2 Senators Target Video Games' Focus on Violence, Sex: Call Arcades Lenient on Children's Use

Article excerpt

Calling certain video games "digital poison" and "high-tech perversions," Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman called on their manufacturers yesterday to stop making the violence-and-gore-laden cassettes.

The Connecticut Democrat teamed up with Sen. Herb Kohl, Wisconsin Democrat, and the Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) for their third annual review of the $5.3-billion video game industry just before the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Because the worst offenders in allowing children access to violent videos have been video arcades, they said, arcades have agreed to a new sticker-based rating system under which all machines will be marked with three color codes: Green for all ages, yellow for parental discretion and red for not suitable for children.

"Their lack of cooperation earned a `D' grade for the arcade folks last year," Mr. Kohl said. "This year we focused on bringing them aboard," which means arcades will start curbing access to children by cordoning off the most violent games or having employees check game players' ages.

Industry figures show preteen and teen-age boys as the core users of video games with 58 percent of video arcade users under 18.

As examples of explicit videos, the two senators showed a clip of "Postal," published by Panasonic, which depicted the gunning down of parishioners leaving a church and the napalming of a high school marching band with accompanying screams. U.S. Postmaster General Marvin Runyon has condemned the game.

Other clips included a game called War Gods, which showed one warrior tearing out the heart of another; Carmaggedon, published by Interplay, which shows cars mowing down pedestrians in showers of blood; and Duke Nukem, published by GT Interactive, where a naked woman is shot. …