Would this be the end of Game Jams in America (HR 287)?

Posted by (twitter: @stalkjimmy)
January 18th, 2013 2:52 pm



7 (a) CONDUCT PROHIBITED.—It shall be unlawful for
8 any person to ship or otherwise distribute in interstate
9 commerce, or to sell or rent, a video game that does not
10 contain a rating label, in a clear and conspicuous location

on the outside packaging of the video game, containing
2 an age-based content rating determined by the Entertain-
3 ment Software Ratings Board.

7 Responses to “Would this be the end of Game Jams in America (HR 287)?”

  1. sorceress says:

    A similar law was created in england about 6 months ago, and afaik it applies only to physical media (dvd/cd/cartridge/etc).

    The text you’ve quoted uses the terms “label” and “outside packaging”, which suggests packaged products. It doesn’t seem to be talking about downloaded software. That said, it’s only a matter of time before law catches up with technology.

    Cherish things while you can. 😐

  2. GFM says:

    I don’t see how this bill is relevant to game jams… It makes a must to rate properly games being sold and prohibits the sale of M and AO games to underaged.

    Well, as I see things (not to say that I’m pretty sure that what I’m going to say is, indeed, correct) you aren’t “commercialy distributing” a game when you sumit it for any game jam. If you think otherwise, simply add notes to the game about possible age restrictions. Of course, you won’t be fully in accord with this bill (since it’s not a ESRB rating), but no one will be able to say that you didn’t warn they before hand.

    Nonetheless, I must agree when sorceress said: “[…]it’s only a matter of time before law catches up with technology.”. =X

    On a side note: Wait, only now it’s prohibited to sell 17+ games to minors? What were the rating for? This is ridiculous… you mean ratings didn’t mean anything until now? >_<

  3. dekuashe says:

    It wouldn’t affect game jams, but it would have a potentially disastrous effect on the indie game scene in general. Half the Kickstarter projects I back offer thumb drives to send to people who opt for that. But that’s just in the wording in the bill stays the same (they never do). The NRA brought up some oddball Flash games found on the web, so you can be sure they’ll be eyeing any kind of distribution, otherwise Steam would be exempt, and they distribute all these types of games that they’re claiming are training the next serial killer.

    I doubt this thing actually passes. Not many morality bills do. But, just in case, write your representatives and tell them why this is a stupid idea.

    I suppose books will have to be regulated by the government too? What is this stupid country coming to?

    • sorceress says:

      Social engineering. Getting certificates/licenses is unpleasant enough that it will affect people’s choices as they wonder “Is it worth the hassle and expense?”.

      So regulation discourages talented individuals from creating things, thereby reducing competition for the corporations who have their own products and services to sell.

  4. frnknstn says:

    In America, laws like this that single out video games for treatment different to other forms of media have been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, time and again. This law, if it is passed, will therefore be stuck down before it is enforced.

    HOWEVER: It can only be struck down if it is challenged, and it can only be challenged if somebody can afford to challenge it. This is why you need to donate to the EFF, or at the very least make sure some of your Humble Indie Bundle cash is distributed to the EFF.

  5. JonRB says:

    We could all submit our games to the ESRB when we make games, including a quote of this bill.
    I’m sure they’ll be delighted to rate 1000 short games.

    Then just put this on the game:


  6. filtoid says:

    Lines 8 & 9 specify that it is illegal to “../ship or otherwise distribute in commerce…” which to untrained legal eye implies that it’s only if you sell it. Which actually could be crazy because you could offer a game as a free download and charge for in game content without it having to have a rating – only the content would need to rated – how would you rate a hat in TF2 for example?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

[cache: storing page]