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Politicians propose cigarette warning labels for games

Jordan Mallory

A bipartisan bill has been introduced that would, if passed, require cigarette-esque warning labels on video games. Authored by house reps Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Joe Baca (D-CA), the Violence in Video Games Labeling Act (H.R. 4204) would require all games rated "E" or higher, regardless of actual content, to bare a label that reads "WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior."

This isn't the first time Wolf and Baca have tried to introduce such legislation; "The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009" was essentially the same bill, although it only applied to games rated "T" and up. Its proposed warning label also made mention of "other violent media," which is absent from the dynamic duo's latest draft.

"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," says ESA representative Rich Taylor in a statement to Gamasutra.

Taylor goes on to say that the supporting evidence used by Baca in the past has been "exhaustively reviewed" by "numerous medical experts, research authorities, and courts across the country, including the United States Supreme Court," which collectively found the data "lacking and unpersuasive."

Baca's resolve, however, refuses to waiver. "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."

When asked to comment, a fictional ESRB representative said "What am I, chopped liver?"

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