U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), among the declared Republican candidates for president in 2008, has re-introduced legislation that would force the ESRB to play games to their conclusion prior to assigning a rating.
According to a Brownback press release, S.568, the Truth in Video Game Rating Act, would require the ESRB to review all playable content before doling out those M, T or E ratings. Of the measure, the conservative Brownback said:
Video game reviewers should be required to review the entire content of a game to ensure the accuracy of the rating. The current video game ratings system is not as accurate as it could be because reviewers do not see the full content of games and do not even play the games they rate. Game reviewers must have access to the entire game for their ratings to accurately reflect a game’s content.
The full text of the measure, introduced yesterday, is not yet available. Brownback’s bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The Kansas Republican introduced a similar measure in 2006. That bill, however, failed to move in committee and subsequently died with the end of the 109th Congress.
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) introduced a similar measure in the House in 2006. That bill also died. It is unclear whether Stearns, who was re-elected to his seat in November, plans to submit his game legislation in the new Congress.
Such proposals have been met with scorn by some video game industry observers who point to the nearly endless possible story branches in many games.
In addition, the bill would require the Government Accountability Office to study the effectiveness of the ESRB and evaluate the potential for an independent rating system not under the control of the video game industry. The GAO would also be asked to review the possibilities of a universal media rating system for movies, TV and video games.