Lawmaker Fights Uphill Battle Against Adult Content in Video Games

By Ed ThomasAugust 2, 2005
(AgapePress) - Leland Yee, the Speaker Pro-tem of the California Assembly, has for the past several years been a leader in trying to get legislation passed in his state to control the sale of what he calls "ultra-violent" video games. He was also one of the most vocal critics of the gaming industry when news broke of hidden sexually explicit content built into the game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."
Yee says he has been involved in two stalled attempts in the California legislature to make a law restricting the sale of the games he opposes -- the "first-person shooter" games, or those that typically place the player in a posture of committing violence. With these games, he explains, "Literally, when you're pushing the button, then you are executing the acts of either shooting, killing, or maiming individuals such as women, poor people, and minorities."
And those, Yee insists, "are not the lessons that we should be teaching our children." And he says the recent revelations about the hidden pornography in the popular Grand Theft Auto game have only added to his concerns about the already questionable nature of such violent and explicit games.
Many in the California lawmaker's own state legislature, the U.S. Congress, and the media were listening to his concerns a lot more closely after the truth about "Grand Theft Auto" emerged. Many people were shocked to learn, he says, that "hidden in the game were rather sexually explicit sexual acts and a gamer did, in fact, break the code and was able to unlock that particular game."
When the news broke that software readily available on the Internet could allow young gamers to "hack" into the hidden pornographic content, intense public outcry led to a rating change for the game from "Mature" to "Adults Only." But Yee says parents by and large still have not gotten the message or realized the pervasive psychological effects these "ultra-violent" first-person shooter video games can have on kids. "When you open up the computer screen," he explains, "you're really looking down at the barrel of a gun or [through] the eyes of the perpetrator."
Nor has Yee been able to convince his fellow lawmakers to support tougher state controls on these games, even though research strongly suggests the negative long-term effects of video game violence and sexually explicit content on youth. Despite his efforts, the assemblyman says lobbyists for the video gaming industry have managed for two years in a row to stall any attempt to bring a bill addressing the problem to a floor vote.

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