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Oklahoma games bill signed into law

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry has signed into law a new bill which revises the definition of what is harmful to minors to include "inappropriately violent" videogames and is certain to be challenged by the ESA.

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry has signed into law a new bill which revises the definition of what is harmful to minors to include "inappropriately violent" videogames and is certain to be challenged by the ESA.

Echoing the failed Utah bill, which sought to amend existing legislation normally reserved for pornographic and sadomasochistic material by tagging on sexually and graphically violent videogames, the Oklahoma bill is set to come into effect from November 1st pending the inevitable legal challenge from industry trade body the ESA.

Under the new law, which sailed through its Senate hearing in April, retailers would face felony charges for selling, renting or displaying games which contain "inappropriate violence" to minors, calling for a change in store displays to keep such tiles behind 'binder racks' normally reserved for pornographic material.

The bill defines "inappropriate violence" as any depiction in a game which the average adult would find "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors" when applying "contemporary community standards."

Further definition includes games in which violence is: glamorised or gratuitous, used to shock or stimulate, not contextually relevant to the material, trivialises the serious nature of realistic violence, does not demonstrate the consequences or effects of realistic violence, depicts a lead character who resorts to violence freely, uses brutal weapons to inflict the maximum amount of pain and damage or endorses or glorifies the use of excessive weaponry or torture.

"While parents have the ultimate responsibility for what their children do and see, this legislation is another tool to ensure that our young people are not saturated in violence," Governor Henry stated. "This gives parents the power to more closely regulate which games their children play."

The Utah bill was challenged by First Amendment legal experts effectively being canned by the Senate, and although there has been no official statement from the ESA at present, it is naturally assumed that a legal challenge to Oklahoma's bill will be forthcoming.

Given the distinct lack of evidentiary support for the negative effects of videogames on minors and combined with the clear legal precedent set by court rulings in similar cases which the ESA has challenged in Michigan, Illinois, California and other US states, it would seem extremely unlikely that Oklahoma's bill will ever make into active law - costing valuable taxpayers dollars and ultimately reducing the latest legislative control efforts to yet another failed attempt.

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