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Expressing Sense of the House That the Federal Trade Commission Should Investigate the Publication of the Video Game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas"

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 376, to ask the FTC to look into the misrating of the ``Grand Theft Auto'' video game.

I have been working on this issue for the last five years, since 2000, and have been working also with Representative WOLF and others to ensure that members and the public understand the importance of this issue to our children. It's good to know that other members are becoming aware of the problem and together we can work in a bipartisan effort and make a difference.

Through our hard work, and that of those who are with us, the ESRB, the Voluntary Industry Rating Board, has now changed the rating of ``Grand Theft Auto'' from an M to an AO. That is not enough, because there are literally dozens of games out there that have the same type of offensive content, and the burden is now on the industry to explain why all of those games should not be rated AO, also.

But we will not wait for the industry. We must take action now. We must step up the pressure. For this reason, we have asked the FTC to scrutinize all video games, including ``Grand Theft Auto'', to make sure they are properly rated. We appreciate the continued expression of support by the Congress. Together we can make a difference.

My legislation, the Software Accuracy and Fraud Evaluation Rating Act or Safe Rating Act (H.R. 1145), would empower parents, by calling upon the FTC to look at all video game ratings.

Parents are the gatekeeper for what their children watch or play, but how can they do that, if the ratings are not accurate? How can they do that if the ratings are confusing? We must empower parents!

The decision to rate ``Grand Theft Auto--San Andreas'' as adults only represents a small victory for those of us who have been calling on the video game industry to clean up its act.

However, the industry's self-regulation is a case of the fox guarding the hen house--and American children are at risk because of this.

Although the ratings board has decided in July of 2005 that San Andreas should be rated adults only, it has already been sold for at least 18 months, earning millions of dollars for its producer. In fact, it was the best-selling game of 2004! And that means that millions of American children have played it, being exposed to graphic violent and sexual content.

Parents are confused by the ratings and angry that their kids are being exposed to filth and violence.

I hear from concerned parents in my district in California and from all over America.

The most important step we should take now is to pursue an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into the video game rating system as my legislation calls for.

I have recently met with the FTC chairwoman Deborah Majoras to press for changes in how the games are reviewed and rated.

This is a $25 billion worldwide industry that makes much of its profits by targeting teenage and younger boys.

The industry can give a game an M rating with a wink because it knows that any kid can buy a game even if it has an M rating.

There are several problems with the M Rating:

The wording on the label (in the small print on the back of the package) does not give parents a full and honest understanding of what is really in the game.

The M rating is confusing because the criteria that the industry uses to determine an M rating is almost identical to what it uses for the adults only rating.

Kids are buying these games! This month CBS News reported the results of a recent study: Despite the warning labels, 50 percent of boys age 7-14 have bought a game rated-M, for mature audiences, and a stunning nine out of ten of the boys have played them.

These games are harmful to children. Playing a violent or graphic video game hurts a child even more than watching a violent movie or TV show or listening to an obscene song because the child is role playing. The child assumes the identity of a criminal or a gang member.

Too many video games glorify and reward violent and criminal behavior. Why don't the video games feature heroic characters? Instead of having a child act like a cop-killer, why not make him a police officer? Instead of someone who kills, why not make him a lifesaver, like a fireman or a doctor?

It's time that the video game industry acted responsibly. It's time to take a hard look at their ratings. We must support this legislation on the floor today, and I urge all members to give their full support to my bill, H.R. 1145, to have the FTC look at the ratings of all video games.


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