Can you really put a tax on violent games? If House Bill No. 109 passes in Pennslyvania, that may actually happen. Legislators recently introduced a bill that would tax games deemed “too violent.”
Luckily this is just isolated to the state right now, though the bill does worry many gamers who fear the tax could start to happen nationwide. This was first introduced back in October 2018 by Representative Christopher B. Quinn (R), but it died in committee. Now it could actually become a real thing. Why is he so passionate about this? In a memo, he said the violence kids see in media could influence the increase in violence in schools.
Over the past few years, acts of violence in schools seem to be occurring more frequently and with more intensity. From Colorado to Connecticut to most recently in Parkland, Florida, students have experienced unthinkable actions by peers in a place that should promote learning and enrichment, safety and protection. 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.
What could happen
Basically, House Bill No. 109 would seek to implement a 10% tax on the more adult and mature video games sold in stores. This would be on top of any state or local taxes, meaning it could make those games a tad more expensive to buy if this bill passes. Money from the extra 10% collected will go to their Digital Protection for School Safety account. This is a new measure that is designed to make schools safer. But are video games to blame for violence? Can we solely put the blame on violent games and say they are the root cause? It’s been a widely debated issue for a while. Also, a National Center for Health Research article even stated the following:
Studies have shown that playing violent video games can increase aggressive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings in both the short-term and long-term. Violent video games can also desensitize people to seeing aggressive behavior and decrease prosocial behaviors such as helping another person and feeling empathy (the ability to understand others). The longer that individuals are exposed to violent video games, the more likely they are to have aggressive behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
Ironically he left out this important fact made by the same study
It is important to keep in mind that violent video game exposure is only one risk factor of aggressive behavior. For example, mental illness, adverse environments, and access to guns are all risk factors of aggression and violence.
The good thing to mention is that the Entertainment Software Association, which works on behalf of many video game publishers, is fighting back. It called the bill “a violation of the U.S. Constitution” in a statement to Variety.
The bill has now been referred to the PA House of Representatives Finance Committee. It’s really a waiting game as to what’s going to happen next. It could be bad news for those who enjoy fighting games and we have a whole slew of new titles coming out this year. Mortal Kombat 11, for example, could see an extra tax added if this passes. Let us know how you feel about this developing story. We will have an update for you if the bill passes or not.