Missouri bill would tax “violent video games”

posted at 5:55 pm on January 15, 2013 by Patrick Ishmael

When I was in high school, I played a game called “Counter-Strike,” a first-person shooter game that allowed you and your friends to play each other online. It was riotous fun, and years and millions of gamers later, the first-person shooter genre is still going strong.

That is why I think there will be significant interest in a piece of legislation filed yesterday that would levy “upon sales of all violent video games an excise tax based on the gross receipts or gross proceeds of each sale at a rate of one percent.” Last year in Oklahoma, legislator William Fourkiller (yes, that is his real name) introduced a similar piece of legislation, and it appears the Missouri legislation uses a fair amount of that bill’s language. For instance, a “violent video game” in the Missouri bill is defined as “a video or computer game that has received a rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board of Teen, Mature, or Adult Only” — identical to the Oklahoma proposal.

Of course, as most video game players know, E.S.R.B. ratings do not deal only with “violence” but with language, sexual matter, content dealing with drugs and alcohol, gambling and many other factors. As Reason noted with Oklahoma’s proposal:

In other words, Teen-rated games like The Sims, Dance Central, or Guitar Hero would be included in the tax, even though they’re non-violent.

Clearly, the law is poorly crafted. And of course, that does not even begin to address the First Amendment problem of taxing the content of speech in the way this proposal would. When asked about Oklahoma’s proposal, the Entertainment Software Association found the move to be “misguided.”

“We are disappointed that even in the wake of an overwhelming decision in the United States Supreme Court finding proposals such as this to be patently unconstitutional, there are those who still try to attack video games with outdated notions of our industry,” said ESA’s Dan Hewitt in a statement provided to Gamasutra.

Indeed. Singling out speech in video games for special taxation is likely unconstitutional, and especially here in Missouri, our policymakers should know better.

(Cross-posted from Show-Me Daily)


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Singling out games that actually bring sales tax revenues to the state. I guess people will just buy their games out of state. Brilliant.

njrob on January 15, 2013 at 5:56 PM

nonpartisan.

Bmore on January 15, 2013 at 5:57 PM

No matter, people will just download them from the Internet so Missouri authorities will never know.

FloatingRock on January 15, 2013 at 5:57 PM

When I was in high school, I played a game called “Counter-Strike,” a first-person shooter game that allowed you and your friends to play each other online.

Hey you damn kids, get off my lawn. When I was in high school, I was using punch tape, and graduated to a TRS-80 color computer. We only had missile command. And we liked it.

rbj on January 15, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Glad I got it out of my system but I remember when my beer joint got the new Stargate. Nobody played Defender after that. Talk about making use of a rainy day when you’re a carpenter. Nearly wore my right thumb off.

DanMan on January 15, 2013 at 5:58 PM

test

SWalker on January 15, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Might have been relevant to the blog post to include the intent of the tax revenue:

2. The revenue generated by the additional tax imposed under this section, less any reduction allowed under section 149.021, shall be deposited in the state general revenue fund and appropriated solely for the treatment of mental health conditions associated with exposure to violent video games.

http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills131/biltxt/intro/HB0157I.htm

can_con on January 15, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Seems like someone here is a Borderlands fan, I recognize that picture! :-)

Doomberg on January 15, 2013 at 6:01 PM

More waste of life and distraction. No, not the video games, those are awesome. It’s Government who won’t StayTF out of our lives.

HopeHeFails on January 15, 2013 at 6:03 PM

can_con on January 15, 2013 at 6:01 PM

I remember back in the day when Ann Richards told us the lottery would fund schools in Texas. I guess we didn’t consider the long odds on that ever happening either.

DanMan on January 15, 2013 at 6:03 PM

DanMan on January 15, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Not endorsing the tax, just seemed to be an incomplete post without that info.

can_con on January 15, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Indeed. Singling out speech in video games for special taxation is likely unconstitutional, and especially here in Missouri, our policymakers should know better.

Well, according to Benedict Roberts, taxing citizens for merely being alive is perfectly Constitutional, so I don’t see why levying a tax on what someone says would be a problem. To get draconian legislation to pass muster, per Benedict Roberts, all the legislature has to do is declare it to be a tax.

AZfederalist on January 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Meh, how ’bout some regular adult guidance in moral, ethical, and responsible behavior to those playing such games. Might be much more effective than another scheme to extract revenue for government to spend unwisely.

hawkeye54 on January 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM

The sad thing is, is that the legislator who proposed this tax is a Republican(Rep. Diane Franklin, of Camdenton, MO). Whenever I hear a Republican raise the specter of a new tax as a solution, I just shake my head in amazement.

RAN58 on January 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM

See, yall let em start with the sin tax, some of us tossed up the red flags, of course… nahh that cant happen ( open the door )…

Enjoy.

watertown on January 15, 2013 at 6:09 PM

This is as stupid as most of the proposed gun control regulations.

Parents: If you do not want your children exposed to violent video games, DON’T BUY THEM FOR YOUR KIDS and monitor what they do online. Do your duty as parents.

