After the Supreme Court ruling and a wide variety of other laws attempting to police video games getting thrown out, you would think the blokes in Congress would finally learn. H.R. 4204 proves they have not learned a thing.
Congressmen Joe Baca from California and Frank Wolf from Virginia introduced H.R. 4204 on Monday. What does the bill have to do with video games? They want games to be slapped with a sticker that says, "Warning: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior."
According to Game Politics, the creators of the bill are pushing this forward because they feel there is an ever increasing amount of evidence that links game violence to real-world violence. Let's hear what Congressman Baca has to say:
"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. They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility."
You're right, Congressman Baca, the game industry does have a responsibility to parents, families and consumers. That's what the Entertainment Software Ratings Board is for. The ESRB rates games and puts that handy E-AO rating on the case so parents can make informed decisions about their game purchases.
The FTC does an annual review of the ESRB's effectiveness as a ratings agency. Turns out a majority of parents (89 percent) are involved with the purchase of video games for their children with 87 percent of them aware of the rating system. That doesn't sound like failing to "live up to this responsibility." That sounds like a rating system that works and does its job well.
What does Congressman Wolf have to say then?
"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. 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."
With all due respect Congressman Wolf, don't compare violent video games to smoking. We have years of scientific data that proves a direct link between smoking and death. There is no such proven correlation between violence in gaming and violence in the real world. In fact, violence among children and teens has decreased as video game popularity has increased.
The absolutely hilarious thing is that this bill would require all games, regardless of rating, to be slapped with this sticker. It's like putting, "This product has been found to cause lung cancer" on a pack of candy cigarettes. It's absolutely ridiculous and couldn't be held up in a court of law.
Expect this bill to die alongside every other games bill that has crept up over the years. Until the ESRB stops being effective, and it wont anytime soon, these bills have no chance of passing.