Presidential hopeful resurrects federal game bill

Republican Senator Sam Brownback reintroduces Truth in Video Game Rating Act, which would require the ESRB to complete games before rating them.

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"Our greatness is built on goodness!"

Last month, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback declared he would seek the 2008 Republican nomination for President of the United States. His first speech as a candidate was roundly mocked on the January 23 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for his repeated use of the words "greatness" and "goodness." (The same program also pilloried the entire spectrum of Democratic candidates, including the "first Leprechaun president[al]" hopeful, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich.)

Today, Brownback took a very public step to prove the American public how "good" and "great" he is. The Senator announced that he was reintroducing the Truth in Video Game Rating Act (S.3935), a measure he first submitted last September. If made law, the act would require the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to play the final build of a game from beginning to end before it gives said game a rating.

"Video game reviewers should be required to review the entire content of a game to ensure the accuracy of the rating," Brownback said in a statement. "The current video game ratings system is not as accurate as it could be because reviewers do not see the full content of games and do not even play the games they rate." The Truth in Video Game Rating Act would also commission a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to "determine the efficacy of the...ESRB ratings system."

Currently, the ESRB reviews video of the "most extreme instances, across all relevant categories including but not limited to violence, language, sex, controlled substances and gambling" in each game it rates. Following the infamous hidden-sex-minigame Grand Theft Auto San Andreas scandal of 2005, publishers must now also submit "pertinent content that is not playable, but will exist in the game code on the final game disc."

Since then, the ESRB's system has proven fallible--or infallible, depending on one's viewpoint. In May 2006, the board rescinded the T for Teen rating of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion after it discovered graphically violent content at the denouement of the Dark Brotherhood questline. Despite being rated M for Mature, Oblivion went on to sell nearly 1.4 million copies in the US as of December 2006, generating just short of $80 million.* It has also won numerous accolades, including GameSpot's Role-Playing Game of the Year.

* According to the latest figures from the industry-research firm NPD Group.

Discussion

273 comments
jmrwacko
jmrwacko

lol @ the guy who said England is more free than the United States. Your major news broadcasting station, the BBC, is controlled by the government. How free is that? The only government-controlled television station we have is PBS, which doesn't report news or have any meaningful influence on our society. Plus, your government changes hands once every few decades. You brag about having proportional representation, but in the end, the labour party calls all the shots. /rantoff

bduddy_
bduddy_

Psst... read the article... if you can... *rolls eyes* He wants the ESRB to actually PLAY the games before it RATES them. If it's too incompetent to even do that, the government should not allow it to exist.

bduddy_
bduddy_

Psst... read the article... if you can... *rolls eyes* He wants the ESRB to actually PLAY the games before it RATES them. If it's too incompetent to even do that, the government should not allow it to exist.

The_Praetor
The_Praetor

Although all politicians are hopping on the blocked out content band wagon, I think this is great. The ratings the ESRB gives are SO inaccurate, it's ridiculous. CoD 4 seems like content that would be allowed on the TV-14 rated show 24, so shouldn't that be rated T? And Oblivion seems perfectly fine for a mature 15 year old, so why not just rehaul the whole freakin rating system? This seems like the prime rating system: E E7+ E10+ T12+ T14-15+ M16+ M17+ AO Sure it's way longer, but it's way more precise. Put this with good reviewers and there you go. I think the requirement to play through the game is the right idea, as it requires someone who can ACTUALLY PLAY IT. Not a teacher or counsel-person who looks at a picture and some words and says, "Oh yeah, that's too violent... BREAKIN OUT THE M, NOW." Although Brownback is looking at it from the wrong angle, it should have a good income for younger gamers that have parents that assume the ESRB knows what its doing (which it doesn't).

CptAsbjoern
CptAsbjoern

That's just stupid: Publishers must now also submit "pertinent content that is not playable, but will exist in the game code on the final game disc." he's got to be kidding me... also... Oblivion isn't such a violent game, and if they have to find the most "violent" scene in that game, it isn't in the Dark brotherhood it's the mission in fighters guild "SPOILER" where you have to torture a guy to make him talk... love that game...

