Politician Wants Warning Labels On Video Games

A congressman figures that if warning labels are good enough for your cigarettes and bug spray, they’re also suitable for your video games.

GamePolitics reports a California-based legislator introduced a bill that would create a Consumer Product Safety Commission rule mandating that violent games be slapped with a label that reads “WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.”

Unfortunately the dubiously researched label will not inform consumers that game discs are harmful if swallowed or used as suppositories.

Congressman Joe Baca Pushes For Warning Labels on Games [GamePolitics via 1Up]


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  1. Larraque eats babies says:

    “WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.”

    — Citation Needed —-

    • Griking says:

      You can make a report say anything you want it to say to so for every report provided that says they do promote violent behavior someone else will link one that proves that they don’t.

      Anyways, here’s the first story about it that popped up when I Googled it (hint, hint)


      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Then the research is inconclusive, and thus does not warrant a baseless label.

        • Griking says:

          Has it been absolutely proven that porn is dangerous to children? What about gambling? Just because an industry has a lobbying group to defend it doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous. Cigarettes were defended as being safe for decades.

          • coren says:

            There is conclusive (and has been for years) research about cigarettes.

            If violent video games make people violent, then why isn’t violent crime on a sharp rise with the popularization of games such as GTA or Halo or Call of duty or what have you? Why haven’t I, or anyone I know, been arrested for a violent crime (as influenced by these evil games)? Video games take the blame for the times when kids don’t know the difference between reality and fiction, and don’t have a good moral compass. That’s not video game’s fault. That’s parents faults.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Conclusive scientific evidence eventually proved that carcinogens in cigarettes were harmful. Unless it is conclusive, you should not have a label that says “it has been linked to ____.” That’s like me putting a label on a package of lightbulbs that says, “CFL bulbs contain mercury and mercury has been linked to death.” It’s implying that CFL bulbs are outright dangerous. It’s an irresponsible way of giving people information.

            • Griking says:

              Of course cigarettes are dangerous, I wasn’t disputing that. I mentioned them though because they’ve had a lobbying group[ who for decades defending them as being safe.

              I don’t believe that it can be proven without a doubt however that porn or gambling are dangerous to children however both of these are banned to children.

              • Larraque eats babies says:

                We have that already in video games. It’s the ESRB rating system (Mature rated games for 17+ gamers).

                This new label is something completely extreme. We don’t have giant labels on porno magazines that state ‘Seeing this makes you more likely to rape a woman’

                • Griking says:

                  The ESRB is part of the video game industry and is completely voluntary. Of course the fox will agree to guard the hen house.

          • MrEvil says:

            There’s a difference between shielding minors from porn and gambling just because they’re minors and then putting warning labels saying that material is hamrful to them without any conclusive evidence to back up that claim. That’s what’s at issue with this law.

    • SagarikaLumos says:

      It has been linked to aggressive behavior, usually be politicians, paranoid parents’ groups, and other folks who like to nanny others’ children.

      Proving said link with careful and scientific social research…not so much.

      • Griking says:

        Another question;

        Video game discussion aside, do you feel that in your lifetime people have become more violent at all? If so what do you attribute it to?

    • BurtReynolds says:

      According to the people Baca believes, anyone who grew up playing Mortal Kombat should be lusting to rip someone’s spine out right now.

    • jesusofcool says:

      Yeah this isn’t the sort of thing that’s a clear enough link to warrant a warning. That said, I think a lot of people take the lack of a clear link to aggressive behavior to mean that the really violent games are relatively harmless. Is it desensitizing us? Personally, I can’t play anything involving killing realistic looking people- it makes me sick to my stomach. Cutesy zombie monsters I can do, enemy guerilla fighters…I guess to me it just minimizes the seriousness of the violence that happens in real life. I have relatives who fought in recent wars, saw some serious stuff and will live with those experiences for the rest of their life – how can I play Halo for fun and not think about that?

    • Difdi says:

      Warning: Excessive exposure to Politicians has been linked to dishonesty and breaking of promises.

  2. seth_lerman says:

    “WARNING: Excessive use of video games rather than going outside to play will make you fat and sedentary”.

    Do we really need a label like that?

    • Larraque eats babies says:

      We sure do! Don’t you know you and everyone else is too damn stupid to think for yourselves? That’s why we have the gubmint.

  3. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    For the record, it’s the SAME California legislator who tried this schtick in 2009. Only now, he’s got Virginia Representative Frank Wolf on board too, and he’s the only one to have contributed new material to the bill.

    Just… go away already.

