Responding to a bill proposed by New Jersey state Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union) that would ban "mature" rated games from use in public spaces, Christopher Ferguson, a Professor of psychology at Texas A&M, told NBC that the bill is a typical waste of taxpayer money that capitalizes on a national tragedy to support a war against culture.
"It’s the typical waste of taxpayer money and effort that capitalizes on a national tragedy to support a culture war agenda," Christopher Ferguson, a professor of psychology at Texas A&M who has researched and written extensively about the impact of violent video games on their players, said of Stender’s plan in an email to NBC News. "I think it’s simply an effort to make a public show of ‘doing something,’ skirting Brown v. EMA by focusing on publicly owned outlets as opposed to private businesses."
Ferguson also had his doubts that the bill is based on any real scientific research noting that the research has not changed in the last few months. He also acknowledged that because the ESRB doesn't rate arcade games, it makes the space an easy target for lawmakers.
"I suspect the issue with the ‘public accommodation’ is one of public spaces being directly under the control of the state — as opposed to the local Best Buy or Gamestop – and thus the state may be given more leeway to control what is on its own property than what is being sold in private businesses," Ferguson added. "This, I think, is a riff off of the various Supreme Court cases, where in Brown v EMA video games were afforded First Amendment protections, but in Fox v FCC, the court kinda wiffed, and said maybe the government could regulate its own broadcast airwaves. That’s why explicit sex, nudity and profanity is a “no go” on broadcast — that is, publicly — owned airwaves, but anything goes on privately owned cable channels."
He closes by joking about the continued existence of arcade games and arcades by saying that "My first thought was: ‘People still go to arcades?'"