Bill Introduced To Require Bogus 'Warnings' On Video Games

from the junk-science dept

For years, we’ve looked closely at the various research on video games and aggression, and time and time again what comes up is that there’s no clear link. Sure, some studies purport to show a link, but it’s always in the interpretation, rather than the data. When you dig into the data you find something entirely different. At best, the studies have shown that people get emotional while playing video games, and that emotion may carry over for a short period of time. But there’s nothing that shows it leads to increased violence. In fact, some of the research suggests that such content can often act as an outlet.

So it seems especially ridiculous to find out that Representative Joe Baca has decided to introduce a bill into Congress called the Video Game Health Labeling Act, which would require warning labels on video games which read:

WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior

Of course, this is silly for a whole bunch of reasons. First, it’s not true, as discussed above. Some researchers have claimed this, but the research does not actually support it. Second, what a total waste of time. It’s not as if anyone will actually pay attention to these labels anyway. One of the other backers of the bill, Rep. Frank Wolf made the following statement in support:

“Just as we warn smokers of the health consequences of tobacco, we should warn parents — and children — about the growing scientific evidence demonstrating a relationship between violent video games and violent behavior…. As a parent and grandparent, I think it is important people know everything they can about the extremely violent nature of some of these games.”

Except, as noted, the scientific evidence says no such thing. And, on top of that, there’s already a (voluntary, but widely used) ratings system for video games, such that any buyers can easily find out about the nature of the games they’re buying. A warning label doesn’t change that at all.

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Comments on “Bill Introduced To Require Bogus 'Warnings' On Video Games”

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Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Great idea!

Great idea! But let’s continue this where it leads:

Social Media: WARNING: Excessive exposure to Facebook and other social media has been linked to divorce

Movies & Music: WARNING: Excessive exposure to movies, music, and other art has been linked to sexual behavior, violent and aggressive behavior, and depression

4Chan: WARNING: Excessive exposure to the Internet and other violent media has been linked to 4Chan

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

I'm still wondering...

…why my enjoyment of Nintendo games as a youngster didn’t immediately result in my growing a ridiculous mustache (by cracky) followed by a murderous attitude towards small shell-backed quadripeds.

It did, however, teach me that no matter how impressive someone’s castle, the princess is always elsewhere….

Anonymous Coward says:

Repeated stupidity

It is worth noting that this is the second attempt by Representative Baca to apply these dumb labels to video games. His first attempt was the “Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009.”

Apparently, the press release for the Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2011 references all of the same studies and quotes as the press release for the 2009 attempt.

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

View of the past and future.

As a member of the International Game Developers Association throughout my academia stint was enlightening on this one since it was widely talked about. Starting at the ground floor of Hot Coffee and the black boxes at Hastings for games like the Playboy Mansion it always boiled down a few observational fallacies based in morality and one extra which only I seemed to cover.

A. Protect the Children via [fill in the blank]
B. New “solution” to the ratings system and why studios should[moral] consider a wider audience.
C. Finally my thesis and thread starter on the forums; The answer to why we restrict a persons choice on things they buy based on the arbitrariness of age.

And those f’n kids

Chargone (profile) says:

the silliest bit is that it’s very likely that such warnings would be left in (simply easier) in the non-US versions of said games. you know, all those countries that have actual, government controlled, compulsorily rating systems which include R ratings that mean it is Illegal to sell such content to people under the listed age?

interestingly, R18 seems to either mean porn, shooters set in non-sci-fi settings, or large quantities of gore, here. R16 seems to be excessive swearing and cursing and general illegal behavior. or something like that. it’s hard to tell.

basically amounts to ‘any game worth touching with a barge pole is either rated M or is a strategy game with out of date graphics. unless it’s a shooter, in which case it’s probably R# regardless.’

also, ‘violent video games linked to aggressive behavior’ … technically true if you think about it. saying there’s a link doesn’t specify the nature or direction of that link.
problem is, much like the phrase ‘going forward’, US political speak and newspaper headlines have corrupted the original meaning. (seriously, there is one specific context where ‘going forward’ makes sense, and i heard Obama use it a couple of times in speeches early on. since then I’ve encountered Americans, businessmen, and politicians using it every damn time they mean ‘in future’ ‘in the future’ or anything of that nature despite the result being nonsense. come on, i mean, if you’re going to copy odd turns of phrase like that, at least use them properly…)

Gill Bates says:


I never understood how right-wingers and Republicans could be so for “small government” and against regulations – yet they are the ones that want to control Rock lyrics, what people can do socially (sexually) and such.

If they want to do away with regulations – get rid of them ALL, social and business.

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