Lawmakers send mixed messages with game studio tax incentives & restrictions

Here’s a mighty strong sign that video games are gradually shedding their stigma as a bad influence and a childish pastime.

Gradually.

Several states have enacted tax incentives to lure game developers to locate in their states. At the same time some, like Texas, are trying to put preconditions on these incentives, saying they only apply to companies that don’t release Mature-rated games.

This is a mixed message, and unfair practice. Lawmakers are attracted to the young professionals that generally work in the industry and whose high salaries would help stimulate their local economy. Gaming is a growing industry, generating nearly $22 billion last year. Recognizing and attempting to attract these businesses gives legitimacy to gaming in general.

But at the same time they affirm that video games are just child’s play by refusing to fund studios that produce games for mature audiences. These same states don’t put restrictions on film studios, allowing them tax breaks even for R-rated movies.

Even more states are attempting to pass laws to make it a criminal offense to sell or M-rated games to minors. Luckily the courts have struck down any laws to this effect that get passed, rightly pointing out that they restrict the free speech rights of a single industry.

One step forward, one step back.

Inspiration/source: Christian Science Monitor: States do a delicate dance with gamers.

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