RockaWuzHur
RockaWuzHur

This is crap. If the ESRB plays through games before their release then wouldn't that make the release dates longer. I wish these politcans would worry about more important things and leave gaming to us.

SlawekAB
SlawekAB

Is the United States Goverment going try to control "US" human beings next. This is so much bull what kind of freedom is here in this country where i can't really chose what i play

benjaminjoel
benjaminjoel

And let's not forget those real-time online games, like World of Warcraft! Since they have no end, and this act requires the ESRB to play all the way through, this act could stop those games from EVER being rated- in effect, BANNING THEM!!!!!!

gruntelite
gruntelite

this is stupid, but its better than Jack Thompson, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Lieberman, who want to take away the "Pursuit of Hapiness" part of the constitution. I think there should be something between T and M, just like there was only PG and R for awhile then they made PG-13. Games like Halo just dont feel T or M to me, a new rating should be made

GCN49
GCN49

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

blackrose_113
blackrose_113

Eh, the word "lynching" is on the tip of my tounge, but since I live in the "gloriously free" United States of "oh-my-god-we're-so-scared-of-potential-thought-of-corruption" America, I would most likely be sent to jail for saying that. Bless this naiton and all its values *looks on TV* Well.....nevermind on those values. Closing point: Why not just let the soccer moms run the US? They basically are already. And Altria Group.

robert13007
robert13007

Never will happen not the way this industry works buddy. Don’t worry about him if this was one of those things, where they can actually do something; they will most likely sit are their thumbs since congress never officially meets to do anything anyways. Unless it has something to do with Iraq; then they might move. The whole thing with GTA has calmed down way to much for anything really to happen. You can thank both sides of the extreme sided lobbyist for this.

KoruKinshi
KoruKinshi

This man will never become president...never.

mononokehime316
mononokehime316

the BBFC are sent a video tape of the game and they rate it that way but they dont rate every game only the really violent ones 90% of games are given an PEGI ratiing instead thats europe wide.

mononokehime316
mononokehime316

actually Azazel29 the BBFC was only like that in the 80s and 90s from the 2000 onwards they are far more liberal than the mpaa a good example is Terminator 3 Rated R in USA but a BBFC 12 as it was tame. although in 1992 they let the unrated cut of basic instinct pass as uncut 18 as where as mpaa cut it down. The BBFC has only banned 1 game in its history and that was not an outright banning but the removal of human people in pc game carmageggon. They never cut games we only got the cut version of Ninja Gaiden on xbox as the germans wanted it cut so we got the same pal master. Also the TV is more free over here you can use the f word unbleeped on network tv and show boobs which u cant sadly on US network tv. also in our newspapers we have page 3 topless women. The ESRB needs to be left alone so our American friends dont suffer censorship.

Fallen_One_28
Fallen_One_28

American politicians often spend ten times as much as the Canadian equivalent on election campaigns.... Sad isn't it?

Azazel29
Azazel29

Hirmetreus the BBFC has made some dumb moves in its days. they have been more strict in banning movies and games from being released period!, that have otherwise been released here in the US. but lately something is seriously wrong here. everytime u turn around our government is trying to ban, regulate, ban, regulate, ban, ban. WTF give our freedoms a GD break!!! just because your in office doesnt meant u have to make a law banning something.

Azazel29
Azazel29

/sigh. being from the U.S. I am ashamed of our stupid politicians. Sheltered kids born into wealth. They think since they dont play games... they'll make laws banning them. dont these pple have kids who play games?....luckily we have descent judges who still give a damn about our rights and will tell this shoe to go be a pu~~y somewhere else... like France

hirmetreus
hirmetreus

WHERES YOUR BILL OF RIGHTS NOW USA? WHERE?!!? Thank god we englishmen live in a messed up but at least free society. British Board of Film Classification(BBFC) > ESRB.

tk1080
tk1080

this is retarded, the USA is trying to slowly push video games out of the picture, believing them to be for children only! i laugh when i remember that the average gamer is around 27... Americans are really stupid sometimes, and they have the most retarded government system i've ever seen. God Bless Britain!

