Rhode Island Proposes Jail Time for Underage Game Sales

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Rhode Island Proposes Jail Time for Underage Game Sales

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Rhode Island appears to be the latest U.S. state interested in making a big donation to the Entertainment Software Association, as it considers a bill that would impose fines or jail time on anyone who sells M or AO-rated videogames to underage gamers.

Bill S2156, currently before the Rhode Island General Assembly, would make it a misdemeanor to "sell, rent or permit another person to sell or rent" an M-rated videogame to anyone under the age of 17, or an AO-rated videogame to anyone under 18. Those who knowingly violate the statute would be subject to a fine of up to $1000, or one year in jail.

If this rings at all familiar in your ears, there's good reason: Numerous other states have attempted to enact similar laws in the past, all of which were quickly shot down by the courts for being in direct violation of the First Amendment. The ESA has reaped a fortune in legal fees from various state taxpayers, yet for some reason, despite blowout losses in Illinois, Louisiana, California and others, plus a near-miss in Utah, Rhode Island seems determined to get its own piece of kick-in-the-crotch pie.

But while it has an unbroken string of victories in these cases, ESA Senior Vice President of Communications and Industry Affairs Rich Taylor made it clear that he hoped it wouldn't get that far. "The ESA is opposed to this bill and we are educating those involved about the strong work of the ESRB and the self-regulatory successes that recently were lauded by the Federal Trade Commission," he said. "This bill is the same as all the other legislative proposals found unconstitutional by numerous federal courts. We are ensuring legislators understand and appreciate the fundamental problems that arise when trying to circumvent the first amendment rights of gamers and our industry's innovative storytellers and creators."

Naturally, as in all previous cases, the bill does have some supporters. Marcia Weeder, director of the Rhode Island chapter of the Parents Television Council, said, "Half of the retailers our chapter visited responded with contempt when it was pointed out that they weren't following the ratings when selling adult games to children. Obviously, penalties are needed to enforce what should be a simple thing for retailers to control. If we can prohibit the sale of tobacco, alcohol, and pornography to minors without restricting the rights of adults, we can do the same with adult games."

Rhode Island's bill S2156 can be read in full here. (PDF format)

via: GamePolitics

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[scarcasm]Yes, because what our prison's need right now is an even greater influx of inmates.[/scarcasm]

This... this seems kind of strict... but I guess it's fair. Only if they include movies though... underage movie sellers too. THEN it's fair.

Calumon: I don't even have a birthday... I'm never old enough for anything. :(

Or jails are overcrowded enough. We don't need this right now damnit!

Wanna really help the children? Then put more funding into the schools.

egad. No no no.

And seriously, AO? Do they not realize those are just ghosts? In the US you can't sell an adult game in a retailer.. even the adult retailers wouldn't sell enough of your game if it was half decent to see a profit, and you'd always be that one publisher that released that adult title that sucked and bombed hard.

Do they have similar laws regarding movie sales? Could a salesman go to jail for selling a teeniebopper Saw? No? Then if he sells him Saw the Game, THAT makes sense that he deserves to go to jail?

Fuck you Rhode Island. Not even a fucking island anyway. If you're going to arbitrarily ruin peoples lives, at least know what you're ruining them for.

As much as I hate to say this, as it affects me too, but I think game retailers should stick to the ratings. If a kid wants to play a mature game, let the parents do their research, and if they approve, they can buy the game FOR them.
Still, fines like that and/or jailtime are like taking down flies with a shotgun: not very effective and you're bound to get some complaints.

Nah, that's not a good one.

Retailers DO stick to the ratings though. There are fines, and they're serious enough.

If I really wanted something that I couldn't buy surely I could just get someone else to buy iit for me LEGALLY.

Jail Time? Perposterous a reatiler doesn't need jail time...just a heavy fine should do and more enforcing of an identification procedure

Jail time is too severe, and having worked in retail, I think the fines are pretty harsh, too.

However, they don't hand em out for nothing, I don't think you get nailed for a single offence, unless they're sending in 10 year olds to buy Madworld.

