthony Sykes (R), would make game projects eligible for tax breaks which already apply to films, commercials and TV productions in the state.

The video game rating requirement is spelled out in the language of the bill:

“Video games” mean products that are intended for commercial use or are produced for distribution on electronic media and which include an appreciable quantity of at least three (3) of the following types of data: text, sound, fixed images, animated images and 3D geometry and which are rated or will be rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board with the ratings of Early Childhood, Everyone, Everyone 10+ and Teen.

While games are restricted to projects appropriate for those under 17, the only eligibility requirement placed on film content is that it be neither child pornography nor obscene. By that standard, R-rated films and MA-17 television programs would easily qualify for the tax break.

EZK spoke to Sen. Sykes yesterday about the rating requirement and filed this report with GamePolitics:

[Sen. Sykes]… would rather not include the ratings restriction. Unfortunately, as he went around to his fellow senators asking for their support, the first question out of their mouths was whether there would be ratings restrictions.

He is well aware of the [failed] game legislation of [2006] and many of the people who voted for that bill are still in office and were some of the people who demanded the restriction…

He also raised some concerns about [possible] lobbying against the bill… His final concern was whether he could get enough support during such economic turmoil. Oklahoma is facing a budget shortfall this year and that may not make such a tax break very appealing to many people.

GamePolitics readers will recall that Oklahoma’s 2006 video game content law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in September, 2007.

If the measure is passed, Oklahoma will join neighboring Texas as the only states tying game developer incentives to content restrictions.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. ZippyDSMlee says:

    I dunno the AI was ok and all but I got bored of it quick because even on hard the enemy is fodder I tend to turn off on human on human FPSs with unimagentive settings or weapons(I miss the mutants that woke up FC1,FC2 is neat but bland….), Time shift was more interesting if not quickly forgotten to it not begin worth playing through a 2nd time.

    I can’t stop looking at his *censored* I can’t stop looking at the flaws anymore FO3 not enough models,weapons lack of detailed information on items and stuff armor is laughable uhg UNDER DEVED! BS the same, FC2 gets boring, Zelda TP haven’t we been here before only with better sht and  minus the furryisim? Then again I hated the sea on WW…. Mario Galaxy is better than SS at least…. been unimpressed with the reviews for dead space still want to try it even want to try the newer alone in the dark..I dunno…I am part  machoist  or something…

    Execs drive the status quo to maintain money flow even if they fail to make money by not changing things they…save money?…er….why do we need execs again? 😛

    Don’t forget dialog and writing in youer "linear" rant, its not so much they confuse the 2 story telling styles they just lack plotting and story writers…. they need to conquer that  before making heads or tales out of story telling styles….

    I think a better analogy is  a apple is not a coconut or pineapple, one you can eat with little effort the other takes alot of effort…


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  2. ZippyDSMlee says:

    TF is a MP game thats mostly sold with the Orange box the same for Portal kinda, what are the nubmers without the Orange box sales?

    As I said I don’t discount from lesser violent content but the violent content tends to need more power hungery thus more moeny is put into it, you want titles that tend to have the better budgets no matter the gerne or type.


    My point is they are cutting thier nose off by snubing violent content jsut becuse its fashionable right now to do so.


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  3. Wolvenmoon says:

    I had a blast with crysis. I do have the system to push it at max, and I did love finding innovative ways to eff with the AI. At one point even trying to make a road block with trees. (It sorta worked)

    I kind of see the gore as similar to a crappy comedian that smacks a watermelon with a mallet and sprays the audience to distract them from his *censored*…AHEM…bad material.

    The fact is it’s obvious what games are made without some dumbass executive changing things up and bugging the game out, which games are made without a writer, which are made without a composer, etc.

    What the gaming industry is gravitating towards is the underachieving idiots that are looking for movies with small branches that loop back into a single trunk as opposed to interactive entertainment that strives to be non linear. It’s the difference between oblivion’s ‘shank anyone, any time, the game adjusts for the most part’ and a book that says ‘flip to page 52 to go down the stairs, page 54 to turn around and run’.

    There IS a place for a good, linear, immersive storyline. However, a linear storyline is not a non linear storyline. The industry tends to confuse the two (assassin’s creed being my most recent example).

    A cow is NOT an apple, though both are very edible… lol


  4. Wolvenmoon says:

    Well, if you want to look at initial boxed sales, you’re looking at at least 11 million sales based on just the pre-monthly payment alone on the base version of WoW.