    • Griking says:

      I’m kind of curious why we can have warning labels on everything else known to man for all the stupidest reasons but as soon as they consider warning labels on video games it becomes a national issue.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Because a label like “do not use hairdryer in the tub” is a idiotic warning for idiotic people. But when it comes to video games, those of us who like them and play them (and especially those of us who enjoy the first person shooters or combat genres) seem to always be on the defensive. We constantly have to defend our interests against people who have absolutely NO conclusive proof and try to phrase it as some kind of scientific truth.

        • Larraque eats babies says:

          The problem comes from the media generalizing against . It just so happens that it’s the same old boring tired violent video games are hurting our kids argument that has been around since at least when Wolfenstein 3D released back in 1992.

          And for a lot of us, we’ve also migrated from ‘satanic’ things like Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, etc – that the religious right has been demonizing for years. It’s just the next thing on the list.

          It just so happens that it’s easy to find people who have social issues who play a lot of video games (as an autistic adult, I have my share of them) so people draw really stupid conclusions from that. Just like how playing Civilization does not enable me to rule the entire world under my iron fist, playing Rock Band does not make me a better musician, and playing The Sims does not enable me to manage my life better, playing violent video games does not make me a better killer.

          And I’m offended that people who have never played a video game in their life would dare draw conclusions about the kind of person I am.

        • Griking says:

          Are you a minor or an adult?

          Would a warning label limit an adult’s ability to purchase a game?

          Did warning labels on music suddenly make all albums with bad language in the 80’s and 90’s disappear?

          • jebarringer says:

            The better question is: are YOU an adult or a child? Because your logic certainly seems to indicate the latter…

            • Griking says:

              Really? What did I say that led you to change this from an discussion to insults?

              My point is that if they put warnings on some games and even if they restricted childrens access to some games it wouldn’t effect an adult’s ability to purchase these games. This is why I asked if he was a minor or an adult. I’d understand a minor getting upset about the change but not so much an adult.

              • Larraque eats babies says:

                Because the warning label is not based around scientific fact, but if it starts appearing on games, people will start to believe it to be true. (Kind of like that one ‘study’ that linked cell phones to brain cancer)

              • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                SHE is an adult. But that’s not the point. Just because it doesn’t necessarily affect me doesn’t mean it’s not an issue. Lead in toys doesn’t affect me because I don’t have children; but it doesn’t mean that lead in toys is not a problem.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            The warning label does’t impede anyone purchasing the game, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s alarmist and makes connections that are tenuous at best. Parents who do their research will find that this is the case, but it’s the rest of the masses that don’t do thorough research who develop generalizations about video games and the types of people who enjoy them.

            • HogwartsProfessor says:

              I agree, pecan, and I think the ratings system for games is sufficient. If someone is buying games without looking at the “M for MATURE” then they have no grounds to complain about the content.

      • mythago says:


        We don’t need warning labels on everything known to man. The reason for warning labels is so that if a person says “I didn’t know the product would be harmful if X” the company can say “We explicitly warned about X.” It’s ass-covering.

        What Baca is doing is the equivalent of a hair-drying warning label that says “Do not point at little green men from Neptune during an invasion.”

  4. Bsamm09 says:

    No wonder I started killing hobos after I started playing Black-Ops (when I don’t get “connection interrupted”, that is). I guess it’s back to FIFA ’11 to get ready for the World Cup in 2012.

  5. laughingisfree says:

    In my opinion, it’s the lack of parenting rather than video games that is the problem. Parents, do your part. Don’t let your kids play games all day; spend some time with them.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      But that requires work! And they’re so messy and loud and they WANT ATTENTION. Gawd – I don’t have time for that! Much easier to plunk them down in front of the television so they shut up for a minute and let me have some goddamn peace. It’s not like *they* have to spend 8 hours working for an asshole and then come home and get harped at and grabbed and drooled on. STFU and leave me alone, midget.

  6. Blueskylaw says:

    “Politician Wants Warning Labels On Video Games”

    Politician also wants money to spend on useless pork barrel projects for his constituents.

  7. fsnuffer says:

    I think every person who gets elected to Congress should have a warning label tattooed to their foreheads

    “Warning: Just because you got elected, it does not make you an expert on everything”

    The letters will need to be reversed so they can read it in the mirror every morning.

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Who gets to determine what is “excessive” and who gets to determine that aggressive behavior is the outcome? There’s no conclusive link between violent media and aggressive behavior that can apply across the board. It’s circular logic. If I say that I played a ton of video games and turned out perfectly fine, the people who want this kind of label will just say, “well, that’s because you weren’t exposed excessively enough.” But when the proponents of this find a case of a person being aggressive, and see that the person also liked violent video games, they say, “oh he must have been exposed to it excessively, enough to cause aggressive behavior.”

