Get ready for video game racism ratings! GamePolitics reports that Manhattan Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright has a bill in committee that “prohibits the sale to minors of certain rated video games containing a rating that reflects content of various degrees of profanity, racist stereotypes or derogatory language, and/or actions toward a specific group of persons.”
Video games are already graded by the Entertainment Software Rating Board on their appropriateness to different age groups, but though their long list of standards includes Sexual Content, Language, Tobacco Reference, Violence, Comic Mischief (!) and about a dozen other descriptors, the issue of exclusionary language and behavior seems not to have been addressed legislatively, though games like “Border Patrol” (in which players can “shoot at Mexican immigrants”) and the self-explanatory “Ethnic Cleansing” have received negative attention in press releases.
The limited language of the bill’s public description does not indicate whether games displaying sexism, ageism, discrimination against the differently-abled etc., would be prohibited, not whether classics like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! would be subject to recall.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 13, 2009