Illinois State Representative Marcus Evans Jr. has introduced HB3531, an amendment to the state's Violent Video Games Law that would effectively ban the sale of some of the world's most popular games.
Chicago, Illinois has been facing an increase in carjackings; most recently, local activist Early Walker helped implement Operation Safe Pump, a plan that sees security guards posted at several gas stations in the city as a preventative measure. That same activist, however, believes that a contributing cause to Chicago's crime is violent video games — and he's getting some help from Representative Marcus Evans Jr. with some very broad legislation.
Citing Grand Theft Auto 5 as an example, Walker believes that banning the sale of violent video games would result in a reduction in crime that has been plaguing the city of Chicago for decades. There were 218 carjackings in the city in January 2021 alone. Clearly, Representative Evans Jr. agrees as he's pushing for changes to state law to effectively ban the sale of these games.
"The bill would prohibit the sale of some of these games that promote the activities that we’re suffering from in our communities," Rep. Evans Jr. told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I feel like [Grand Theft Auto 5] has become a huge issue in this spectrum,” Walker said. “When you compare the two, you see harsh similarities as it relates to these carjackings.”
New Illinois Bill Would Pretty Much Ban the Sale of All Violent Video Games
We've seen no shortage of silly legislation about violent video games, but how bad is Rep. Evans Jr.'s proposed amendment? Rather unsurprisingly, HB3531 has a worryingly broad definition of "violent video game."
Here's a synopsis of HB3531 from the 102nd Illinois General Assembly:
Amends the Violent Video Games Law in the Criminal Code of 2012. Changes provisions that restricts the sale or rental of violent video games to minors to prohibit the sale of all violent video games. Modifies the definition of "violent video game" to mean a video game that allows a user or player to control a character within the video game that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal. Modifies the definition of "serious physical harm" to include psychological harm and child abuse, sexual abuse, animal abuse, domestic violence, violence against women, or motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins. Makes conforming changes, including repealing a Section concerning the labeling of violent video games by video game retailers.
As it stands, violent video games are already defined in Illinois law as follows:
(e) "Violent" video games include depictions of or simulations of human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical harm to another human. "Serious physical harm" includes depictions of death, dismemberment, amputation, decapitation, maiming, disfigurement, mutilation of body parts, or rape.
This definition is used for the enforcement of 720 ILCS 5/12A-15, an Illinois State Law that prohibits the sale or rental of these games fitting this definition to minors. Selling or renting violent video games to minors is a petty offense that could result in a fine of $1,000.
Rep. Evans Jr.'s proposed amendment, however, would effectively ban the sale of these games entirely as noted in the amended text of the current law:
720 ILCS 5/12A-15)
Sec. 12A-15. Prohibited
Restrictedsale or rental of violent video games.
(a) A person who sells, rents, or permits to be sold or rented, any violent video game
to any minor, commits a petty offense for which a fine of $1,000 may be imposed.
HB3531 has been forwarded to the state's Rules Committee; its members will determine whether or not to proceed with putting the amendments to existing legislation up for a vote.
Entertainment Software Association Responds to Illinois Violent Video Games Bill HB3531
Update (02/23/21, 7:30 PM EST) – The Entertainment Software Association has sent a statement to TechRaptor on the topic of HB3531. Here is the ESA statement in full:
While our industry understands and shares the concerns about what has been happening in Chicago, there simply is no evidence of a link between interactive entertainment and real-world violence. We believe the solution to this complex problem resides in examining thoroughly the actual factors that drive such behaviors rather than erroneously ascribing blame to videogames based solely upon speculation.
The ESA is an industry organization that represents the interests of video game software and hardware companies. It also serves as the organization behind E3 and the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), a voluntary ratings organization for video games.
What do you think of the proposal to ban the sale of violent video games in Illinois? Do you think HB3531 has a chance of becoming legislation? Let us know in the comments below!