Last year, we reported on the bill presented by Representatives Joe Baca and Frank Wolf that would require video games in the U.S. to carry a vague (and untrue) warning about their link to violence. At the time, the proposed message was:
WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior
That bill (which had actually failed once before, in 2009) died in committee. Well, it looks like Baca and Wolf are at it again—and not only are they continuing the crusade, they’re upping the ante. Whereas the previous bill would have applied to games rated T (Teen) or higher, the newly proposed Violence In Video Games Labeling Act (pdf and embedded below) would apply to games rated E (Everyone) and up, meaning all video games except those rated EC for early childhood. Even more galling, they’ve modified the mandatory warning, which now reads:
WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.
Note the removal of both the “excessive” qualifier and the mention of “other violent media”, making this new warning even more ridiculous than the previous one. As multiple studies have pointed out, the link between video games and violence is flimsy at best. The Supreme Court also rejected the key study claiming a link exists when they ruled California’s anti-violent video game law to be unconstitutional. With all that, you’d think Baca and Wolf would know better than to fight for these warning labels yet again—let alone to ask for a warning that’s even broader and less accurate, and which would be placed on countless video games that don’t even contain any violence. Hopefully congress will recognize this, and prevent Baca and Wolf’s petty, baseless moralizing from placing a needless restriction on free speech.