Illinois Video Game Ban Goes Up for Vote

Discussion
Mar 11, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


The Illinois state House civil law committee gave its approval for a bill to go to the floor for a vote that would fine stores up to $5,000 for selling violent and sexually explicit video games to children.


Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been pushing the bill even though similar measures in other states have been struck down as being unconstitutional.


The legislation, if approved by the Illinois House, would require stores to label violent or sexually explicit games with black-and-white stickers reading “18.” It would be up to the stores to decide which games received the “18” sticker.


Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) expressed concern about the bill’s language in an interview with The Associated Press. “This bill does not have clear standards to the people that need to know what the standards are — the parents, the kids, the clerk, the manager at Best Buy,” he said. “These are people that will not have a clear standard under this bill as to what is or is not okay.”


The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has come out against the bill.


Moderator’s Comment: From a retailer’s perspective, how would you approach legitimate concerns about inappropriate video game products being sold to
kids and balance that with the realities of running stores?

George Anderson – Moderator

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11 Comments on "Illinois Video Game Ban Goes Up for Vote"


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Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

From a retailer’s perspective, unless it was my major line of product, I wouldn’t carry them. Pretty easy choice to make. You can pick and choose your product. There’s no sense placing yourself as an adverse risk either legally or in the eyes of public sentiment. Wal-Mart has made similar decisions with similar material, and if the retailer that can or could sell anything can limit themselves, so can most others.

The problem would cure itself that way. If more made the same decisions, better material would instantly appear. Instantly!

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

Scanner strikes again, simplifying the issue most sensibly. Don’t sell them. If the retailer is that dependent on the profits made just from selling violent games to under aged youngsters, then the business is probably in serious trouble anyway.

Franklin Benson
Guest
Franklin Benson
15 years 11 months ago

I see a big double standard here in that no mention of consequences for the retailer is made with regards to selling movies depicting violence, only video games. They should pick one standard and apply it to all media.

Restricting violence is a very slippery slope. Warner Brother’s Road Runner cartoons have violence in them. Do we make them adult’s only?

I’m not sure that the Religious Right is all that worked up about violence in media. They seem to be more preoccupied with sexual content in media. Violence is more an issue for the left.

Cries of “censorship!” have long been hurled at the Right for its attempts to limit sexual content. Now the Left may have to adjust to being in the position of receiving that criticism as well.

Matthew Strother
Guest
Matthew Strother
15 years 11 months ago

I am a manager within the video game industry. There is already a rating system that 99.9% of the industry follows when selling games (ESRB) and it is put on the game cases. It is set up similar to traditional movie ratings (R, PG, NC-17, etc..) and, just like “R” ratings, the ESRB “MA” rating is 17+ to purchase. I have yet to see a retail establishment carry an equivalent NC-17 title (AO for ESRB) as it is, much like in the movie industry, considered a death nail for sales. (The Grand Theft Auto Series is MA.)

Having this bill set up at an age point of 18 seems to not be accomplishing anything on either side of the issue.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
15 years 11 months ago

The goal is obviously appropriate, but expecting individual retailers and clerks to define “violent or sexually explicit” material and then enforce their decision is wrong.

The game industry has begun some sort of labeling and if that can be extended to meet the requirements for restricted sale, then maybe this can work. Under that scenario any games labeled accordingly would be displayed and sold from a special area, much as is done with tobacco products. The cost of this “special handling” would be reflected in the gross margin of these products.

This seems to be the reasonable way to handle things, but then who says legislation must be reasonable?

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 11 months ago

I forgot to mention that the thing that bothers me the most is parents knowingly buying these games for their children, which this law would not stop. When the parent was asked why she was buying “Grand Theft Auto” for her son for Christmas, she simply replied “Because he wants it!”

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

I’m in favor of reasonable controls, if the legislators can come up with definitions and procedures that won’t give retailers a headache. But the slippery slope issue is real and can be seen in new attempts to control content on pay cable networks. This from the NY Daily News on March 3:

“Cable and satellite radio and television should not be exempt from decency standards, two influential congressional Republicans warned this week. Sen. Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Rep. Joe Barton, head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, endorsed proposals to extend guidelines on free broadcast media to ‘pay’ media. Cable and satellite broadcasters say they shouldn’t be subject to the same standards because viewers and listeners choose to pay for them and therefore know what they’re getting.”

It’s going to be important to maintain a sense of proportion when it comes to “decency controls.”

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

I’ve seen this coming for a while but guess that it took a network news magazine expose and multiple Grand Theft Auto imitators to get people’s attention (where are the parents when this stuff is being “played”?). Particularly ironic when you consider Wal-Mart’s highly-publicized pick-and-choose of magazine titles a while back. In any case, a ratings system is long overdue, individual retailers should take a closer look at the titles that they sell and ultimate discretion should come from parents.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 11 months ago

Retailers should have no problem controlling sales to minors; many do it every day with cigarettes, beer, etc. The Governor will have to have a commission appointed to grade the games for violence and sexual content, but that is easily done. NOW how about going after the arcade games that promote violence? For 25 or 50 cents, you can kill for about five minutes. The machines don’t care how old you are as long as you have a coin.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 11 months ago

Common sense says that this garbage be kept from children. And you can’t count on parents. The disappointing thing is that the religious right is about only one drawing a line in the sand. And unfortunately, I don’t trust them not to take this further down a very slippery slope. Where are the decent upright people in this country? Napping? Or was Colin Powell right when he said, some years ago, that as a country, “We’ve lost our sense of shame.”

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 11 months ago

I applaud Gov. Blagojevich’s taking a stand on this issue. It’s about time. It’s very hard to understand why parents don’t ban this in the first place, but since so many aren’t, maybe this will at least help. I don’t see this as being any different than movie ratings or restricting alcohol and tobacco to minors. It looks like the biggest problem is going to be in defining what requires the label, but nobody expects it to be easy. Most worthwhile things aren’t and require dedication and sacrifice. What a novel concept in today’s society.

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