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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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Mike Williams avatar
Mike Williams: M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.
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