Oklahoma tax on video games isn’t the answer

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Oklahoma Democratic State Representative William Fourkiller has proposed a bill that, if passed, will tack on an extra 1 percent tax for violent video games to fund the Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund and the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund.

Although the bill has good intentions to combat childhood obesity and bullying, the legislation is poorly executed both in terms of its presentation and in its aims to combat these problems.

If the point of the law is to fight childhood obesity and bullying through taxation of media, why is this new tax only for video games? Movies, magazines, and music, which are highly accessible to young crowds, have the potential to reach a much wider audience than video games.

Moreover, these forms of media can convey violence and promote inactivity just as effectively as video games. If Fourkiller had included these types of media, the bill could have had a lasting impact on bullying and obesity if passed.

If the bill hopes to stop such issues, it should impose a much larger tax in order to prevent sales of violent video games. As a consumer of video games, I can say that an extra 60-cent tax on top of a $60 price tag will not deter anyone from getting their video game fix.

The revision of the legislation to have a larger tax increase for violent video games, however, could serve to make consumers think twice about their purchases and, in turn, stop what Fourkiller believes to be the problem at its source.

One of the most alarming portions of the bill is the statement that all teen-rated games are considered to be violent.

This means that even motion-control games like Dance Central, which promote physical activity and cooperation through choreographed dance routines, are in the running to be taxed.

If the intention of the bill is to promote health and cooperation, it should not be taxing games that actively fight these problems in the same way that it taxes truly violent games.

If Fourkiller had hoped to combat the issues of child obesity and violence, his bill would have been thoughtfully executed to include a more specific list of taxable items based on actual violence in video games, rather than the given ESRB rating.

For now, though, one can only hope that this rash bill is significantly altered if it has any hopes of becoming law.