Vicarious Vision Execs Protest NY Games Legislation

By Chris Faylor, Jun 05, 2007 10:14am PDT Vicarious Visions CEO and CCO Karthik Bala and president Guha Bala (both pictured left) have written an open letter to New York legislators, published in today's edition of the Albany, New York newspaper Times Union. In it, the two executives protest issues related to both New York senator Andrew Lanza's proposed state legislation, which aims to mandate video game ratings and punish retailers who sell unrated games, as well as that of New York assemblyman Joseph Lentol, which would classify the sale of violent video games to minors as a class E felony.

Based in Albany, New York, Vicarious Visions is best known for the recent Nintendo Wii and DS versions of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, along with the Xbox edition of id Software's Doom 3 and the various Tony Hawk games on Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS.

Karthik and Guha Bala detail that widely supported voluntary efforts--such as the Entertainment Software Rating Board's content ratings, enforcement of those ratings at retailers to keep M-rated games out of the hands of minors, and the ability for console users to prevent the play of a game based on its rating--render portions of the proposed legislation redundant.

"The proposed statewide restriction on video games is not only unnecessary but also could undo all the good we have done for our area and state," the letter reads, describing Vicarious Vision's involvement with local schools and universities to motivate students in combining their studies with their passion for video games. "We absolutely share the goal of providing the information and tools needed to help ensure that the entertainment children enjoy is parent-approved. The video game industry and retailers in our state are taking steps to help parents and caregivers in their decision-making.

"We know many in our state may not like the content of some video games, and, to be frank, we do not like some of it either," they wrote. "However, a better way to spend our much-needed state resources would be to support public-private statewide partnerships to encourage use of video game ratings and parental controls. Alternatively, let's look at enacting statewide media literacy education programs that empower our children and help them understand and evaluate information and entertainment for themselves and with their parents.

"We urge our state legislators to reject any attempt at enacting unconstitutional laws," the letter concludes. "Passage of legislation would hurt our state's growing video game development community. It will also send a terrible message to the people in our industry and to those in other creative, retail and technology communities that may be considering locating operations in New York."

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