Of course, in the UK '18' rated games, the 'M's of our system, are covered by the same legality as movies, which makes life simple, and also makes it VERY clear that it's not for kids.

I do think we SHOULD, as gamers support age ratings and the refusal of retailers to supply these games to underage kids. It's only thru this that we may eventually break thru to the thick skulls of some that we're not actively trying to sell torture porn to toddlers, and we are a responsible industry.

I think we are, personally, but our image still needs a lot of work before outsiders will accept us.

So if someone accidentally sells a game to a minor it could potentially ruin that person's chance of getting another job because most places don't want to hire criminals. That's a great ways to screw some one over Rhode Island.

WTF is is this? I'm from Rhode Island. And the state is wasting thier time with this nonsense and not trying to fix the whole second most unemployed state in the country problem. I also smell the stench of Jack Thompson all over this bill.

My fellow Ocean State Escapists (assuming I 'm not the only one) it's time to put an end to this. Senators Ciccone, Jabour, Lanzi, and McCaffrey it's on. It's on like Donkey Kong.

I think a fine might be in order. Seems fine. Although, I wish the ESRB ratings could get some adjustment. But hey, if you're underage and want an M game, get your parents to pick it up (or an older relative, a nice neighbour - whatever you've got!)

Anyway, I think it's mostly unecessary but at the same time I don't think it's right for say a 10 or 12 yr old renting a game like Dead Space or any RE game, or on Wii - Mad World. I don't know much about american laws and politics so I don't know how it's against their first amendment when alcohol and tabacco are restricted. Not that it's quiiiite the same thing but yea...

On the one hand, any measure that helps keep the annoying kiddies off xbox live is good. On the other hand, the ESRB is applied voluntarily by publishers in lieu of a fully government controlled rating system (to my knowledge anyway), so jail time for anybody disregarding it seems a bit overkill...

Why not just make it a crime to PLAY an Ao or M videogame or watch a movie if you are under the recommended age, and slap them a 100$ fine or something. That way, you can make revenue AND stop people form playing completely!

It's a crime to sell cigs or grog to people under 18, okay so that's a bit more extreme then video games, but honestly I'm perfectly okay with fines for people who sell 18+ games to people under 18, jail time however is just over kill.

This is bullshit! Those ratings are shit. Everyone knows that, and I'm 14 and I don't think it's fair I don't get to 3/4th of all good games that come out! It's not like i get mentally scarred from seeing blood or something.

I actually think its a good idea...sort of. Its need some refinement...and it may be hard to prove at times. But parents who willingly, and knowingly buy games for there children and know they are not the age for them should be punished

I can see a fine being legitimate for this, and those who are saying jail time are probably just using that as the highest part of the bid, not expecting that to get implemented. But it is really short sighted to focus only on games where movies and video rentals are being excluded. Unless that bill gets changed to include other media, I would as soon see it get shot down.

Jaredin:
I actually think its a good idea...sort of. Its need some refinement...and it may be hard to prove at times. But parents who willingly, and knowingly buy games for there children and know they are not the age for them should be punished

I see you're a proponent of the Nanny State.

It doesn't matter if you think it's a good idea or not. The law as it's worded is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. It violated the 1st Amendment back in 2005 and still does in 2010.

I didn't even know any AO games existed.

Altorin:
egad. No no no.

And seriously, AO? Do they not realize those are just ghosts? In the US you can't sell an adult game in a retailer.. even the adult retailers wouldn't sell enough of your game if it was half decent to see a profit, and you'd always be that one publisher that released that adult title that sucked and bombed hard.

Do they have similar laws regarding movie sales? Could a salesman go to jail for selling a teeniebopper Saw? No? Then if he sells him Saw the Game, THAT makes sense that he deserves to go to jail?

Fuck you Rhode Island. Not even a fucking island anyway. If you're going to arbitrarily ruin peoples lives, at least know what you're ruining them for.

This right here made me chuckle

The rating for the movies and the game are actually different?

CD-R:
It doesn't matter if you think it's a good idea or not. The law as it's worded is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. It violated the 1st Amendment back in 2005 and still does in 2010.

The Constitution? You mean that old, outdated document made by racist slave owners? Pah!

