New bill attempts to link video games and aggressive behavior

first_imgThe Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2011 (H.R.400.IH) has this week been reintroduced by U.S. Congressman and Republican Joe Baca. From the name of the bill you wouldn’t think it too serious, but read the details and you discover a bill that is both excessive in its claims and acting on unclear information.If the bill ever got passed, all games rated as T, M, or AO in the U.S. would have to carry a label on their boxes which states:WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior. The bill would also apply to games distributed digitally meaning we could see a large warning label pop up on the game details page or during the purchase process.The bill is supported by Frank Wolf, also a Republican, who explained why the label was necessary: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. 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. This is not the first time Joe Baca has attempted to make it law that video games should carry a health warning about aggression. In 2009 a similar Labeling Act was proposed, but wasn’t taken up. At the time Baca said: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. They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility. Meanwhile research continues to show a proven link between playing violent games and increased aggression in young people. American families deserve to know the truth about these potentially dangerous products. At no point does the bill refer to any concrete evidence or research conducted showing a clear link between aggressive behavior and video games. Surely that would be a mandatory addition to any bill pushing for such a blanket statement to be clearly visible on all games carrying a T or above rating?In the official press release announcing the bill it is stated that:Recent scientific studies from the Pediatrics Journal, University of Indiana, University of Missouri, and Michigan State University all point to a neurological link between playing violent video games and aggressive behavior in children and teenagers. Gamasutra rightly points out that a review carried out in December 2010 by the Australian government, as part of the ongoing discussion of introducing an R18+ rating in the country, found no definite link between video games and aggression.With such a review finding the opposite of Baca’s claims it would seem foolish to pass the labeling bill before further research is carried out and a clear link proven without a doubt.Read more at Gamasutra and Joe Baca’s press releaselast_img

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