Kids can play

State legislatures across the country trying to outlaw the sale of violent video games to minors are having a difficult time finding the start button.

A recent Michigan law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to those under 18 was put on hold permanently this month by a federal judge.

“Video games contain creative, expressive free speech, inseparable from their interactive functional elements, and are therefore protected by the First Amendment,” U.S. District Judge George Steeh said in his ruling.

The Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, signed the bill into law in September 2005 before an initial injunction was filed in November.

Liz Boyd, press secretary to the governor, was disappointed with Judge Steeh’s ruling to allow violent game sales.

“We are fighting to protect the children,” she said.

Although Michigan wants a law banning the sale and rental of violent videogames to minors, it doesn’t have a similar law for films.

“We focus on games because of their interactive nature,” Boyd said.

However, Sundiata Hankins, a University freshman and Detroit native, doesn’t think the bill benefits children.

“I think it’s not right to the kids and the people because video games don’t have that much influence on the people,” he said. “It’s the mind strength ” the strength of their mind on their


Hankins also said that laws limiting the sale and rental of film would be better suited for protecting younger people.

“I think movies have a great more deal on the influence of people, definitely kids, than videogames,” he said.

A law similar to the one in Michigan was recently passed and signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger in California, and was similarly put on hold.

Adam Keigwin, press secretary for Leland Y. Yee, who sponsored the Californian bill, was also disappointed by the decision of the courts, but was struck by the unilateral support the bill received. In the California Assembly, it passed 66-7. In the Senate, the margin was 22-9.

“Both pretty overwhelming; both pretty bipartisan,” he said.

California also does not have a law banning the sale or rental of movies to minors. Keigwin said the reason behind this was the different way the rating boards for the movie and game industries work.

The movie rating board will view a film multiple times and often allow parents and public figures to sit on the board, Keigwin said.

He added that the game industry board is completely in-house, and they routinely only view 30 minutes of gameplay.

Keigwin said the game board is not in-depth enough and this lack of analysis has let many things -like the infamous “Hot Coffee” mod- which allowed players to participate in a sexual mini game for “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” slip through.

Keigwin also said the way games are played may be another problem.

“Studies have shown the interactive nature has more of an effect,” he said. “In a movie, you don’t get rewarded for being more violent.”

Keigwin expects a trial in May to decide if the bill will take effect. But their struggle may not end there.

“We expect to win that case and if we win, we expect the industry to file an appeal,” he said.

Michigan is also looking into legal options.