March 20th, 2006

Dishing More Dirt on Last Week's Delaware Hearing

Today's News-Journal has more on last week's video game bill hearing before the Delaware House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Helene Keeley, sponsor of HB360 told the newspaper she plans to continue to press forward with her bill, which has been tabled by the Judiciary Committee for now pending revision.

"We're going to say that it's not right to beat the crap out of a woman," she said, an apparent reference to the oft-cited potential for hooker violence in the Grand Theft Auto series. "It's up to us to make that decision."

Jack Thompson, assisting Keeley with the legislation, said the game industry's voluntary compliance system based on ESRB ratings has failed.

"The problem is, they've had 15 years to do it, and they haven't done it," he said. "This isn't even speech," he claimed during the hearing while holding up a video game box. "This is software that enables a machine to allow a player to play a game."

GP: By that twisted reasoning a CD isn't speech since it's just software that enables a machine to allow a player to listen to music or the spoken word.

The Delaware State Education Association, representing the state's teachers, expressed support for Keeley's effort.

"We work every day to try to provide a safe learning environment for our kids, and we don't believe that adult violent videos help children to prepare for their time working in school or getting along with their peers in the real world," DSEA President Barbara Grogg said.

A representative of the Delaware Attorney General's Office said the A.G. is "willing to be aggressive on this issue," but is worried about constitutional challenges.

"Are we concerned that no one has been able to do it yet? Sure we are," he said

Gamer - and GP reader - James Donaldson, whose impressions of the hearing were highlighted on GamePolitics last week, also got some major ink in the News-Journal piece:

"(Thompson's) argument is deeply troubling to James Donaldson, a 23-year-old Wilmington resident and video-game enthusiast who studied game art and design at the Art Institute of Phoenix. Donaldson, the only T-shirt in a sea of business suits at last week's hearing, arrived in Dover after an hourlong ride aboard a DART bus. He was not called to testify, but said later he was pleased Keeley tabled her legislation - although Keeley tabled the bill for revisions and Donaldson wants to see the plug pulled.

"I don't agree with any of it," Donaldson said. When [Thompson] said games are not speech, that kind of hurt."

"These games don't teach children how to kill," Donaldson said. "People have a choice. It's not like these games are forced on the public."

Louisiana House Mulls Pair of "Games as Porn" Bills

You might think state legislators in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana would have more important issues on which to focus their energies.

But in a bi-partisan effort last week, a pair of video game bills were introduced by members from both sides of the aisle in the Louisiana House. The bills reprise two troubling themes for the video game industry. The first is the "games as porn" approach which has popped up recently in Utah and Delaware. In addition, the 25 to Life fallout continues as the Louisiana bills specifically reference violence against law enforcement officers.

Republican A.G. Crowe and Democrat Roy Burrell (left) introduced nearly identical pieces of legislation designed to add violent games to the list of materials barred from distribution to minors under the state's existing obscenity statutes.

Crowe's bill is HB254, while Burrell's is HB421. Both proposals would amend the definition of "material that is harmful to minors" to include a video game which "exploits or is devoted to... illicit sex or sexual immorality... that the average person applying contemporary community standards would find... presented in a manner to provoke or arouse lust, passion, or perversion..."

The bills also defines the following acts as covered: "the murder of a law enforcement officer, first degree murder, as well as various degrees of rape, kidnapping, terrorism, torture and drug offenses.

The Shreveport Times has a little more on this.