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Congressman Wants Health Warnings On Video Games 421

An anonymous reader writes "California Rep. Joe Baca has proposed a bill which would mandate placing health warning labels on any video game rated T (13+) or higher by the ESRB. The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009 would require a cigarette pack-like label that reads, 'WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.'"
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Congressman Wants Health Warnings On Video Games

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  • face. palm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macsox ( 236590 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:33PM (#26424689) Journal

    Just when I thought maybe elected officials could earn some modicum of respect. Well done, Joe.

  • Label the kids? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by retech ( 1228598 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:36PM (#26424715)
    Warning: Poor parenting leads to disaffected members of society.
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zwekiel ( 1445761 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:36PM (#26424723)
    That warning might make sense, if if it were true that video games actually caused aggressive behaviour. As it stands, there has been no conclusive proof that video games actually do cause aggressive behaviour, and thus this label is actually just a deceptive, nanny state tactic.
  • Yeah? Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:38PM (#26424759) Homepage

    I'm lobbying to get a mandatory message printed on all cell phones, that reads: "WARNING: cell phone usage has been linked to the collapse of honeybee populations".

  • Warning labels (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:40PM (#26424775)

    WARNING: Excessive exposure to warning labels and messages may make you less likely to pay attention to them, and prevent use of brain from exercising common sense and personal responsibility.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anthony_Cargile ( 1336739 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:41PM (#26424799) Homepage
    Playstation Home has worse content/comments (thanks to the human players) then some GTA stories. Yeah, the ESRB can say "online experience may change", but case in point - its not rated T, yet contains bad content. Just proof that the labels, censorship, and this BS bill really can't stop every little thing kids get exposed to, but come on - can you really expect kids to not be drawn to something so censored from their lives? Hell I know I did everything I could to find a playboy back in the day...
  • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:43PM (#26424841)

    "Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior" Except that it hasn't been.

    There have been some studies that have found linkages (the warning doesn't claim causality, it merely implies it), and others that haven't.

    An even bigger problem is that a game can be rated T or higher (even as high as AO) without any violent content, so even assuming that a direct, substantial causal linkage was established between violent video games and aggressive behavior, the proposal -- to require the warning on all T or higher rated games -- would still be nonsense.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Corpuscavernosa ( 996139 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:44PM (#26424849)
    "WARNING: Excessive exposure to Congress and other politicians has been linked to all types of ill shit, including but not limited to: sexual harassment, infidelity, wanton abuse of taxpayers' money, and just being an all-around douche."
  • Re:face. palm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:47PM (#26424901)

    The anti-gunners honed this strategy years ago. Remember how stupid it looks when your elected officials try to use it elsewhere/everywhere.

  • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by porkface ( 562081 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:48PM (#26424911) Journal

    Let California stack up a bunch of feel-good legislation like this, so the rest of us can point to them as an example of a failed nanny state.

    Anyone suggesting this in the face of a $44 billion budget deficit should be run out of town.

  • Re:Label the kids? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wahsapa ( 767922 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:48PM (#26424919)
    or better when you pop out of the womb "WARNING This life may witness violence"
  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:49PM (#26424921) Homepage

    "Joining the military may be hazardous to your health."

    "Progress is the opposite of Congress."

    "Paying your taxes subsidizes stupidity."

    "Voting is an endorsement of the status quo."

  • Dear wizardforce (Score:3, Insightful)

    by philspear ( 1142299 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @07:54PM (#26424995)

    Parents by and large realize the government is not going to raise their children. They would like you to stop blaming the entire parent population for the political aspirations of a small minority of self-righteous idiots.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:03PM (#26425111) Journal

    Warning: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

    Warning: Power attracts the corruptable.

  • by Scorchio ( 177053 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:06PM (#26425151)

    ...and other violent media...

    Yep, so you go ahead and try to get the same message printed on all movies, too, and we'll see just how long you're representing California.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:25PM (#26425397)

    It's also not as if putting labels on cigarette packets saying "smoking this is going to harm your health" encourages people to start smoking. Kids, on the other hand, are pretty much guaranteed to want products with "no, kids, it's not for you" on the label a lot more than if the label were blank. The "Parental advisory: explicit lyrics" sticker on UK CDs is pretty much a standard marketing tool for the record labels, and has been since about three seconds after some fool invented it.

  • Re:face. palm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:28PM (#26425441)

    I say let them do it.

    They did it with music (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_Advisory) and the sales sky rocketed.