    Left 4 dead was at 1.5 million copies sold last time I saw any statistic. Half life 2 had ~7 million copies sold of the base version in 2007. Name a few T game titles that were on store shelves and look up their sales. Most are actually on parity with the violent video games at the very least.

    Oh shoot, I forgot two very specific, very awesome games. Portal and team fortress 2. Neither are excessive on the gore, there’s actually none present, and both are wildly popular.

  5. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Halo,L4D,Half life,MGS, Bioshock,Castlevina,ect all make a better profit on average than say youer less violent action games and less prominent puzzle games.

    I am not saying that big hits like Zelda,Mario and others can not make money I am saying they are less apt to make money on a average scale than the M range of games instead a few titles amugst them make all the money with the rest barely breaking even.

    The Simis is one of those oddball titles that dose well.

    WOW is not in the same ballpark as the rest, you can;t just toss MMOs into mainly SP titles.

    In the end quality that the average consumer can apericate sales and this quality tends to shows up randomly.

    Also its not so much about the end profit but whats spent the higher budgeted games equate to more money being spent in state and the bigger budgeted games tend to be Teen-M so IMO they are throwing the baby out with the bath water on silly sentiment when tis not levied eqauly at TV and film.


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  6. ZippyDSMlee says:

    True but what sales the most with least amount of effort is sex and violence and in this media age its the focal point of visual mediums games suffer from it almost as much as films do I suppose for all practical reasoning they are the same in this light but the odd limits placed on gaming.

    Cryisis was boring the mix of gameplay elements and the sandbox layouts just did not make a great final product, I suppose pacing and story is what finished it off for me.But I do see your point about not making the violence silly.

    I do not mind gore, violence and sex its the mis focus on them that tends to annoy me or better the lack of focus on story, character and fiction in film and those plus gameplay in games though games tend to not get watered down as much because gamers are more free thinking than the average movie goer who’s goes to a  film to not think.


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  7. TBoneTony says:

    As a politician you can’t please everyone.

    I am happy that one politician is able to stand up for videogamers and people who work in the videogame industry.

    Sadly politics are run by people who still look at videogames as if they were child porn.

    And that is the way it will be until all those game hating politicians get old and get voted out of power and then we would see some improvement.

    But still, having games between Everyone to Teen rating getting tax breaks is still better than nothing.


    But there will always be M rated games not matter what.

    The videogame Industry is stronger than most people give it creddit for.


  8. Wolvenmoon says:

    Also, sims 1 base with no expansion packs: Over 28 million copies sold

    *Gory game here* : typically less than 28 million

    Non gory game such as WoW : 11 million paying ~15 a month, so consider a sale every 2 months, looking at >300 million total ‘sales’ if you want to look at it that way.

  9. Wolvenmoon says:

    Well, I have to agree and disagree…violence and sex in MODERATION tell a story.




    To think of one of my favorite books, "Armour", which is about a soldier in a powersuit marooned on a planet fighting giant insects (it’s been years since I read it), did not go into huge detail on the gore or sex. In fact, all of the 4 or 5 sex scenes ended with a door closing and ‘hot damn.’ Sex, there, enhanced the story while adding a risque shade to parts of it.

    However, if the author had gone in to high detail on how the bed rocked, the girl groaned, etc it would not be enhancing the story but would be in there for its own sake.

    The difference between the two is a passing mention with enough detail that you know what happened, and then enough detail to make that excerpt of the book enough to get onto a dirty story site.

    The same thing goes with violence. In a good story (Written by me on the fly, but still insect related), "The soldier was impaled on the giant spider’s fang, the creature hissed menacingly at the remainders of the now decimated army. The commander, clutching an injured shoulder, ordered the retreat." gets the point across equally as well as

    "The soldier was brutally impaled on the giant spider’s fang. Blood spattered against the men below as the soldier was dissolved into sludge before their eyes. The oozing remainder of the man’s head spattered onto another maggoty body, and began to burn a hole through it. The commander, missing part of his arm, ordered the retreat."

    Now, barring additional description in the first example, the graphical renditions of the two are much different but add about the same degree of immersion.



    A game example of overuse of gore but lack of other stuff would be Oblivion. The zombies were very realistic as far as undead critters go, however, there was almost no wildlife. There were no birds. There were no fish (outside of enemies). The water was murky.

    I can guarentee you that all of those could have been modeled and part of the AI made in the time it took to detail the zombies and severed heads. I can tell you this much, I would find it MUCH more realistic if a charging daedra in mundus startled a bunch of birds, which then flew over my head in game, was all that heralded his near silent charge towards me.


