June 2, 2006 4:44 PM PDT

Video games in Congress' crosshairs

The purported problem of violent and sexually explicit video games has resurfaced on politicians' agenda as the November election draws near.

A U.S. House of Representatives committee on consumer protection says it will hold a hearing on the topic later this month, with a focus on "informing parents and protecting children" from the alleged dangers of those types of games.

A committee schedule originally listed the event for next Wednesday. But that date has been postponed because of scheduling conflicts, Jack Seum, chief of staff for Rep. Cliff Stearns, the Florida Republican who chairs the panel, said on Friday.

Game bills in play

Bill No.Chief sponsorWhat it would doStatus
S. 2126Clinton (D)Bars sale or rental of "mature" video games to minorsstill in committee
S. 1902Lieberman (D)Orders Fed study on effects of "electronic media" on kidsapproved by committee
HR 4124Markey (D)Orders Fed study on effects of "electronic media" on kidsstill in committee
HR 5345Matheson (D)Bars sale or rental of "mature" video games to minorsstill in committee
HR 1145Baca (D) Requires study of computer game rating system and recommendations for new lawsstill in committee
H.RES.376Upton (R)Instructs FTC to investigate "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas"passed by House
S.RES.212 Brownback (R)Instructs FTC to investigate "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas"passed by Senate

Source: CNET News.com research

A witness list for the hearing, which the committee hopes to reschedule for June 14, had not been finalized by Friday, Seum said.

Representatives from the Entertainment Software Association, which lobbies for the video game industry, and the Entertainment Safety Ratings Board, which oversees the labeling of games, said the organizations expect to testify.

An ESA representative declined to comment on the group's planned testimony, except to say it views it "as an opportunity to talk about the tools available to parents," such as parental control technology.

For his part, Seum said that Stearns is not currently planning any additional legislation. "There's nothing we're planning to do immediately as a result of this hearing," he said.

There's hardly any shortage of video game proposals, with many already pending in Congress. Just last month, a little-noticed bill called the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act was referred to Stearns' panel for consideration.

Introduced by Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, the proposal would make it illegal for anyone to sell, rent, or attempt to sell or rent video games rated "adults-only" to minors under age 18, or "mature" video games to anyone under age 17. The Federal Trade Commission would be permitted to levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation.

That approach is nearly identical to a bill unveiled last December by U.S. Senate Democrats Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman. They propose imposing fines or community service hours on any business that sells or rents video games with a "mature," "adults-only" or "ratings pending" tag to anyone under age 17. That measure has not yet gone up for debate.

Both longtime foes of the video game industry, Clinton and Lieberman have publicly lashed out against "graphic, violent and pornographic content" in video games. They were among those who pledged new action after a flap last summer over a sexually explicit scene embedded in "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."

Earlier this year, the two politicians and a handful of other supporters secured a Senate committee's approval of a bill that would bankroll a sweeping study of the "impact of electronic media use." That measure, called the Children and Media Research Advancement Act, or CAMRA, does not propose any restrictions, but it is viewed as a way to justify new regulations down the road. An identical bill is pending in the House but has not yet proceeded to a vote.

If the experience of states that have attempted to enforce their own laws restricting violent and sexually explicit video games is any indicator, the federal proposals aren't likely to go far without legal challenges.

In April, a federal judge tossed out a Michigan law that criminalized the sale of violent video games to children under 17, deeming it a violation of the First Amendment's guarantees of free expression. During the past few years, federal courts have declared similar laws in California, Illinois and Washington--along with the cities of St. Louis and Indianapolis--to be unconstitutional.

That hasn't stopped other states from continuing to pass new laws. Just last week, the Oklahoma Legislature gave final approval to a bill that would make it a crime to sell violent video games to anyone younger than 18. It heads next to the governor's desk.

See more CNET content tagged:
committee, video game, Human Resources, mature, minor

28 comments

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Parents: PARENT!
First off let me say that I do not think young children should be exposed to graphic violence or sexuality. But, if you as a parent are stupid enough to send little Johnny or Betty into the games store by themselves with $50 - $60 and they come out with something inappropriate who is to blame?

