Last month New York state Senators Andrew Lanza and Martin Golden promised that they would be introducing legislation that would "crackdown" on violent games. That bill surfaced last week, breezing through the Senate in just four days. Now it moves on to the state Assembly, where it must again be approved before it can go before the governor to be signed into law.
As expected, the bill would establish an advisory council to appraise the effectiveness and accuracy of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system, as well as parent-teacher antiviolence awareness program. While Lanza and Golden originally said the parent-teacher program would be formed to work on issues related to violence in games, the text of the bill makes no mention of games in that program's duties. According to the bill, the parent-teacher program is being established "in order to recognize and appropriately respond to students at risk for developing a propensity toward violent conduct."
The bill would also make rating labels mandatory on all games sold in the state, with punishments established for anyone selling or renting a game at retail "in contravention of the rating affixed thereto." On the mandatory labeling part of the law, no exception is specifically made for digitally distributed games or used games that predate the ESRB.
If passed, the ratings restrictions would take effect January 1, 2008, while the advisory council and parent-teacher program would be created immediately.