New Bill Proposes ID Checks for Game Purchases; ESRB, FTC Say Retailers Are Getting Better

A bill presented to the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday would force retailers to check the ID of anyone buying an M or AO-rated game or face a $5,000 fine.

Proposed by Lee Terry (R-Neb) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah), the effort relies heavily upon the Entertainment Software Rating Board's established ratings, and would ask that retailers have in-store materials explaining the system.

The use of the ESRB's rating system sets the bill apart from the typically unconstitutional game legislation proposals, which often use vague standards to label violent games instead of a set guideline.

"Many young children are walking into stores and are able to buy or rent these games without their parents even knowing about it," Terry told Variety.

In a statement released today, the ESRB said that retailers denied sales of M-rated games to 80% of individuals under 17 in a recent Federal Trade Commission investigation. Performed across 253 retail stores across the United States, the study marked a 38% improvement over a 2006 investigation.

"Video game retailers have clearly stepped up their efforts to enforce their store policies, and they deserve recognition for these outstanding results," said ESRB president Patricia Vance.

"We commend and applaud retailers for their strong support of the ESRB ratings, and will continue working with them to help ensure that these levels of compliance are sustained if not further increased."