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New York passes videogame bill

Legislation creates advisory council to determine impact of violent media, mandates ESRB ratings on packaging

Legislation creating a governmental advisory council to examine the potential impact of violent videogames has passed the New York State Senate on a 61-1 vote.

As reported by Game Politics, the bill - which mirrors one passed by the New York State Assembly - is now on its way to Governor David Paterson. If he signs it, the new law would go into effect in September of 2010.

The legislation also requires console systems to be equipped with parental controls and would mandate that ESRB ratings be displayed on packaging.

The 16-member advisory council created by the bill will make recommendations regarding the ESRB rating system and establish "a parent-teacher violence awareness program to identify and appropriately assist students who may have a propensity toward violence."

Speaking on behalf of the bill, Senator Andrew Lanza said: "There is some confusion with respect to what this bill actually accomplishes... The word prohibition was talked about. I want to be clear. This bill does not prohibit the sale of any video to anyone."

"This simply says that every video game sold in the state of New York simply should have a rating consistent with what the ESRB does presently in a voluntary way... it does work. But the problem with 'voluntary' is that tomorrow someone can change their mind. Someone could decide tomorrow to no longer place ratings on these games. So this is not about prohibiting the sale, this is simply about providing information to parents."

The current legislation removed provisions in a bill from the previous year that would have made it a felony to sell certain games. Lanza claims to have worked with the industry on the legislation - nevertheless, the ESA had urged New York-based members of its Videogame Voters Network to contact their representatives in opposition to the bill.

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Mark Androvich