Marqmax
Marqmax

well I know who I'm NOT voting for... not like I've ever heard of him anyways AND he's a republican AND he's from Kansas.

bob_newman
bob_newman

What a tool. It's always some stupid hot button topic; War on drugs, war on terror, war against war, war against global warming. If they add the word 'war' it makes it seem bad and in turn makes people talk about him more, then he'll get more votes. They do this every time. Nobody cares about anything until election time nears.

Spanks113
Spanks113

I live in Australia so hopefully this idiot and his bill won't affect me

JimBurber
JimBurber

This guy will never EVER get elected president! EVER!!!! Also, who EVER looks at the rating of a game and says... rated M? well I'm not buying this, it's much too violent?

ACAblackpanther
ACAblackpanther

this guy's an idiot...he has no idea what he's talking about. sure it's nice and easy to check every bit of content in a game if we're talking pac-man here, but with the amount of content in video games now (the RPG genre especially) it's ridiculous to expect the ESRB to play through every bit. silly, it'd be a waste of the ESRB's time. if parent's care what their kids play then they should keep tabs on it.

Bladecutter56
Bladecutter56

I want to kill this guy... So. ****ing. Bad.

Yuf
Yuf

I'm giggling over all of the comments on how the US was founded for the purpose of providing a safe and secure place so folks could be happy. I highly doubt that Washington, Franklin and Hamilton sat around wondering about the state of entertainment in the 00's.

KingMyro
KingMyro

Yet another reason that im embarrassed to be a Kansan. Bob Dole, Fred Phelps, Voting to remove teaching evolution in schools, and now Mr Brownback. Isnt Kansas "GREAT"?

sidneyisaac
sidneyisaac

glad he's a republican. no one will vote for him anymore!

n8berman
n8berman

here's a quote from the ESRB website..."The rating system is voluntary, although virtually all games that are sold at retail in the U.S. and Canada are rated by the ESRB. Many retailers, including most major chains, have policies to only stock or sell games that carry an ESRB rating, and most console manufacturers will only permit games that have been rated by ESRB to be published for their platforms." Here's my plan...This could work...All we need is the computer game manufacturers to grow a sack and tell the ESRB to piss off. Then tell all the chains that require ESRB ratings to do likewise. Then sell their games through such outlets that do not require ESRB, perhaps online somewhere. This also shouldn't hurt sales too much, especially for MMORPG games because all the players already have internet connections, as do most PC users. ESRBiteme.com could be the biggest game retailer ever or even ESRBiteme stores in strip malls accross the nation. If people really want a game they won't really care where they get it from. It could even get to the point where some people actually refuse to shop at places that require an ESRB, because they won't carry the games those people wants. Or we could go the easiest route...Get rid of the ESRB completely and inform parents it's time to stop letting others do their job for them.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

AndyRaeside - Exactly. Most parents don't give a flying crap about the ratings. If you ask me, they don't even work, because what is "appropriate" varies from home to home, sometimes wildly. I've always said that, instead of ratings, content descriptions need to be put on the front of the box, similar to the music industry's "warning, this has teh cursing" label.

GoltanaZerg
GoltanaZerg

Doubtful that his Act will be accepted, atleast I really hope not. This feels like it goes along with the idea that violent games breed violent people, instead of bad and ignorant parenting. Parents are quick to blame anything but themselves for any faults of their children, the media, gaming, etc.. and please, 'goodness' and 'greatness'? We've already had one President with inferior public speaking skills.. I really don't want to have to suffer another.

t3h_sauce
t3h_sauce

I don't think this senator cares whether or not the bill gets passed. It is another ploy at gaing public suport on a "family values" basis. This is just another reason that I hate politicians. Instead of doing what is right for our country, they do what is right to get them elected. What a buncha ****

amtalx
amtalx

as a gamer and someone that works in the industry i think its important that the ratings system be accurate. is this plan a good one or even feasible? no. however its been shown on more than on occasion that things can slip through the cracks of the ESRBs system. the only thing that can possibly safeguard us from parental onslaughts wanting that games be banned is a robus rating system. so something needs to be done. this however isnt it.

