Schwarzenegger signs game-restriction bill

Measure won't become California law until January, but the ESA is already planning a suit.

One was a Democratic Chinese-American child psychologist and anti-media-violence advocate representing San Francisco's sleepy Sunset district. The other was a Republican Austrian bodybuilder who became governor after making millions starring in violent Hollywood blockbusters. But today, Assemblyman Leland Yee and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger found common ground over one subject: video games.

This afternoon, Schwarzenegger signed California bill AB1179, which Yee penned, into law. The bill, which will come into effect January 1, 2006, bans the sale or rental of "violent video games" to children. What exactly is a "violent video game"? According to the state's legal summary of the bill, a "violent" game is defined as a "game in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being." That definition would seem to cover virtually every M-for-Mature-rated game and many T-for-Teen rated games as well.

Under the new law, retailers that sell such games would be subject to a $1,000 fine. It will also require "violent" video games to bear a two-inch-by-two-inch sticker with a "solid white '18' outlined in black" on their front covers. That's over twice the size of the labels that currently adorn game-box covers and display the familiar Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rating.

Given Schwarzenegger's close ties to the entertainment industry, it must have been a difficult choice to sign the bill. However, the governor played up the decision as a proactive move to shield youngsters from harmful material. "This gets the parents involved in the decision-making process," he said in a statement. "I believe as an actor in the ratings system. It is very important to protect children."

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the top US game industry lobby and parent of the ESRB, was quick to respond. "We are disappointed that politicians of both parties chose to toss overboard the First Amendment and free artistic and creative expression in favor of political expediency," said ESA president Doug Lowenstein in an statement. "AB 1179 is punitive against retailers, will waste limited taxpayer dollars, and when it is struck down by the courts, as has been the fate of similar statutes, parents will be no better off for this effort to damage one of the state's fastest growing and most exciting industries that is providing some of the most compelling entertainment in the world today." Lowenstein said the ESA is already planning a lawsuit to have the bill deemed unconstitutional.

California is the latest state to restrict the sales of video games. It follows Michigan and Illinois, both of which passed measures restricting the sale of violent or sexually explicit games. Oklahoma and Mississippi are considering similar measures.

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Discussion

15 comments
chopper34
chopper34

Thank you Arnold!!! You are amazing!!!

Cloud737
Cloud737

What a waste. It will never survive for too long.

usaokay
usaokay

Hell with it, I'm going to let my dad buy games for me.

Jonthegreat77
Jonthegreat77

once again the law tries to replace the role of parents m e t a l l i c a i s c o o l

superzack
superzack

WTF!?!?! What about terminator!!! Why doesnt he ban his own movies!!!??

GeneralBean
GeneralBean

Note to Computethiz: Guns don't make people violent either. After all, police carry guns all the time, yet manage not to shoot passersby, and I have never heard of someone shooting a competitor in Biathlon, despite the presence of both rifles and extreme competition. The only things that can "make" people violent are hormones (ex. testosterone). Unfortunately, people come with their own supply. Accusing the inanimate block of polymer and steel of inciting violence is no different from the very thing we are objecting to in this forum.

GeneralBean
GeneralBean

Here's a question: Since the law targets any game where the mere option of violence exists, not only where such violence is required does this imply that having the ability to commit a crime is a crime in itself? Or that we should teach children that violence simply doesn't exist? There are always going to be games aimed at children, and games aimed at adults; the same is true of books and movies, yet books have no rating system whatsoever, and r-rated movies bear no "mark of shame" on their covers. Why are video games different? Visual art has no categorization at all, yet frequently features nudity, graphic (obviously) violence, and generally disturbing material. Oh, horror of horror, let's close the Louvre. In any case, this is simply another instance of using game creators as scapegoats for poor parenting. If your kid reads "The Silence of the Lambs" and decides to eat your neighbor, its not Thomas Harris' fault, its yours for failing to mention that cannibalism is somewhat frowned upon. If your kid plays "Grand Theft Auto" or "Hitman" and develops unusual career plans, your child's victims shouldn't sue Rockstar or Eidos: They should sue you with wanton criminal negligence. If you can't take responsibility for raising your kids, put them up for adoption and get neutered.

Australia-
Australia-

ARNOLD YOU KNOW NOTHING OF VIDEO GAMES! WHAT!?!? YOU THINK PACMAN WILL TURN US INTO GHOST EATERS OR CANNIBALS!??!?!?

halo2maniak
halo2maniak

Now this is a kind of stupid law. I think that parents should teach there children beter about violent stuff. Violence in video games can actualy be a good thing. It releaves stress. Atleast for me and I have have no thought of going out and killing enyone accept terorists. Come on Arnold think of beter ways to do this.

Death_Emu5
Death_Emu5

You know, its ironic that so many of these people who say, "video games make people kill other people" are probably being put on people's hit list :P anyway, this is so retarted, and it wont change anything. Parents who feel that some games are bad for their kids wouldn't let them buy it before, and they wont now. But parents who dont care what their kid plays, wont care now either, and will just go buy it for them.

Computethiz
Computethiz

This is nothing but a desperate try to blame the increase of violence in america on videogames. Long ago, the church tried to ban BOOKS of basicly the same reasons. Then it was music, and movies. And finaly the turn comes to games. Wake up america, games dont make kids shoot other kids, guns do!!! this is just to stupid!! &/

_xyzman_
_xyzman_

Terminator got served by Constitution ;)))

2TrickedOut
2TrickedOut

Him and his Violent movies and he is trying to stop video games???

jerico6
jerico6

DOWN WITH ARNOLD! DOWN WITH ARNOLD! DOWN WITH ARNOLD! DOWN WITH ARNOLD! DOWN WITH ARNOLD! DOWN WITH ARNOLD!