New bill could require ID checks for mature games

Two politicians, Democrat Jim Matheson and Republican Lee Terry, have teamed up to introduce a bill to the US House of Representatives that would require all videogame retailers to check ID’s before they sell any mature or adult rated game. The penalty for not adhering to this law carries a penalty of $5000. Retailers will also have to post clear explanations of the ESRB rating system in plain sight of customers.

The bill in question is called the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act. The main focus of this bill is to protect children from purchasing games that are too mature for them. Many retailers try to implement their own set of rules to prevent the selling of mature games to underage persons but if the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act passes, it would become a national law to check identification. Bills similar to this have been introduced before but have all been shot down due to the videogame industry’s First Amendment rights. One of the reasons Lee Terry gives for bringing this bill to the House is a bit exaggerated however.

“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,” said Terry.

I can understand his position on virtual murder and assault, but rape? There isn’t a game that I can think of that glorifies acts of rape. All of that aside, it looks like this bill is singling out games as being so potentially destructive that the national government has to get involved. Never mind the parents or guardians of children who have a responsibility to monitor the activities of those under their care. It would be different if similar policies were made for films, that way every source of media can be monitored; though they shouldn’t be to this extent.

I myself believe these decisions should be left up to retailers, and content that children interact with should be enforced by their parents and not the government. A determined child can probably go to a friend’s house to play something they know they shouldn’t be playing anyway — it’s just like an adult buying a pack of smokes or a ticket to an R rated movie and handing it off to a minor. Morally wrong, maybe. Criminally wrong, I think not.

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