Oklahoma state rep wants violent-game tax

HB 2696 seeks to charge 1 percent tax on all games sold in state rated Teen, Mature, and Adults-Only; money collected would go toward Sooner State's obesity and bullying prevention funds.

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The price to play video games rated Teen, Mature, and Adults-Only in Oklahoma might be on the rise. An Oklahoma state representative has introduced a new bill that would charge a 1 percent excise tax on "violent" video games.

Fourkiller could not believe Bully was a real game.
Fourkiller could not believe Bully was a real game.

As reported by Oklahoma news outlet KFOR, state representative Will Fourkiller (D. 86th District) last month introduced House Bill 2696 to the state's legislature. If the bill is signed into law by Republican governor Mary Fallin, all games sold in the state rated Teen, Mature, and Adults-Only would be charged a 1 percent excise tax beginning as early as July 1.

The money collected from the tax, according to the bill, would be given to Oklahoma's obesity-fighting Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund and the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund.

Fourkiller said he was inspired to draft the bill because he had witnessed obesity, violence, and bullying throughout his time as a teacher, coach, and registered nurse.

"A gentleman shot a police officer and stole his car," Fourkiller said. "He had been playing Grand Theft Auto. Not everybody is going to react the same, but I believe after hours and hours of watching the screen, playing the video game, being that person and taking on that role, people get desensitized."

Fourkiller specifically called out Rockstar Games' Bully, an open-world title that casts players as an adolescent wreaking havoc in a school setting. Fourkiller told the news site he was particularly surprised such a game exists, because bullying is what happens to many kids who play games like it, he said.

Fourkiller said the aim of HB 2696 is not to bring down the video game industry, or to eradicate Teen, Mature, and Adults-Only titles. He said the initiative is an effort to bring awareness to the matter of violence in video games.

According to the Oklahoma State Legislature information page regarding HB 2696, the bill will be read before the House on Monday, February 6.

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