New York State Senate Passes Game Ratings Bill

The New York State Assembly almost unanimously passed a bill proposing an advisory council for videogames this week, reports GamePolitics.

Introduced by Staten Island Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza, the bill creates "an advisory council on interactive media and youth violence," and mandates that consoles be equipped with controls "to prevent the display of violent or indecent video games," such as the parental lock functions available on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii.

In the final minutes of argument, Senator Lanza said that while videogames deserves recognition under the U.S. Constitution as protected speech, the aim of the bill is to bring government oversight to game ratings beyond the service provided by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

"I want to be clear. This bill does not prohibit the sale of any video to anyone," the Senator said. "This simply says that every video game sold in the state of New York simply should have a rating consistent with what the ESRB does presently in a voluntary way... it does work."

"But the problem with 'voluntary' is that tomorrow someone can change their mind. Someone could decide tomorrow to no longer place ratings on these games. So this is not about prohibiting the sale, this is simply about providing information to parents," Lanza added.

Having passed in a 60-to-1 vote, the bill now heads to New York Governor David Paterson for consideration. Should Paterson sign it, it will become law in 2010.

However, it's very likely that the game industry will file a federal lawsuit to block the bill—similar legislation in five states has previously been struck down as unconstitutional.