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Republicans propose denying tax credits to “makers of violent video games”

Thursday, 27th February 2014 01:09 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The United States Republican party has suggested industry tax credits should not be extended to companies that create violent games.

doom

According to the Washington Examiner, the House Ways and Means Committee’s tax reform bill singles out violent video game makers for exclusion from tax credits.

The bill calls for “an improved, permanent R&D tax credit, finally giving American manufacturers the certainty they need to compete against their foreign competition who have long had permanent R&D incentives”.

A later clause makes provision for “preventing makers of violent video games from qualifying for the R&D tax credit”.

As very few developers produce entirely non-violent catalogues, hardly any games companies would be eligible for tax credits under the proposed reforms; none of the major publishers like EA and Activision, for example.

The tax credit question is important for a couple of reasons. First, although there are many major games developers and publishers based in the US, there has been a marked talent drain to countries like Canada, which provide financial incentives for companies to set up shop locally. Additionally, the rising cost of development has pushed many companies into relying on international outsourcing, with independents like Spicy Horse upping sticks and moving east altogether.

Less tangibly, basing major economic policies on subjective interpretations smacks of censorship, and political and media tendency to demonise violent video games has been criticised as a distraction from applying effective policies to prevent or reduce violent crime.

In other economic news, the UK appears close to a resolution on its long-delayed tax credit scheme.

Thanks, CVG.

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16 Comments

  1. GuuR

    Okay… Republicans oppose gun control laws and are pro hunting. But, using guns to shoot demons and other nazi-monster are bad. Mmmmkay…

    #1 6 months ago
  2. GuuR

    [edit] But using guns to shoot demons and other nazi-monster in games are bad. Apparently.

    #2 6 months ago
  3. salarta

    “Government should stay out of our business, unless our business involves violence in entertainment, then government should tell people what to do.”

    Anyway, someone I know online that’s Republican pointed out that saying the whole Republican party is behind this is kind of misleading, but it’s important to note it IS Republicans doing it. I’m also a little surprised it’s Republicans suggesting this and not Democrats, only because Democrats have been gung-ho about essentially censoring video games until the past half a decade or so. Maybe the Republicans behind this figured their attempt to essentially hold the government hostage via shutdown just to force policy changes in their favor didn’t make them look like big enough assholes already. :P

    #3 6 months ago
  4. TheWulf

    I don’t normally agree with Republicans, honestly. I don’t find their views to be particularly stimulating, and I do disagree with them, here. I don’t think it’s entirely wrong, though. Perhaps instead of refusing to extend tax breaks to violent games, they could incentivise non-violent ones instead through bonuses.

    I don’t know about others, as I can’t speak for them, but the most memorable games, the ones that have truly left their mark on me, have been non-violent ones. Deus Ex left a permanent imprint as, at the time, it was a game of a genre that had particularly gruesome murder as a prerequisite. Even in more intelligent games like System Shock 2, murder was necessary.

    Yet there was Deus Ex, a game which I could progress through without murdering anyone. A game that purported to be, in part, a first person shooter. That was such a paradigm shift for me that it changed my expectations of how meaningful games could be. Murder was possible, even easy, but it was ultimately a choice. I could choose to be a pacifist, I could make that choice. I could pass through it without even maiming or harming.

    I don’t think violent games can ever really say anything important, which is why I guess I don’t prioritise them as much. I acknowledge that they can be fun, but instead I’d still prefer to be like a comic book superhero and never murder people. The Batman philosophy, I suppose, even though I never was much of a DC fan. I preferred Marvel.

    Still, I look at recent games and I ask myself what were the most memorable experiences? Which remained in my mind, which tugged at my imagination and drew me back toward them? And I find myself thinking of the likes of Broken Age and so on. Again, I acknowledge that games can be fun and funny, but they’re never quite memorable.

    And I find those violent games at their best when they’re playing it up for laughs, instead of being realistic. Something like Revengeance could almost be memorable if Raiden was allowed to make the choice to never kill. Sadly, I won’t be holding it in the same regard as I do Broken Age, but it was still a very fun and funny experience.

    I find it hard to connect with a psychopathic killer, I guess??? Others might not have that problem. We talk about ‘being able to relate to our characters’ so much, but I can relate more to a bug-eyed, ugly creature trying to save others of its kind more than I can a human with a gun, which they freely use.

    There are some games that I even revisit every year because they left such a mark on me. Like Uru. Every year I pay a visit to Teledahn to see Shroomie. I go through the motions to get everything set up, to draw her attention, just so I can see and hear her. Then I’m satisfied. I know that ultimately it’s just a model controlled by code, I can even see how it works, but looking at things that way I can’t even say that life itself isn’t anything more than a digital existence, a clever simulation, wherein all people are informational constructs wandering the dreams of a supreme mechanical intelligence.

    As egotistical as I can be, I’m not egotistical enough to think that that couldn’t probably be the case. I’ll leave the beliefs of human supremacy as the highest form of life to the shallow ones who’re incapable of knowing better.

    So that has meaning to me. I formed an emotional bond.

    I can’t think of a single violent game where I’ve ever formed a bond like that. I might come close, occasionally, but usually I realise that it’s tainted by all the violence. And it becomes forgettable, I forget it, it loses its charm. We’re capable of so much more than murder, especially considering how real these worlds can be to us for the time we spend in them.

