Video Game Law Blog

March 10, 2006

Senator Tommy Kilby of Tennessee has filed a bill (SB 3981) aimed at preventing the sale or rental of 'extremely violent"? video games in the state.

What is meant by 'extremely violent"?, you ask? Most of the bill is taken up with various definitions that answer this question. Generally, a video game will be "extremely violent" if the player is able to kill, maim, dismember or sexually assault an image of a human being (A) in a way that a reasonable person would find appeals to a 'deviant or morbid interest"?, is patently offensive to prevailing community standards, and causes the game as a whole to lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value; or (B) enables the player to virtually inflict serious injury upon images of human beings, especially authority figures, in a manner which is especially heinous, cruel or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim. And before you ask, 'authority figure"?, 'cruel"?, 'depraved"?, 'heinous"?, 'serious physical abuse"? and 'torture"? are all defined as well. Presumably dictionary definitions of 'deviant"? and 'morbid"? will suffice, as the bill does not define those terms.

The bill makes it a Class C misdemeanour to rent or sell an extremely violent video game. If passed, the bill is set to take effect on July 1, 2006.

Given the bill's broad restrictions (and despite its careful definitions), it will likely be challenged on constitutional grounds, as has happened in other states, if it becomes law.

Coverage at http://shorl.com/byprubribradebre (GameSpot)

Text of Bill SB3981 at http://shorl.com/hokohidadrotu