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Utah congressman calls for video game regulations

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm •  Published: January 27, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson has once again introduced legislation requiring ratings on video games and vendors to check the identification of those purchasing video games with adult or mature content.

Matheson's proposal has gotten more attention after President Barack Obama, the National Rifle Association and others expressed concern about the effects of violent video games following the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in December.

Critics say Matheson's proposal violates the First Amendment. They include the Entertainment Software Association, which represents video game publishers, who called Matheson's proposal unconstitutional.

Matheson, a Utah Democrat, unsuccessfully introduced the proposal in 2006 and 2008. The bill would require a visible content rating on the package of every video game. The legislation would also bar video game retailers from selling games rated "mature" to those under the age of 17 and games rated "adults only" to anyone under 18. Matheson's bill would impose a fine of $5,000 violators of those provisions.

The ratings would be based on the standards used by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which is the video game industry's self-regulating body that assigns game ratings. The system is voluntary, but almost all games sold in the U.S. are rated by the ERSB, according to the board's website.

According to ESRB standards, a game with a "mature" rating may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content or strong language. An "adults only" game may include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content or gambling with real currency.

The Entertainment Software Association, which established the ESRB, said they alone should responsible for ratings of game content, not the government.

"Empowering parents, not enacting unconstitutional legislation, is the best way to control the games children play," the video game trade group said in a statement.

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