So far, every single law seeking to restrict the sale of violent video games has been struck down by the federal courts; it would seem that such legislation is a losing proposition. So how else might the government try to regulate our favorite pastime? Writing for Joystiq, lawyer and gamer Mark Methenitis offers two possible scenarios which censorcrats might seek to employ.
The first is to impose content restrictions - not on the type of violence that can be shown but on the type of stories that can be told or the types of characters presented. The idea here would be to ensure that games are politically correct so as not to offend anyone and prevent flaps over perceived racism in games like Resident Evil 5, Left 4 Dead 2, or Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. Of course, this still boils down to regulating speech so it’s not likely to be any more successful in the courts than restricting violent content has been.
The second is an idea presented by Jack Thompson during his debate with Methenitis at SGC09 earlier this month. Thompson speculated that the Obama administration might address America’s obesity issues by regulating our play time. But how? The government can’t just march into your home and turn off your Xbox. While there is no indication that Obama is planning any such thing, Methenitis explains how such a scenario might work:
When the government wants you to stop doing something, they tax it. Alcohol is taxed. Tobacco is taxed. Certain kinds of less-fuel efficient cars are taxed. In short, the theory is "fewer people buy things at a higher cost." And it's something that can be levied against both retail sales and digital downloads.
Taxing games is not a new idea but with the economy the way it is, now seems like the absolute worst time to try it. Still, you never know. Methenitis:
It's always difficult to predict what the government may or may not do, or how the courts may or may not rule. The system, however, relies on the vigilance of the public to ensure that our rights are not infringed....
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...