Matheson introduces legislation restricting mature video game sales to minors

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jan 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-22 18:31:45-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Congressman Jim Matheson has reintroduced legislation that would restrict the sale of adult video games to children.

The Video Game Rating Enforcement Act, H.R.287, would require stores to check identification for anyone trying to buy or rent Mature- or Adult Only-rated games.

The bill would also require an explanation of the video games rating system be placed in all stores for customers to read.

Matheson said in the release that there have been issues in the past with restriction of video games violating the first amendment, but he says this legislation would not restrict sale of mature video games to adults, but limit access to children.

“The images and themes in some video games are shocking and troublesome. There are popular games where players advance through acts of “virtual” murder, assault and rape. Many children are able to access these games without their parents’ knowledge,” Matheson said in the release. “I believe that retailers have made a good faith effort to institute policies that keep mature games out of the hands of young kids, but at the end of the day, these policies are voluntary and parents deserve piece of mind that they are the final authority in what their children rent or purchase.”

All video games are rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) based on the presence of certain content, including violence, alcohol or drug use, sexual content, gambling and mature humor or themes.

The categories are:

  • EC, or Early Childhood, where content is intended for young children.
  • E, or Everyone, where content is generally suited for gamers of all ages.
  • E 10+, or Everyone 10+, where content is suitable for users ages 10 and up. It would contain some cartoon or fantasy violence or mild language.
  • T, or Teen, where content is suitable for ages 13 and up. It may contain violence, suggestive teens, some crude humor and use of strong language.
  • M, or Mature, where content is suitable for users ages 17 and up. It may contain intense violence, gore, sexual content or strong language.
  • AO, or Adults Only, where content is suitable for adults ages 18 and older. It would contain prolonged scenes of gore, graphic sexual content and gambling with real currency.

According to a press release from Matheson, industry data says half of the top ten best-selling games in 2012 were rated M.