  9. paoyu says:

    Video Games don’t kill people! People kill people!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      No, no, no. You have that wrong. It’s “violent video games don’t kill people! People (who like violent video games) kill people!”

  10. agent 47 says:

    Can’t wait for that state to sink into the sea. Hopefully NY will follow. These seem to be the birthplace of stupid laws.

  11. dolemite says:

    Problem is, there haven’t been a lot of studies showing that link. And of the few that DID show a link between aggression and games, it was ONLY short term. Meaning, kids played a game, got hyped up, karate chopped their brother for a for an hour or two then settled down. The same effect that watching power rangers, or a football game or something would have.

    There have been no long term studies proving a link between aggression and video games.

    • Tarceinus says:

      Plus there are studies that show that Video games are beneficially socially. Much like how young dogs learn to nip at each other without injury, children and teens learn to differentiate real violence from play violence.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Good, because I’m about to start playing Hitman. :)

  12. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    California. ‘Nuff said.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      No no no, you’re pronouncing it wrong. Say it with me now:


    • mythago says:


    • leprechaunshawn says:

      Not just California, a California Democrat!!

    • Consumeristing says:

      I’m Californian, and yes I am embarrassed by this state. Yesterday, another California congressperson (Loretta Sanchez – D) wanted Gabrielle Giffords kicked out of the Armed Services Committee right after she got shot. We got a ghoulish bunch of politicians. I’m sorry America.

  13. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    what an awesome marketing tool it will be.

  14. pcPhr34k says:

    Sure, go ahead and paste that sticker on the box. I have not purchased a game at a brick-and-mortar store in ages, 99% of the games I do buy is through Steam.

    I’m guessing they will have Steam to have a warning banner pop-up before you can click on “Purchase” (…that is if they even know what Steam is)

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      I would honestly love to see Joe Baca go toe-to-toe with the mighty force that is the Indomitable Gaben.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Most people have consoles, though, and AFAIK, you can’t purchase a game like Black Ops through the PlayStation Network or through XBox Live.

      • hoi-polloi says:

        I prefer physical copies, but these days you can buy full games through X-Box Live and download them to your hard drive. Just FYI.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Steam: The vapor formed when water changes from liquid phase to gas phase.

    • HeroOfHyla says:

      Let me know when I can buy Advance Wars, Trauma Center, Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, Castlevania, Mario, and Zelda games on Steam.

  15. zombie70433 says:

    I spend hours killing hookers, leading police chases throughout the city, running over people, and killing cops. Doesn’t mean I’m going to do in in real life. Anyone too stupid not to separate fantasy from reality is too stupid to read a warning label.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      One of my favorite things to do in Grand Theft Auto is just drive around, following traffic laws, exploring the game. Does that mean when I jump in my real car, I break every speed limit and run red lights? Nope.

  16. deadandy says:

    Warning: Pursuing stupid legislation has been linked to not getting re-elected.

    • Sword_Chucks says:

      Now that is not true, otherwise most of congress wouldn’t have been re-elected after Patriot Act or the new healthcare. I say new healthcare because I heard a lot of “Well, I dont like it, but Im going to vote for it anyway” IF you dont like it, dont vote for it. Fix the problems then vote for it. Now we’re going to waste money going back and fixing what should have been fixed.

  17. Rocket says:

    Don’t video games already have this? Isn’t it called the ESRB rating?

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Yeah but ESRB labels have a critical flaw in their design: Somebody responsible has to read them, and then use that information to make an informed decision. Such as a parent purchasing video games for their children.

      Baca’s label has an alarmist statement that creates impulse decision-making! No brain-power required!

  18. ajaxd says:

    Suddenly I feel an urge to replay God of War 3. I’m just in the mood for some violence today.

  19. Snoofin says:

    There is already a label on them stating you are to be 17 to play the games. If it really is true (Which I don’t believe) that violent games lead to aggressive behavior, then it is the parent’s fault for either buying the game for their kids, or letting their kids buy the games themselves. There is no need for another label.

    • mythago says:

      As a parent, I agree. The rating is fine. The problem is not that parents are too stupid to notice the rating. (Whether the game company lied to get that rating is another issue.)

  20. mythago says:

    Breaking news: Congressman from a conservative district in California proposes no-chance law to drum up publicity, please constituents, media gives him exactly what he wants.

  21. Polish Engineer says:

    If video games get this label then let’s take the next logical step…

    All politicians need to have a big yellow label on their suits:

    “WARNING Excessive exposure to political rhetoric and other partisan media has been linked to unwarranted polarization of society and the inability to address meaningful problems.”

