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Oklahoma Senator Proposes Tax Incentive For Family-Friendly Games

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the wii-devs-rejoice dept.

The Almighty Buck 53

GamePolitics reports on legislation proposed by Senator Anthony Sykes (R-OK) which would make video games eligible for the same tax breaks that apply to TV and film. The catch is that games with a mature rating would not be eligible for those breaks. Quoting: "While games are restricted to projects appropriate for those under 17, the only eligibility requirement placed on film content is that it be neither child pornography nor obscene. By that standard, R-rated films and MA-17 television programs would easily qualify for the tax break. ... '[Sen. Sykes]... would rather not include the ratings restriction. Unfortunately, as he went around to his fellow senators asking for their support, the first question out of their mouths was whether there would be ratings restrictions.'"

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frist psot! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587495)

frist psot first post frosty piss

AWESOOOOOME!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587527)

I can't wait for some sequels to Carnival Funfair on the wii...

no tax break for childporn!? (2, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587531)

the only eligibility requirement placed on film content is that it be neither child pornography nor obscene.

wtf!? does that mean childporn is legal in Oklahoma?

so, normal porn can get a tax break?

Re:no tax break for childporn!? (1, Insightful)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587635)

that depends if the pornography falls under the entirely arbitrary, subjective category of obscene

Re:no tax break for childporn!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26588323)

I agree with the Supreme Court on this one. I know it when I see it, so let's go watch some!

Re:no tax break for childporn!? (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587707)

I was wondering more about bothering to mention child porn if it can't be obscene anyway? If it's not obscene...it doesn't qualify as child porn, does it?

Re:no tax break for childporn!? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587709)

No, but appearantly in the honorable Senator's opinion it's not obscene, or it wouldn't need to be mentioned separately.

Re:no tax break for childporn!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26588005)

He's putting his foot down. He doesn't care how tasteful and artsy your child porn is. NO TAX BREAK FOR YOU!

Re:no tax break for childporn!? (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26590013)

"I'm sorry the Coen Brothers don't direct the child porn I watch, they're hard to get a hold of."

Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587565)

I'm gonna make 100,000 versions of tetris and then the goverment will owe ME money!

lj? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588271)

AC wrote:

I'm gonna make 100,000 versions of tetris and then the goverment will owe ME money!

What, are you going to recompile LOCKJAW Tetromino Game [pineight.com] with the options hardcoded to 100,000 different configurations?

I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587629)

Are video games an endangered species in Oklahoma? Why do they need tax breaks?

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587733)

I think the point is the same as with so many "incentives" the governments give out to encourage what they see as "agreeable action".

You see the same done with tax breaks for environmentally friendly cars, with tax breaks for people who better insulate their homes to use less fuel for heating and various other things that are economically not really interesting for the individual, but are interesting for the government. Less polution means more quality of life. Less fuel consumption for heating means fewer imports.

I don't really see it done often on "moral" grounds. Maybe his idea is that this way he can "ban" violent games without outright banning them. If it's economically more interesting for game studios to produce "Teletubbies in Lala-Land" than the next Soldier of Fortune (now with more gore), they will produce it. I just don't think that people would prefer the former, it just ain't the same, so I doubt that this tax break could be big enough to actually accomplish what it should. Like, well, so many of those tax breaks.

But if it keeps the thinkofthechildren crowd busy, I'm all for it...

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588131)

"Teletubbies in Lala-Land"

I just went over my stack of wii games.

They are:

  • 3+: Super Mario Galaxy
  • 7+: Wii Sports
  • 12+: Twilight Princess and Guitar Hero III
  • 18: Mortal Kombat Armageddon

Of these, MK:A is, IIRC, the least popular game (measured in shipped units and reviews). It's also my least favorite game.

SMG is clearly made to be enjoyable by kids, though that doesn't subtract much (if anything at all) (IMO) from the adult enjoyability factor.

But if it keeps the thinkofthechildren crowd busy, I'm all for it...

I don't know if I agree with that. Why do we need to tinker with the market if the market by itself makes kid-friendly games?

