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GP Exclusive: Insomniac Games' Ted Price Files Brief in Louisiana Constitutional Fight

Gamers know him best for the popular Ratchet & Clank series, but Insomniac Games President Ted Price is clearly a developer with strong feelings about video game legislation.

His passion for the subject shines through in a brief entered on Price's behalf with Judge James J. Brady and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. GamePolitics has obtained a copy of the brief which was filed in support of Entertainment Software Association v. Foti, the video game industry's suit to overturn Louisiana's new game violence law on constitutional grounds.

As previously reported by GamePolitics, Judge Brady issued a temporary restraining order blocking the implementation of the law. The parties are due back in court on Friday to argue the industry's motion for an injunction.

In the 21-page document Price outlines his video game design experience as well as his work with the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS), arguing that games are as much a means of expression as books, movies and music.

Price also details several game examples provided to the court by the video game industry for consideration of their relevance to the violence issue. The games are:

-Medal of Honor Frontline
-Resident Evil 4
-Jade Empire
-God of War
-Full Spectrum Warrior
-Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3

Price's criticisms of the language describing violence in the Louisiana law are revealing. For example, the Insomniac CEO writes, "...'violence' is an incredibly broad term... Does the 'violence' referenced in the Act include... a boxing game, a football game, a World War II game, a game featuring contact between cartoon characters... game creators (are) given the impossible task of guessing the intent of the Act's creators."

Price fears that many games - including those rated "T" (teen) - might be criminalized under the law's definition of violence. He explains how his own best-selling Ratchet & Clank series might fall under the provisions of the Louisiana statute:

"With this Act in place I would feel very uncomfortable including even cartoon violence in our games... The main characters in Ratchet & Clank are not human and resemble cartoon characters. The characters 'kill' each other, are 'killed' by the main character and occasional 'dismembered' in comedic ways... a retailer fearing possible fines, imprisonment and/or hard labor... may refuse to sell this game to minors. As a result this Act could have an adverse effect and severely constrain our designers' artistic freedom and ability to express themselves in our games."

Price also frets that the Louisiana law creates an "incredibly negative and unwarranted stigma" for games when compared to other forms of media and that it "ignores the artistic merit, relevance and sophistication of today's video games by essentially treating an ambiguously defined subset of games similarly to pornography and controlled substances such as alcohol and cigarettes"

In regard to the game video samples submitted by the industry, Price summarizes the plots in some detail (Warning - spoilers) and explains some of the artistic and cultural considerations behind the designs. Definitely worth a read.

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Tags: ema, esa, foti, insomniac games, legislation, louisiana, ted price
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