Sadly, I have to actually say that that was sarcastic as there are a lot of people who think that way :|.

It was sarcastic.

Cause if one state is gonna change things, it's Rhode Island right!

...

No...

I was going to call that draconian and improportionate...
...then I realised that it's significantly less harsh than the penalties we already have here in the UK.

Theyshould really be going after the store managers and policy makers rather than the staff member at the til.

....you do realize parents are buying the games for their underage kids, right?

What happened to you Rhode Island? I thought you were cool.

God thats retarded. Even when americans have a good idea they have to fuck it up and take it too far.
The fine, yes. Here if some one rents/sells a videogame to someone under age the employee gets like a 2.5k fine and the employer 10k which leads to many employers instantly firing anyone caught doing so to avoid the punishment.
But no jail time is ever a option. That is just pure fucking stupid.
It would be just a scare tactic but well, seeing as how their courts will overturn it it is just totally pointless.

Catkid906:
This... this seems kind of strict... but I guess it's fair. Only if they include movies though... underage movie sellers too. THEN it's fair.

Calumon: I don't even have a birthday... I'm never old enough for anything. :(

Awwwww, poor Calumon, would you like some choclate birthyday cake?

Anyway, On topic this is stupid, all it would do is add more inmates too prisons, and one year sounds steep, i mean, i've heard stories of people vandalizing places and getting less time in jail.

This is one of those things that are a little iffy. It is easy with things like alcohol, cigs and porn to know what we are taking about and where the line is drawn. With games however it is not that clear cut. The things that are objectionable are a very much a subjective thing. What is "excessive" in excessive violence? What kind of language can we condone? And what about very complex themes like hate, racism, the meaning of life, the nature of sentience and so on. And which of these questions can children actually handle and at what age. So the question becomes whether or not people can actually be allowed to enforce their beliefs over those of others.

On the one hand if retailers are not following their own ratings system, there should be some sort of penalty. The penalty should not be aimed at parents. They are in their full right to go out and buy the stuff and give it to their children (and then take on the responsibility of that action). The problem is when kids can themselves go into a store and buy the 18+ rated game. This should be penalized and the only ones you can hit are the retailers. Jail time should however be out of the question.

And then there is the thing about fairness and the "slippery slope". If games should have this legal penalty thrust on them what about movies? and now that we have monies what about art? Theater? Music?

The issue here is far more complex then what meets the eyes and there is no way to boil the arguments down to bite size. If you do the truth gets lost in the translation and the argument will soon degenerate into name calling and insults.

The best you can do is say "This is what I believe" and then live that belief.

Sermon over.

I work in a UK retailer and the BBFC continulary tries to fuck with us. they send in vaugley underage looking kids that took the term child actor from Melrose place circa 1990's (Ie- they look about 30) And then tell them to go to stores and try and buy MW2 or GTA or whatever other current controversial flavour of the month is. Then if we fail to ask for ID, a heft fine and a criminal record. Not for the store or the company- directly given to the poor minimum wage cashier who happens to be doing their job normally- Cunts.

Seems silly, but if it works then maybe it'll shut up some of the parents who won't stop bitching about violence in video games.

That's a little extreme...I mean yes, we won't have anymore of those little kids who are so irritating playing anymore but, putting people in jail for it is just going too far.

ma55ter_fett:
[scarcasm]Yes, because what our prison's need right now is an even greater influx of inmates.[/scarcasm]

Totally agree, took the words right from my keyboard.

Irridium:
Or jails are overcrowded enough. We don't need this right now damnit!

Wanna really help the children? Then put more funding into the schools.

No that wont help kids at all. What kids need is a good couple of years in the slammer. Put more funding into jails and on a long term plan we can get the whole country behind bars.
But seriously, jail isn't what's needed. If it is to be punished make it a fine and use that money to something useful rather than putting more money and more people into jails.
If selling games to those who aren't old enough to play were to be punished how would that help? There are enough of those who drink before they're of legal age, how do they do it? Get someone old enough to buy it. Aah, the stupidity of politics.

As A Rhode Islander myself, I will partake on a facepalm on behalf of my state.

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