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House Rep Proposes Video Game Bill with Up to $5000 Penalty

Marcus Estrada

Lately there has been a lot going on in regards to the video game industry and politics. Because video games have been scapegoated recently, various people in power are giving the entertainment form a critical look. Case in point, representative Jim Matheson of Utah has introduced a new bill into the House.


The proposed bill is titled the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act (HR287) and, if enacted, would put legal ramifications on things which are already fairly self regulated. Basically, it sets the requirement for all games on retail shelves to have "clear and conspicuous" ratings from the ESRB on packaging. As gamers, we are pretty well aware that games without ratings are almost never seen available in stores. As for the conspicuous part, the ratings are also on the front and back of games, and the only way to make them more obvious would be to increase their size.


Beyond that, he also states that laws must be in place to make sure AO games are not sold to anyone under the age of 18, and M rated games to players under 17. Again, he is unaware that AO games are not carried by any retailers and that, for the most part, retailers are already enforcing these standards. However, without it being the law, it's possible some stores sell M rated games to anyone. Even with such a law, it wouldn't stop the common practice of parents buying M-rated games for their children.


What would the result be for retailers for failed to follow these laws? The penalty would be a fee which maxes out at $5,000. With such a high possible cost, retailers would probably shape up their video game sales departments immediately. However, the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act has not been passed yet. If previous video game legislation is any indication, it probably won't pass either. We are in a different political climate right now though so no one can be certain as to the result.

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