US Bill Claims Games Should Have Cigarette Style Warning Labels

A new bill known as the "Violence in Video Games Labelling Act" is arguing that video games should display cigarette-like warnings about in-game violence on their packaging.

The two members responsible are Joe Baca and Frank Wolf, who both claim that there is growing evidence that the violence found in many a contemporary title has contributed to real world aggression.

"The video game industry has a responsibility to parents, families and to consumers - to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products," Baca said in a statement. "They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility."

"Just as we warn smokers of the health consequences of tobacco, we should warn parents - and children - about the growing scientific evidence demonstrating a relationship between violent video games and violent behavior," added Wolf.

While there is some evidence to suggest that in the short term, those that play violent video games do have increased in-game aggression and are desensitised to certain imagery, there is much less data that suggests there is a long term effect. Some have theorised that in the same way as certain combative sports increase aggression in the short term, over long periods of time they can help alleviate such feelings.

However this bill doesn't wish to just label the most violent titles, but all of them according to The Hill, whether they contain violence or not. The only games that would be exempt are those that are considered suitable for children aged three and upwards. Everything else would need a label.

The fact that some studies suggest cognitive behaviour, including reaction times and problem solving, can be enhanced by certain games is being ignored by this bill. It could be dangerous to scare parents away from video games as an educational genre by using a blanket labelling scheme like this.