Yesterday a trio of Democratic senators with presidential ambitions introduced federal legislation that they believe can pass constitutional muster.Some people are blaming the Democrats for this and that is all well and good, but I'd like to thank Rockstar games for this wonderful new development.
The legislation, unveiled at a press conference by Democratic senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Evan Bayh of Indiana, would essentially codify the industry's current voluntary rating system. It assigns games letters from "EC," meaning appropriate for early childhood, to "AO" for "adults only." Retailers who sell games rated "mature," "adults only" or "ratings pending" to children under 17 could face fines of $5,000 per violation.
Now I enjoy many of Rockstar's fine products, including the Grand Theft Auto series. But they broke the current industry rules by not disclosing the existence of the so-called "Hot Coffee" code to the ESRB. This demonstrated that the ESRB is essentially powerless in the face of huge market pressures. All the ESRB could do is refuse to rate Rockstar's games. Those games would probably still be hits and by being unrated hits, would therefore weaken the ESRB even further.
Thank you Rockstar for Hot Coffee. Without it, do you really think we would see Congress looking to pass new mandatory restrictions?