    "This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence"

  • by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:40PM (#26425551)
    I'd like to see a warning label affixed to every ballot that says: "WARNING: Electing politicians has been linked to recession, higher taxes, and war."
  • Re:face. palm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @08:58PM (#26425769)

    The first step to get people to agree to something they might not otherwise have agreed to (like banning video games) is getting them in the right mindset. As a good example, you'd never have gotten away with outright banning of cigarette smoking in private establishments 20 years ago, and we're at the point now where there are people who would ban smoking entirely, even in private residences and private automobiles. I had a ridiculous argument with someone that argued the government ought to be able to ban ANYTHING they know to be unhealthy (including cigarettes, soda, pizza, and bungee jumping) and even require people to exercise.

    The first step they took to being able to get the public to accept smoking bans were laws requiring the labeling on the packs of smokes, and the frankly overstated arguments about second hand smoke. Now, I'm not saying second hand smoke is not dangerous (and I don't smoke, and I honestly think smoking is pretty stupid and annoying), I'm saying there is a lot of evidence to show the claims were exaggerated. Now there actually exist people that would ban smoking in your own homes.

    Now, this guy I was arguing with seemed like a complete moron to me, but nevertheless... there are people like him.

    So... not saying this will lead to a ban on some types of games, but you might as well nip stupidity in the bud. The games already got a T or M rating, that's quite enough.

  • Re:Label the kids? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:15PM (#26425969)

    Dead on. Mod that up, it sums up pretty much the whole problem we have at hand.

    Is it only me, or is pretty much the only entity who could be held responsible for kids turning out badly are by default above any doubt and out of obligation? Maybe it's time to start spinning ourselves. We need a nice catch phrase. How about "What happened to parenting?"?

    Why isn't anyone even considering the possibility? Why did nobody ever look at the parents of kids going completely insane and blowing their brains out (and/or some other brains)? Is there some unwritten law that you must not blame parents for bad parenting when their kids turn out antisocial?

    Why, I ask?

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <mark@a@craig.gmail@com> on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:24PM (#26426075)

    ... that the relationship might be reversed, and that it's developmentally aggressive tendencies that DRAW PEOPLE TOWARD the violent games in the first place? The games aren't CAUSING the aggressiveness, they're a REFLECTION of it.

  • by Hojima ( 1228978 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:24PM (#26426087)

    Following the little warning, it should read, Warning: this link has been established with biased experiments and insufficient data, as well as lack of scientific analysis. Experiments have pointed both ways (yet we have cherry picked this one) and to this day, many dolts firmly believe that correlation implies causation. You can however have faith in the fact that if your children are young enough, they may be as stupid as the chain of idiots who have wasted your tax money on this crap. This entails that, like lemmings, without proper guidance/responsibility, they will most likely attempt (and fail) to pick up a hooker and shoot her in the face to avoid paying the fees, following an uninterrupted session of GTA. If they get closer to success than desired, no matter how hilarious it may be, it is YOUR responsibility, not the source of this media.

  • by Jamu ( 852752 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:34PM (#26426215)
    WARNING: Legislation for new artistic mediums has been linked to ignorance and stupidity.
  • Re:face. palm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted@slashdoA ... inus threevowels> on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:54PM (#26426421)

    The problem is, that cigarettes (not pure tobacco. cigarettes!) are more addictive than heroin. That's no joke. Look it up. Most people think it's just a light drug, because of the weak effects it has, compared to other drugs. But it's just that cigarettes have an extremely bad addictiveness/effect ration, because of the 600+ substances that intentionally got added to the tobacco, to make it impossible for you to stop.

    I say there's no right more fundamental, that the right to do with your own body as you please. But the second most important rule of a society is, to do no harm to others. And that's exactly what making tobacco so addictive, while keeping quiet is. It's tricking you into dependence on their product. So we should forbid that exact behavior. And punish the one who decided it in exactly one of two ways (in that order): A) Expel them, and disallow them any direct or indirect relationship to this country, while explaining very clearly what is non-acceptable behavior in this society. That way he has to deliberately continue despite knowing that we don't want it, to reach... B) If that does not help: Get your agents to shoot them.

    Plain, simple, fair.

    Unfortunately the government, and companies like that, are largely the same thing nowadays. So the government are the people that should be punished by (A), or (B) if really necessary.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:01PM (#26427125) Homepage Journal

    Did anyone ever wonder why all those kids going on a shooting spree did it at their school? Never at, say, a mall, where the potential amount of victims is usually way higher? Why didn't anyone ever ponder that?

    Discussing such things is almost as taboo as talking about how the 9/11 terrorists weren't "cowards" as Bush suggests.

    Its quite obvious that social dynamics at school were much more to blame for the various school shootings than video gaming. However, as a wise man once said, the winners write the history books and in this case, the shooters are dead, and the survivors get to be ignorant of the reasons for the violence (often by choice).