    Really? Unsustainable spending, zero energy policy, wars, healthcare…. Put those on the back burner. Kids playing violent video games, that’s just got to stop.

    Kids have been playing cowboys and indians, army, cops and robbers, and other “violent” games since the dawn of time….

  22. intense_jack says:

    Only if sports games come w/ a similar warning label:
    Playing sports based games has been linked to making people better athletes!
    And of course, RPG’s will have to have a label:
    Playing RPG games makes you nerdy and unattractive to the general population of the opposite sex, unless they share your inherent nerdiness!
    I could go on…

    • psycho98 says:

      thank you my friend for i am the great nerd of rpg gaming and those who love my love are also loved by us that love it

  23. ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

    While I don’t think video games are a primary cause of violence in this society (Really? Blame video games when everything from TV to music is blasting the same imagery at us?) it doesn’t mean they necessarily have no effect. The argument that video games don’t make people go out and kill hookers is specious, the issue psychologists really wonder about is; and always been whether video games increase aggression or aggressive, and to what extent.

    In other words, it wouldn’t necessarily be something you’d notice personally after playing a game. The most compelling study I’ve seen asked people to administer shocks to other people (or at least they were mislead into believing that they were giving shocks to other people) after either playing a violent game, a non-violent game, and no game at all. The people who played violent games gave shocks that were of significantly greater duration. Nowhere did the study state that these were anything but normal college students, nor did it argue that they would suddenly run around killing people. I’m frankly surprised that people who on this site often claim to know the difference between anecdotal evidence and real research are running around talking about how “they turned out alright etc.”

    Does this mean that video games should come with warning stickers? In my mind, no. Because the issue of extent is important, and because there’s no guarantee that other forms of violent imagery don’t have similar effects. But, overall, I think people are fooling themselves when they claim violent imagery doesn’t effect them. Violent words have been shown to affect us. Credible studies on the sources of anger and violence have determined one of the worst things a person can do trying to calm is engage in an activity that involves a resemblance to violence (eg punching pillows). But no, everyone here would be immune to basic human tendencies, of course.

  24. Donathius says:

    I wish Assassin’s Creed had a warning label like that. Then maybe I wouldn’t have broken my arm trying to scale the walls at work like Ezio does in the game. It’s just as well – I haven’t been able to perfect my homemade hidden blade yet.

    Don’t even get me started on how much damage I’ve done to my house trying to imitate Star Wars games. My wife just glares at me when stuff starts flying around the house while I sit serenely on the couch. I’ll miss the cat.

  25. oneandone says:

    I hate things like this, because it makes people think that all warning labels are similarly stupid, and just as unbased in science, when (usually) the opposite is true. There’s a good reason why bug spray and other household chemicals say WARNING: Causes substantial eye injury, may be harmful if swallowed, etc. It’s not just speculation or a couple of studies, it’s actually the result of a lot of rigorous research. Putting what’s essentially a politician’s hunch on a label as a warning dilutes the seriousness of warnings on products that actually need them.

    It’s probbaly all moot anyway, since people don’t really read the warnings – there’s some research that shows that disclaimers & statements & warnings on product labels don’t change anyone’s mind about buying a product once they’ve decided to do so. You should put effective directions on the label, or information on how to use something safely, but “WARNING: May cause cancer” doesn’t seem to do much to influence consumers.

  26. ob1canobeans says:

    Election Ballot Warning Label:
    ATTENTION: Know that should whomever you vote for win this election (actually a popularity contest),
    he/she will almost immediately begin to impose his/her personal beliefs concerning child rearing/law enforcement/immigration/heath care/taxes on you and other residents of this political jurisdiction.

  27. Genuineduck says:

    It would be more productive to hand out condoms that say “Warning: poor parenting has been linked to poor children”

  28. framitz says:

    Working meaningless legislation can lead to failure to be re-elected.

    At least I hope so.

  29. Sword_Chucks says:

    This is just what Obama was talking about on SoTU… We have to cut spending, by somehow wasting time on more important topics like adding a false warning label to video games.

    This is not and will never be a direct association between violence and video games. Why? Oh, Being unemployed I kill people all day online, but I am no more aggressive than a fluffy bunny (except one bit me, so not that one). They are too quick to make a claim that isn’t there. They’ve even jumped on the mass shootings for the killer having played violent video games, then found out later they didn’t. But still tout the violent video games make violent people

  30. DWMILLER says:

    So instead of working to lower the National Debt, he and another congress critter are working on video games with labels. I guess if they are working on this sort of thing they aren’t in my pocket.

