Violence in Video Games Labeling Act Submitted to House of Representatives

Published on:

On Monday March 19, 2012 a
bill was submitted to the U.S.
House of Representatives by Reps. Joe Baca
(D-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) which, if
passed, will require most video games to include a warning label that
states: “WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to
aggressive behavior.”

H.R. 4204, entitled “The Violence in Video Games Labeling
Act”, is a reaction to what its sponsors say is increasing evidence that
playing violent games can have a serious, long-lasting impact on children, which
should require a health warning to consumers. 
However, whether v
iolence in video games promotes real world consequences has been a
contentious issue for decades.  Advocates of regulation of violent video games
attribute aggressive behavior to exposure to video games. However, proponents
of less video game regulation point to the studies that have shown video games
can improve cognitive skills.

The
proposed bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to
release rules, within 180
days, requiring that most
games display the warning label. Included amount this would be all video games
rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board
“E” for everyone, “E10+” for everyone 10 and older, “T” for teen, “M” for
mature or “A” for adult.  Only video games rated “EC,” or “early childhood”, would be exempt
from the labeling requirement.

It is possible that this requirement of near-universal
labeling is an attempt to avoid the recent Supreme Court decision in Brown v.
EMA holding that video games are subject to First Amendment Protection and
finding that a California “violent” video game labeling requirement was “widely
underinclusive” and merely disfavored a certain viewpoint rather than protecting
a valid state interest.