ESA president Doug Lowenstein has issued an official statement querying the recent U.S. legislation, dubbed the “Truth in Video Game Rating Act”, which was filed on August 4 by Florida Republican Cliff Stearns. The new act is aimed to direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “to prescribe rules to prohibit deceptive conduct in the rating of video and computer games.”
Arguably the most notable facet of this newly proposed legislation is that it would require the ESRB to play each game it rates in its entirety, rather than just a few hours, which poses a potential bottleneck for titles of considerable length. The act would also call for an a government issued investigation of the effectiveness of the ESRB itself.
"We share Chairman Stearns' commitment to the continued effectiveness and accuracy of the ESRB's ratings system,” wrote Lowenstein in the statement. “However, as introduced, we do not believe his legislation will serve consumers and parents.”
The statement continued: “For example, the proposal that every video game be played through in its entirety before a rating is issued means that the only people rating games will be professional gamers with the skills necessary to play through games that can take more than 100 hours and who are not likely to be representative of the mainstream American parent.”
Finally, Lowenstein concluded: “According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, parents said that among all entertainment rating systems (TV, movies, music and games), the ESRB ratings are the most useful. It is not broken. Neither is it perfect and we are always exploring ways to ensure it retains the respect it has earned from American families. We look forward to working constructively with Chairman Stearns and his colleagues on these issues in the weeks ahead.”