  • by torkus ( 1133985 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:46PM (#26427533)

    The real irony is that the violent cartoons our parents (read the 40-60 year old generation that are our world's decision makers today) watched as kids didn't seem to corrupt them too badly. They turned out 'all right' by their own standards apparently. Heck, I'm still quite a few years from 40 and still played cops and robbers, watched "violent" roadrunner cartoons, and pretended to "shoot" people with my finger in elementary school. All things that supposedly that are "harmful" yet i'm a productive member of society, don't do drugs, have a steady job, good education...and so on.

    Or maybe they're turning all the kids today into pussies.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:08AM (#26427699)

    Then why doesn't anyone say it? It is blatantly obvious. And even if correlation != causation, it would at the very least put those that claim video games are somehow linked to the shootings into the position that they have to explain how linking games to the shooting is valid while linking school problems to them is not. All kids on a killing spree had violent games on their PCs? If this is a valid reason to blame video games, then blaming schools is at least as valid because all killing sprees happened at a school.

    You cannot tell with any reasonable proof that they played some game before they went on their killing spree. But it's undenyable where they did it. Now, what is possibly stronger connected to it than the place where it is done? Is it simply rampage? Then why this invariable choice of target? What could be their goal? Fame? Hell, there's a LOT more surveillance cameras in other public places that contain a lot of potential random targets. A mall. A bank. A bus station. A sports arena.

    It's also not a school. In every case that I know of, it was their school, the school that they went to or were expelled of. Anyone still wants to tell me this is by no means any indicator that this target was chosen deliberately?

    I don't give a flying fuck about taboo, it's high time to call a spade a spade. Quit looking for a scapegoat and start working on the problem, or we get more rampages, more killings, more dead kids.

    And while I hate playing that card: That next kid killed could be yours. Think about that.

    I know it's not "comfortable" to think that maybe it's not "someone else" that we can shift the blame to but that we might have to look at ourselves for the problem, and thus the solution. Such a position isn't really endearing a politician to potential voters. It's much more pleasant to hear that he found a scapegoat and he's now going to do some "serious business" and "do something" for your kids.

    But that's dangerous, people. Because it does not protect our kids. Essentially, it does, at best, nothing. At worst these games may be an outlet for potential gunmen that keeps them from snapping and going on a rampage. I'm not saying it is so, I say it may be so, I don't know. I only know one thing for sure: Using games as a scapegoat is not going to protect our kids. It may give us that fuzzy warm feeling we're doing something. But we're not. The problem remains, unaddressed and unsolved.

  • Re:face. palm. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tibman ( 623933 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:07AM (#26428129) Homepage

    Something else to point out is this type of warning label wouldn't affect online sales. Physical retail stores will start looking like death dealers though. Parents will see the labels as proof that it causes violence and warm up parents to idea that banning games is good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:37AM (#26428413)

    I agree with you on the warning label not needed, that's why we have ESRB for, but the problem is the parents ignore the ESRB. There are mindless parents out there that just don't care what they subject their kids to because they are in the game store screaming, buy me this game mommy and I will shut up for 5 minutes and leave you alone. And you can tell that many of these kids are straight up crazy, you don't believe me, go to a game on xbox live and just listen to the filth these kids spit out in the middle of a match, or play counter-strike on steam and listen to these crazy's. I'm not blaming the games though, alot of them weren't made for them, they were made for mature audiences. If you buy a game that shows this kid blowing some guys head into smitherines and the charactor in the game swears constantly and you wonder why your kids becomes more violent in real life, wake the hell up and buy him stuff for his age group. Or even better, buy him a football and get him off his arse and have him play outside with his friends so he doesn't die of clogged arterties sitting in front of the tv eating hot pockets. Stop blaming the game companies for bad parenting. If you bought your kid porn and he catches a VD from school, don't blame the adult industry for your mess up.

  • Re:face. palm. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tyrion Moath ( 817397 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:15AM (#26428677)

    Yeah, they more or less told people who didn't know better which artists were willing to swear and thus the kind of music that they might like in addition to what section of the store it was in. Games already have that. Now we know which games are willing to show blood, body, and language that is representative of the world we live in. It's all in that little label on the front already. This won't change anything except taking up more space on my cool box art.

    Why isn't "Warning: the swearing in this CD may cause you to swear" or some other such made up lies on that CD you bought?

  • by Schemat1c ( 464768 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:41AM (#26428833) Homepage

    Warning: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

    Warning: Power attracts the corruptable.

    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."
      - Jimi Hendrix

  • by No Grand Plan ( 975972 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:06AM (#26430997)
    If parents don't pay any attention to the rating label, what makes Joe Baca (that name is ripe for abuse, BTW - think 'Chew') think anyone will pay attention to the warning label?
  • by M1rth ( 790840 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:21AM (#26431551)

    Power corrupts

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely

    Petty power corrupts all out of proportion to the real amount of power.

    Politicians are endowed with a special mix of petty and absolute power such that they are all 100% corrupt while not being absolutely powerful.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner