In the newest version of the US Congress tax reform bill, it singles out developers of violent video games.
In the US House of Representatives, a tax reform bill was proposed that, at one point, has a tax credit in place for research and development so that American companies can successfully compete with the foreign market. This tax credit applies for many industries, including video game developers and publishers.
It applies, unless those game developers and publishers decide to make a violent video game.
According to page 24 of the bill, it “[prevents] makers of violent video games from qualifying for the R&D tax credit.” This would affect those makers who have both violent and tame games in their repertoire, like EA Games.
People who fight against this bill are suggesting that this violates the First Amendment, saying that without this tax credit, their freedom of speech is hindered. The Supreme Court has even said before that video games, no matter how violent, have the same right as any other form of art. Defenders of the bill state that revoking this tax credit is not the same as imposing a new tax on the games, therefore not hindering a game’s development.
It will be interesting to see if this bill does make it, how they will judge violent video games. Will they use ESRB rankings? Will the government officially step in to judge these games? It is that thought that worries me. I don’t want to see an Australian situation of banning or heavily censoring games in the states. That would hinder game development and, therefore, hurt the industry. My problem is not with the tax laws as it stands right now. It is with what may happen. This could be the first step of the US government stepping in to regulate the games industry, and I don’t want to see it progress any further than this.
Source: The Washington Examiner
Shawn Richards studies games to understand how they work. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.