NY Legislation Classifies Sale of Violent Games to Minors as Class E Felony

By Chris Faylor, May 30, 2007 11:51am PDT A new piece of legislation concerning the sale of violent video games may replace the bill that cleared the New York State Senate and was passed on to the New York State Assembly last week, GamePolitics reports.

Proposed by the New York State Assembly's Joseph Lentol (pictured left), the new bill imposes stricter penalties for those that violate its terms and makes the distribution of "violent and indecent video games to minors" a class E felony--a distinction New York also applies to the placement of a false bomb or hazardous substance, incest, and child abandonment. According to New York penal law, class E felonies are punishable by a maximum sentence up to four years in jail.

Specifically, the bill would make it illegal to sell or loan any game containing "depraved violence and indecent images" to a minor in New York. The bill defines "depraved violence" as "any photographic, photo-realistic or similar visual representation or image depicting the rape, dismemberment, physical torture, mutilation or evisceration of a human being" and outlines the criteria for indecent imagery as "any photographic, photo-realistic or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body which depicts nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse and which is harmful to minors."

Interestingly, the bill does not mention any efforts to label such games as indecent nor does it outlaw the sale of any game carrying a specific ESRB rating to minors. However, the legislation does mandate that new video game consoles must include a system through which users can prevent the play of a game based off its ESRB rating--a feature the current crop of consoles already contain.

Much like last week's proposal by New York senator Andrew Lanza, the new bill calls for the formation of an Advisory Council on Interactive Media and Youth Violence, which would investigate the effectiveness of and suggest improvements for the ESRB's current rating system as well as study the potential side effects of playing violent video game.

To become state policy, Lentol's proposed legislation must first be approved by the New York State Senate and cleared by the New York State Assembly before New York governor Eliot Spitzer has the option to sign it into law.

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  • The problem with these laws is that they are always too vague. Taken one way these descriptions they use could apply to something like Gears of War which is brutal and violent and shouldn't be played by a 6 year old or it could be applied to Super Mario Bros where he smashes the turtles.

    And what is also bad is the fact that they don't apply these same laws to other media. I can have my 7 year old go buy any book in the bookstore no matter how brutal, how sadistic, how gory and nobody says anything. But because Jack Thompson hates his penis video games we get these messed up laws like this that don't apply to anything but games. It's not right.

    I agree that games that are over the top gore fests shouldn't be played by small children. But I also believe that it's the parent's responsibility (not the state) to monitor what their children do and to not let them play these types of games.