Violent game bill dies

Bill that called for a study of violent games killed upon end of 112th Congressional session; West Virginia senator plans to reintroduce measure by end of the month.


West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller's bill that called for a study into the effects of violent games on children died when the 112th Congressional session ended January 3.

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A Rockefeller staffer told Polygon that the senator plans to resubmit the bill--with its language unchanged--to Congress during the current session, likely sometime by the end of the month.

Introduced last month just days after the December 14 schoolhouse shooting in Newtown, Conn., the bill would task the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study the effects of violent video games and other programs on children.

"Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children," Rockefeller said at the time. "They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role."

The bill would direct the NAS to conduct a "comprehensive study and investigation" of the link between violent games and other violent video programming and harmful effects on children. More specifically, the NAS would be charged with looking into whether or not video games/programming cause children to act aggressively or "otherwise hurt their wellbeing," and if so, determine if that effect is notably distinguishable from other types of media.

Rockefeller at an unrelated hearing.
Rockefeller at an unrelated hearing.

This study would also look at the "direct and long-lasting impact" of violent content on a child's well-being. If the bill passes, NAS must submit a report on its study within 18 months to Congress as well as the FTC and FCC.

Rockefeller's bill is just one part of the ongoing discussion in Washington about games in the wake of the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead. Earlier this week, New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) said on national television that violent video games must be examined as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce gun violence in the United States.

Additionally, National Rifle Association vice president Wayne LaPierre said at a press conference last month that violent video games like Bulletstorm and Mortal Kombat were partially to blame for the shooting. California senator Leland Yee called this claim "mind-boggling."

What's more, US Vice President Joe Biden will meet with representatives from the video game industry this month to discuss the role of violent games as part of a wider task force looking into the role of violent media in mass shootings.

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