    And maybe I’m looking for more of that, a romantic involvement with a game that ignites the spark of my wanderlust and never quite lets me go, that retains a piece of me. Because there’s so much more we can do, we can be.

    I know it’s not a popular opinion, but what ever is? A popular opinion, I mean.

    So whilst I’m not for tactics which essentially censor people, I do long for more games which can become an ongoing part of my mind.

    I want games to be clever and beautiful, I want them to tease me, and have me think and speculate. That’s wonderful. That’s memorable. Decades from now I will still remember all the crazy theories I had about Broken Age and Mog Chothra. How it inspired me to become part of it.

    A violent game can’t do that.

    #4 6 months ago
  5. TheWulf

    I find myself thinking of Revengeance now and how the part of it that was most memorable to me was Blade Wolf, who was ultimately a pacifist who detested violence. He didn’t have a killer instinct at all, and preferred to stay out of fights when able, instead just being a scout.

    If I could have a game where I’d get to play as Blade Wolf, outfitted with non-lethal weaponry, with gameplay similar to Deus Ex? That I’d likely form a connection with. Plus, it would be fascinating to have a game where the main character doesn’t wish to kill, and thus doesn’t even carry lethal weapons in the first place. I’d prefer that. I’d be able to get into that.

    As much as I dug Revengeance (I have praised it), I can’t form that kind of bond with it. It can’t ever become a part of me. It’s exists in violent opposition to my own ideologies. So I view it as a game, but nothing more special than that.

    Though I think games can be more special than that. And I often think that the messages they carry are sullied by violence.

    We need look no further than BioShock Infinite for that.

    #5 6 months ago
  6. Misekato

    Uhh, I’m confused, how does the legislation itself prevent video games from claiming the R&D tax. I know it says that in the ‘executive summary’ that it would prevent it, but I’m not seeing anything in the draft legislation itself. It could just be mere fluff.

    The legislation itself says: “Under the provision, amounts paid for supplies or with respect to computer software would no longer qualify as qualified research expenses.”

    I couldn’t find anything else, so yes, it does prevent makes of violent video game makers from the tax credit, but it seems to apply equally to all software.

    More importantly, what is R&D when it comes to computer games anyway? The cost of developing an engine?

    #6 6 months ago
  7. Misekato

    @Misekato Just wanted to point out that it was in section 3203 that I found the above.

    #7 6 months ago
  8. The_Red

    I wanted to comment but then saw what GuuR wrote and it was all I wanted to say.

    @TheWulf
    While you may find the least violent ways to be more memorable, many gamers like myself also find the violence to be memorable and fun BECAUSE it is virtual. Many great games like Doom 1-3, Fallout 1-2, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat or God of War would lose their soul without violence.

    Also, in terms of games like Deus Ex and REvengence, the pacific approaches / tools would become meaningless without the existence of the opposite (violent methods). Games are an art form and like any art form, artists should be free to create what they want. IF everything had to be super meaningful or social, we wouldn’t have amazing movies like Aliens, Kill Bill, Predator or even hard PG-13 flicks like The Dark Knight or LOTR3.
    It would instead be all Pixar and PG crap (unless they were Oscar movies like 12 Years a Slave).

    #8 6 months ago
  9. Telepathic.Geometry

    This is a stupid idea. The same fuckers who want everyone in America – a country with huge gun crime problems – to have a gun? And have they ever considered adjusting movie-makers’ taxes for movies rated PG 13 and above? Even Disney movies have violence in them 9 times out of 10… :/

    It’s just stupid. Either give game-makers tax breaks or don’t. What a fucking waste of time and money dancing around this issue instead of deciding whether they should give the tax break or not. Fucking politicians and their politics.

    #9 6 months ago
  10. stalepie

    No one should receive tax breaks for anything

    #10 6 months ago
  11. Joe Musashi

    This hypocrisy makes me want to make a violent videogame about shooting Republicans.

    Maybe I’ll put it on Kickstarter.

    JM

    #11 6 months ago
  12. salarta

    @Joe Musashi And then receive a fun visit from Homeland Security bringing along an NSA suitcase full of everything you’ve ever said since you were five years old.

    #12 6 months ago
  13. polygem

    #1 really said it all

    #13 6 months ago
  14. OlderGamer

    Typical Republican BS.

    #14 6 months ago
  15. Chewy

    So if Violent Video Games prevents makers of violent games from qualifying for the R&D tax credit, then Violent movie producers need put in this catagory, as well as cartoon makers, all forms of artists, newpapers that list violent things, and all gun owners; because, you know, guns are violent on their own.

    Can we officially call ourselves United States of North Korea yet? I mean come on, we’re almost there at this point, we just have more nukes.

    #15 6 months ago
  16. fearmonkey

    THE Leader of the NRA after the Sandy Hook shootings blamed video games, so this is not surprising. Anyone remember Fox News and their concern about the rape simulator Mass Effect?
    I just love it when non gamers tell me how violent games are responsible for all the ill in the world.

    (but then again, you can see how COD gamers acted when they made changes to the guns and all those tweets to the developers. I disagree that violent games cause violence, but aggressive idiots congregate to competitive violent games it seems. Im not saying all COD gamers are that way of course, but there is definitely that element,)

    #16 6 months ago

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