Resist We Much on January 15, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Great idea!
Reg that trash!
Violent video games need to be curbed, reg that nasty rap crap while your at it!

purgatory on January 15, 2013 at 6:13 PM

I was relieved to see that the jerk who introduced this is a Democrat.

Nessuno on January 15, 2013 at 6:14 PM

I think we should ban the toys in Happy Meals, too!

Tra la la, oh so busy fixing the world! — Liberal Twit

John the Libertarian on January 15, 2013 at 6:15 PM

I thought we were somewhat safe here in Missouri, but it looks like the Rhinos are coming home to roost here too.

Does Texas still have room for more people?

Mo_mac on January 15, 2013 at 6:15 PM

One time I played Angry Birds…. next thing I knew the family parakeet was strapped to a wrist rocket and I was launching it at the police.

lm10001 on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

How about taxing violent movies? We could double the ticket price on any movie in which more than 10 rounds are expended or any injury to a character is inflicted thorough violence. Not sure how you’d handle video rentals and sales, but I’m sure some bright Democrat with an ivy-league law degree who has friends in high places can figure out something that will work.

“We are disappointed that even in the wake of an overwhelming decision in the United States Supreme Court finding proposals such as this to be patently unconstitutional

Oh, come on, the 1st Amendment was about protecting political speech, leaflets, town criers and the like. The founding fathers could not have dreamed of violent video games like Halo or Assassin’s Creed. Next thing you constitutional cultists will be telling me is the 2nd Amendment protects the right of everyone to own a nuke.

Socratease on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

They should tax mental illness, too. That’ll curb it.

John the Libertarian on January 15, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Socratease on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Why did you leave porn out?

John the Libertarian on January 15, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Played Counterstrike, eh? Ever play Action Half-Life?

oddjob1138 on January 15, 2013 at 6:20 PM

One time I played Angry Birds…. next thing I knew the family parakeet was strapped to a wrist rocket and I was launching it at the police.

lm10001 on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Angry Birds, a gateway game to more violent video games that will eventually soil over into real world violence. Need to nip it in the bud Andy, nip it in the bud!

/s

AZfederalist on January 15, 2013 at 6:22 PM

One time I played Angry Birds…. next thing I knew the family parakeet was strapped to a wrist rocket and I was launching it at the police.

lm10001 on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

.
L O L ! … Threadwinner!

listens2glenn on January 15, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Do it. Hit leftys where it hurts.

Blake on January 15, 2013 at 6:23 PM

That should be “spill over”

AZfederalist on January 15, 2013 at 6:23 PM

The sad thing is, is that the legislator who proposed this tax is a Republican(Rep. Diane Franklin, of Camdenton, MO). Whenever I hear a Republican raise the specter of a new tax as a solution, I just shake my head in amazement.

RAN58 on January 15, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Amazement? More like denial. The Republican Party gave up the fight against tyranny years ago.

gryphon202 on January 15, 2013 at 6:24 PM

One time I played Angry Birds…. next thing I knew the family parakeet was strapped to a wrist rocket and I was launching it at the police.

lm10001 on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Haha!

This is dumb. I hate taxes. ALL taxes.

Othniel on January 15, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Great… looking forward violent rap tax, the TV crime show tax, Nazi documentary tax, the right wing radio tax, and the late night talk show tax. Oh yeah tax porn all you like… I am fully stocked and can make my own if I need more.

lexhamfox on January 15, 2013 at 6:24 PM

If they are going to put a sin tax on violent video games purchased in the state then how about a sin tax on the violence Hollywood beams into the homes in Missouri. Neither are a solution to the problem but fair is fair.

chemman on January 15, 2013 at 6:25 PM

Go after video games my Missouri but don’t dare touch ‘right to work’. Disappointed…

darlus on January 15, 2013 at 6:27 PM

So, more tax(es) is going to ‘reduce gun violence’?

Sir Napsalot on January 15, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Singling out speech in video games for special taxation is likely unconstitutional, and especially here in Missouri, our policymakers should know better.

Ahem: “INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE FRANKLIN.”

It’s “policymaker”, no ess, and you ought to make note of that. It would also be nice if you explained something about Representative Franklin. Is he, perchance, a Democrat?

Dusty on January 15, 2013 at 6:31 PM

One time I played Angry Birds…. next thing I knew the family parakeet was strapped to a wrist rocket and I was launching it at the police.

lm10001 on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

*snort* Literally, I snort laughed!

texgal on January 15, 2013 at 6:32 PM

If violent videogames are the cause of realworld violence, then why hasn’t realworld violence increased with the advent of violent videogames? Since the introduction of the “first-person shooter” videogame, the violent videogame to those of you playing the home game, violence rates in America have gone almost continually down year after year. When are these people going to get it? Just because I watch a “violent” cartoon like G.I.Joe or play a “violent” videogame like Halo: Reach doesn’t mean I’m going to shoot somebody for cutting me off in traffic. Statistics, science, and even commonsense tells us that shooting aliens, zombies or even prostitutes on their TV does not prompt people to shoot up a shopping mall. What next? You gonna ban my Risk boardgame?

