Game violence bill passes

Measure is unusual in that it imposes the fine on titles

The Washington state senate easily passed a bill that would impose a $500 fine on anyone selling children videogames that realistically depict violence against law enforcement personnel.

The bill passed the senate 47-7 and is expected to be signed by Gov. Gary Locke.

It will face a much tougher time in the courts, however, where similar attempts around the country to forbid sales of violent games to minors have run up against First Amendment issues. The Washington state measure would fine a retail store employee who sells forbidden games to anyone under the age of 17.

The latest measure is unusual in that it would impose the fine on titles, such as last year’s top-selling “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” from Rockstar Games, that depict violence against cops, rather than a broader ban on violent games in general. It is likely to face the same constitutional problems, however.

The bill joins a growing legal chorus of efforts to control content in the burgeoning vidgame business, which generated $10.3 billion domestically last year.

U.S. Rep. Joe Baca, who represents inland areas east of Los Angeles, has revived his federal bill to ban sales to children of vidgames with excess sex and violence, while U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman is pushing to fund a study of the impact of violence in media, including games.

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