Bill would boost tax on mature games


Humble Bundle

The proposed law attacks popular gaming franchises, such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Assassin’s Creed

Joey Shields, Staff Writer

Since the dawn of video games, critics have continually tried to condemn the industry, and that tradition continued with the recent introduction of a bill into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The bill, which has been proposed for the second time in the past year, attempts to place a 10 percent tax on any video game rated M (for mature audiences) or AO (for adults only), on top of the standard six percent sales tax. This means that consumers would be paying almost $10 in taxes on any $60 game.

The proposed law attacks popular gaming franchises, such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Assassin’s Creed. These series have been at the top of the gaming market for much of the past decade, despite their ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, and are a staple in the industry.

Each likely would see a notable decline in sales within Pennsylvania if the bill were to pass, and that might set a precedent for other similar bills to be made into law around the country.

The primary problem, however, is that the bill has little foundation, and there is no reason for the tax to be imposed.

State Rep. Christopher Quinn proposed the bill, arguing that these violent video games induce violent behavior in the children and teens who play them. All proceeds from the tax, meanwhile, would go toward upgrades in security to prevent school shootings.

While there may certainly be good intentions behind the bill, Quinn’s claims are stereotypical, and lack backing from the scientific community.

Many studies have been done on the possible connection between violent games and aggressive behavior in minors, and the results have been mixed. There have been many studies that claim to find a link between gaming and violent behavior in teenagers, yet there are as many that find no evidence of a connection.

Other studies find that while video games do lead to increased aggression, they do not cause criminal or delinquent activity.

As these studies have found no conclusive answer to the question of whether violent games cause violence, the introduction of the tax bill to the state House of Representatives seems premature. It would be different had these studies found a direct, undeniable link between video games and criminal behavior in minors, but given scientists’ inability to conclusively find that connection, the bill has no standing.

There is no doubt that Quinn has good intentions and was trying to raise money for a good cause, but this bill should not become law until more certain evidence is found.