In the wake of the Parkland school shooting there are many struggling to make sense of the tragedy. As ever, some of them are inclined to blame videogames for what happened.
Rhode Island representative, Robert Nardolillo III, has proposed a bill which, if passed, will implement an increased tax on violent videogames, with the funds from the tax going towards mental health and counselling resources in schools.
The legislation would add an extra 10% sales tax to videogames sold in Rhode Island which are rated M-for-Mature or higher by the ESRB.
Nardolillo told Glixel that, following the tragic shooting in Parkland, he was flooded with emails from concerned parents, students, and school officials who wanted to know how they can prevent a similar situation in their local schools.
As states can't ban the sale of certain videogames to minors, Nardolillo has proposed a bill which would “instead allocate money to counteract the aggression they may cause.”
“There is evidence that children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not,” Nardolillo stated in a press release. “This bill would give schools the additional resources needed to help students deal with that aggression in a positive way.”
"Our goal is to make every school in Rhode Island a safe and calm place for students to learn," Nardolillo continued. "By offering children resources to manage their aggression today, we can ensure a more peaceful tomorrow."
As noted by GameSpot, Rhode Island’s current sales tax rate is 7%, which means games which initially cost $60 end up costing $64.20 with the added tax. If Nardolillo’s proposed bill came into effect, the extra 10% tax would mean a mature game like Grand Theft Auto V would cost $70.20. However, it’s thought to be likely this would discourage everyone from buying mature games, not just minors, and would have a negative effect on developers’ sales - even if Rhode Island isn’t the biggest of states.
This isn’t Rhode Island’s first tussle with videogames as the state was nearly bankrupted by the Kingdoms of Amalur controversy only a few years ago.
Talk of videogame-related violence also popped its ugly head up at the White House. During a meeting about school safety, President Trump said, “the level of violence in videogames is shaping young people's thoughts.” The statement has once again sparked the debate over the link between videogames and violence, with Trump suggesting a rating system may need to be put in place on violent films and videogames:
“You see these movies, and they’re so violent, a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved, and maybe we need to put a rating system for that.”