Browncoatone on January 15, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Whoa! There goes PAC MAN…..

Don L on January 15, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Boy oh boy, is this dumb.

thebrokenrattle on January 15, 2013 at 6:35 PM

My sons and their friends, all now young adults, spend hours playing so-calling “violent” video games and none of them have ever assaulted anyone in any way and have no plans to do so. These games, like Call of Duty, are especially popular among the military. A harmless way to de-stress.

Since the rating system is a voluntary industry measure, perhaps the industry will no longer rate their games, thus solving the problem. On the other hand, following the 1st Amendment to begin with is probably a better idea.

Common Sense on January 15, 2013 at 6:36 PM

why stop there? you might as well tax violent movies, books, songs…

One time I played Angry Birds…. next thing I knew the family parakeet was strapped to a wrist rocket and I was launching it at the police.

lm10001 on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

lol… =)

Sachiko on January 15, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Yeah. I think we all remember the rash of tunneling caused by playing too many hours of Dig Dug. And air pump assaults shot through the roof.

It’s good to finally be able to talk about it now.

TexasDan on January 15, 2013 at 6:44 PM

That’s funny.

It’s one thing to have an honest discussion on whether these games are good for kids.

It’s a whole ‘nother animal to just opportunistically tax it.

Funny.

“If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving….”

cane_loader on January 15, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Clearly, the law is poorly crafted.

Just add it to the rest of the liberal laws that have been enacted.

GarandFan on January 15, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Indeed. Singling out speech in video games for special taxation is likely unconstitutional, and especially here in Missouri, our policymakers should know better.

This video game tax is obviously stupid.

However I would support any tax increase on movies made in Hollywood. Should I know better? Yes…but I don’t care. Hollywood has done everything they can to hurt freedoms in America and they have been a propagandist for socializing this country. This is a political war and it is time they suffered some of their own medicine.

William Eaton on January 15, 2013 at 6:51 PM

When I was a kid we played a game that didn’t involve a video game system, it was called “War” and we ran around with plastic guns blowing each other away and then bayoneting the wounded.

Oddly enough every one of the dudes from my gang ended up joining the military and creating stable lives. Huh.

Bishop on January 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM

[..]Indeed. Singling out speech in video games for special taxation is likely unconstitutional, and especially here in Missouri [..]

Unconstitutional you say. I doubt it. Singling out products for special taxes happens all the time not only here in MO but all states. See tobacco taxes.

kahall on January 15, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Obviously, young children cannot purchase Mature rated content.

Obviously, it is the child’s guardians who are supplying them with “violent” video games.

Therefore, it should be obvious that any legislation should deal with substantial fines for parents; not game-producers

Anyway, obviously.

Opinionnation on January 15, 2013 at 7:50 PM

We’re taxing free expression now? Nice.

triple on January 15, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Lets tax violent celebrities.
Then.. lets tax government. It’s time. We tax them and split the money up among ourselves.

JellyToast on January 15, 2013 at 8:04 PM

What the crap Missouri..I live here and this would be a joke and surely unconstitutional

sadsushi on January 15, 2013 at 8:04 PM

You have 3 kinds in government.

You’ve got the people who are out to destroy you and amass as much power for themselves as they possibly can. That’s all it’s about. Nothing else. Whatever they talk about, whatever ever issue they say they are for or against.. it’s just a tool to further their real agenda …. all power for themselves.

Then you have the other types who are aware of the first types and want to stop them. Very few of those people but there are a few.

Then the rest of them are just plain dumb useless idiots. Whatever sounds good at the moment.. whatever way the freaking wind seems to be blowing it just doesn’t matter. The whole world could be running to jump off a cliff and they would try to get out in front of the dive if they thought it would make suicidal mob like them more.

JellyToast on January 15, 2013 at 8:12 PM

One time I played Angry Birds…. next thing I knew the family parakeet was strapped to a wrist rocket and I was launching it at the police.

lm10001 on January 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

*snort* Literally, I snort laughed!

texgal on January 15, 2013 at 6:32 PM

(:->)

KOOLAID2 on January 15, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Update: “Liberal anti-gun trolls like nonpartisan hardest hit”

Liam on January 15, 2013 at 8:44 PM

No more taxes please.

Taxes levied on things the government doesnt approve of, are just an excuse to take more money.

Stupid “sin” taxes punish middle and low class families and it prevents nothing.

Another dollar out of our pockets is another dollar for government to use for their power or be wasted

Im done accepting taxes on anything else.

alecj on January 15, 2013 at 10:34 PM

Glad I got it out of my system but I remember when my beer joint got the new Stargate. Nobody played Defender after that.

DanMan on January 15, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Going from Defender to Stargate. Memories…quarters…and yes, sore thumbs.

MNHawk on January 16, 2013 at 10:20 AM

The founding fathers could not have dreamed of violent video games like Halo

Remember that time you shot that human in Halo?

Yeah, me neither.

mintycrys on January 16, 2013 at 12:01 PM