    I think Crysis is a game that got it right. A nanosuit would be able to rip an arm off, or a head. Instead of focusing on that, you’re able to shoot a tree in half and quite literally beat someone with the stump.

    Beating evil north koreans with a stump = good

    Ripping evil north koreans into bloody anatomically pieces = bad

    Hiring evil north korean prostitute = bad (Sorry, )


  10. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Mmm I think you are giving them to much credit on content creation, violence and sex are merely modes of transport of story and thought the trouble is when one waters down fiction so much to aim it at targeted masses that may or may not buy into its mundacity.

    Its not so much they are relying on violence and sex to sale its the only thing they know and understand, big media has forgotten about quality and nuance and play on the simple things  to get by and the consumers are so woolly they do not care much anyway so tis doubled dependence thats sparling down the drain.

    Haze(and infernal…) has a better plot/concept  than most action flicks but the concept is raped by poor to bad dialog/writing and sloopy gamepaly elements. Bioshock dose well with both the visuals are most excellent but that is what it exeles at, boil it down despite it issues in story and game paly it dose a better job with its than most films do.(zippy praising BS?!?!?! the world is ending!!! rruuunnn!!!)

    Anyway I believe because of the nature of gaming it has further to fall when its concepts are hashed out hollywood however always dumbs to down to sell to the masses and yes the game industry dose that too but its still floating in the ocean of a niche market..even if tis yellowish in color…..

    I think the ESRB can do better, I have said as much in my rantings in the forums here(need to write up a new post over what I think they should do…), but much like all things modern they water it down not to offend the masses nor the corporate masters appernace is more important than substance in this age after all….

    IMO the ESRB needs to create a 15 level this would allow the less gory and less sex driven stuff to find a new "home" games like castlevina and halo and other games that have basic gore and themes, games with harder themes  would be  M17+ and as time goes on 17+ will be the true place for R and NC17 material.



    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  11. ZippyDSMlee says:

    So let me understand this….. you want to diss the games that make as much or can spend as much as a R rated moive?

    Well thats jsut fcktastic!

    I guess you save money on that one there bubba….


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  12. Spartan says:

    Let me see if I understand the situation clearly…

    R rated movies are cool but not M rated games. Is that the crux of it?


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  13. Wolvenmoon says:

    I actually agree with the content restrictions, but the M rating is used as more of a ‘well, this game is REALLY AO, but then you wouldn’t be able to sell it, so *winkwink nudgenudge* it’s M.’.

    I think it shouldn’t rely on the ESRB. But encouraging more over violent crap will turn us into our movie industry. Repetitive, overly violent storylines with no creativity, then the occasional gem. Compare the level of gore in the matrix to the movie ads you see on TV today. Matrix makes use of it, these ads…not so much.

    I think this guy has good intentions, but a bad implementation.

    I’d support an ECA based ratings system that seperated games such as unreal tournament and manhunt in ratings. I’d also support legislation in my state that didn’t give tax breaks to ‘manhunt’ games, but did to games on the ‘unreal tournament’ or ‘oblivion’ level.

  14. icarus_17 says:

    I have to say I feel sorry for all of the American game developers, in Canada there are incentives in place, I might be mistaken but I believe that they get incentives because video game development is a form of art. I think GP posted a story about the UK getting pissed off and going to the World Trade Organization about the incentives.

  15. Father Time says:

    I say we have thme play the violent games they rally against, let them play the Grand Theft Autos and FPSs and then see if they really think there’s a big cause for concern. Now if they play GTA they have to be made aware that randomly killing people is an option but it’s not the point of the game.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  16. NoFish says:

    I’m pretty sure it is, indeed, unconcstitutional unless the Oklahoma constitution is significantly different from most other states. One case I’m rather familiar with is a recent one in Texas where a law that would put a small tax on the entry to strip clubs was considered unconstitutional because it added a tax to a specific form of speech. Lowering a tax on everything EXCEPT one form of speech is effectively the same as taxing that form of speech more heavily. has a pretty good summary of the case.

  17. Zero Beat says:

    Yeah, you’re right, but I thought that Pokemon battle was too funny to pass up.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  18. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ya they forget that the M rated stuff has a larger budget most of the time, bigger budget = more people, more poeple more moeny spent in state…but then again such math is difficult for politicians to understand…


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.

  19. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    I just sent that to my friend Roxas. That is fucking BULLSHIT right there.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  20. Bigman-K says:

    Such a bill would not be unconstitutional as it does not ban, censor or restrict access to free speech materials. It merely stops gamemakers from getting a tax break on them. A gamemaker can still make an M rated game in Oklahoma and distribute them, they just won’t get a tax break on them.

