Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) has sponsored legislation in the United States Senate which would require the ESRB to play games in their entirety before assigning an age rating.
Brownback's Truth in Video Game Rating Act (S.3935) would appear to be the Senate version of a House bill of the same name proposed by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL).
“The current video game ratings system needs improvement," Brownback said, "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.”
Brownback's measure would mandate the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to administer the requirement for a complete play-through before rating.
“Game reviewers must have access to the entire game for their ratings to accurately reflect a game’s content," Brownback added.
The bill would also direct the FTC to define parameters for describing video game content as well as defining what kind of behavior by the game industry would break those rules.
Brownback also would have the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluate the efficiency of the ESRB system as well as the potential for establishing an independent rating body with no ties to the industry. Universal systems spanning movie, TV and games would also be looked into.
The conservative Brownback has been very active on video game issues in recent times. He worked with Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) on game-related bills such as the recently-passed CAMRA legislation and held committee hearings on video games in the Senate earlier this year.
Full text of Brownback's new bill is not yet available. We'll post it when it goes up on the Congressional system.