  31. Jonesey says:

    Finally! This will completely END all violence! Go Joe Baca!

  32. drizzt380 says:

    Why isn’t he requiring it on violent movies too?

    I mean, it does say other violent media in the warning. But why only violent video games? Why not violent books too!?!?

    You know, in High School I was required to read a book where a man fantasized about raping a woman and then cutting her throat when he reached orgasm. That didn’t get a warning label. Whats that about?

    Also, the book was 1984. A very good book. But still, way more disturbing as a 15 year old than anything I’ve seen in video games.

  33. Mphone says:

    Yeah, because these labels will make parents start parenting. Oh, wait. Socialist CA doesn’t want that. They want the state to do the parenting.

    Something Ive started doing at work(I work at a Video Game store, not Lamestop). If a child comes in our store and I can see the parents are sitting in their car out in the parkinglot. I don’t say anything when/if the kid buys a M rated game. There is no State Law saying they can’t buy it. So I am in the clear.

    I’ve only had one parent come in to bitch that I let their kid buy a M rated game. I asked where they were during the purchase. She shut up then.

  34. VeganPixels says:

    I want lobbyists’ warning labels on politicians.

  35. Starfury says:

    Looks like another politician doesn’t have enough work to keep them busy. I guess solving more relevant issues is too hard for them.

  36. Blind Cynicism says:

    I’m waiting for the day that the government starts taxing video games like they do cigarettes. Seriously, this is getting out of hand.

  37. AngryK9 says:

    Yep. I know that all of those years of playing Pac Man when I was a kid has led me to spend most of my days running around in the hedge maze in my back yard, eating pellets while dodging four of my friends dressed as multicolored ghosts.

  38. mike says:

    “WARNING: Excessive exposure to politicians has been linked to homicidal tendencies.”

  39. r586 says:

    when is the bible going to have a warning label? it’s chock full of sex and violence but these people have no issue with kids reading it.

  40. Levk says:

    There been no real proof of video games making you insane and bat shit to want to do harm to others.. there are millions of players that play violent games and they are not going batshit crazy

  41. FrankReality says:

    I’d like to see warning labels on Congresspersons, Senators and other politicians.

  42. seishino says:

    Call me crazy, but hasn’t excessive exposure to any screen-based entertainment been linked to aggressive behavior? Repeatedly? Why call out some media, then?

  43. hypochondriac says:

    I’m still waiting for a label stating “Warning Breathing has been linked to death”

  44. Wawa says:

    Like movies, there’s already a rating system for video games.Video game rating is printed on every retail box.

    Movie industry uses the MPAA. Video game industry has the ESRB.

    Put a warning label on this politician: “(random expletive) on board”

  45. Dave Saunders says:

    wow, has such causality been established through peer-reviewed science?

  46. haggis for the soul says:

    “Warning: Excessive exposure to congressional stupidity has been linked to aggressive facepalmery and anal leakage.”

  47. Cetan says:

    “WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.” [citation needed]

  48. CrackedPepper86 says:

    Video Games already have warning labels, they’re called ratings. Children CANNOT buy mature rated games. Never once did I buy an M rated game underage, and not for a lack of trying. I even had a hard time at 18 if I’d forgotten my ID.

  49. psycho98 says:

    This is fucking retarded. I am a big fan of video games and have been since i was like four years. i played the most violent games there are out from sega’s streets of rage to xbox360s halo and call of duty series. i have killed more alien grunts and brutes and elites in halo than anything else i have done in my life. I work at a prison in east Texas and most of the offenders that are there are there for violent crimes. hell we have the real leatherface there. one thing i can tell you about most of the inmates we have is they wouldnt even know how to turn a game system on let alone play them. and as far as porn and gambling go. if a kid wants to do it they will it doesnt matter how restricted it is to them. i started smoking at age eight. and let me tell you it wasnt because of some game. it was because of the people around me. so if you going to put a warning label on games you might as well put them on people as well. because its not games or smoking or drinking or gambling or anything else that makes us us. it is the people around us. as i said im a gamer and when you start to mess with something i love doing you can be sure im going to say something about it. I didnt let that shit that Hilary Clinton tried to pull with gaming go so why would i let it go now? when these poloticians finally wake up to the reality that they arent wanted welcomed or even needed in this world then maybe something good will happen. until then this country is going to keep trucking down the path to hell in a handbasket. if video games are linked to violent behaviour then i should be in prison and not working at one. you people are retarded to endorse such a fucked up bill and i hope that you soon have your heads VIOLENTLY removed from your asses with a crowbar