Congresswoman Slams ESRB at NIMF Summit

Sounds like things got a little testy yesterday at the National Summit on Video Games, Youth & Public Policy.

The two-day conference is sponsored by the National Institute on Media & Family along with Iowa State University. Its first day was notable for harsh criticism of the ESRB offered by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN). As reported by the Star-Tribune, McCollum said:

“The rating system we have now is funded by the people who stand to make a profit off it. I’ve come to the strong conclusion that we need to have an independent rating system.”

ESRB president Patricia Vance, in attendance, objected:

“I think some of the statements you’ve made are erroneous. I’d like to educate you… Use is the true measure of any rating system. Where is the consumer demand for change? Where are the masses of dissatisfied parents? It’s like we’re here seeking a problem for the solution.”

Rep. McCollum told the newspaper she has no plans to introduce video game legislation or call for an independent rating board, but she hoped someone else would, perhaps a university.

Yale’s Dr. Dorothy Singer said more research is needed on the effects if violent and sexually explicit games. Dr. Michael Rich of Harvard Medical School added:

“The key thing is to reframe this as a health issue, not as a moral issue. We’ve got to get more serious academic research out there, just as we do for our nutrition and education information.”

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