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Obamacare and Video Games

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

To my readers, although I lean right, I’m impressed NOT with our Congress as a whole, and neither President Obama nor Governor Romney are really lighting any fires winning my meager vote of one.  That said, I appreciate the fact you can actually get to things like the Affordable Care Act online these days (over on the appropriately named healthcare.gov domain) as it certainly makes it easy for you to do your own research.  For a last bit of disclaimernessness — I’m a very active person.  I love golf, basketball, soccer, football, walking, working outside, playing with the dog — in general, being as far away from a keyboard and monitor as possible.  As a professional software developer, if I’m not “typing”, I’m not working.  It puts a premium on being active, big time.  I also love my video games — enough to want to write my own — and will play them until the day I die.

So what’s Obamacare got to do with Video Games?  As an aspiring Indie Game Developer I was hoping very little, but found a simple “video games” search of the ACA document proved otherwise:

That excerpt is taken from the certified, passed version of the law.  I welcome comments on the the documented link of video gaming and obesity and inactivity, and I do understand the stereotyping, but aspiring Wii, Microsoft Kinect, or Playstation Move developers are out of luck here.  Wii Fit is almost a contradiction in terms!  I see plenty of mention about tobacco and alcohol, but none with such a direct reference to obesity and inactivity?  What about people who make “games” for use in gyms on stair climbers or stationary bikes?  Why is it called a beer belly and not a Nintendo belly?

For reference, this Federal Prohibition falls in the legislation hierarchy is here

Title IV – PREVENTION OF CHRONIC DISEASE AND IMPROVING PUBLIC HEALTH
Subtitle C – Creating Healthier Communities
Sec. 4201 – Community Transformation Grants

So if your community is in dire need of a Transformation Grant, the prohibition states is that in order to be eligible for said competitive grant, a video game must not be a part of your attempt at any manner of physical or emotional improvement to the world.  I wonder how the larger US game studios fit into this mold.  They are mandated to pay fines or provide healthcare to their employees, encouraged to implement wellness programs, and in the same stroke are called out in the law as being the manufacturers of the very problems that this legislation intends to prevent!

In reality, the story is _someone_ in Congress had the “video game axe” to grind and went ahead and wrote (slipped in?) that one single short paragraph and our President signed it into law.  What we all need to be concerned about is how long it will be before “other activities” are as individually defined.  It is clearly stated here that video games make you both obese and inactive.  What’s next on the list?

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