    Also just to let you know I do feel this bill is unfair, esspecially if it’s o.k. for filmmakers to get tax breaks for R rated movies but not gamemakers for M rated games. It’s just that i don’t see it as an unconstitutional restriction of Free Speech.

     "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  21. Zero Beat says:

    *A wild UNCONSTITUTIONAL BILL appeared!*



    *Attack sounds*

    *It’s super effective!  Wild UNCONSTITUTIONAL BILL fainted!*


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  22. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Actually the comments quoted in the story above were from a phone call I had with Senator Sykes after sending the email.

    He pretty much agrees with everything I said and the only reason the restrictions are included is because it would not get enough support with out them.

    Such as the world is.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  23. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Here is a portion of the letter I sent to Senator Sykes:

    I do, however, have one concern with its current language. As it is 
    currently written, this bill limits these rebates only to games that 
    will receive an ESRB rating of Teen or below. I was unable to find any 
    similar provisions for Film or Television production. I am unsure 
    whether this bill unfairly targets game development with such provisions.
    There is a strong viable market of adult gamers. This market enjoys M 
    rated games in much the same fashion they enjoy R rated movies and MA-17 
    rated television shows.
    With this bill's current language, it perpetuates the myth that games 
    are just for kids and discredits this large and influential market of 
    adults who play video games.
    There is also another concern that stems from Oklahoma's recent history 
    with games. A few years ago Oklahoma passed a law that would have 
    limited the sale of violent games and classified them in the same 
    category as pornography.(HB 3004 Signed into law June 9, 2006) This law 
    was ruled unconstitutional in a federal court on grounds that there was 
    no support or "substantial evidence" that video games were harmful to 
    minors and that it was under inclusive because a minor while not able to 
    buy the game could still buy the book or movie that the game is based 
    on, among other issues raised in court. (Case Number 5:06-cv-00675-C 
    issued September 17, 2007)
    Under the language currently used in this bill, a film or television 
    studio could create a movie or television show that would receive an 
    adult rating of R or MA-17 respectively and receive these rebates, while 
    a game studio making a game based on the same intellectual property 
    would be unable to receive the rebate. That would unfairly hamper the 
    ability of the game studio to recoup its development costs. This could 
    also unintentionally drive development studios from the state.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  24. sheppy says:

    Well it’s more along the lines of this matter.  The ESRB is a twitchy little bitch.  Things that could be T rated with one review group could suddenly become M rated when resubmitted later.  Nothing but the people reviewing the content had changed but the review result is more severe.  It gets hard to guage where your content will fall on this all too important rating.

    After all, few groups demonize T rated games.  And somehow Ratchet & Clank, despite featuring no blood and very few, but well hidden, adult jokes, has shared the same rating for most of it’s career with Uncharted, which features harsh language and blood, and a couple gruesome deaths.

    Plus, the fact of the matter is most people, when looking at the benefits of a local game studio ONLY look as far as how many it hires.  This is a tragically shortsided take.  The better way to consider it is not only did they provide jobs for 30-150 people locally, but traditionally the people who work in the game industry do tend to enjoy nights on the town, local restaurants, and in general pumping a large amount of their income into their community.  That’s the thing of it.  Ask any town before a studio opened on what they think about having a major studio real close and most will show they think it’s a bad thing.  But once they see the kind of CONSUMERS these jobs attract, most change their tunes damn fast.

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  25. barra_sadei says:

    It’s discrimination, because they are iscolating video games from TV and movies. I mean, we’re in a country where racist/facist groups (KKK, Neo Nazis) are allowed to parade through the streets and voice their opinions, and also get free publicity (from local newspapers to History Channel specials (I kid you not)). In the movie theatres, you can see violence, sexual content (you know, for mainstream movies), and people curse. The former example can do it legally, as its part of the Bill of Rights (whether we like it or not), and the latter example, as has been stated by EZK, would be able to get tax breaks witht he same kind of material.

    Now, taking the latter (movie) example — as I highly doubt someone would like to play the "Make a Controversal Parade" game — let’s take that sort of content and stick it into a video game… Mass Effect, for argument’s sake (as it does have the "explicit" sex scenes). If it were being made in Oklahoma, and if this law were in effect, Bioware wouldn’t be able to qualify for the tax break… But Mass Effect, the movie-adaptation, being made in Oklahoma would.

