In Wake of GTA IV Launch, Video Game Legislation Proposed in Congress

Variety reports that a new legislative attempt to regulate video game sales has been launched in Congress.

Undoubtedly spurred on by the publicity surrounding the recent Grand Theft Auto IV launch, Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Lee Terry (R-NE, seen at left) have introduced legislsation that would require game retailers to check a buyer’s I.D. before selling a game with adult content.

Of the “Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act,” Rep. Terry said:

[The bill seeks to ensure that kids] can only access age appropriate content without parental permission… The images and themes in some video games are shocking and troublesome. In some games high scores are often earned by players who commit ‘virtual’ murder, assault and rape.

Many young children are walking into stores and are able to buy or rent these games without their parents even knowing about it. Many retailers have tried to develop voluntary policies to make sure mature games do not end up in the hands of young kids, but we need to do more to protect our children.

In addition to mandating ID checks, the proposal would require retailers to post information about the rating system. Violators would face a $5,000 fine. Despite the abysmal record of such legislation on the state level, Terry expressed confidence that the bill would pass constitutional muster:

This bill doesn’t involve itself in content or defining the standards for ‘mature’ or ‘adults only. It simply requires the retailer to post what the industry has defined as ‘mature’ and ‘adults only’ so that parents can know, and requires checking of identification.

The proposal enjoys the support of the Parents Television Council.

For his part, Rep. Matheson has attempted to legislate video games in the past. As GamePolitics reported in 2006, a Matheson proposal by the same name failed to gain traction.

Rep. Terry was made to look a bit silly by The Daily Show host Jon Stewart following a congressional video game hearing in 2006.

By the way, GamePolitics challenges Rep. Terry to support his claim that rape is a feature in any commercial video game.

UPDATE: Omaha’s Fox News affiliate has a report on the bill. Rep. Terry told KPTM-42:

This bill is all about empowering parents so they can make more informed decisions about what games they’re kids are playing, knowledge is power and the more we know the better off we’ll be.

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