Florida ponders violent game distribution limits

Not for sale or rental to kids

Florida looks set to join California and introduce legislation to limit the sale of violent computer and video games to children.

Sponsored by Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla, the Florida bill bans the sale of violent games to anyone under the age of 18. The bill calls for such games to be badged with a 2.5cm square sticker proclaiming their age limit. Retailers who sell or rent an 18-certificate game to anyone under that age could face a $1,000 if the bill makes it onto the state's statute book.

The Florida bill comes a month after California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, enacted a similar law in his state. Unlike the California legislation, the Florida bill also seeks to limit youngster's access to violent games in video arcades. The California law will come into force on 1 January 2006.

Whatever, it will still provoke controversy, not least because of its assumption that violent games are harmful to minors.

"Minors who are exposed to depictions of violence in video games are more likely to experience feelings of aggression, to experience a reduction of activity in the frontal lobes of the brain, and to exhibit violent antisocial or aggressive behavior. "Even minors who do not commit acts of violence suffer psychological harm from prolonged exposure to violent video games," the bill states.

The full text can be read here.

The bill is likely to be opposed by the games industry, represented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The ESA has already joined the Video Software Dealers Association to take legal action against the California legislation on the grounds it violates' citizens rights under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. ®