I also suspect that the more vocal parts of the TOTC crowd won't shut up until the whole world lives by that crowd's moral values, which isn't going to happen.

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (-1, Troll)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588925)

For you the WII is THE market? Make your kids a favor and go buy some REAL games.

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26589081)

If it's economically more interesting for game studios to produce "Teletubbies in Lala-Land"

Don't be absurd. I mean seriously Sir, don't you know the purple one is GAY? How is that family-friendly?

I don't want my government incentivizing that! No Sireee.

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#26589623)

Less polution means more quality of life.

Problem is, if the cars aren't economic without subsidy, there's a good chance they're actually not releasing less pollution, when considering the entire system.

If they want to mandate something, they should just mandate that every vehicle sold comes with a "nutrition" label that's divided into sections detailing the energy and pollution caused by production and the estimated per-mile releases.

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26593151)

It can also mean that the operation costs are lower than the impact they cause but raising them is not feasible enough.

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26594733)

I didn't say it works. I only said that politicians either think it works or they think that we think it does and thus consider them to do something for our environment.

Nobody said politicians can't be bullshitted or wouldn't bullshit you into voting for them.

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26590565)

Ha ha.

No, really, why are they even considering subsidizing video games at all?

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26605699)

"Teletubbies in Lala-Land"

Now that is obscene.

Re:I'm not sure I understand the point... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588911)

Not yet, but the legislature isn't done trying.

what about R rated movies? (1)

putch (469506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587721)

are R rated movies not eligible for tax incentives? that'd be kind of absurd.

Re:what about R rated movies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587901)

are R rated movies not eligible for tax incentives? that'd be kind of absurd.

My mind boggles at the lengths people will go to post questions without looking at the facts.

RTFS

Consitutional? (3, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587925)

Does it violate the First Amendment for the government to tax one kind of content at a higher rate than another kind of content?

Re:Consitutional? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588267)

This is my first thought as well. It's just censorship through economics.

No, it does not violate the 1st amendment (2, Insightful)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588455)

If they banned everything but kid's games, then that would certainly be a violation of the first amendment, but this is not.

Re:No, it does not violate the 1st amendment (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588593)

Really? What if they taxed Fanny Hill and Tropic of Cancer but no other books? That would certainly be ruled unconstitutional.

Re:No, it does not violate the 1st amendment (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588967)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Taxes are passed through laws. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that yeah, this is an abridgement of speech through tax law.

Re:No, it does not violate the 1st amendment (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26591799)

And if the taxed all non-kid games at 1,000,000%, it would clearly be equivalent to a ban. Where do we draw the line?

Re:No, it does not violate the 1st amendment (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26595575)

And if the taxed all non-kid games at 1,000,000%, it would clearly be equivalent to a ban. Where do we draw the line?

That's why it's tax incentives rather than taxes.

A tax incentive is a promise of a lower tax rate to someone who does something. You may be familiar with "film tax incentives" which basically mean people making movies get tax breaks if they fulfill certain criteria. They still pay taxes, but if they qualify, they can discount some of the taxes they would normally pay. SOme of these can be quite large and the qualification provisions interesting - e.g., X% of your crew must be local, and Y% of the film budget be spent at the locality, and you'll get back a Z% rebate on the sales taxes you pay for crew/equipment/lodgings/etc.

These normally involve produces, rather than consumers. In this case, let's say game companies pay 10% of profits as taxes (made up number). If they qualify, then they get a 5% rebate (again, made up number) on their taxes based on profits they earned from a game.

If the game bombs and they make a loss, well, they can't get a rebate on the profit - they made none. If the game does so well that the amount of tax rebate exceeds the tax owing, they pay $0. If they don't want to play by those rules, they pay the standard tax rate they would've normally paid anyhow.

It's a way to encourage business to do what you want, but business is free to not go along as well, in which case, they'll pay what they always paid. As a consumer, you won't notice anything different. If your business makes lots of money selling some M rated game, well, do nothing, and you won't be penalized. If you want, you can try taking a risk and making a game that qualifies and get a discount on the taxes you'd normally pay, but that's a business decision (risk of poor sales vs. reward of a tax discount).

