The Albany Times-Union
today ran an op-ed piece by the CEO and president of Vicarious Visions (Marvel Ultimate Alliance
), a New York based development company, about the New York video game bill legislation going down. They discuss being "deeply troubled
" by the legislation
currently being fast-tracked making games different from other protected speech.
The disturbing nature of the bills apparently can't be stressed properly at this point. The key feature sending chills up many game advocates' spines is that selling a game considered "depraved
" to a minor would be considered a felony, with a minimum sentence of one to four years according to the New York penal code.
Vicarious Visions' CEO, Kathik Bala, and president, Guha Bala, write, "Just like movies, books, photographs, music and other forms of art and entertainment, video games are fully protected speech under the U.S. Constitution. In fact, nine federal courts in the last six years have ruled that legislation in other states substantially similar to what is being proposed in New York violates free speech protections. States have wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars
to defend these statutes. Several states and municipalities have been ordered to pay more than $1.7 million to the video game industry for legal fees. Given New York's pressing economic needs, it can ill afford to spend money enacting and then having to defend this proposal."
And therein lies the rub. In the end, these bills fail in court. The states involved are forced to pay the ESA
for the cost of defending the industry from unconstitutional legislation
. How many times do they need to play out the same plot line over and over again? The outcome remains the same. But it looks like state after state will pop in another quarter
and try again.