US politicians want cigarette-style warning stickers on games

"WARNING: Exposure to violent games has been linked to aggressive behavior."

Two US politicians are campaigning for warning stickers similar to those found on cigarette packs to be plastered on video game boxes.

As reported by The Hill, a bill titled Violence in Video Games Labeling Act H.R. 4204 was submitted on Monday by Democrat congressman Joe Baca and Republican Frank Wolf. If it becomes law, almost all games would be required to sport a sticker stating: "WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior."

Only titles rated EC (Early Childhood) would be exempt.

Baca argued that the video game industry has "repeatedly failed" to live up to its responsibility to inform parents and families of "potentially damaging content" in its output.

"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," added Wolf.

"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."

Games industry trade body The Entertainment Software Association has duly responded, via Game Informer, labeling the bill "unconstitutional".

"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," read its statement.

"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."

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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