The video game/political axis shifts back to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday as a subcommittee of the powerful Senate Judiciary holds a hearing titled What's in a Game? State Regulation of Violent Video Games and the First Amendment
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) chairs the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights and will gavel the hearing to order at 2:00 P.M. Brownback, rumored to have 2008 presidential aspirations, is no stranger to video game content issues. As reported on GamePolitics last Decemeber, the conservative senator raised game industry eyebrows by urging retailers to display video game ratings, including ratings other than those of the ESRB.
Brownback is also a co-sponsor of Sen. Hillary Clinton's Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA), which calls upon the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to undertake a massive study of the effects of media on children. CAMRA was approved by the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions earlier this month.
Witnesses for the hearing are a varied lot and include speakers both pro and con with respect to video game content and First Amendment issues. They include:
Reverend Steve Strickland, brother of Fayette, Alabama Police Officer Arnold Strickland, who was murdered by "GTA killer" Devin Moore in 2003. Strickland is a plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit against Sony, Take-Two, Wal-Mart and GameStop.
Elizabeth Carll, Ph.D., Chair of Interactive Media Committee, Media Psychology Division, American Psychological Association.
Dmitri Williams, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Speech Communication University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
David Bickham, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Center on Media and Child Health, Harvard Medical School
Patricia Vance, President, ESRB
Rep. Jeff Johnson, Assistant Majority Leader, Minnesota House of Representatives
Attorney Paul Smith, partner, Jenner & Block LLP (has represented the industry in recent state-level First Amendment cases)
Kevin Saunders, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Law, Michigan State University
California Assembly Speaker Leland Yee, whose appearance at the Game Developers Conference sparked controversy in recent days, was originally scheduled to testify at today's hearing, but an aide told GamePolitics that Yee was required for Assembly businss in Sacramento and will submit written testimony to the subcommittee instead.