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US bill proposes video game warning labels

There's a new Jack Thompson in town. Two of them, actually. This week, US Reps. Joe Baca (California) and Frank Wolf (Virginia) introduced The Violence in Video Games Labeling Act that would make it mandatory for nearly all video games in the US to bare a label reading, “WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.”

If passed, the bill would be applicable to all ESRB rated game that fall into the “E” for everyone, “E10+” for ages 10 and older, “T” for teen, “M” for mature, and “A” for adult categories. Games rated “EC” for early childhood (suitable for ages 3 to 6) would be exempt.

"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." Baca said in a comment obtained by The Hill, explaining, “Meanwhile research continues to show that playing violent video games is a casual risk factor for a host of detrimental effects in both the short- and long-term, including increasing the likelihood of physically aggressive behavior. American families deserve to know the truth about these potentially dangerous products.”

According to Baca's press release, that research is derived from recent studies from the Pediatrics Journal, the American Psychological Association, and the International Society for Research on Aggression University of Indiana. No links were provided, however we're certain he isn't referring to the American Psychological Association's archived 2010 report, Video Games: Old Fears and New Directions, which includes discussions on how issues around video game violence may getting blown out of proportion.

Wolf does not list the bill on his website, but added his two cents to the release, stating, "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 with most video game legislation, The Violence in Video Games Labeling Act will likely fade away in time, allowing Baca and Wolf to say they fought the good fight without actually doing much more than issuing a press release and providing a couple quotes. Still, the fact these bills keep popping us reminds us there's still some progress to be made as to how the industry is perceived among the powers-that-be. Then again, maybe Baca and Wolf just need a hobby.

Matt Bradford wrote news and features here at GamesRadar+ until 2016. Since then he's gone on to work with the Guinness World Records, acting as writer and researcher for the annual Gamer's Edition series of books, and has worked as an editor, technical writer, and voice actor. Matt is now a freelance journalist and editor, generating copy across a multitude of industries.