ESA, EMA sue Oklahoma

Industry trade groups file suit to have game law overturned, accuse legislators of passing unconstitutional law.

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The Entertainment Software Association and the Entertainment Merchants Association on Friday filed suit in Oklahoma to have the state's recently adopted violent-gaming law overturned.

Oklahoma's HB3004, which was signed into law earlier this month and takes effect in November, revises the state's definition of what is harmful to minors to include games with "inappropriate violence." Under the law, no person, not even minors' parents or guardians, would be allowed to give or show them an inappropriately violent game. Retailers would also not be able to have such games on display where minors could see them, unless the lower two-thirds of the boxes were hidden behind "blinder racks," of the sort commonly used for sexually explicit magazines.

Where previous legislation has caused the ESA to express "deep disappointment" in legislators' actions when it files suit, HB3004 drew stronger words from ESA president Douglas Lowenstein.

"Legislators have sold parents a bill of goods for political expediency," Lowenstein said in a statement. "They know the bill will be struck down, they know it's based on bad science, and they know it won't help parents do their jobs. What they won't tell voters: We just picked your pocket to the tune of a half-million dollars, the amount the state will have to reimburse the ESA after the inevitable decision is made to strike down the law."

In the ESA's statement about the suit, EMA president Bo Andersen offered his own objections to the law, saying its criteria for what constitutes "inappropriate violence" are too vague.

"No retail clerk should suffer the ignominy of a criminal record where no reasonable person could determine whether a particular video game may legally be sold or rented to a minor," Andersen said.

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