Thousand dollar fines will smack retailers who sell these games to minors, and large stickers reading "18" will be slapped onto already ESRB-marked packages, undermining the ESRB's current rating system. This is the government deciding what forms of art are acceptable while pecking away at the strength of the ESRB, the not-for-profit regulatory agency which is supposed to watch over the video game industry (much like how the MPAA looks after the movie industry).
Why are they doing this? Personally, I think it's because the way the bill was presented, as not going along with it would make the politicians look bad, in a very "John Kerry voted against a bill that would give money to our troops" kind of way. No one wants kids to be playing violent video games, but we all know Bush's America has made us very black and white: You're either with us, or you're against us. And, the way this bill has been presented, you're either for kids playing violent video games, or you're against kids playing violent video games. The bill's author, Assemblyman Leland Yee, threw down the gauntlet when he compared violent video games to cigarettes, stating they were "equivalents" in damage inflicted upon children. To be against his bill would be to be for the distribution of cigarettes to children.
The presented debate asked the question, "Are violent video games good for children?". The answer to that question is easy. No, they are not. However, this belief, in and of itself, does not mean the government should, then, step up and regulate the industry. For example, we also know violent movies are not good for children, yet we don't see governmental stickers on our R-rated DVDs. Why is that? What is the difference? I believe the difference is two-fold.
First, I think our lawmakers don't know video games in the same way they know movies. Video games frighten them. They see their kids play these games, and they see how entranced they become. That's all fine and good when mom needs to cook dinner and take care of the baby, but when people start talking about the bloody horrors found in some games, the parents and lawmakers get scared, and they don't understand. They fear that, when they're not looking, their entranced child is tapping into a "modification" that allows Princess Peach to have dirty sex with Mario. They don't get that the "E" on the front of the game really does mean the game is OK for their children to play. They've learned to not trust that "E". Would they trust a "PG"? Absolutely. Would they get mad if they government told them what movies their kids should and should not watch? Absolutely. But the "E", on the video game is so confusing.
The second part of the equation, the reason why politicians are regulating games and not movies, is because it's an issue that creates emotion within voters. The above mentioned confusion leads to fear. Elections are won on fear. It's easy to look good when you're "protecting the children", and the "protecting of the children" thunder is easy to steal. The ESRB isn't running for office. These politicians are...they always, always, always are.
So, this is where we are. Because politicians can no longer stand up and say, "Of course I'm not for this, but the resolution presented is wrong", they are chipping away at our Constitutional rights. I don't think they even understand the implications of their actions. I don't think they get what they voted for. They proudly defend the Constitution in protecting gay marriage, not one week ago, yet spit on it a few days later when it comes to governmental regulation of art. At least Arnie will stand tall in his trashing of the Constitution consistently, as Gov. Schwarzenegger is expected to veto the rights of California homosexuals while signing into law the violent video game bill. No one ever said the Governator wasn't consistent, it's just we'd like it to be that he wasn't consistently lacking balls.