Re:No, it does not violate the 1st amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26596077)

Wow. You really fell for that lie? Then why don't I word it this way:

All profits are taxed 100% on games. Certain kinds of games (i.e., kid-friendly) are given "tax incentives" of only 20% of profits taxed.

Boldface notwithstanding, this is still a ban on adult games.

Re:No, it does not violate the 1st amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600673)

Your reasoning is sound, but I feel I should note that game makers would just switch to Hollywood accounting and report 0% (or negative) profits for the year, regardless of the revenue they pulled in.

Why are video games still seen as a kid's hobby? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588103)

I've read a preview for the Ghostbusters game coming out and they're cutting things that appear in the Ghostbusters movies to make them more child friendly.

So why is it ok for Peter Venkman to swear in a movie but not the game?

Also, has there ever been a game sold with child porn in it? That comment just makes no sense.

Re:Why are video games still seen as a kid's hobby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26588467)

Do you know what is considered child porn these days? I'm sure you're aware that drawing pictures depicting nude children is now illegal. Did you know that recording a (non-nude!) public cheerleading competition is also child pornography? See Gilbert Chan:
http://www.sacbee.com/yolo/story/1004647.html

Re:Why are video games still seen as a kid's hobby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26588651)

I'm sure you're aware that drawing pictures depicting nude children is now illegal.

I'd like to think that you are aware that the USA is not Australia. Sadly, this being Slashdot, I'm not sure I can safely make that assumption.

Re:Why are video games still seen as a kid's hobby (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588607)

Leisure Suit Larry, Neverland Ranch Special Edition.

Re:Why are video games still seen as a kid's hobby (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26593173)

Also, has there ever been a game sold with child porn in it? That comment just makes no sense.

Japan is FULL of those! Or at least that's what the sensationalist media tells us...

Re:Why are video games still seen as a kid's hobby (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600147)

Having been to Japan, I did see a "virtual girlfriend" game there. Only it was advertised as also being a "virtual daughter" game as well. And this was on 3m high posters in a store, so it wasn't exactly an underground sort of thing.

Good! Maybe devs will make more kid's games! (4, Interesting)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588431)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not an angry parent or some anti-gaming crusader, but the industry as a whole would be healthier if they made more games for kids. Link [youtube.com]

Re:Good! Maybe devs will make more kid's games! (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 5 years ago | (#26589089)

I'm going to disagree with you. Since when do kids game ONLY on consoles?

Re:Good! Maybe devs will make more kid's games! (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26590117)

80-90% of gamers are not children, nor is the Wii the only console for children.

I've been playing games like Command and Conquer and Doom since I was in elementary school, was my mother excited about it? Probably not, but it kept me entertained and out of trouble and now I have my degree, a good job, and a clean criminal record. As long as parents keep allowing M rated games to raise their children they'll be plenty of titles to keep the young ones busy.

The problem with the comic book industry is not that they moved to "more mature content" and lost the child audience, it's that they flooded the market with so many useless rehashes and spin offs with absolutely no improvement. I would also bet in part because of the growing prevalence of videogames. Why read about Superman when you could BE Superman?

Endorsement? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26589133)

Is this in effect endorsing the ESRB rating system? Another question, are games having ESRB mandatory or voluntary? Will the government want to control how ESRB rates games? Could the government fine the ESRB for misrating a game?

Re:Endorsement? (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26590147)

The ESRb is, more or less mandatory, though it is a self-imposed system by the industry to head-offlawsuits from greedy parents who want to claim that they didn't know Curb Stomper 4: Skullfucker was violent or they wouldn't have purchased it for the child they don't want to pay any attention to.

GTA is family friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26589669)

GTA has become an important teaching tool helping kids learn how to drive.

http://www.gamespot.com/news/blogs/sidebar/909182374/26738978/grand-theft-auto-teaches-6-year-old-to-drive.html

Why? (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26589943)

This is stupid. There is no shortage of "family friendly" games.

