A bill has been introduced to congress that would make ESRB ratings mandatory for video games.
American lawmakers have been scrambling to introduce legistlation concerning violent video games since the Sandy Hook school shooting in December, calling for aditional research, tax penalties, and now legal ratings.
H.R. 287, introduced by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) makes prominent ratings mandatory on all video games.
In addition, “It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or rent, or attempt to sell or rent (1) any video game containing a content rating of “Adults Only”… to any person under the age of 18; or (2) any video game containing content rating of “Mature”… to any person under the age of 17,” reads the bill.
Last year the US Supreme court gave games full first amendment protections guaranteeing freedom of speech, deciding against a similar law in California banning the sale of violent games to minors.
This means that if passed, the so called "Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act" is almost certain to be challenged before the Supreme court.
President Obama has already called for congress to provide $10 million in funding for research of the effects of violent games and media on children.
His actions seem in keeping with the response of antendees of a meeting between Vice President Joe Biden and the video game industry, which largely endorsed additional research as a means of altering the public image of video games.
The ESRB has been rating games for nearly two decades, but this law would make such voluntary regulation mandatory.
Although both Democrats and Republicans have forwarded bills calling for the legislation of games, it is uncertain whether or not the two could reconcile their differences to pass such a law.
Even without new laws, the industry as a whole seems to embrace the idea of games taking a more responsible stance on violence and gender issues, which have been a point of criticism for years.