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Rhode Island might tax violent games to fund mental health programs

Representative Robert Nardolilo hopes to introduce new legislation that would place an additional 10 percent sales tax on video games sold in Rhode Island with a "Mature" rating our higher.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

February 22, 2018

2 Min Read

The State of Rhode Island wants to tax violent, M-rated video games and use the cash to bolster mental health support and counseling in schools. 

Representative Robert Nardolillo hopes to introduce new legislation that would place an additional 10 percent sales tax on video games sold in Rhode Island with a "Mature" rating our higher. 

Any extra revenue generated would then be moved into a special account for school districts, providing extra funding for "counseling, mental health programs, and other conflict resolution activities."

"There is evidence that children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not," said Nardolillo. "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. By offering children resources to manage their aggression today, we can ensure a more peaceful tomorrow."

While some will no doubt praise the move, there's still plenty of debate regarding the purported link between violent media and real-life violence. 

Back in 2014, well-known psychology researcher and Stetson University Professor Christopher Ferguson suggested there's no correlation between the two, and implored those in positions of power to stop using video games as a scapegoat.  

"Society has a limited amount of resources and attention to devote to the problem of reducing crime," he stated in his study. "There is a risk that identifying the wrong problem, such as media violence, may distract society from more pressing concerns such as poverty, education and vocational disparities and mental health.

"This research may help society focus on issues that really matter and avoid devoting unnecessary resources to the pursuit of moral agendas with little practical value."

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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