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.)