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Psychologist Slams Calif. Videogame Content Law

Posted On: 9/12/2010

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LAREDO, TX -- In a refreshing development rarely seen by the amusement machine industry, a leading psychologist of national stature has taken a strong public stand against state laws that ban youth access to videogames based on content.

Dr. Chris Ferguson, a leading researcher in the field of videogames and violent behavior, condemned California's controversial Assembly Bill 1179, which criminalizes selling or renting videogames deemed "violent" to consumers under age 18.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this fall on AB 1179. See story.

In a guest editorial recently published by the Salt Lake City Tribune, Ferguson urged Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to sign an amicus brief opposing the California bill.

Ferguson, an associate professor of clinical and forensic psychology at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, also took to task the administration of Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for fiscal irresponsibility on the issue.

Specifically, Ferguson condemned the proposed videogame bill and similar laws as "a waste of taxpayer money." He pointed out that U.S. appeals courts consistently find videogame bans based on content to be unconstitutional because they violate the First Amendment (and presumably the U.S. Supreme Court will do the same).

He called it "ironic" that states would devote money to legal expenses to defend laws in court, given that such laws are consistently nullified by verdict after verdict, and particularly at a time when state and local governments are "slashing social services to families and children in need."

Ferguson also insisted "there is no consistent research indicating that videogames cause increased violence."

See Ferguson's editorial here.