Today members of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) and a handful of supporters are in Washington to talk to member of Congress and their staff about the issues the group cares about. While the ECA champions a lot of causes the biggest issue may very well be the most recent – HR 4204: The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012. Since it's on the ECA's mind, you can bet that the bill sponsored by Rep. Baca (D) and Rep. Wolf (R) will be a hot topic.
In case you don't remember, HR 4204 would put a warning label on ALL video games – even those rated "E" for "Everyone" by the ESRB. That warning would be: "WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior." There have been some pretty ridiculous bills put before Congress in the past, but this one goes beyond the pale. The ECA has urged the public to contact their elected officials and loudly protest HR 4204. What a great thing it would be if members of Congress were receiving these letters while the ECA was in Washington discussing the issue.
That's where you come in. By visiting the ECA Action Alert Page for this bill, you can send a letter like the one below to your representative letting him or her know that you strongly oppose further regulations and government mandated labels on video games beyond what the industry and the ESRB already do voluntarily. The letter below can be customized to your liking on the Action Alert page, so you can add your own thoughts on why this bill is so horribly wrong:
Do Not Support HR 4204: The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012
As your constituent, a voter and an active video game player I urge you not to support “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012”, which calls on additional, unconstitutional and onerous labeling of video games.
First, “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012” is unnecessary. Most gamers are adults, whose average age is 37 years old and average purchaser age is 41. In fact, the largest segment of gamers falls in the politically coveted, and increasingly vocal, 18-45 age bracket, most of who grew up playing video games.
Secondly, the video game industry already does a great job of self regulation through the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). If children are playing ‘M’ (for mature) rated games, they’re getting them from their parents. The Entertainment Consumers Association, the American consumer group representing video game players, supports parental empowerment and the ESRB efforts to educate parents on the ratings system.
Third, the Supreme Court and other federal courts have routinely held that government regulation of video games is unconstitutional. Passing bills such as “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012”, which would then get fought out in court, would cost taxpayers like me millions of dollars. I’d rather see my tax dollars being spent on other things like job incentive packages, building safe bridges, fixing our economy and insuring that our country is kept safe from terrorists.
Fourth, the warning label required by “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012” is false and misleading. There is no scientific consensus showing a causal relationship between violent media and aggressive behavior. In fact, the vast majority of studies show no link at all. Even if such evidence existed, “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012” wrongly singles out video games, which, according to the Federal Trade Commission, are the least likely medium for a minor to purchase alone.
Fifth, the bill also assumes that any game that receives an E or higher rating contains violent content. This simply shows either a lack of understanding of the ESRB’s rating system rating criteria or a willful acceptance of video game stereotypes. Not all R rated movies receive the rating because of violence; the same is true of M rated video games.
It is in your power to stop this type of legislation, and I ask that you represent me, your constituent, by doing so. If you have any questions on this or other similar issues please contact Jennifer Mercurio, the Entertainment Consumers Association’s Vice President & General Counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
[Full Disclosure: GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]