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Oklahoma Senator Proposes Tax Incentive For Family-Friendly Games 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the wii-devs-rejoice dept.
GamePolitics reports on legislation proposed by Senator Anthony Sykes (R-OK) which would make video games eligible for the same tax breaks that apply to TV and film. The catch is that games with a mature rating would not be eligible for those breaks. Quoting: "While games are restricted to projects appropriate for those under 17, the only eligibility requirement placed on film content is that it be neither child pornography nor obscene. By that standard, R-rated films and MA-17 television programs would easily qualify for the tax break. ... '[Sen. Sykes]... would rather not include the ratings restriction. Unfortunately, as he went around to his fellow senators asking for their support, the first question out of their mouths was whether there would be ratings restrictions.'"
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Oklahoma Senator Proposes Tax Incentive For Family-Friendly Games

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  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte.drunksnipers@com> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:57AM (#26587531) Homepage

    the only eligibility requirement placed on film content is that it be neither child pornography nor obscene.

    wtf!? does that mean childporn is legal in Oklahoma?

    so, normal porn can get a tax break?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wjh31 (1372867)
      that depends if the pornography falls under the entirely arbitrary, subjective category of obscene
    • by Faylone (880739)
      I was wondering more about bothering to mention child porn if it can't be obscene anyway? If it's not obscene...it doesn't qualify as child porn, does it?
    • No, but appearantly in the honorable Senator's opinion it's not obscene, or it wouldn't need to be mentioned separately.

  • Are video games an endangered species in Oklahoma? Why do they need tax breaks?

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @07:48AM (#26587733)

      I think the point is the same as with so many "incentives" the governments give out to encourage what they see as "agreeable action".

      You see the same done with tax breaks for environmentally friendly cars, with tax breaks for people who better insulate their homes to use less fuel for heating and various other things that are economically not really interesting for the individual, but are interesting for the government. Less polution means more quality of life. Less fuel consumption for heating means fewer imports.

      I don't really see it done often on "moral" grounds. Maybe his idea is that this way he can "ban" violent games without outright banning them. If it's economically more interesting for game studios to produce "Teletubbies in Lala-Land" than the next Soldier of Fortune (now with more gore), they will produce it. I just don't think that people would prefer the former, it just ain't the same, so I doubt that this tax break could be big enough to actually accomplish what it should. Like, well, so many of those tax breaks.

      But if it keeps the thinkofthechildren crowd busy, I'm all for it...

      • "Teletubbies in Lala-Land"

        I just went over my stack of wii games.

        They are:

        • 3+: Super Mario Galaxy
        • 7+: Wii Sports
        • 12+: Twilight Princess and Guitar Hero III
        • 18: Mortal Kombat Armageddon

        Of these, MK:A is, IIRC, the least popular game (measured in shipped units and reviews). It's also my least favorite game.

        SMG is clearly made to be enjoyable by kids, though that doesn't subtract much (if anything at all) (IMO) from the adult enjoyability factor.

        But if it keeps the thinkofthechildren crowd busy, I'm all for it...

        I don't know if I agree with that. Why do we need to tinker with the market if the market by

      • by EdIII (1114411) *

        If it's economically more interesting for game studios to produce "Teletubbies in Lala-Land"

        Don't be absurd. I mean seriously Sir, don't you know the purple one is GAY? How is that family-friendly?

        I don't want my government incentivizing that! No Sireee.

      • Less polution means more quality of life.

        Problem is, if the cars aren't economic without subsidy, there's a good chance they're actually not releasing less pollution, when considering the entire system.

        If they want to mandate something, they should just mandate that every vehicle sold comes with a "nutrition" label that's divided into sections detailing the energy and pollution caused by production and the estimated per-mile releases.

        • by KDR_11k (778916)

          It can also mean that the operation costs are lower than the impact they cause but raising them is not feasible enough.

        • I didn't say it works. I only said that politicians either think it works or they think that we think it does and thus consider them to do something for our environment.

          Nobody said politicians can't be bullshitted or wouldn't bullshit you into voting for them.

      • by argent (18001)

        Ha ha.

        No, really, why are they even considering subsidizing video games at all?