    The problem, however, isn’t how many of the games on the market are rated M, nor how well they sell. It’s a matter of where they’re developed, and whether the developing company can save money or not, no matter if it’s rated M, T, E10+, etc. That’s the problem. As one or two people have already said, a company is more likely to look for a place where they’re guarenteed the tax break. That makes this law, not only a waste of tax payer’s money and politician’s time, but it makes the state unappealing as a choice.

    Also, if memory serves correctly, laws can only be challenged as unconstitutional after someone has been wronged. So, as long as it doesn’t affect anyone, the law will stay in place until it does, or until they lawmakers get rid of it. Both require more wasted time, money and effort, and, during all this time, the law (hypothetically passed) would make Oklahoma an unappealing choice.

    All-in-all, if it passes, there are only negatives. If companies can save money elsewhere, than they will.

  26. Benji says:

    I’m trying to figure if this is unconstitutional or not.  It runs into the same delegation of authority problem other laws have, but the state isn’t trying to muzzle any speech – it’s just not going to subsidize some speech that it doesn’t care for.  Not exactly nice, but it’s requiring mature game developers to pay a cent more than they are now.

    And it’d probably be a bad move for the game industry to complain about the restriction anyway.  One, it’s biting the hand that would potentially feed you.  Two, it paints the game industry in a bad light, demanding tax breaks for games that admittedly a lot of people find distasteful and might not want to extend tax benefits to.  And third, such a tax break would be perfectly fine for a large number of game developers who only deal with T or E rated games.  Someone perhaps has better statistics than I do, but I thought M-rated games accounted for less than 10% (maybe less) of all games released.  It’d be foolish to throw away a pratical benefit for 90% of games to make an idealistic stand for the remaining 10%.

  27. Bennett Beeny says:

    Remember, Oklahoma is the state where, in 1999 or 2000, a girl was expelled for supposedly being a witch and casting a spell on a teacher and making him fall ill.  Those Okies are kinda wacko.  I’m surprised they’re not trying to outright ban games for being demon-infused.

  28. face777 says:

    They can’t do a thing legally, so they’re trying to pay to stop mature games being a platform?


    That’s just disgraceful, but typical of politicians.  Sue or bribe… bastards.

  29. Overcast says:

    Then I suspect the companies will find another state where they get a tax break regardless. Not that there’s anything wrong with Oklahoma, but I couldn’t see any specific advantage to being there over say… Iowa – in software development.

    Hypthetically, if I was considering a move for my software company and was looking at this; I’d solve the whole question of ‘how this and that’ is defined and look for a place where I’d get a tax break regardless of the material I’m developing.

  30. E. Zachary Knight says:

    OSU-OKC offers a two year Game Programming degree. OCCC offers a two year Game art and animation degree. Rose College offers a two year game programming degree and Rogers State offers a four Year game programming degree.

    Those are the degrees  Iknow about. Many other colleges offer game related courses.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  31. gfpaperboy22 says:

    I know OSU-Stillwater is trying to setup a game programming course but I’m not sure how far thats gone.  It would be nice if we had something like that here on the Okmulgee campus.

  32. E. Zachary Knight says:

    AS far as I know there is only one. I can’t remember the name, but it is really just a single person office and all development is out sourced.

    Other than that there are at least 4 schools offering game realted degrees and/or courses as well as many indie developers.

    This is more of an effort to attract game developers to the state. But with those content restrictions, it won’t be as affective.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  33. robbway says:

    Even in law, if you state a definition that is not the same as the common definition, doesn’t that put you on shaky grounds?  (not rhetorical, I’d like to know)  For an obvious example if I said "’Daytime’ is defined as the times of day after sundown and before sunup,"  I could argue all I wanted that night is day and I’d still be wrong.  The definition of "video games" is very incomplete and downright wrong, because it describes "HDTV" as a video game.  It is an electronic media that has sound, text, and video, three of the criteria; therefore, it is a "video game." 

  34. Haggard says:

    "the only eligibility requirement placed on film content is that it be neither child pornography nor obscene"

    I guess all those child pornographers are going to have to pay tax on publishing their films then… lol

  35. Chaltab says:

    This is a case of the other legislators being misinformed, having bought into the hysteria surrounding M-Rated games.

    One of the many reasons why winning the information war is so crucial.

  36. DraginHikari says:

    I don’t think it’s restricting speech more so then being unfair in prespective of fair-treatment for all.  In the sense that if you develope a rated M game Okahoma is probably not the place for it.

Comments are closed.