Children under the age of 18 are now prohibited from buying extremely violent video games after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1179 last month.
The bill, written by Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Tom Leland Yee, requires that games be clearly labeled and that business owners card those buying them. Retailers who do not adhere to the bill can be fined up to $1,000 for each violation.
“Many of these games are made for adults, and choosing games that are appropriate for kids should be a decision made by their parents,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a press release.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “M” (Mature) rated games are the fastest growing in the video game industry. Currently, almost 70 percent of 13 to 16-year-olds can purchase these games.
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Conn., Sen. Charles Schumer of N.Y. and State Treasurer Phil Angelides all support the bill. The California Academy of Pediatricians, California Psychological Association, the NAACP, California Alliance Against Domestic Violence and the California PTA also support the bill. However, not all agree the bill is necessary.
“Unlike movies where you passively watch violence, in a video game, you are the active participant and making decisions on who to stab, maim, burn or kill,” said Yee, who is also a child psychologist, in a press release.
“This bill is redundant,” said Jason Newton, a Cal Poly graduate and owner of Anime Express. “We always check IDs to sell those games. It’s just redundant legislation.”
Newton believes the legislation began when the game “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” was modified so players could play a “sex game.” The “Hot Coffee Mod” was a special code added when players modified their games, he said. The same code was then needed to access that portion of the game.
“Retailers, like Wal-Mart pulled it off of their shelves for nothing. Those games did not have the code,” Newton said.
The game rating was then changed from an “MA” (Mature Audience) 17 rating to an “AO” (Adult Only) rating for 18 and over.
“All the bureaucrats went crazy when that happened and changed the rating to AO, which is 11 months difference in age (of those who could buy the game). It’s like changing the rating on Maxim. It’s not Playboy, it’s close, but you can buy it if you’re under 18,” Newton said.
Cal Poly students have mixed views about the bill.
“It’d be all right, but I’d figure they’d just have an older person buy it for them,” said fruit science freshman Andrew Cortado. “There’s always ways to find loopholes.”
But loopholes or not, nutrition junior Jennifer Singer believes the bill has good intentions.
“I think its good because it’s stupid to put ratings on games if they’re not enforcing it,” said nutrition junior Jennifer Singer.
Violent video games will still be available at El Corral Bookstore, but management did not want to comment on the issue. The games will not be available to rent at Insomniac Video in the University Union.
“Those games are too expensive and too much of a liability,” owner Lisa Roberts said. “I know the people who want them will buy them.”