California Congressman Joe Baca has introduced “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2011,” a bill that would require all games rated T or higher to carry another label warning about the links between violent media and aggressive behavior.
You might think it’s a little silly to want to put a warning label on videogame boxes that already carry labels breaking down, in considerable detail, what lies inside. But not if you’re Joe Baca, a California Congressman who thinks the game industry is dodging its responsibility to inform people of the link between violent media and violent behavior. Thus this legislation, which would mandate that all games rated T (Teen) or higher carry a label reading “WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent videogames and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.”
“The videogame industry has a responsibility to parents, families, and to consumers – to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products,” said Rep. Baca. “They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility. Meanwhile research continues to show a proven link between playing violent games and increased aggression in young people. American families deserve to know the truth about these potentially dangerous products.”
If this sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a good reason. Baca introduced the same bill in 2009 and even recycled the press release announcing that bill, word-for-word, to announce this one. The only difference is that this time around his bill has a co-sponsor, Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia. His original bill apparently went nowhere, so now he’s back to try again.
Baca doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that a substantial body of work has found no relationship between violent gaming and aggressive behavior, or that violent crime in the U.S. has actually declined over the past two decades despite the explosive growth of the videogame industry. There’s really not a whole lot more to say, except that if that does reflect “the growing influence of violent media on America’s children and youth,” then perhaps Baca shouldn’t be working quite so hard to fight it.