Industry Reacts To Proposed Game Ban

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Industry groups are responding today to a proposed ban on violent computer game sales in the state of Illinois. Sean Devlin Bersell, vice president of public affairs for the Video Software Dealers Association, had the following to say.:

"It is unfortunate that Illinois Governor Blagojevich has embraced censorship of video games. The portion of the proposed bill that seeks to restrict the sale or rental of "violent" video games is clearly unconstitutional. This type of legislation has been tried before, and in every instance the courts have struck down the legislation.

In each of those cases, the governments ended up reimbursing the organizations that challenged the laws for their legal fees. VSDA suggests that the resources of the people of the state of Illinois could be put to better use.

Parents, not government officials, should determine what is appropriate for their children. Video game retailers, therefore, believe that the appropriate way to respond to concerns about violent content in video games is to educate and involve parents so that they can make informed choices about the video games to which their children have access. Video game retailers that are members of VSDA are committed to educating parents about the video game rating system and to helping parents by voluntarily enforcing the system in their stores."

Hal Halpin, president of the IEMA released the following statement today regarding banning game sales in Illinois.

"Retail member companies of the IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association) collectively account for approximately 85% of the $10B annual video game business in the United States. Last December (2003), member companies chose to voluntarily implement new carding policies and procedures at the store level in an effort to inhibit the sale of Mature-rated games to minors, and stated that they expected those new procedures to be in place by December 2004. Over the course of the past twelve months IEMA members have redoubled their efforts, investing in training of store-level staff, installing and promoting ratings awareness signage, and fundamentally changing the way in which they merchandise games. Our members recognized that they have a social duty, and met that obligation head-on, re-investing in their relationships with consumers. Sting operations performed two full months ahead of the IEMA’s self-imposed deadline indicated a statistically-significant shift – a 20% year-on-year reduction, in retailers stemming the tide.

It is important to note that sting operations conducted with minors often presuppose several scientifically-challenged facts including: the minor’s theoretical ability to drive him/herself to the locations where these stings are performed; the minor’s hypothetical possession of the required $50 in disposable income, etc. Often, these stings are performed with severely flawed methodology and in locales which are not IEMA member companies, nor are they statistically-relevant in a broad-spectrum market share discussion.

Academic studies are conducted irregularly about a potential causal connection between observing violent media and effects in human behavior, to – at best – mixed results. What is clear is that industry self-regulation in identifying types and styles of games through the ratings system, and now a massive undertaking in inhibiting the sale of M-rated games to minors, is working – and those cumulative efforts are as effective, to a substantially-similar degree, as movie theatre owners, whom politicians are fond of holding up as the Gold Standard in this arena. Time and again parents have vocalized their interest in retaining responsibility for monitoring their children’s entertainment consumption, and simply wish to be armed with appropriate education to that end. Similarly, each and every attempt at government intervention in this issue has failed due to the fact that industry self-regulation is working and the IEMA is committed to seeing it through."

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