A legislator in Oklahoma is proposing a bill to tax violent videogames. Something which I doubt is constitutional, and he is also playing the “Think of the children” card. Quite disgusting. The democratic member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, William Fourkiller wants to levy a tax of 1% on violent games.
Fourkiller, yes that is honestly his real name and not his XBL handle, is quoted as saying “Violent video games contribute to some of our societal problems like obesity and bullying, but because they raise a lot of revenue, they can also provide part of the solution.”
Not only is obesity unsolvable by tax problems and bullying is solved by good parenting (and a good belt if that fails), he has shown a surprising amount of zeal in trying to pass HB 2696. He has pushed it under the emergency heading while claiming that it’s necessary for preservation of public peace, and health and safety.
Similar statements were made when Mortal Kombat was released prior to the age rating system for videogames. The 50~ cents from every sale of a violent game will go towards the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund and Childhood Outdoor Education Fund. His ideas are good, very good in fact and I can support that, but his reasons are the reason for the subtle snark in this article.
Even if that is a good way to spend tax money, his credibility among gamers went into the negatives when he claimed that someone who had been playing Grand Theft Auto shot a police officer and stole his car. I assume he was speaking of Devin Moore, it is clear that he was also a victim of abuse and clearly not right in the head due to his insanity plea, which is much more likely to cause violence in adulthood.
A major flaw with the bill is that any game with a “Teen” or higher rating is considered “violent”. This broad generalization means that games with very little to zero violence on the part of the player would also be caught up in it. Phoenix Wright for example, Phoenix himself does not do any violent acts, and Portal has plenty of violence against Chell, and her opponents are clearly non-humanoid robots. Though I would consider Portal violent, I wouldn’t consider it the same Violent most people think of. My taste in Japanese visual novels means I can name a lot of Adults Only titles with absolutely no violence whatsoever.
A recent ESA study has shown that a small amount of gamers are under the age of 18, meaning most gamers are adults who can make, and be responsible for, their own decisions. Like many legislations, there is fear that if it passes, then the envelope can be pushed further and start to cause problems. Even if I can support doing things to solve the bullying problem that some teachers in schools refuse to deal with, I would rather the income was from something not unrelated.