On Monday, Joe Baca (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) presented the Violence in Video Games Labeling Act on behalf of a group that claims there is mounting evidence that playing violent video games is bad for your health. If passed, the bill would require all video games with an ESRB rating of E for Everybody and above to have a surgeon general-like warning that says, "WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior." Whether or not the game is violent is irrelevant.
According to Baca, "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."
Wolf followed up with, "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 you can imagine, the ESA is a little outraged at this presumption. They gave GameInformer the following statement:
The Entertainment Software Association supports providing parents with complete and useful information so they can make informed purchasing decisions. The current video game rating system does so and has been lauded as the leading rating system in the entertainment industry.
Unfortunately, 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. 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.
We would commend Representatives Baca and Wolf to the reams of bourgeoning academic research demonstrating that video games can be innovative learning and assessment tools in engaging and educating America’s youth, especially in core subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math.
So, what's next for video games, Congress? If this label bill passes, what other labels are you all going to demand? Warnings that this game is a fantasy and not real? Warnings about game characters not practicing safe sex?