NEWS - Thursday, March 3, 2005

New Bill Could Effect Video Games

A bill under consideration in Washington state would hold videogame developers accountable for violent acts ostensibly inspired by a particular game. Currently under review by the state legislature, House Bill 2178 would hold game retailers and manufacturers accountable for "injury or wrongful death" committed by a person under age 17, if the game "was a factor in creating conditions that assisted or encouraged" the perpetrator. While the bill is still in committee stage and far from becoming law, its dramatic interpretation of criminal responsibility reflects growing concern and controversy about the effects of violent video games. Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO quotes bill supporter Bill Hanson of the Washington Police and Sheriff’s Association: "If you sit up and watch this and play these games over and over again... it seems that this is alright to walk up and hit a police officer over the head with a bat." Needless to say, opponents of the bill point out that it simply shifts blame away from the person who actually commits a crime. Further, the connection between violent videogames and actual violence -- the controversy parallels a similar furor over violent films and television -- remains tentative at best. Games sold in the United States carry ESRB rating codes warning parents of potentially objectionable material. Especially violent games are rated "M" for Mature, and are not intended for minors.


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