Letter to Senator Coffee, author of the anti-video game bill

Below is my letter to the senator and I have talked to the fine folks at 2015 Studios, EA, and a video game lobbying group. International news media has latched onto this story, especially Slashdot and Cnet News. I encourage everyone to contact this senator and prove him wrong.  Btw, if readers want to email him, please do so at coffee@oksenate.gov.

Dear Senator Coffee,

I feel that House Bill 3004 will have an adverse effect on the video game industry that does exist here in Oklahoma. One such company is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That studio is 2015 Studios, makers of extremely notable and famous video games such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Men of Valor. Both of these games are incredibly violent and are geared towards mature audiences. Men of Honor is teen rated because there is a lack of blood even though you kill Nazis. Men of Valor is rated Mature due to language, violent historical footage, and blood and gore. These games have received awards nationally and internationally including but not limited to USA Today, Newsweek, Cnet, E3 Game of the Year 2001 and the games were even praised by the Tulsa World and even, the Daily Oklahoman.

Your bill would threaten this company due to this language, and I do quote as such, “The measure includes games that lack “serious literary, scientific, medical, artistic, or political value for minors” under the definition of “inappropriate violence”. You accuse the Democrats as being anti-business friendly in Oklahoma, but that wording alone makes you anti game studio friendly in this state. This state should be lucky in that we have one of the hottest game studios in our own backyard. The video game industry is one of the fastest growing businesses in the world.

You want to keep violent video games from kids? Here is something more simple and make better sense than wasteful legislation. Get parents involved in purchasing video games for kids. Game stores and video game companies already ask for ID for violent video games and in many video game stores, they have flyers and pamphlets explaining the video game rating system created by the ESRB. The labels are plenty descriptive if you read them. Let me read you what the rating is for Halo 2, a popular game with kids and adults. Mature 17+, Blood & Gore, Violence, Language. Mature 17+ tells you that the game is for mature audiences. The blood & gore, violence, and language tells you why the game is rating for mature audiences. Sure sounds like the video game rating system is just like the rating system used in movies.

Video games are the latest blame tool for kids who act out violently, just like rock music in the 1980’s supposidly made kids want to take a shotgun and murder their parents.

There is no law against a 10 year old going to see an R-Rated movie. There is no law against a 10 year old buying said movie on DVD – unrated version even. There is no law against a 10 year old buying an Emimen album.

What about clueless parents that buy said violent video games for their kids even though they know nothing about the game, the ratings, nor care, just so long as they get the game their kid wants.

If this law is accepted, it will also be accepted that video games are for some reason a less protected form of speech than other media. I that OK with you? It’s not OK with me.

And the study that you quoted? Was it the same study that Senator Hillary Clinton used? Because if so, that study was found to have several large holes in it and the study was so poorly done, that the federal legislation has been thrown off the Hill.

And in case you were wondering, this bill has already hit the international news media, specifically, the tech industry. The Register, which is a British IT news journal has already lampooned this state once before thanks to the Mayor of Tuttle, Oklahoma; is calling this state the “No Fun State” akin to the NFL also known as the “No Fun League”. The story has hit slashdot.org, a major geek news site where they are saying that OKlahomans think video games are games that you play on VHS tape. If you think you can grasp the article on Slashdot, here is a link. http://politics.slashdot.org/politics/06/04/26/0429201.shtml

And yes, they are making fun of you. Here are some quotes for you:

“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I found some of the definitions extremely amusing. Selected quotes:

2. “Nudity” means the:….

c. depiction of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state;

hahaha – turgid (sounds like its written by a 14 y.o – why don’t they just say ‘erect’). Also we have:

6. “Sexual excitement” means the condition of human male or female genitals when in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal;

Thanks guys – I would never have guessed! – here’s a scarier one:

5. “Sexual conduct” means acts of …, homosexuality, …

wtf? Does this mean you can’t have two guys holding hands in a game? *shakes head*”

However, I’d like to echo somebody elses sentiment: What does all of this have to do with violence?

In case you didn’t know, Michigan tried a law very similiar to the Oklahoma Law…guess what, Senator? It was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

Your bill even outlaws football games, and classics like Super Mario Brothers and Tetris and Pong.

As a Republican, video gamer, and now a Tax Payer, I feel disgraced to be a Republican in Oklahoma.

Maybe you should actually try giving our teachers actual pay raises instead of voting that you would support a measure to increase teacher pay but never actually vote to actually increase their wages before writing wasteful bills. You want to improve Oklahoma for businesses, Senator? I encourage you to put your money where your mouth is and vote for Education. That is the reason why many businesses don’t want to come here. Our education system is pathetic. That is the reason why Electronic Arts, the world’s largest Video Game maker decided not to open up a small development studio in this state.

Sincerely,

Matt Luria

mattluria.com