Oklahoma Game Developers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26590711)

Just how many video game developers are there in Oklahoma anyways? Would this bill actually affect anyone, or is it simply an attempt to lure them there being derailed by anti-game crusaders?

Next are Jesus games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26591805)

And the next thing the senators for OK will back, are Jesus games, like The Inquisition and The Crusades, where kids get to run around getting points for killing and torturing infidels, and pagans. There's not penalty for killing christians through, since they're going to heaven anyway.

For a modern game, they will probably endorse something like "Save the Children" Where the player gets to be a pro-life acitvist killing doctors, and bombing clinics.

Other way around (1, Interesting)

Alsee (515537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26593321)

I agree we should "make video games eligible for the same tax breaks that apply to TV and film", but do it the other way around.

Why the hell is the government telling TV and film that they don't have to pay the standard taxes everyone else has to pay?

A lot of people have this candyland fantasy that "tax cuts" and "tax breaks" and "tax relief" are a good thing. You can change SPENDING, but aside from that it is impossible to change the total money in taxes you have to collect. If you give some people a "tax break" independent of a spending change, then the bill on that spending still comes due and still needs to be paid for. Any "tax cut" or "tax break" or "tax relief" without a matching spending adjustment enforces an equal and opposite tax hike on others when the spending bills come due. If you give TV and film a tax break, then government expenses and government taxes simply get shifted into a tax hike on everyone else. The Bush tax-cut-for-millionaires did the same thing. If you cut government revenue collection from millionaires and maintain or increase government spending, that means you are in fact dumping and equal-and-opposite delayed tax hike on the poor and middle class. You can temporarily hide from reality - you can have the government temporarily put the bill on their credit card - but then you just have to pay the bill PLUS INTEREST. Creditcard financing just means a bigger tax hike later to cover the interest.

If someone wants to propose slashing $X dollars from the military budget, or slashing $X dollars from education, or slashing $X dollars from senior's Social Security and Medicade, if someone wants to slash $X in food aid for children in poverty, or any other specific spending cut, then fine. THAT is the only possible actual tax cut when the bills come due. Anyone else talking about tax-cuts is full of shit. They are engaging in candyland fantasy economics, and they are in fact proposing TAX REDISTRIBUTION, not a "tax cut", not a "tax break", not "tax relief". Discussing tax distribution can be legitimate, but calling it a cut or a break or relief is false and delusional.

I don't see why TV film or software industries should be getting a special government hand-out to cover their taxes at the standard rate that applies to every other industry. I don't see why the TV film or software industry tax bills should be redistributed as tax hike ultimately dumped onto everyone else.

-

Re:Other way around (1)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617703)

I'm not sure if I think this bill is a good idea or not, but there is sound economic reasoning in creating tax breaks. Giving tax breaks does not necessarily lower the overall amount of tax collected. If the lower tax rate drives more video game developers to Oklahoma, then the state may collect more total money than they would have with a higher rate. To pull numbers out of my ass, taking 15% of a $100 million business is much better than taking 20% of a $50 million business. Yes, this does take tax money away from other states, but how is that Oklahoma's concern?

Now that's laeadership! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26599581)

Ah, thank god for big government. Financial incentives for having our kids sit around munching and playing "the right kind" of video games. Ya gotta love these guys.

Silver lining: At least it doesn't involve spending billions of taxpayer dollars invading another sovereign foreign nation.

Discrimination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607405)

This amounts to discrimination against mature-rated games. If the government rewards those who make games that adhere to a certain collection of moral values, they're doing something they really ought not to - going against FREEDOM OF SPEECH. They want to create an environment where it is not possible to create a profitable video game with the word "fuck" or showing a female nipple (male nipple: OK!). Well, fuck those conservatives, it's not their country. It's everyone's. They can just not buy the M games. Why do they have a heart attack when someone ELSE buys one? I'll tell you why. It's because a lot of conservatives (and other groups know for trying to force their values on others) are possessed of a certain hubris, that says they have not only the right but the moral duty to change us into a shape that pleases THEIR eyes. Resist it, or we are all doomed.

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