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GP EXCLUSIVE: Leland Yee Offers Reaction to GDC Debate

By all accounts, it was quite a memorable debate.

As reported by GamePolitics and other sites, California Assembly Speaker pro tem Leland Yee (D) took part in a sometimes confrontational panel discussion at last week's Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Joining Yee onstage for a session called Murder, Sex and Censorship: Debating the Morals of Creative Freedom were University of Wisconsin professor James Gee, author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, IGDA honcho Jason Della Rocca and game designer Brenda Brathwaite, leader of the IGDA's Sex in Games SIG.

Looking back, what does Yee think of his foray into what might seem enemy territory? GamePolitics interviewed the veteran politician Monday night and found him in high spirits following his GDC appearance.

"A number of the speakers thanked me for coming," he told GP. "And I was very honest with them. I said, 'I don't see this as enemy territory. My ultra-violent video game bill was never against the gaming community or the gaming industry whatsoever. I see [the game industry] as partners in trying to make things better for our children. I felt I was treated fairly."

"The gentleman who was sitting next to me (IGDA's Jason Della Rocca) - with all due deference - many of the concerns he raised about the bill were clearly answered. A number of the arguments he raised were handled in our bill presentations and press confererences."

"All in all," Yee continued, "I thought it was a good opportunity for me to at least correct some of the misunderstandings and put a face behind this Assemblyman Leland Yee. He's clearly not a crazy radical anti-video game [person]... What I'm trying to do is be reasonable and protective of kids... I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had on the podium at the Game Developers Conference."

The California Assembly Speaker mentioned that he spoke to some attendees at the show. "A couple of them did say that they agree with what I was doing. Others argued do you have the evidence to support this particular ban? Well, that's one of the reasons why we are going into court to argue that particular point. But we believe that we will prevail."

By the way, GP has learned that Federal District Court Judge Ronald Whyte will hear final arguments on the California video game law in May. Perhaps to allay gamers' fears, Yee nixed the idea of further legislation.

"This [current California law] is all that I'm going to be doing with the gaming," he told GP. "I think the other concern that many people have was that this was a slippery slope. 'Are you going to go after other things,' and so on. The honest truth right now - I don't see myself doing anything now or in the future on this gaming thing. It was only this one that dealt with the ultra-violent video games."

Yee confirmed that he rushed from a legislative session in Sacramento to San Jose that day in order to appear at GDC.

"Everything worked out really nice," he remarked. "I want to just thank everybody for their courtesy and their forthrightness in whatever questions they had for me."

GP: GP thanks Joystiq's Vladimir Cole for the great picture of Leland Yee working the room at GDC. Be sure to check out Vlad's take on Yee at GDC...

Tags: debate, gdc, legislation, leland yee
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