NY Assembly passes game bill

Proposed legislation to keep games with "depraved violence and indecent images" out of kids' hands clears its first hurdle.

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Earlier this month, state senators in New York approved a bill that would make rating labels on games mandatory just four days after it was introduced. Yesterday, a different gaming bill passed the state's Assembly, five days after it was introduced.

That bill, A8696, would make it a class E felony to sell or rent to minors any game that includes "depictions of depraved violence and indecent images." It would also prohibit the sale of home gaming consoles without parental restriction options and establish an advisory council to appraise the work of the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

The Entertainment Merchants Association retailer trade group quickly denounced the bill as ill-conceived and unconstitutional.

"This bill is impermissibly vague," EMA president Bo Andersen said in a statement. "A8696 seeks to apply real-world standards of violence to the fictional and fanciful world of video games, an environment in which they have no meaning. As a result, retailers and clerks will not and cannot know with certainty which video games could send them to jail under A8696. It was depressing to hear members of the Assembly note the constitutional problems with the bill and then state that they were voting for it."

While previous game restriction laws in Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Michigan have been overturned in court challenges, New York's lawmakers appear unfazed by the prospect of a legal battle over the issue. Both branches of the New York state legislature have passed game restriction laws this month, and last month Governor Eliot Spitzer promised legislation "protecting [children] from violent video games."

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