A most important bill, the bipartisan Video Games Rating Enforcement Act, has been introduced by two members of Congress, Jim Matheson and Lee Terry. This bill, if passed, would require retailers to check identification in order to keep adult-rated video games from being sold to children. The introduction of this legislation in the House of Representatives came on the heels of the release of the latest version of the ultra-violent M-rated video game Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City. Despite the fact that this video game allows players to shoot police officers and innocent bystanders, have sex with prostitutes, and receive lap dances from strippers, nothing in the law currently prevents retailers from selling this video game to children of any age. In my opinion, that sort of thing can’t be tolerated. It makes me wonder how our country could ever get to the state where parents of children of tender age even have to worry about such things.
A 2005 Federal Trade Commission study found that 42% of unaccompanied 13-16 year-olds were able to purchase “M” (Mature) rated games from retailers, even though the M-rating suggests the game is inappropriate for children under the age of 17. While parents are the first and best line of defense when it comes to protecting their children from inappropriate media content, they can’t fight a multi-million dollar industry alone. That is especially true when the marketing machines behind games like GTA IV go out of their way to create “buzz” around new releases and retailers do little or nothing to keep these games out of the hands of children. As you may know, the new Grand Theft version is breaking sales records and that’s bad news.
The proposed legislation codifies the video game industry’s own voluntary policies and will ensure better enforcement by requiring all retailers to check IDs from any child trying to buy or rent Mature (M)-rated or Adult-Only (AO) rated games. It does not limit adults’ access to any games they want to buy for themselves or for their children — it merely helps ensure that children can only access “age appropriate” video games unless they are accompanied by an adult. You can help on this important issue by urging your representatives in Congress to support the Video Game Ratings Enforcement Act.
Source: Parents Television Council
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