You parents need to monitor/ parent your children. There is no piece of legislation they will ever pass that will properly raise you're kids!

These politicians as of late love to play the video game card or the terror card to distract the public from their inadequate job performance on the real issues. The truth be told they have no business legislating publications of any kind.

We have pornography, yet parents seem to be able to keep that medium in check (at least I would hope). I do not see these politicians outraged about the latest Penthouse or porn site, yet they attack video games with such vigor.

Don't they have a war to fight or a deficit to cut or some highways to fix? Why are our tax dollars being wasted to control our first amendment just because Hillary (and others)thinks she can raise you're kids better than you?
Posted by (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amen
I couldn't agree more.
Posted by Git969 (4 comments )
Link Flag
double amen
preach it brotha, preach it!
Posted by talus7 (15 comments )
Link Flag
They should be figuring out how to lower GAS PRICES
Instead of wasting time trying to be big brother, they should figure out how to lower gasoline and natural gas prices. With the money I'm spending on that, I can't afford video games!
Posted by ag1010 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They should be figuring out how to lower GAS PRICES
Instead of wasting time trying to be big brother, they should figure out how to lower gasoline and natural gas prices. With the money I'm spending on that, I can't afford video games they are trying to put rules on in the first place!
Posted by ag1010 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hillary thinks it takes a village to raise children
But, don't you dare tell her how to raise hers!
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It does take a village...
to raise children. It does NOT take the village councel though.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
Our government is rediculous
Our government is apparently ran by a bunch of out of touch,
idealistic fools. I wish that they would start trying to work on how
to stay out of our lives instead of on how to protect us by limiting
our choices.
Posted by jdawgnoonan (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No can do!
The government has been working on regulating every aspect of our lives since the founding fathers died. Plus, that eyeball on the dollar bill isn't on it just for show, you know. It's there so that one day the government can stick microchips in it to watch our every move.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
Link Flag
What about the 5pm nightly news?
All the violence and death on the nightly news, and they worry about fictional video games?
Posted by seansd (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about it?
Their thinking is that kids are more likely to play a violent video game than what watch the news. To some extent they are right, but its not the government's place to say who should be playing or watching what. Its up to the indiviual if their an adult or their parents if they are not. Is anyone really asking the senators to sheild our children from violent video games? I have heard people asking for lower gas prices, better healthcare, and a variety of the other things.
Posted by VI Joker (231 comments )
Link Flag
Thank you government heroes.
For once again going after the knee-jerk emotional direction so necessary to protect our "youth" and adding to our corpus of ever increasing nanny-state gubmint intervention, once again, for the children.

Nice to know the DemocRat's have a well placed cadre of idiots to balance out the (already accepted the chimp is an idiot) Bush boosting neo-con and fundamentalist non-islamist nanny-stateists.

Hillary and Liberman are proof positive that all of the sheep towing the line accusing the Bush administration of hideous constitutional abuses, are firmly denying their own kitchen pantry full of black kettles.

Here's to the United States of Hysteria.
Posted by fraterm (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
damn i triple amen that
We need somebody to write a Mortal Kombat style game titled Liberals vrs Conservatives. They would have politician like characters who can do special fatalities. For example: Bush's fatality would have him farting a WMD like device out of his @$$ and nuking his victims.
Posted by talus7 (15 comments )
Link Flag
so stupid
You know what makes me violent? Stupid politicians. They always cite grand theft auto. Until such time where I can actually run around and vent any stupid rage I might have on actual pregnant women with a nail gun, i'd say my playstation is a pretty freaking SWEET alternative.
Posted by plugone (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
so stupid
You know what makes me violent? Stupid politicians. They always cite grand theft auto. Until such time where I can actually run around and vent any stupid rage I might have on actual pregnant women with a nail gun, i'd say my playstation is a pretty freaking SWEET alternative.
Posted by plugone (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Video Game content not the problem
Those who have serious outcomes connected to video game play are probably victims of exposure to Subliminal Distraction.

