Third Helix is now Kickbomb Entertainment! Please visit kickbomb.us for all future updates.


11 Mar 2009

Utah's HB 353, which would impose penalties for retailers who advertise that they do not sell M-rated games to minors, but then proceed to do so anyway, carries on its tortured journey. Next stop: the Utah Senate, where it will be voted upon by midnight tomorrow.

I got an URGENT! email from the Video Game Voters' Network this morning, which read in part:

Why is this bill bad? No video game retailer wants to be exposed to these kinds of lawsuits. If this bill becomes law, retailers could be forced to take drastic and counter-productive steps to avoid possible lawsuits by no longer using the ESRB ratings to protect children, and they may even have to stop selling video games!

While I do oppose HB 353, this characterization is a bit extreme and, in my view, inaccurate. I made a related post before about opposing misinformation, and it cuts both ways: just because VGVN is on "our side" doesn't grant them a free pass to spread FUD, even if it *is *from a pro-game point of view.

Specifically, there appears to be nothing in the current version of the bill -- the full text of which is available here -- that suggests that retailers would "have to stop selling video games". The problem is not a video game prohibition; it is the unintended incentive in the bill for retailers to abandon their age-verification policies, which I recently outlined in The Unintended Consequences of Utah HB 353.

I am by no means suggesting that we ignore the VGVN's call to action; in fact, it would be well worth your time to visit their action center and write to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Morley. But make sure that you're arguing the right point, and not just shouting FUD at our legislators.

If we expect to hold our critics to a higher standard, we must first start with ourselves.

Posted In:

politics utah video-games