Game Biz Opposes Utah Bill

The video game industry is beginning to respond – and not in a positive way – to yesterday’s passage of HB353, a Jack Thompson-conceived bill, by the Utah House of Representatives.

As GamePolitics reported late yesterday, the Entertainment Merchants Association, which represents a large bloc of game retailers, remains opposed to the measure.

That news seemed to contradict bill sponsor Rep. Mike Morley’s assertion during yesterday’s hearing that amendments to the proposal had caused "retailers" to drop their opposition. However, Morley was apparently referring to the more general-purpose Utah Retail Merchants Association (more on that below).

The Escapist heard from Dan Hewitt of game publishers’ trade group the ESA:

[HB 353 is] a solution in search of a problem. The fact is, Utah has a 94% [retailer ratings] enforcement rate when it comes to video games. Also, Utah state legislators are unfairly targeting video games. Representative Morley’s anti-video game bill would expose game retailers to frivolous lawsuits if the store promotes the ESRB rating system.

The perverse effect of this bill is that Utah retailers will stop promoting the ESRB rating system, which has been applauded by media watchdog groups like the National Institute on Media and the Family and the Federal Trade Commission. In short, this is a step back for parents and undercuts the positive work of the ESRB and others who promote the tools and resources available to parents.

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


  1. Wolvenmoon says:

    I don’t see why there hasn’t just been a law that requires seperation of products that might be unsuitable for people <16 years old from products that are fine for everyone.

    For that matter, I don’t understand why condoms are kept in women’s hygene. What kind of guy is going to be willing to walk past a bunch of feminine hygene items to get condoms?

    In one wal mart, for awhile they had the condoms displayed in the pharmacy line, along with massage oils and other items of the like. On the end of the same aisle there were kid’s multivitamins. Anyone else seeing a problem here?

    M rated games are much like condoms in this regard. They are not inherantly evil, and thirteen year olds should generally not be messing around with them. However, 99% of condoms are used for things a young teen (and for benefit of the doubt I’ll use the word ‘most’ instead of ‘all’) nor most people under 16 years old should be doing.

    The other 1% are used for giant movie raindrops, and apparently when a dog slices their paw opena nd it’s stitched and dressed, a condom over that paw will keep it dry and clean. Who knew.

    So…instead of moving the M rated games out of the same aisle as ‘reader rabbit’s kindergarten happy fun time’, or eve offering a suggestion that this be done, these bozos are going to try to pimpslap anyone that messes up. Boo. =(


  2. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    Have you ever seen any video game store actually ADVERTISE that they enforce ESRB (or other age verification) ratings?

    I’ve seen policies posted, but that’s not advertising, me thinks.

    However, given that practically all retailers of video games these days are national chains and run national ad campaigns, I wonder how those chains will react to this legislation.

  3. Charax says:

    So, not only is the bill toothless (because hardly any retailers specifically say "We WILL NOT sell to anyone under the age recommendation"), but paranoia this bill causes will get retailers to drop even existing, nationally-praised controls on video game sales (Enforcement of the ESRB system)?

    Seriously, Jacky, well done. This is really a victory for you, isn’t it? Because from January 1st, 2010, any child will be able to go into any store in Utah and buy Manhunt 2 or GTA4 because:
    A) The retailers aren’t advertising that they won’t sell to people under the recommended age
    B) The retailers will stop even the voluntary enforcement of the ESRB system
    C) Even IF retailers decided to voluntarily enforce the system AND outright stated "We do not sell to people underage", the bill is so toothless now that all a clerk needs to do is ask a child if they’re of age and sell the game to them if they say yes – no proof required – to be unaffected by the bill.

    There you have it, folks – Jack Thompson is directly responsible for the relaxation of controls on children gaining access to age-inappropriate violence and sexually explicit imagery.


    Enjoy your victory for parents, JB. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled

  4. Mattsworkname says:

    Thank you captian obvious. no Offense game industry but uh, DUH!. The reason this shit keeps happing is your keep refusing to GROW a PAIR. When this bill dies, and IT WILL, how bout you get a rep who supports you and get him to propose the "Legislative responsibility act" which requires all legal feels from legislation shot down in court to be paid out of the pockets of the legislator who proposed it.

    All i saying is if you did a more active job of standing up for yourselves, the maybe Moron morley and his "Were with stupid" brigade would actually think twice before wasting taxpayers time and money.


    Yukimura is still here "Honor, that is what matters, isn’t it? " Yukimura Sanada, from Samurai warriors 2

  5. mdo7 says:

    That bills not going to survive.


    I’m sure that the Supreme Court who are reviewing JT’s case are going to find out about this sooner or later.  Also, does anyone want to remind Utah about the California game bill ruled unfair.

