Hillary Clinton promotes law to ban violent video games

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton has fired another salvo in her battle against violent video games.

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton has fired another salvo in her battle against violent video games.

On Thursday, she announced draft federal legislation – expected to go before Congress in mid-December – that would ban the sale of violent video games to children. Several states are attempting to pass similar laws.

Backed by Senator Joseph Lieberman, another Democrat, she said the draft law also calls for an annual review of the video game rating system.

"I have developed legislation that will empower parents by making sure their kids can't walk into a store and buy a video game that has graphic, violent and pornographic content," she said in a statement.

Children under age 17 would not be able to buy or rent games rated as "M" for Mature or "AO" for Adults Only. Violators of the prohibition would be fined.

The law also recommends a Federal Trade Commission sweep of the game industry to ferret out any hidden content that might undermine those ratings, such as the hidden sexual content in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas discovered earlier this year.

Clinton had denounced game makers and helped prompt an investigation of Rockstar Games, makers of Grand Theft Auto, when news of the sexual content came to light.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was given an "AO" rating.

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the gaming industry, has announced its opposition to the legislation.

It says the industry can police itself and holds up as proof the decision of gaming companies to include parental control devices on next generation video games. That announcement came out earlier this week.

Game makers also came under fire from the National Institute on Media and the Family. In its annual report released Tuesday, it said video game retailers had failed to honour promises to safeguard children from violent and sexual content in new generation video games.

"There has been significant industry progress and reforms over the last decade, but ever more violent and sadistic games are still ending up in the hands of children," said the institute's president David Walsh.

Walsh said the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, an industry self-regulatory body, was not working and that young children were able to buy games with shootings, violence, graphic language and even cannibalism.

Clinton agreed violence and sex in the gaming industry is out of control. She had been critical of the industry even before the Grand Theft Auto incident, saying some games are demeaning to women as well as violent.

Her legislation is titled the Family Entertainment Protection Act. Support for an initiative to rein in violent games has cut across party lines in the U.S.

The gaming industry has launched court challenges against states that try to enact legislation banning violent games, citing First Amendment rights.