Violent Videogames and the Law - Federal Edition - The UpStream

Violent Videogames and the Law - Federal Edition

posted Saturday Mar 24, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Violent Videogames and the Law - Federal Edition

I predicted on F5 Live - Episode 245 that we had heard the last of violent videogame legislation for a while after the cost of the California loss. It turns out that I could not have been more wrong.

This week, two US Congressmen, Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Representative Joe Baca (D-CA), have proposed a bill that would require all videogames not rated "EC", or Early Childhood, to carry a label warning,

WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.

There are a few things I feel I need to point out. First, Rep. Joe Baca is from California. I would have thought that their pitiful loss in the Supreme Court and the extreme cost to the already financially strapped state would have taught them a lesson; apparently not. Second, does his name not sound hilariously similar to Chewbacca? Lastly, and most importantly, Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster is rated "E" for Everyone.

How do the Representatives justify the bill and what are its chances in Congress? Hit the break to find out.

Representative Joe Baca said in an interview,

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.

Challenge. If the videogame industry is doing such a bad job of informing parents about the risks of videogames, why does the law use the industry's own rating system to determine which games should have the warning on them?

Representative Frank Wolf said,

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.

Challenge. The link between violent videogames and children's mental health was first brought up in a statement by the American Psychological Association in 2000, which they later retracted. In fact, videogames were compared to peanuts, "They are harmless for the vast majority of kids but are harmful to a small minority with pre-existing personality or mental health problems." In addition, study after study shows that there is no direct link between violence in videogames and reality.

These two have proposed essentially this same bill twice now, both times being killed off rather quietly by sane people. My guess? Same thing happens here. The next time I write about this bill, it will be to tell you that once again these guys have had their sanity checked by smarter Representatives.


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