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Clinton, Lieberman 'team-up' with gaming industry to tackle video game violence

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Ron Brynaert
Published: Thursday December 7, 2006

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Concerned about violence in video games aimed at teenagers and young children, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), along with the president of the gaming industry's Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), announced the launching of a new nationwide television public service announcement campaign at a press conference held on Capitol Hill this afternoon.

The two senators have been longtime vocal critics of violence in the media, and especially video games, but this new campaign will include the heads of two of the largest retailers and is being viewed by some gaming Websites as a possible sign of detente. The rating system itself was created in 1994 by the entertainment software industry in order to provide parents "with accurate and objective information about the age suitability and content of computer and video games so they can make informed purchase decisions," according to the ESRB Website.

The campaign, which encourages parents to use the video game rating system when purchasing games for their children, includes appearances by Best Buy president Brian Dunn and GameStop president Steve Morgan "affirming their respective company's commitment to support the ESRB ratings and their store policy not to sell Mature rated games to children under 17 without their parents permission," according to a press release obtained by RAW STORY.

"We all share in the responsibility of making sure our children play age-appropriate video games, and I'm pleased that the ESRB and retailers are working together to educate parents about the video game ratings and make sure they are enforced," Senator Clinton said. "As we enter the holiday shopping season, it is important that parents have the information they need to make informed choices that are right for their families."

Lieberman said that he was "very pleased that the ESRB and the retailers are taking these positive steps to reach out to parents to educate them about the rating system."

"I have long said that the ESRB ratings are the most comprehensive in the media industry," Lieberman added. "There are many age-appropriate games that are clever and entertaining. Parents should understand and use the ratings to help them decide which video games to buy for their families."

ESRB President Patricia Vance said, "We're excited to have the support of Senators Clinton and Lieberman, Best Buy and GameStop in this significant initiative to help ensure that parents choose appropriate games for their children."

As the video game site put it: "After filibustering in the capitol and in the media about the dangers of video games, and the threat that interactive violence supposedly presents to our nation's youth, Senators Lieberman and Clinton are about to join forces with the ESRB for a series of advertisements promoting the game ratings system."

"Politics, as they say, makes strange bedfellows," writes, noting that it "was just over a year ago that Sen. Clinton ripped the game biz over the Hot Coffee scandal," a reference to an "X-rated" scene which had been secretly added to the bestselling Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas video game by one of its game developers.

Clinton had called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the "Hot Coffee" incident, and proposed legislation that would impose $5000 penalties on retailers who sold violent games to children.

"The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it's making the difficult job of being a parent even harder," Senator Clinton stated last year.

But gaming site believes that the current campaign is a sign that anti-game politicians will "lay off" retailers and gaming companies, and concentrate on parenting responsibilities instead.

"By throwing their weight in the corner of the ESRB, Clinton and Lieberman are publicly endorsing the idea that parents -- as opposed to legislation -- must step up and play a primary role in determining what content is appropriate for kids' consumption," Mark Whiting wrote for the game site. "That's good news for gamers nervous about the heavy hand of the law getting involved around in what they can and can't play or buy."