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Violent games bill senator: ESRB ratings system "biased"

Author of Arnie law: "It's only against this small section of ultraviolent games"

California state senator Leland Yee has attempted to defend the violent games bill he authored, which could pass into law following next week's Schwarzenegger vs EMA case.

The San Francisco democrat argued that the bill was needed because the existing ESRB age-rating scheme was "rather biased."

He claimed to GameSpot that "the ESRB is funded by the industry, so it's like the fox guarding the henhouse.

"Clearly, they're not going to legitimately and appropriately place any markings on any video games, because it's in the interest of the video [game] industry to sell as many video games as possible."

Contrary to fact, he asserted that "You never heard of an AO rating whatsoever, because that would limit your market share."

Although claiming that the bill was "only against this small section of ultraviolent video games," Yee also called upon the spectre of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' 'hot coffee' controversy, in which modders were able to restore a mini-game featuring clothed sex scenes to the PC version.

To defend why the movie industry wasn't undergoing the same scrutiny, Yee argued that "Within video games, content is so embedded that you are unable to look at all the content in one sitting.

"For parents, it's hard to really know what the content is as opposed to a movie. Parents can sit and watch a movie. Within a game, you have to be pretty sophisticated to get to a level to see some of the more atrocious behaviour."

While not addressing the issue of retails likely not stocking "these ultraviolent video games" is his bill passes, Yee claimed that minors would be able to play them no matter the result of new week's rulings.

"Kids can have access to these ultraviolent video games even under my bill. All you have to do is go to your parents, talk to your parents, and if your parents want to get it for you, they can go to the store and get it for you."

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Alec Meer


A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.