March 8, 2006 5:50 PM PST

Senate panel OKs video game study

A handful of U.S. senators who are longtime foes of the video game industry took a first step Wednesday toward a future government crackdown.

Democrats Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Hillary Clinton of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois persuaded a Senate committee to approve a sweeping study of the "impact of electronic media use" to be organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

Even though the legislation--called the Children and Media Research Advancement Act--does not include restrictions, it appears to be intended as a way to justify them. That's because a string of court decisions have been striking down antigaming laws because of a lack of hard evidence that minors are harmed by violence in video games.

This "is a big step toward helping parents get the information they need about the effect of media on their children," Lieberman said after the vote by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Lieberman's two Republican co-sponsors of the bill are senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Sam Brownback of Kansas.

The original version of the bill earmarked $90 million for the study, but Lieberman Press Secretary Rob Sawicki said the committee had approved the measure without any dollar figure and that such a figure would be added later during the appropriations process.

Lieberman boasts on his Web site that he "held the first hearings on the threat posed to children by video game violence" and strong-armed the industry into developing a ratings system under threat of government action. He and Clinton introduced legislation late last year that would ban the sale or rental of any "mature" or "ratings pending" video game to a minor, and Lieberman has singled out Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto for particular criticism.

Law could be radically changed
If the CDC eventually produces a study claiming a link between violent video games and harm to minors, the future of state and federal laws targeting such games could be radically different. So far, those laws have been ruled unconstitutional because judges have not found that kind of link to exist.

"Down the road when--if there is some sort of finding that there is harm in this--then we're going to see calls to regulate speech because of the potential harm," said Marv Johnson, legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union. "That's where there's going to be a problem."

Missouri's St. Louis County had enacted a law prohibiting anyone from selling, renting or making available "graphically violent" video games to minors without a parent's or guardian's consent. But the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "before the county may constitutionally restrict the speech at issue here, the county must come forward with empirical support for its belief that 'violent' video games cause psychological harm to minors."

In 2004, a federal district judge in Washington state tossed out a law penalizing the distribution of games to minors in which harm may come to a "public law enforcement officer." The "state of the research" does not justify the ban, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik ruled.

Lieberman's bill, called CAMRA, would provide funding to investigate the cognitive, physical and socio-behavioral impact of electronic media on child and adolescent development--everything from physical coordination, diet and sleeping habits to attention span, peer relationships and aggression levels. Television, motion pictures, DVDs, interactive video games, the Internet and cell phones would all be fair game.

The bill has won support from such organizations as the National Institute on Media and the Family, the Center for Media and Child Health at Harvard University Medical School and the American Psychological Association. An earlier version was introduced in 2003.

But not all reception has been positive. The advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste deemed Lieberman its "porker of the month" shortly after the measure was first introduced, criticizing him for spending taxpayer money on "redundant studies" already undertaken by groups like the Kaiser Family Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

It was not immediately clear how much the original bill was amended beyond the funding component, or when it would receive a full Senate vote. A similar bill introduced by Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, has not yet been considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.

See more CNET content tagged:
Lieberman Software Corp, minor, video game, legislation, bill

10 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
yet again
the government trying to do a parent's work for them.

Yeah, GTA had the sex scene in it. Should it have been there? maybe not. Should a parent buy that game for a 6 year old? NO! That is why there is a rating system. Just like today, I seen a 9 year old begging his mom to buy him some games. The games he wanted? Black (Mature) GTA San Andreas (M), Devil May Cry 3 (Teen I think). His age: 9. Did she even look at the ratings or such? No! Juat bought them and gave them to him.

It is not the government's job to watch what a kid plays or watches on tv, it is the parent's job.
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Reply Link Flag
NSA Spy Inquiry, Nope! Videogame Inquiry, thumbs up!!!???
the stupidity and the unimportance of this inquiry at this time, with whatever resources they claim to have ... bluntly, this speaks volumes of the stupidity and miserable political acumen of Lieberman and Hillary. Prisoner abuse, na! Katrina failure, nah!

Videogamers, let's get 'er done fellas ... ***!!!
Posted by angrybulldog (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
who ever pays for it gets their truth
whoever sponsors the study gets the truth taht they want to hear. george bush's study says "global warming doesnt exist" yet it is a scientific theory that it does, and by theory i mean proven with years of study. the senate wants video games outlawed, they sponsor and they get what they want to hear. its ********
Posted by duke12aw (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually..
"global warming" is real, but it is not caused by something that we do. the earth's axis wobbles a bit, and very slowly, which is what causes global warming or cooling. it happened once before when the dinosaurs were running around, and i'm pretty sure they didn't make that much pollution.
Posted by thatxbxtchxnicoll (46 comments )
Link Flag
!!
OK I'm sorry but this is complete crap. I had to make an account just so people wouldn't think this is something that even matters.



A. There is proven evidence that shows how video games HELP kids develop rather than make them psycho killers.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.evilscience.net/institutions/vultind/nintendo.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.evilscience.net/institutions/vultind/nintendo.htm</a>

excerpt: " However, it clearly showed that video game play has a relation to 3D reasoning and memory and that extensive play can minimize the effects of nausea that play induces in inexperienced individuals."

and B: if playing violent games makes you less stressed why not kill a few virtual zombies. It's better than the alternative.

This is just ridiculous...
Posted by paulrevere (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
!!!More stuff
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7912743/" target="_newWindow">http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7912743/</a>

"Researchers tout
positive effects
of video games.
Gamers get high marks for problem-solving,
careful risk-taking"

I'm guessing they are going to bring up the guy who died while playing DDR for days on end in the far east...
Posted by paulrevere (2 comments )
Link Flag
Gaming has lots of plusses.
games like DDR, or old school nintendo olympics (the one with the powerpad) are great workouts. Playing playstation eyetoy games are too, and they are fun. My daughter is 3, loves playing stuff like DDR and eyetoy games, and I believe she is more clearly spoken and more advanced for her age because of it. Not only has she learned her ABC's from games, but she has a few games that teach her other languages, like french, spanish, and japanese that are geared towards kids her age. gaming is not bad. close-minded "liberals" are.
Posted by thatxbxtchxnicoll (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gaming has lots of plusses.
games like DDR, or old school nintendo olympics (the one with the powerpad) are great workouts. Playing playstation eyetoy games are too, and they are fun. My daughter is 3, loves playing stuff like DDR and eyetoy games, and I believe she is more clearly spoken and more advanced for her age because of it. Not only has she learned her ABC's from games, but she has a few games that teach her other languages, like french, spanish, and japanese that are geared towards kids her age. gaming is not bad. close-minded "liberals" are.
Posted by thatxbxtchxnicoll (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vote Them Out
When you need legislation that will help people out meaningfully -- economically and allowing families to have the time to raise their kids, these wh*res are nowhere to be found, but soon as some superfical, never will improve people's lives subject comes around they jump all over it. They really make me sick. I'm tired of these "protect the family" bullsh*t regulations that don't even address the real problems. I rather a bored kid play games than terroize their neighborhood. How about forcing parents to pay attention to their kids that no one else forced them to have. Why does society as a whole have to take on others' responsibilities. When I was a kid I didn't get away with half of what these little snots today get away with. They walk all in the street like they own it, they have no respect. I'm tired of dealing with sh*tty kids that are the result of general lack of interest in raising one's own kids. If you can't raise em abort em. You don't get no God points for having them and then not raising them.
Posted by Darryl Snortberry (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Rock n' Roll is the Devil's music; repeats itself.
History repeats itself.
Posted by Brass Monkey (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.