    "The perverse effect of this bill is that Utah retailers will stop promoting the ESRB rating system, which has been applauded by media watchdog groups like the National Institute on Media and the Family and the Federal Trade Commission. In short, this is a step back for parents and undercuts the positive work of the ESRB and others who promote the tools and resources available to parents."


    There you go, this person got a point.  They shouldn’t pass the bill at all.  I like the ESRB, it works and it’s effective.  But why don’t parent ever look at that symbol.  Are they freakin blind or something.  Geez, they need glasses or contact lenses (for anyone who’s going to say corrective laser surgery like LASIK.  Don’t even say that, I found out those thing have a nasty side effect including blindness, glare, Posterior vitreous detachment, induced astigmatism, and The FDA received 140 "negative reports relating to LASIK" for the time period 1998–2006.).

  6. gamadaya says:

    A solution in search of a problem. That’s awesome. It describes the bill pretty much perfectly. It also describes Jack Thompson pretty well, except for the solution part…


    Internet troll > internet paladin

  7. Wolvenmoon says:

    How in the world is that the modern conservative technique? All I see doing that kind of BS are old men claiming to be conservative but really embittered because their viagra is making their nose longer instead of their—…anyway!

    It’s only the nasty ones that have any attention paid to them. You should check out Mike Huckabee’s show. It’s relatively funny, but does cover modern events. His band is also so bad it’s funny.

  8. Neeneko says:

    Maybe the whole point is to make retailers stop using the ESRB rating system.

    One of the techniques of the modern concervative movement is one of ‘if you do not do things our way, we will make the alternative as catastrophic as possible thus when it hurts we can say we told you so and thus increase our precieved wisdom’.

    So if the retailers stop using the ESRB, things will get worse, and the concervatives will be able to hold it up as an example of how bad games are and that people should be putting in much stronger restrictions.

    Just another example of them causing suffering by sabotaging other people’s solutions so they can make sure that their’s is implemented.

  9. hellfire7885 says:

    Thompson has openly admitted that he wants the industry to get so buried in lawsuits that it become unprofitable for them to produce any more M rated titles. SO basically, I think he jumped on board with that hope in mind, as unrealistic as it is.

  10. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    I noticed in the previous article (and Dennis mentioned it in this article too ) that the EMA got involved, too. If the ECA isn’t already involved (I got a feeling it is, but I might be wrong), it had better, and then all 3 associations will be involved with the bill. If all three of us (ESA, EMA, ECA) oppose the bill, then they should see everyone opposes this bill. Bandwagon time!


  11. magic_taco says:

    But im thinking as usual that he’s just doing this so that in the end, His plans to me that i assume  is usually a get rich quick scheme of his, Since hey, He is a lair.

  12. NovaBlack says:

    probably retail enfrocement success will now DROP because of this bill.

    then when it drops significantly they can claim ‘look video games can enforce themselves, look at the terrible enforcement ratings, we should legislate to control this’

    JT cant prove the problem he claims actually exists, so this seems to be the first step in CREATING the problem he WANTS to exist.


  13. Adrian Lopez says:

    "I think its because the ESRB says ‘Don’t sell M rated games to Minors’ or ‘M means 17+ only.’"

    Does the ESRB impose a carding policy upon retailers, or is it just a recommendation? A mere recommendation wouldn’t trigger the law, as much as Thompson would like it to.

    "So the reponse of retailers is going to be to stop advertising any kind of age policy or ratings policy."

    Exactly. This bill may actually have the opposite of its intended effect.

    If Utah retailers are to advertise any kind of policy after this law passes, it will likely be something to the effect of "we reserve the right to refuse any sale", which in no way can be construed as advertising that you don’t sell to minors.

  14. nighstalker160 says:

    No I don’t think ESRB imposes any requirement. But, the ESRB recommends that stores not sell M rated games to people under 17. 

    So if a store adopts the ESRB recommendations as policy they are effectively saying "We will not sell M rated games to people under 17." That’s where the problem comes in. The easy solution is to stop publicizing any kind of policy.

    Right now the law only goes after stores that violate a publicized policy. The next step (and you can expect Jack to go for this) is to go after stores that violate an existing policy (whether publicized or not). At that point the stores will simply stop HAVING a policy and will sell any game to any person (regardless of age) who can pay.

    Once THAT happens you can bet Jack and the crazies simply go off saying that games are getting into the hands of minors. Nevermind that it was their laws that caused the problem. Which may be their sinister plan.

  15. mogbert says:

    But there is a difference between store policy and advertising. The store policy may be to not sell the games to kids under 17, but that isn’t the same as advertising it. Posting the ESRB guidelines ALSO doesn’t constitute advertising that you won’t sell them. The guidelines say "this is what the M for Mature tag looks like and it isn’t recomended for people under 17." That doesn’t say anything, and therefore the only way that they could run afoul of truth in advertising is if they said "M is for Monkeys, and it is totally recomended for little Jimmy!"

