The IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association), the non-profit trade association which represents the nation’s leading retailers of computer and video games, was disappointed with Governor Schwarzenegger’s decision to sign in to law California Assembly Bill 1793.
Thousands of retailers in California are now faced with the inevitability of being of being hit with frivolous lawsuits through the state’s 17200 Unfair Business Practices statute. This law will have a devastating impact on California businesses, particularly small businesses whose livelihood depends on the sale of video games.
Inaccuracies and misrepresentations surround the issue of violent video games and continue even in Representative Leland Yee’s press release today:
The IEMA members have committed to voluntarily regulate the sale of Mature-rated games to minors and are in the process of implementing carding systems through each member company which shall be in place by this Christmas. Signage is already in place throughout all IEMA member stores, legislation was wholly unnecessary and an example of a waste of taxpayer’s money and government resources. Adding legislative pressure to >a self-regulated system will likely have a chilling effect on business and place an undue burden on California’s retail community with no tangible upside.
The issue of violent video games is a serious matter which requires serious study. To-date there has been no conclusive research to prove a causal linkage between playing videogames and asocial behavior.
The statistics which are quoted repeatedly include wide-ranging types of software including educational and early childhood games, which bolster the figures and make them look more encompassing than they are. It would be both prudent and honest to explain to Mr. Yee’s constituents that the vast majority of games are rated “E” by the industry’s ratings board, and in fact only 11.9% of all games sold last year were rated Mature for adults (rather than the forty percent which was misrepresented).
Mr. Yee’s assertion that, “a 17-year old boy repeatedly stabbed a 14-year old to death in England while mimicking a game called “Manhunt,” in which players score points for violent killing,” too is a blatant falsehood – an outright fabrication of the facts. The British press uncovered long ago that it was in fact the victim who played videogames, not the assailant. The 17 year old never owned nor played “Manhunt” and therefore could not be “mimicking” anything.
And finally, the Mature-rated games to which Mr. Yee refers in saying that players are rewarded “for killing police officers, maiming elderly persons, running over pedestrians and committing despicable acts of murder and torture upon women and racial minorities” is yet again a misrepresentation of the facts, too numerous to mention in this brief response.
While we are sure that Leland Yee’s impetus in claiming to help parents was originally honorable, the facts have been distorted and twisted with willful disregard for the truth, and we fear at the detriment to business in the State of California. IEMA retailers have already committed to the placement of in-store signage which will empower parents to make informed purchasing decisions, and have gone beyond the movie and music businesses’ commitment in also voluntarily committing to inhibiting the sale of Mature rated games to minors through comprehensive carding policies which are being put in to place. That Governor Schwarzenegger was unwilling or unable to make those distinctions is an injustice to the citizens of the state.