grandgundam3
grandgundam3

Seriously, what is wrong with these polititians? Come on people, we're fighting a freaking war, we've got ourselves stretched thin trying to keep terrorists from blowing us all up, and you waste time trying to regulate video games?! I wish these polititians would get there priorities straight. Then again, as long as they work with the media to make ordinary people think games are bad, and we gamers remain divided on stupid issues like whether GOW is better than Halo 2 and vice versa, this is the crap we'll have to put up with.

Salemiscool
Salemiscool

All I simply ask is for American polititions to leave the gaming industry alone. This country was founded for a purpose, to try to have a place in the world where they can be happy, have choice, have freedom. I wonder what the founder's of this country would have an opinion about this subject? Would they leave it alone? Would they seek a solution that bests end the argument that in no way denies anyone's freedoms? Is it me, or where they one of the smartest people in the universe? All this newly sparked up controversy over many different things has caused us humans great ignorance and some stupidity, did the forefather's have this stupidity? No, because they didn't have these current day issues.

sped_ed
sped_ed

It's time to kill the gaming and computer industries by over regulating them too, yippe for know-it-all buerocrats.

Proman84
Proman84

A Presidential hopeful? As if I needed another reason NOT TO VOTE for this guy.

theKSMM
theKSMM

I doubt that Brownback will survive the primaries, but he is still a US Senator with some pull. There will probably be some support for his bill in Congress. Hopefully it will be pushed behind more important bills and forgotten.

nevereathim
nevereathim

DAMN, THE FIRST AMMENDMENT, there shouldn't even be ESRB in the first place Mr_Saturn26 you are totally right

Mr_Saturn26
Mr_Saturn26

when will they finally do something about bush, instead of games.

seasponge2004
seasponge2004

Why is it that they always bring these bills, and then the video game companies say "1st Ammendment" and thats it! Why do they keep trying when every single one of these bills has failed?

Kfoss
Kfoss

i say he dosent have a chance in hell of being prez and he should drop dead and the ESA is going to take him...WONDERFULL ANOTHER NUT JOB!

Salemiscool
Salemiscool

Excuse the very lame joke ahead of this warning. Hehe, Brownback mountain.] What will they do for games like Elder Scrolls Oblivion that are super long? It took gamespot a month to play that game enough to rate it! And that's only because they're good gamers, now we don't know about ESRB's level of playing skill. If they did this when Oblivion came out, it'd probly would have taken a month/year of ESRB to accurately rate it, delaying the game. I say ney ney to this bill.

AuRamza
AuRamza

If you're referring to the nude mod skin, that wasn't why it was re-rated. Thanks for reading! No, I was referring to the bill being implemented in response to a re-rating. That's all. This isn't about 3rd party mods, or, for that matter, unplayable, yet existing code. Like I said, it even states in the above article that unplayable but existing code must be submitted with the game to ESRB (that is, it is required to happen currently, and is not part of this bill).

AndyRaeside
AndyRaeside

I live in the UK... and our rating system is a bit different from the US one... we don't go buy M for Mature and stuff like that we just have like... U, PG, 12, 15, 18. U for Universal like everyone basicly... right through to the 18's which is the nudy/gory stuff. Basicly I don't think anyone here gives a monkeys about the ratings... Not so much retailers ... as they do enforce the ratings... for the most part... but I mean parents... I got Grand Theft Auto when it came out originaly... 18 game and I think I was about 12 or 13 and still very much in High School... just asked my Dad for it... and he bought it for me... adding... "This is an 18 , you really shouldn't be getting it, thank yourself lucky" So basicly what I'm getting at here... is you can slap whatever rating you like on computer games... fact of the matter is... kids under the intended age will still get there hands on them anyway.

hoverboy
hoverboy

@Takalth "...conservatives believe in minimal government (which includes maximum freedom)...." Except, of course, religious freedom.