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IEMA slams Schwarzenegger's decision on violent videogames bill

The violent videogames bill A.B. 1179, signed into law by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, faces renewed opposition from the industry as the president of the IEMA issues a strong statement of objection.

The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association has issued a statement renewing its opposition to California's new violent videogames law, A.B. 1179, which was signed into law by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger a few days ago.

Following statements issued by the ESA and VSD when the bill was signed last Friday, IEMA president Hal Halpin has spoken of his disappointment in Schwarzenegger's decision, labelling the new law as a waste of valuable tax dollars.

"We were disappointed that Governor Schwarzenegger signed A.B. 1179 into law. Given his tireless speeches about taking the politics out of lawmaking and prohibiting government waste of valuable taxpayer dollars, this decision seems counter to that message. It is clear that this course will lead only to this law, like all previous efforts to alter the First Amendment regarding violent video games, being overturned - yielding no significant change and squandering much-needed resources, " Halpin stated.

The IEMA had been proactive in attempting to persuade the California governor to veto the bill, issuing a previous statement and sending an open letter directly to Schwarzenegger when the bill was initially put forward. Other trade bodies, including the Entertainment Software Association and the Video Software Dealers Association have also strongly opposed the bill. ESA president Doug Lowenstein has stated that legal action to overturn the bill in courts has already begun.

The new law will come into effect from January 1st, 2006, unless the ESA can successfully overturn it in court, as it has with similar laws in the past, and is currently attempting for a similar law in the state of Illinois.

Objections centre largely on the infringement of First Amendment rights, and the opposition is determined that the definition of a violent video game under the new law is too vague. Retailers could be fined up to USD 1,000 for selling violent videogames to minors, but the IEMA argues that there are already successful self-regulatory measures in place to prevent this happening.

Halpin stated: "IEMA retailers are already voluntarily committed to inhibiting the sale of Mature-rated games, not unlike the successful self-regulatory efforts of the motion picture business. We would have hoped that legislators would work proactively with the industry to help educate parents about the ratings system, and are disheartened to learn that this politicization of the issue is instead becoming an opportunistic trend. We remain supportive of the ESRB and stand ready to aid the ESA in their lawsuits, as we have done in the past."


Paul Loughrey