For legislators pushing video game content bills, screen shots and game play videos may be worth at least a thousand words.
It has been widely reported, for instance, that U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) reacted strongly to game footage of Postal, 25 to Life, Clock Tower III and Grand Theft Auto during Wednesday's hearing before a subcommittee of the powerful Senate Judiciary. In Missouri, Rep. Jeff Harris (D, seen at left) used the same strategy Tuesday night during a hearing before the Crime and Public Safety Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives.
Harris, who has been working for more than a year to pass video game legislation in Missouri, showed footage from Postal 2 and GTA Vice City in an effort to persuade legislators to approve HB 1467. The measure would make it illegal to sell M- or AO-rated games to minors, mandate that retailers display rating information and require that games carry an ESRB rating.
As reported previously by GamePolitics, Democrat Harris' bill has had difficulty moving through the Republican-controlled Missouri House. That may be changing, however, given local newspaper accounts of the Republican reactions to the game play videos shown at Tuesday's hearing.
"That's the first time I've seen anything like that, said the committee chair, Rep. Scott Lipke (R). "I think everyone on this committee is appalled by what we just saw... any kind of legislation that aims to protect our children is certainly worth taking a hard look at... We need to keep those types of games out of the hands of our kids."
Bill sponsor Harris said, "I'm sorry the committee had to see that... I'm just sick and tired of some of the excesses of popular culture as they affect kids. This bill gives parents a helping hand in combating the excesses."
Testifying for the bill was Bruce Bartholow, author of a 2005 University of Missouri study which claims a brain link between between violent games and aggression.
Testifying in opposition were John Britton, an ESA lobbyist and David Overfelt, president of the Missouri Retailers Association.
"It's only going to wind up in court," said Britton.
For this report GP drew upon accounts in the Kansas City Star, Columbia Missourian and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.