US bill wants cigarette-style warning labels on violent games

The Violence in Video Games Labeling Act wants to protect your children from violent video games

Virginia Representative Frank Wolf and California Representative Joe Baca have co-sponsored bill H.R. 4202, also called the Violence in Video Games Labeling Act. The bill aims to put health warnings on violent video games, not unlike the current warnings on all tobacco products. The label, which would accompany any game rated "E" for Everyone and above, would say: "'WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.''

"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 told 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. 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," added Wolf.

Of course, this warning would come alongside the warnings that already exist on all video games, as rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. Entertainment Software Association (ESA) senior vice president for communications and industry affairs Rich Taylor lashed out at the assumptions made by the bill.

"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," Taylor told Gamasutra.

"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."

This isn't the first time Baca has tried to pass this bill. The original version of the Act was sponsored in 2009, but ultimately went nowhere in the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The U.S. Supreme Court already struck down one law attempting to ban the sales of violent video games to minors. The ESA was reimbursed for its legal fees in that battle by the state of California.

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Latest comments (12)

Private Industry 10 years ago
I didnt have so much fun since Jack Tompson was disbard.

"we should warn parents - and children - about the growing scientific evidence demonstrating a relationship between violent video games and violent behavior."

Sure if I pay some researches a lot of money they will bring "scientific evidence" for whatever I ask them. I could pay them a few millions and they will bring "scientific evidence" that Evoks existed in a Galxay far far away a long time ago(TM).

"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"

Guess what, there is a ratings board called ESRB who prints in well places icons the age rating on the box and a little thing called parental control comes with each console.

I love those guys and would really like to once meet one of them in person and give them a 5 minute training on how to use the fricking parental controlls as well as explaining them that there are rating boards and that it`s the responibility of parents to make sure what games they get their kids.

Where are the stickers for Movies, Music and Books? Obviously he would never put stickers on Movies because he "works" in California and Hollywood would send Rambo to him to blow him up into little pieces with an explosive arrow to the knee.

Video games don`t make people violent it`s idiots like him who do because they are ignorant people who are not better than the people who came before them that tried to kill people who talked about science because they worked for the "devil" or where witches, blamed books or rock music for anything that came to their mind. What a waste of tax money to employ those "politicians".

I vote for the "labeling of idiotic bills act" to protect people from stupid politicians that waste money. His bill will fail anyway again just like it did all the other times.

If you have mental issues anything cam send you over the hill and make you run around and shoot people l, games, movies, books, music, somebody looking wrong at them. I play since I'm like 6 and played Resident Evil and so on with around 14 and never ever would it come to my mind to kill somebody.

The industry put protection into place, its the job and duty of the parents to use them. I get that he doesnt have a clue just like I got bought games like Resident Evil, but its his job and the job of parents to educate themselfes and learn about what their kids are doing and learn about the devices they use.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Private on 21st March 2012 12:42am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany10 years ago
And here we go again...

Don't they have better things to worry about in the States right now?, like the weakness of the Dollar and unemployment rates for example?

Just saying...
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
Presumably we will also see similar health warning on violent books. Starting with the Bible.
Any less would be hypocritical.
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Show all comments (12)
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
The definitive research on the effect of video game violence is the book "Grand Theft Childhood".

It would be nice if people read this, so they knew what they were talking about, before spouting off fallacious, populist drivel.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 10 years ago
I have to laugh.

Werner, just so you know in the 20's drinking was the source of all evil and wrong within the US
In the 50's rock music was sent by the devil to corrupt the youth of America
In the 80's it was film and TV that caused the problems
Now its games.

The political types need a 'evil' to target to stir up the consertive voters to keep them in power.
Its an easy target and alas they are jumping on the bandwagon being run by other groups.

I cant see this actually making it in to law and if it does the ESA will appeal against it as they did in CA, Games now have first ammendment protection so that will help block stuff like this
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Dirk van Wijk Student - Computer Science (Master) 10 years ago
Warning: Games can make you kill people!
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Charlie White Software Support Analyst 10 years ago
@Bruce (re: bible) Great comment.

Surely these pre-watershed TV soaps should have a warning, many contain kill streaks some call of duty players would be proud of.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers10 years ago
The stupidest part of this is that there are are warnings for content (as there should be) and they're larger and more prominent than the MPAA's ratings on movies; of course, there's no evidence that any mature content in a game is any worse than any other medium. I thought that lawmakers were past this after the resounding defeat of the "games as porn" game law in the US Supreme Court, but I suppose some people have to learn the lesson the hard way.
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 10 years ago
Its coming up on election season in the US so some people are trying to drill up support from the groups in their area that actually vote.

Virgina is part of 'the south' which to is a confusing term for most people outside of the US so the main policy makers are looking support from the consitervate voters, the same people are being targeted by the republican candidates for president as well.

If everyone did vote it would push these people out of power very quickly but most voters are jaded by the political systems and its getting worse in the US.
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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today10 years ago
Baca is a Democrat (liberal from Cal.) and Wolf is a Republican (Conservative from Va.). This bill has bipartisan idiocy. it will not pass, won;t even make it to the floor for a vote, but you have to say you did something to "save the children."
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios10 years ago
@John: I'm from Virigina, and I as well as many other Virginians do not approve of this bill. Just because we're part of 'the south' doesn't mean we're any less United States citizens, nor do we believe any less in the value of our constitution. It's nothing more than the publicity stunt that it's always been.

It will never go anywhere. As it is, back when I played MW2 online all the time, I'd use it as a means to release agression, not generate it. These old farts are just on the bash games bandwagon that has been a tail spin for years now. Violent game excise tax... denied. Stupid health labels... denied. What's next?

These people are praying on the stupid, ignorant, and idiotic people of the United States. They don't know anything other than what they're force fed through the TV, popular magazines, and the stories about stuff that float around facebook.

Ask a kid in high school nowdays what the constitution is really about, and they will look at you dumbfounded and say something along the lines of "umm... I don't know, a bunch of laws and stuff?".... but, ask them who Snooki's latest hookup is, and they'll talk about it for 20 minutes. THAT is parental failure...

They're going to let tv shows like '16 and pregnant' or Jersey Shore on television and be so raw and vulgar that every other word is a censored explitive. They're going to let rap and hip hop go nearly uncensored on the radio and MTV. BUT... when it comes to a video game, you need to tone it down because you're destroying american youth! Please... MTV's got that covered. Suddenly I'm reminded of what passes as a hit song nowdays by Nicki Minaj "you a stupid hoe. you a, you a, you a stuipd hoe."
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Josh Meier10 years ago
If this had only been for "M" rated games, I might have been able to agree. Might.

But dumping this label on every single game that's rated "E" or higher? You may as well say it goes on all games, because rarely is there a game with an "EC (early Childhood)" rating.

It's not the responsibility of the games industry to do anything more than inform you of what their game contains. It's the responsibility of the PARENTS to make sure their kid only plays what you want them to play.
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