Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s Violent Content Research Act Gets Greenlight from Senate Committee, Includes Video Games

Update: The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) issued a prepared statement this evening applauding more research, though the group said that it hopes it will be objective scientific research. The trade group representing the video games industry in the United States also said that it looked forward to having an open dialog with Chairman Rockefeller and members of the Committee on this issue.

"ESA has always supported objective scientific research and appreciates the opportunity for an ongoing dialogue with Chairman Rockefeller and members of the Committee," the group said in a prepared statement released this evening. "Video games are enjoyed by the majority of American families – parents and children alike. Our industry has forged a longstanding partnership with parents by providing them the best information and tools available in order to make informed decisions about what games their children play. Indeed, the Federal Trade Commission this year again recognized the ESRB rating system as the best in the entertainment sector. We are building on this leadership with a renewed ratings and parental control awareness and usage campaign, and by continuing to expand the ESRB system to apps and mobile platforms."

Original Story: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has moved forward legislation today that would study the impact of violent video games and other media on children. As you may recall when we reported on it earlier this year, Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced the bill – the Violent Content Research Act – shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

At that time the Senator said that studying violent media would be a first step towards more aggressive regulation of violent media – a subject he has been fond of talking about for many years. The fear is that the study might be biased by trying to prove a correlation from the start – like one that aims to prove that violent video games somehow cause real-world violence or long-term aggression.

Shortly after Sandy Hook the President also called for $10 million to be spent on researching violent media as well as its correlation to gun violence.

Rockefeller's bill calls for the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether violent video games and other media cause children to act aggressively or have other negative effects. The National Academy of Sciences would look at whether the "interactive nature" of games has a unique impact on children.

In a joint statement, the lobbying groups for the movie and cable TV industries said they "welcome further academic examination of the reasons behind societal violence. Our industries have a longstanding commitment to providing parents with the resources, education and tools they need to make appropriate family viewing and entertainment decisions," the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Motion Picture Association of America said.

The Entertainment Software Association had no comment as of this writing.


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