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Proposed Bill Would Add Warning Labels To Games

by Jim Reilly on Mar 20, 2012 at 09:50 AM

A proposed bill would require most video games to carry a warning label that says, “WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.”

The Violence in Video Games Labeling Act was introduced Monday by Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) in response to what the group claims is increasing evidence that playing violent games can be bad for your health.

"The video game industry has a responsibility to parents, families and to consumers — to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products," Baca said, as reported by The Hill. "They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility.

"Just as we warn smokers of the health consequences of tobacco, we should warn parents — and children — about the growing scientific evidence demonstrating a relationship between violent video games and violent behavior," Wolf said. "As a parent and grandparent, I think it is important people know everything they can about the extremely violent nature of some of these games." 

If the bill passes, it would require any game with an ESRB rating of E (Everybody) and above to carry a warning label regardless of whether or not it was actually considered "violent." The only games that would not have to carry a label are ones rated EC (Early Childhood). Previous attempts to pass the bill occured in 2009 and 2011.

The Entertainment Software Association, a trade group that represents U.S. video game publishers, released the following statment to Game Informer from SVP of communications Rich Taylor:

The Entertainment Software Association supports providing parents with complete and useful information so they can make informed purchasing decisions. The current video game rating system does so and has been lauded as the leading rating system in the entertainment industry.

Unfortunately, Representative Baca’s facially unconstitutional bill—which has been introduced to no avail in each of six successive Congressional sessions, beginning in 2002—needlessly concerns parents with flawed research and junk science. Numerous medical experts, research authorities, and courts across the country, including the United States Supreme Court, exhaustively reviewed the research Representative Baca uses to base his bill and found it lacking and unpersuasive. Independent scientific researchers found no causal connection between video games and real life violence.

We would commend Representatives Baca and Wolf to the reams of bourgeoning academic research demonstrating that video games can be innovative learning and assessment tools in engaging and educating America’s youth, especially in core subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math.

[Source: The Hill]