People have always been quick to link video games and violence, although there’s no proven link that suggests bad behaviour in games corresponds to bad behaviour in real life.
However, the state of Pennsylvania definitely believes the two are linked as lawmakers are looking to add a 10% tax on violent video games in aid of the ‘Digital Protection for School Safety Account.’
The account’s funds would then be used to improve security measures in schools in the hopes of preventing school shootings.
Republican state representative Chris Quinn originally put the bill forward in September 2018, stating: “one factor that may be contributing to the rise in, and intensity of, school violence is the material kids see, and act out, in video games.”
He added: “I plan to introduce legislation which would assess a 10% sales tax on video games that contains violent material. The generated revenue from this tax assessment will placed into a restricted fund for the sole purpose of providing funding opportunity for school safety enhancements, a proposal similar to one the State of Rhode Island is considering.”
The tax, if approved, will be applied to games rated either Adults-Only or M for Mature, and could lead to an additional $5-$10 on AAA games.
Professor of Psychology and Criminal Justice at Texas A&M studied the correlation between gaming and violence, stating: “As a video game violence researcher and someone who has done scholarship on mass homicides, let me state very emphatically: There is no good evidence that video games or other media contributes, even in a small way, to mass homicides or any other violence among youth.” [via Fortune].
The proposed tax, officially named House Bill No. 109, is still alive despite failing last year. It’s now been referred to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Finance Committee.
The proposal has been met with outrage across the gaming community. Director of GOTY God Of War, Cory Barlog, tweeted on the matter, saying: “Such a shady subversive way to try and make some kind of connection between games and horrible acts of violence.
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“We must make our schools safer and put forth every effort to protect our children but making M rated games the causality misses the plot.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by most gamers, and it’s the latest topic tackled by Jim Sterling, which you can watch below.
In the video description Jim writes: “Yeah, this is a logical route to take when trying to prevent mass murder, right? A stupid bill, put forth by an imbecile, proposes a 10% tax on videogames rated M or AO, with the money going toward security.
“Yet more scapegoating and grandstanding from politicians who don’t want to really fix a problem, but look like they give a damn.”