Oklahoma House considering violent games tax

By Steve Watts, Feb 02, 2012 4:30pm PST

A new bill before the Oklahoma State Legislature proposes an additional tax on Teen, Mature, and Adults Only games. Bill HB 2696 was proposed by Representative William Fourkiller, and would put the extra revenue generated by the tax to go towards programs aimed at solving bullying and childhood obesity.

The bill (via GameSpot) was introduced last month. It will be read on the House floor by next Monday and, if adopted, would put an extra 1% tax on T, M, and AO games as early as July 1. Money would then be given to the Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund and the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund.

Fourkiller suggests this would be a step towards "awareness" of the problems presented by violent video games. He says he was particularly shocked by the existence of Bully, since he had seen school bullying first-hand. He says he believes "after hours and hours of watching the screen, playing [Grand Theft Auto], being that person and taking on that role, people get desensitized."

Opponents of the bill say that it unfairly targets video games, as opposed to other violent media like music, TV shows, and movies.

This is coming less than a year after the Supreme Court ruled that video games are protected free speech. However, the California bill that sparked that case attempted to restrict violent video games to minors entirely, while this one will simply raise the prices for those buying the games. It's hard to say if the Supreme Court would find that its first amendment protection applies here.

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