New York State Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Eliot Spitzer, who is notable for his aggressive stance in cases including music payola and late trading by Wall Street brokers, has commented on regulation of the media, including video games, during a speech at the Buffalo-Niagara YMCA, according to reports on a local WNY Media website.
Chief among the areas Spitzer feels needs to be addressed is the topic of protecting children from “excessive sex and violence in the media”, which he feels requires not only educational reform to help teach children about how to avoid this content, but regulative measures as well. Although the video game industry is self regulated, and games themselves carry ratings as provided by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Spitzer feels as if this is not enough, and as such, supports the idea of a uniform rating system that would make if easier for parents to distinguish what content was and was not appropriate for their children.
"Like all parents, I know it is increasingly difficult to protect our children from negative influences," said Spitzer. "Parents and schools need the government's help in curbing irresponsible behavior by corporations that market harmful products to our kids." Spitzer also supports the adoption of "Safe Games" legislation, which would prevent the sale or rental of games deemed to include sexual or overly violent content to underage children. Similar laws have been struck down by courts in recent months for being unconstitutionally vague.
“The Entertainment Software Rating Board does have a rating system that warns consumers of content unsuitable for children, but it’s often ignored,” claimed Spitzer. “Laws protecting underage kids from harmful products are nothing new – laws preventing kids from buying cigarettes serve as just one example. But currently, nothing under New York State law prohibits a fourteen-year old from walking into a video store and buying a game labeled “Adult Only” – a game like Grand Theft Auto
, which rewards a player for stealing cars and beating people up. Children can even simulate having sex with a prostitute and then killing her.”
Other proposals by Spitzer during the address included protecting children from corporations that profit from underage addiction, keeping guns out of the hands of children, and stemming the tide of obesity in children by protecting them from junk food.