WASHINGTON -- Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) on Jan. 24 introduced the Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2011, a bill that would put warning labels on so-called "violent" consumer videogames.
The proposal, designated HR 400, would require all videogames with an Entertainment Software Ratings Board rating of Teen (T) or higher to be sold with a health warning label that states: "WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior."
The videogame-labeling bill establishes this requirement as a new rule within the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Since the bill applies to consumer games that bear an ESRB rating, it does not appear to carry any legal implications for coin-operated videogames.
In introducing the legislation, the congressman from Rialto, CA, blasted the videogame industry, saying it had "repeatedly failed to live up to [its] responsibility" to inform parents about potential harm to children from playing "violent" games.
Baca also cited the growing list of studies that claim to establish "a proven link between playing violent games and increased aggression in young people." He ignored a recent finding by the Australian federal government that no such link has been reliably proven.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) cosponsored HR 400, comparing it to the FDA's requirement for tobacco sellers to put warning labels on cigarettes.
Baca failed to get a similar videogame-labeling bill passed in 2009, when his party controlled the House of Representatives. Observers said the Republican-controlled House of 2011, strongly influenced by the libertarian philosophy of the Tea Party, is even less likely to pass such a bill this session.