In the past few weeks, there has been a massive amount of attention pointed towards the videogame industry. I hate to sound cynical, but this seems to happen every time there is a tragic event involving firearms.
The most recent news is from GamePolitics.com, who report that another try at a “Videogame Labeling Bill”, or H.R. 4204 was introduced. Almost a year ago, the “Violence in Video Games Labeling Act” was attempted which would force every video game – digital or store bought, to both use a rating system similar to the ESRB. The Violence in Video Games Labeling Act would also require all games to use a label stating “WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior”.
But this is nearly a year ago! Why do we care what happened back then, especially since it was denied? You see, a certain Representative from Utah has introduced a new version of the bill – H.R. 287. This would also require all games to be rated. My question is this: What happens to indie games that want to be sold digitally? The predecessor to H.R. 287 defined a videogame as “any product, whether distributed electronically or through a tangible device, consisting of data, programs, routines, instructions, applications, symbolic languages, or similar electronic information (collectively referred to as ‘‘software’’) that controls the operation of a computer or telecommunication device and that enables a user to interact with a computer controlled virtual environment for entertainment purposes.”
I don’t mean to sound sensationalist or anything, but could this bill restrict indie game developers who intend to sell their games? There are a lot of really violent indie games like Hotline Miami, but there are also a large number of harmless games. The problem I can image would be whatever contracting board that decides to be the rating authority charging developers/publishers a fine for games to be rated. And then how long would it take for a game to be rated? It seems to me, that if this bill was to be passed it would pretty much outlaw indie games.
I doubt it will go through, but what are solutions you clever people can think of? You can tell us your thoughts in our forums!