This isn’t the first occasion when a US government official needs to boycott vicious computer games and this time it is a Democrat in Chicago.
Marcus C. Evans Jr, an Illinois state representative is appealing to amend the 2012 Illinois law which bans below 18 children from accessing such violent games. If regulated, HB3531 would ban ‘the sales of all violent video games’ in Illinois, with a penalty of $1000 for those who caught selling violent games. Additionally, it would alter the definition of violent video games to “allows a user or player to control a character within the video game that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal”.
It would also expand the definition of “serious physical harm” to include other types of violence like “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins”.
As per Chicago Sun-Times, the reason behind this step is due to the increased case of carjackings in Chicago. The officer recording around 218 cases in January. Representative Marcus C. Evans Jr had been contacted by a resident Early Walker of Chicago who runs a towing company an anti-violence organization with an interesting name ‘I’m Telling Don’t Shoot’ and started an initiative called ‘Operation Safe Pump’ intended to prevent carjackings. Early walker reached out to many state legislators after observing the similarities between the game Grand Theft Auto and local carjackings
Walker told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I feel like this game has become a huge issue in this spectrum. When you compare the two, you see harsh similarities as it relates to these carjackings.”
Evans, meanwhile, said he trusts the bill will “prohibit the sale of some of these games that promote the activities that we’re suffering from in our communities”.
We don’t know if the other Illinois representatives or senators support this bill as it is still in the early stages. Illinois follows a bicameral legislature which means the bill must be approved by both Senate and the state’s House of Representatives, while the bill can be voted by the state government after which the bill would return to the originating house. All this can take a long time.
Moreover, the bill is likely to face challenges via the judicial branch. In 2011 a case Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association in California reached the Supreme Court where the supreme court ruled that under the First Amendment video games are protected free speech.
The Entertainment Software Association made an official statement opposing the bill.
“While our industry understands and shares the concerns about what has been happening in Chicago, there simply is no evidence of a link between interactive entertainment and real-world violence. We believe the solution to this complex problem resides in examining thoroughly the actual factors that drive such behaviors rather than erroneously ascribing blame to video games based solely upon speculation.”
As per the American Psychological Association’s 2020 resolution, there is not enough evidence to prove the link between violent behavior with violent video games.