    Basically, this whole afair has been about a paper tiger. The law has no teeth, and so many loopholes that it is useless.

    First, you would have to advertise that your store doesn’t sell M rated games to minors, then the kid buying the game can’t say he is 17 or older (remember, carding isn’t even required, jus tfor the kid to say he is old enough), then it has to happen from the same employee three times, and be reported each time, then the store has to refuse to re-train the person to not sell these games, training that would take five minutes. If all of that stuf happens in that order, then they may be held accountable. And I may have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

  16. JDKJ says:

    It’s all the more baffling when you take into consideration the fact that the Utah Act requires that before a plaintiff can file a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief against a seller publishing an allegedly false advertising, the plaintiff must give the seller notice of intent to file suit and if the seller corrects the advertising within 10 days, there’s no longer a basis upon which to file the lawsuit. 

    Thompson is just . . . out to lunch, never to return to the office. 

  17. NovaBlack says:

    that is baffling!

    even if it is an ‘advertisement’, an advertisement CAN be withdrawn. Like me going to a store and demanding they sell something to me at the sale price they advertised 3 weeks ago that i missed, because they cant ever withdraw the offer.

    thompson is just… odd…

  18. JDKJ says:

    Jack Thompson’s claiming, in a recent post to a Deseret News article, that because major retailers have previously promised to Congress that will verify age prior to sales of M-rated games, they can’t now simply discontinue to make such statements and are forever stuck with them.

    I’ve heard Thompson make countless ridiculously nonsensical pronouncements before, but this one ranks in the Top 5. How does he come up with this stuff and say it with a straight face? 

  19. nighstalker160 says:

    I think its because the ESRB says "Don’t sell M rated games to Minors" or "M means 17+ only."

    So if a store has adopted the ESRB ratings system and promotes, you can argue that they have said "17+ games will only be sold to people 17 or older."

    This law criminalizes stores that don’t abide by their policies.

    So if a 16 year old gets his hands on GTA IV the parent could say:

    "Hey GameStop, you said M means 17 only. My 16 year old son bought this at your store."

    So the reponse of retailers is going to be to stop advertising any kind of age policy or ratings policy.

    That doesn’t mean they won’t HAVE one. They just aren’t going to tell anyone about it. And given that the ONLY way parents know anything about ratings or content-appropriateness is through store policies (I haven’t seen to many ESRB advisory commercials) this effectively means there will be NO informing of parents about ratings and appropriateness even at the point of sale.

    A clerk that refuses to sell an M rated game to a 15 year old will probably NOT be allowed by the store to say "Store policy because…ESRB…not appropriate…store won’t sell…blah blah blah" because that COULD be construed as "Adversiting" a sale policy.

    So the response to "Why can’t my precious little Billy by Manhunt 2" is going to be "store policy." That’s it, no explanation, no education to the parent. Merely "store policy." End of story.

  20. Vake Xeacons says:

    I thought it just a truth in advertising law. Baiscally saying, "If a store claims not to sell M-rated game to minors, they better not, or else." I thought under this, it’s perfectly legal to sell M-rated games to kids, as long as the store admits it.

    I’m still completely opposed, of course. It’s a slippery slope. Game stores are 80% effective at preventing M-rated sales to minors anyway. So people say okay.

    Then what about lawfully restricting M-rated game sales to minors? We already do that, so people say okay.

    Then what about completely outlawing M-rated games altogether? People think only kids play games anyway, they can’t buy the M-rated ones, so who will? So people say okay…

    I don’t think so. We keep drawing the line further and further. Stop it now before it grows too big.

    Whoa! I suddenly had a vision of an anti-game law growing like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors!

    "Feed Me, Thompson; FEED ME NOW!"

  21. Adrian Lopez says:

    "Representative Morley’s anti-video game bill would expose game retailers to frivolous lawsuits if the store promotes the ESRB rating system."

    I wonder if that’s true. I’m sure Jack Thompson would like nothing more than to equate posting details about the ESRB’s system with advertising that you don’t sell certain games to minors, but unless the ESRB’s literature makes such promises I fail to see why such an interpretation would ultimately survive.

  22. JDKJ says:

    That just makes it all the more pointless since, under the Utah Act, the most a consumer can recover from such a lawsuit is $2,000 in damages. There’d have to be a lot of lawsuits filed and won before it made sense to quit the ol’ day job.

  23. hellfire7885 says:

    "Representative Morley’s anti-video game bill would expose game retailers to frivolous lawsuits if the store promotes the ESRB rating system."

    That seems to have been the point of this bill fro mthe beginning. The person who helped write it has been looking for any means he can sue the industry.

  24. hellfire7885 says:

    And note to Thompson, creating a problem is not the same as there having been a problem all along, furthermore, the Eagle forum will likely abandon you the second you are no longer useful to them. Sound familiar?

  25. Geoff says:

    Here we go again. 


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

Comments are closed.