Halo Feels Good, Like a Videogame Should

Gaming, Politics & Current Events

Congressman Joe Baca of California cares deeply, deeply, about your children. Not in a creepy or check-the-online-registry way, so far as I know. No, he cares about their safety.

That safety is under dire threat from comic books and chewing gum in the hallways. No, wait a minute. It's not 1952. So their safety is under dire threat from videogames. The answer? More government-mandated warning labels.

Baca has proposed the Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009. See, "health" is right there in the title, so it must be a good bill. What will it do?

Baca introduced legislation that mandates all video games with an Electronics Software Ratings Board rating of Teen or higher be sold with a health warning label. The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009 creates a new rule within the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which forces games with a Teen rating or higher to be sold with a warning label, reading: "WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior."

There's nothing that sways a teen like a warning label with a notably vague statistical claim about an already-vague concepts like "excessive" and "aggressive behavior." I'm sure it will be equally effective with that elusive demographic, the parent who to date has not taken parenting seriously enough to observe game content or prevent excessive gaming by their kids, but now based on a warning label will do for sure any day now.

Baca's press release is an opportunity to offer specifics where a brief game label cannot. Does he? Well . . . .

“We must hold the video game industry accountable and do everything in our power to ensure parents are aware of the detrimental effects that violent games can have before making decisions on which games are appropriate for their children to play,” concluded Rep. Baca. “I am proud to introduce the Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009, and am hopeful my legislation can work to stop the growing influence of violent media on America’s children and youth.”

Uh-huh.

I note that Baca did not see fit to cite dissenting studies, nor to critiques of the methodology of existing studies or their suitability for drawing general conclusions.

Can a Congressional Medal of Freedom for Jack Thompson be far behind?

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