Congressman Cliff Stearns has introduced HR 5912, also known as the “Truth in Video Game Rating Act” to place more pressure on the ESRB to give accurate game ratings and determine their effectiveness. The Act includes terms which would make rating games without playing them to completion unlawful. This would be a radical change from the current ESRB system which relies heavily on developer disclosure rather than hands-on experience. Neglecting to disclose all content in a game or rating a game lower than it should be would also become illegal. If enacted, the bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on several aspects of the ESRB’s practices. Under the microscope would be the ESRB’s effectiveness, the validity of peer review and advertisements targeted toward ages younger than a game’s recommended audience. Less specific to the ESRB, the bill would also require research on “the efficacy of a universal ratings system for visual content, including films, broadcast and cable TV, and video and computer games.”
Game Politics notes that Co-Sponsors Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) are up for re-election this November along with Congressman Cliff Stearns.