Direct from the "It sounded like a great idea at the time" files comes the latest development in video game ratings legislation.
Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) is currently attempting to move the Truth in Video Game Rating Act through the US Senate. We've seen this bill before, back when it was proposed by another senator -- Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). Both pieces aim for the same objective : forcing third-party agencies (like the ESRB) to fully complete a game before a rating score can be awarded. The bill would give the FTC full powers to levy the requirement on any ratings agency, and issue penalties if compliance is not forthcoming.
"The current video game ratings system needs improvement," says Senator Brownback "because reviewers do not see the full content of games and don't even play the games they are supposed to rate. For video game ratings to be meaningful and worthy of a parent's trust, the game ratings must be more objective and accurate."
While most of us can agree that accurate ratings are a good thing, the gamer's eye has no trouble spotting red flags from miles down the road. For instance:
1: How does user created content fit into the big plan? We haven't forgotten how Oblivion caught a re-rating (and the ESRB caught a tongue-lashing) after someone patched boobies onto all the female character models, after all.
2: What about incredibly long games? Will the ESRB be forced to require a playtester to finish every single sidequest in Oblivion or GTA before they can get their rating?... and where do patently unfinishable games (such as MMOs) fall on the grand scale? If you can't finish something does it stay in ratings limbo forever? Sounds like a catch 22.
Obviously the plan has some 'splaining to do. Senator Brownback has not yet put the final wording for the Video Game Rating Act online so these questions must remain a mystery for now. We'll keep you posted on further developments.
News source: 1up.com