Rhode Island Representative Robert Nardolillois planning on introducing a new legislation that will tax "violent" video games in the state. Violence and other mature themes, such as sex and drugs, in video games has always been a hot topic, especially with regard to the possible connection between the M-rated games and the growing rates of school shootings in the United States.
Mature video games, like the Battlefield and Call of Duty series, are known for portraying somewhat realistic violence and they don't shy away from showing bloody shootings, deaths, stabbings, and other acts of violence not meant for those under the age of 17. Yet, plenty of minors play these games without issue when their parents purchase the games on their behalf. The problem the video game industry is facing today is the assumption that violent games are one of the key reasons troubled teens partake in gun violence due to the realistic nature of the games and the idea that death is not permanent. And now, legislators are looking to combat violent video games by imposing a tax.
Rhode Island Representative Robert Nardolillo is proposing legislation that will add a 10 percent tax to all M-rated (or higher) video games sold in the state. The revenue raised by the taxes would go to a fund for school districts to support counseling, mental health programs, and "other conflict resolution activities." Nardolillo also claims that the tax is necessary because, under the First Amendment, states cannot legally ban the sale of these video games to minors and the only way to combat gun violence in schools is to provide funds for programs which reduce "aggression caused by games." Here's his statement:
"There is evidence that children exposed to violent videogames at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not. This bill would give schools the additional resources needed to help students deal with that aggression in a positive way. Our goal is to make every school in Rhode Island a safe and calm place for students to learn. By offering children resources to manage their aggression today, we can ensure a more peaceful tomorrow."
While it sounds like Rep. Nardolillo is trying to help the issue, his facts are simply unproven. During the past few years, there have been countless studies by professionals which show some links between violent games and aggression in children, but there's isn't substantial proof to make a definite statement on the connection yet. Even though violence in video games shouldn't be glorified, artistic choices in media shouldn't face censorship because of untrue or murky findings and statistics.
This news comes on the heels of Hawaii legislators looking to curb loot boxes in the state, which is a topic that also continues to plague the video game industry. Unfortunately, lawmakers' goals with video games seems to not extend beyond curbing violence in said games.