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Agreement reached on New York videogame bill

The New York state Senate and Assembly have reached an agreement on proposed legislation making it a felony to rent or sell videogames with mature themes to minors.

The New York state Senate and Assembly have reached an agreement on proposed legislation making it a felony to rent or sell videogames with mature themes to minors.

Originally introduced in May as separate bills in the Senate and Assembly, the compromise legislation would make it a felony, punishable by time in jail, to sell or rent violent and obscene video games to minors.

The legislation also requires manufacturers to equip game consoles manufactured after September 1, 2009 with parental-control devices, requires retailers to label games that are violent and obscene, and requires the state to establish an advisory council to review the ESRB.

"This bill is ill-conceived and unconstitutional," declared Bo Andersen, president of the EMA, a trade association for the retailers of DVDs, computer games, and console games.

"The proposal to jail retailers and clerks for up to four years for selling certain video games to persons under age 17 is apparently based on misunderstandings about what retailers are doing currently.â

Not only do most US retailers already follow a voluntary ID-check system which prevents M-rated games from being sold to minors, but consoles such as the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii already have parental controls in place.

Speaking to Gamasutra, Anderson also noted that "...nine similar proposals that have been enacted around the nation in recent years have all been blocked by federal courts on First Amendment grounds. For such an ill-conceived and unconstitutional law, ignorance is no excuse."

Although the legislators ran out of time for a final vote, the compromise bill is expected to receive formal approval when the legislature reconvenes in July. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) has signaled his intent to sign the bill into law.

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