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Senate Proposes New ESRB Legislation

Senate Proposes New ESRB Legislation

September 27, 2006 | By Brandon Boyer

September 27, 2006 | By Brandon Boyer
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More: Console/PC

The US Senate has proposed new legislation that would place tougher requirements on the ESRB, including mandatory hands-on time with rated games, and put the body under the watch of the Government Accountability Office.

According to Brownback's press release, the new bill, known as Truth in Video Game Rating Act (S.3935), was proposed by Senator Sam Brownback, a long-standing critic of the ESRB and sponsor of the recent Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act, which called for an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into video game and other electronic media use.

Were the Truth in Video Game Rating Act to pass, it would require the ESRB to have access to the full content of and hands-on time with the games it was to rate, rather than simply relying on the video demonstrations submitted by developers and publishers as it currently. The hands-on system might be more akin to the UK's BBFC ratings board's approach, which requires a team of testers to spend at least a day playing through a game, as previously reported. It would also "prohibit video game producers and distributors from withholding or hiding playable content from a ratings organization."

On top of the new requirement, Brownback's bill would also require the Federal Trade Commission to "specifically define parameters for describing game content and what would count as a mischaracterization of a game’s content."

Furthermore, the Truth act would place the ESRB under the watch of the Government Accountability Office to rate the performance of the group and look into alternative systems of game ratings, including the possibility of a new universal media ratings system encompassing games, movies, and television, similar to that of the now defunct PSVratings system.

“The current video game ratings system needs improvement because reviewers do not see the full content of games and don’t even play the games they are supposed to rate,” said Brownback. “For video game ratings to be meaningful and worthy of a parent’s trust, the game ratings must be more objective and accurate.”

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