California Teenagers, Say Goodbye To Grand Theft Auto

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Arnold Schrawzenegger, the man who made his living on perpetrating incredible acts of violence on the silver screen, has just signed legislation that prohibits video game rentals and sales to minors.

The bill bans the sale or rental to those under 18 of any video games that “depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.” Violations carry a fine of up to $1,000.

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“Many of these games are made for adults, and choosing games that are appropriate for kids should be a decision made by their parents,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

Listen, I don’t necessarily disagree with this, and I do think it’s extremely ironic that Schwarzenegger is doing this.

However, where exactly is line drawn? By this logic, you’d have to prohibit teenagers from playing games like HALO and HALO 2, since you can kill each other in four player death matches. The same goes for games like Unreal Tournament, Doom and a large majority of the first person shooter games where you can fight each other in these four player matches.

In short, this legislation is pretty much squarely aimed at a game like Grand Theft Auto, where you can go willy nilly throughout a virtual town and kill anybody you want at will, but it includes all of these others simply be default.

My prediction? Sales will boom.

The industry’s reaction?

Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, the main trade group for the video game industry, said in a statement that he expected the courts to declare the California law invalid, as they have in other jurisdictions.

“We are disappointed that politicians of both parties chose to toss overboard the First Amendment and free artistic and creative expression in favor of political expediency,” Mr. Lowenstein said.

Whatever Douglas. They aren’t limiting freedom of expression anymore than the MPAA is limiting it.

What an unfortunate response.

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