Recently it has been announced that my congressman Joe Baca (D-San Bernardino) has introduced a new video game labeling bill (H.R 231) that requires an extra warning label for any game that is rated T or above to state the following:
WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.
However some games that are rated T (Teen), are not violent at all such as Gran Turismo – TV Top Gear and Singstar ABBA which makes the warning label that is required for this bill redundant and silly. This is one of the first things I have noticed that is seriously wrong with this bill. I know the congressman wants to make himself look good in front of the parents and grandparents of the 43rd Congressional District, but while this bill is in committee at least he should try to make it where only games that are actually violent should have the Consumer Product Safety Commission Regulation in it.
However we already do have a ratings system and its called the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and they been around for over fifteen years and they have done a decent job with rating electronic entertainment. Parents are already given the tools necessary to evaluate their children’s choices in the games that they play. Information is displayed at leading retailers and at the website for the ESRB.
Not all gamers are children and teenagers which video game regulation loving politicians would like to portray where the average gamer is 33 years old and becoming politically active thanks to organizations such as the Entertainment Consumers Association and the Video Game Voters Network. Stores self-regulate their sales of M (Mature) rated video games and if children are playing these games then parents either authorized the purchase or is just simply careless.
The best idea for Congressman Baca and his co-sponsor in the Republican Party Congressman Wolf of Virginia, is to simply embrace the ESRB ratings and help educate their constituents of their districts instead. Franking a newsletter to the constituents would be cheaper than adding a redundant regulation that will simply confuse consumers.
I made an attempt to contact the Congressman’s office about my concerns about this legislation. There was nothing really substantial from his office when one of his representatives contacted me, I just stated that if he insists on making this rather redundant bill he should at least get it made right by adding some of my suggestions.
It is unfortunate that our leaders are using popular media as a scapegoat for the problems that face us in society such as violence. Electronic entertainment is not the sole reason why some people choose to be violent in today’s society when we should investigate the other reasons first. We are America, we are not Australia and we should not enter the world of censorship and mandatory labeling of games. With an economy that is hurting we should avoid adding any new governmental programs that are already done effectively in the private sector such as ratings of electronic games.
If you care for freedom of expression and or limited government contact Congressman Baca and Congressman Wolf if you live in their districts as soon as you can.