In the latest of a string of state-specific legislation related to video games, Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has announced that she will sign legislation later this week that will make the sale or rental of mature or adult-rated video games to children illegal. The new law applies to children age 17 and younger, and will take effect on December 1, 2005.
The fine for anyone caught selling a "violent title" ( apparently defined by the bill
as "real or simulated graphic depictions of physical injuries or physical violence against parties who realistically appear to be human beings") to minors will initially be $5,000, and can go as high as $40,000, and jail time of up to 93 days and hefty fines can be given to those allowing minors to play the game in a business or pretending to be the minor's legal guardian.
“Making sure that our children are protected is an essential function of government,” Granholm said. “This new common-sense law is one more tool we can provide to help parents protect their children from the effects of violence and graphic adult content.”
Granholm first put the issue on the radar in Michigan earlier this year, when she called a press conference
to support one of the existing bills, and said that the law was needed to warn "those who would poison the minds of our young people… that we’re not going to take it anymore."
According to a press release put out by Granholm's office, in May, a series of independent investigations conducted at the request of the Granholm Administration "found that children as young as age nine were able to purchase adult-rated video games (rated M for Mature or NC-17) nearly half of the time. The investigations were conducted in Cass, Genesee, Ingham, Lenawee, Monroe, and Wayne counties and found that 26 of 58 stores in the six participating counties sold to minors. Among the games purchased were Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, Doom 3, Mortal Kombat
, and Resident Evil
Major video game industry bodies such as the IEMA or the ESA have yet to officially comment on this latest development.