Ars reports that New York is very close to passing a video game law that would require video game companies to do what they’re already doing through the voluntary Entertainment Software Ratings Board. The bill would require clearly-printed ratings and parental locks – things the industry is already doing. And video games are rarely sold to underage children – more rarely than R-rated DVDs.
The law would get the government in the business of messing up a good voluntary system. And it would be a stepping stone to content regulation, which may be unconstitutional. Cord Blomquist and Eli Lehrer published a great study a couple of months ago explaining why bringing the government into the ratings game would be disastrous. Cord and Eli contrast the effective voluntary system for gaming with the draconian, chilling, coercive, and ineffective FCC system for radio.
As they say:
Well thought-out ratings systems, particularly those shaped through market forces rather than government mandates, can prove a valuable tool for parents, but they are just that-tools. No ratings system can replace good parenting.