The problem was discovered when knowledge workers using the first prototypes of close-spaced movable office workstations began to have mental breaks.

Subliminal Sight and peripheral vision reflexes had operated in the special circumstances those workstations created to cause the mental breaks. The cubicle solved that problem by 1968. Cubicles are designed to block side or peripheral vision to limit the subliminal detection of threat movement while the worker is concentrating.

The situation is so simple that video game players can accidentally create the circumstances and will have the same mental break if a threshold of exposure is reached.

The Redlake shooter left a journal entry that shows what he did to cause exposure.

VisionAndPsychosis.Net is a private psychology project about the 'conflict of physiology' that allows this to happen.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://VisionAndPsychosis.Net" target="_newWindow">http://VisionAndPsychosis.Net</a> (There is nothing being sold there and there is no charge for the information to prevent exposure.)Follow the instructions to start with the psychology demonstration page.
Posted by Researcher45 (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The government should stop trying to be a parent.
As with most other comments, I'm against having the government involved in this issue. Parents are the ones that need to be involved, not congressional committees. With all the other major problems that need to be addressed, I feel like trivial issues like this are just smoke and mirrors to distract people from the fact that no one is paying attention to more substantial problems.
Posted by feliusrex (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hypocritical
Our government is one of the most bloodthirsty governments in the world. Who are they to come down on video games? Especially when just because there is a correlation between violent video games and violent behavior does not mean that video games is a cuase of it.

This is like Clinton speaking right after Columbine, saying that violence is not the answer. The same day he approved a bombing run.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
New Video Game
We need a new game similar to GTA but you can go around blowing the heads off all these chicken hawks...
Posted by jcruz1027 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So if the gubnit is against violent video games, what is AA?
Our government condems violent video games, yet our very own United States Army (with our tax dollars) makes a video game that targets 13-31 year olds and engages them in violence in efforts to boost enrollments.

How contradictory eh?

This must be the exception because it protects us from terrorists some how or another. Right? Right!
Posted by Mr. Network (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Is that the time?
Terrorist-threat tub thumping, massaged economic figures, immigration 'crackdown', the 'Marriage' Amendment, anti-videogame hysteria: it must be election time again!

Sure as night follows day, the usual swarm of shills, hacks, crooks and self-publicists in DC come out of the woodwork during election season, with the same old wagonload of tired crap they hope we'll get so offended about that it will make us go insane and vote for them.

Once they get elected, they'll settle down and return to doing what they do best: spend our money on pork-barrel projects and figure out new ways of hiding all the bribes they get.
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SUBTRIFUGE...
This is what congress does when they don't want to tackle the REAL issues...like ending the war in Iraq, the environment, illegal immigration, the economy, the national debt, healthcare, underemployment (outsourcing jobs), the nation's crumbling infrastructure....
Posted by Blackspeak (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
presonal safty or presonal freedom
this whole video game issue along with alot of othere freedoms whcih are being tooken away are all being tooken away under the thought of your presonal safty.

goverment is pretty much saying we know whats best for you and we have your safty in mind so yets take away your freedom to portect you from your self.

this is not goverments job it was never setup to be like this. and till people start standing up and telling goverment what they think and saying hay we want our presonal freedoms back or till they pass some law to portect peoples presonal freedoms so that goverment dosent have the right to use presonal safty as an excuse we will just keep losing our presonal freedoms little more every day.
Posted by midn8t (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The MORALS police are at it again
and YOU voted them in!

Now do something about it!
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I could not agxplayree more. I used to own all 4 MKs for the Genesis and sold them totalling 20 bucks. I watch AOTS, XPLAY and most of the games they review are violent. To quote S. L. Jackson "Those two put BOTH THE A$$ is assassin." (AFRO Samauri, XBOX, PS3) I plan (hopefully) to take a Psych course at the local community college ad will write a paper on this subject. DON'T FORGET HOW COMICS WERE EDITED IN WW2.
Posted by TV4NETFLIX (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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