Even though providing tax incentives is one of the best ways to compel developers to your region, thus increasing the amount of technological research and development your area puts out, some governments want to go the opposite route. For instance, earlier this month a bill was proposed in Oklahoma by Will Fourkiller (D) to place a 1 percent surtax on all games rated Teen or higher by the ESRB. Thankfully, it was shot down by the Oklahoma House Revenue and Tax Subcommittee with a 5-6 vote against having the bill move forward.
Ars Technica reports that the bill was “designed to discourage purchase of violent games and fund new programs focused on childhood outdoor education and bullying prevention.” However, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, regarding the Californian bill wanting to institute laws about restricting the sale of violent games to minors which was then shot down in the name of the First Amendment, has left a bad taste in the mouths of state governments nationwide.
According to notes taken by the Oklahoma Watchdog, Fourkiller defended his bill by saying that he hoped to accomplish, “ways to curb childhood obesity and also bullying that go on today,” adding that video games, “can contribute to obesity.” When challenged by Representative Pat Owenby (R) about why video games, “Why not French fries or rap music or movies?” Fourkiller responds by saying, “We have to start somewhere. There’s no magic bullet that will solve these issues, but I want to raise awareness of these two issues [bullying and obesity].”
It’s at this point that Fourkiller and some others decided a task force may be a better choice than a tax bill, but they were rebuffed by Oklahoma City representative Mike Reynolds (R): “It’s not a good idea. We could have a task force on a multitude of reasons children are obese.”
It also didn’t help that such a broad taxation on all games rated T would have affected games like Zumba Fitness 2 (but not the original Zumba Fitness; I wonder what changed) and any game with simulated gambling, like 18 Classic Card Games, Ultimate Card Games, Reel Deal Card Games 2011, and all installments of Hoyle Card Games.
To be fair, I blame all of my degenerate activities on the fact that I played Blackjack as a kid with my grandpa and brother. Also, it’s ironic that an attempt to cull childhood obesity would include in its firing range exercise games like Zumba Fitness 2.