A Louisiana judge has struck down yet another state ban on the sale of violent video games to minors. Judge James issued a preliminary injunction against the Louisiana law noting the long line of cases holding video games are constitutionally protected free speech. Entertainment Software Association president Douglas Lowenstein applauded the ruling, noting the irony in giving video game companies tax credits to locate in the state, only to create a hostile environment for their business. Democratic Representative Janet Peterson of Iowa introduced a similar game ban bill in Iowa, only to have it fail to clear committee over similar constitutional concerns.
A major problem with such bills is that they are often introduced by legislators with little or no knowledge of how these video games are played. While some video games are indeed designed with violence as a main factor, mainly otherwise innocuous video games would fall under such bans as a result of a ten second clip of a ten hour game taken out of context. As there is no way for a video game seller to review every portion of every video game they sell, such laws would force video game retailers to stop selling any video games to minors.
Legislators select the most salacious games in support of their bills which actually cover a much much broader range of much more innocuous games. Subjecting video game retailers to the mercurial mores of a particular town is not the way to resolve the problem. The solution rests with parents. Taking time to play the games WITH your children will not only allow you to judge for yourself what is and what is not appropriate. It will also give you much needed credibility when you lay down the law with respect to which games are not appropriate. Relying on misplaced legislation or video game rating systems is a recipe for disaster. Plus, who knows? You might accidentally have some fun with your kids.