      • by dangitman (862676)

        "Teletubbies in Lala-Land"

        Now that is obscene.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Not yet, but the legislature isn't done trying.

  • are R rated movies not eligible for tax incentives? that'd be kind of absurd.

  • Consitutional? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:23AM (#26587925)

    Does it violate the First Amendment for the government to tax one kind of content at a higher rate than another kind of content?

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      This is my first thought as well. It's just censorship through economics.

    • If they banned everything but kid's games, then that would certainly be a violation of the first amendment, but this is not.
      • Really? What if they taxed Fanny Hill and Tropic of Cancer but no other books? That would certainly be ruled unconstitutional.
      • by Joe U (443617)

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        Taxes are passed through laws. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that yeah, this is an abridgement of speech through tax law.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And if the taxed all non-kid games at 1,000,000%, it would clearly be equivalent to a ban. Where do we draw the line?
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          And if the taxed all non-kid games at 1,000,000%, it would clearly be equivalent to a ban. Where do we draw the line?

          That's why it's tax incentives rather than taxes.

          A tax incentive is a promise of a lower tax rate to someone who does something. You may be familiar with "film tax incentives" which basically mean people making movies get tax breaks if they fulfill certain criteria. They still pay taxes, but if they qualify, they can discount some of the taxes they would normally pay. SOme of these can be qui

  • I've read a preview for the Ghostbusters game coming out and they're cutting things that appear in the Ghostbusters movies to make them more child friendly.

    So why is it ok for Peter Venkman to swear in a movie but not the game?

    Also, has there ever been a game sold with child porn in it? That comment just makes no sense.
    • Leisure Suit Larry, Neverland Ranch Special Edition.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      Also, has there ever been a game sold with child porn in it? That comment just makes no sense.

      Japan is FULL of those! Or at least that's what the sensationalist media tells us...

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Having been to Japan, I did see a "virtual girlfriend" game there. Only it was advertised as also being a "virtual daughter" game as well. And this was on 3m high posters in a store, so it wasn't exactly an underground sort of thing.

  • by Benfea (1365845) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:29AM (#26588431)
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not an angry parent or some anti-gaming crusader, but the industry as a whole would be healthier if they made more games for kids. Link [youtube.com]
    • by jack2000 (1178961)
      I'm going to disagree with you. Since when do kids game ONLY on consoles?
    • by Neoprofin (871029)
      80-90% of gamers are not children, nor is the Wii the only console for children.

      I've been playing games like Command and Conquer and Doom since I was in elementary school, was my mother excited about it? Probably not, but it kept me entertained and out of trouble and now I have my degree, a good job, and a clean criminal record. As long as parents keep allowing M rated games to raise their children they'll be plenty of titles to keep the young ones busy.

      The problem with the comic book industry is not
  • Is this in effect endorsing the ESRB rating system? Another question, are games having ESRB mandatory or voluntary? Will the government want to control how ESRB rates games? Could the government fine the ESRB for misrating a game?

    • by Neoprofin (871029)
      The ESRb is, more or less mandatory, though it is a self-imposed system by the industry to head-offlawsuits from greedy parents who want to claim that they didn't know Curb Stomper 4: Skullfucker was violent or they wouldn't have purchased it for the child they don't want to pay any attention to.
  • This is stupid. There is no shortage of "family friendly" games.

  • Other way around (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Alsee (515537)

    I agree we should "make video games eligible for the same tax breaks that apply to TV and film", but do it the other way around.

    Why the hell is the government telling TV and film that they don't have to pay the standard taxes everyone else has to pay?

    A lot of people have this candyland fantasy that "tax cuts" and "tax breaks" and "tax relief" are a good thing. You can change SPENDING, but aside from that it is impossible to change the total money in taxes you have to collect. If you give some people a "tax

    • I'm not sure if I think this bill is a good idea or not, but there is sound economic reasoning in creating tax breaks. Giving tax breaks does not necessarily lower the overall amount of tax collected. If the lower tax rate drives more video game developers to Oklahoma, then the state may collect more total money than they would have with a higher rate. To pull numbers out of my ass, taking 15% of a $100 million business is much better than taking 20% of a $50 million business. Yes, this does take tax money

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