Exclusive GP Interview: Congressman Talks Video Game Ratings, Video Game Rape, The Daily Show

May 9, 2008 -
An exclusive GamePolitics interview with Rep. Lee Terry (R) demonstrates that the Nebraska Congressman, co-sponsor of a new video game ratings enforcement bill, has a grasp on some video game rating issues, yet a flawed understanding of others. 

As reported earlier this week by GamePolitics, Terry and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) introduced the Video Games Rating Enforcement Act. If approved, the bill would mandate that game retailers check IDs of mature-rated game buyers. The measure would also require that information detailing the rating system be posted in view of customers. Terry spoke to GP about the proposal:
This is a rather simple bill in that it focuses on making sure that retailers ID young folks when they try to buy an M or A[O] rated game. And this is kind of my approach instead of trying to micromanage by legislation the standards or content...

What we'd rather do is just make sure that parents are empowered with information, what the standards really mean and then what's specifically in that game and then to make sure that retailers don't subvert the parent's decision... If they don't want their child to have an M-rated game, the retailers don't sell it to them...

Based on the timing of the new legislation, we asked Terry whether it was planned to coincide with the intense publicity surrounding the April 29th release of Grand Theft Auto IV. Terry, however, maintained that the timing was purely coincidental:
As a matter of fact, I almost thought about waiting another week or two. I will have to take some responsibility. Mr. Matheson brought this to me several months ago and... it kind of got pushed to the back burner. So it was more coincidental... but [the GTA IV hype] probably did heighten the scrutiny of the bill within the press, which is a positive thing. But we did not wait until Grand Theft Auto IV came out to drop the bill. That was coincidental.

Oddly enough, the Terry-Matheson bill, which addresses video game rating enforcement, was introduced on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the Federal Trade Commission's latest report gave glowing marks to the video game industry for its retail ratings enforcement. Terry, however, was clearly not acquainted with the results of the FTC report, citing 69% as the rate at which FTC secret shoppers were able to purchase M-rated games. That figure, however, is from the FTC's 2003 survey. In 2006 the number dropped to 42%. Yesterday's figure was an impressive 20%. We asked Terry about the FTC report:
I had heard that the report found that 69% of unaccompanied 13 to 16-year olds were able to purchase M-rated video games from retailers.

After we explained the actual FTC figures, Terry said:
Oh, okay. Well, good. We're going in the right direction. I think probably what's really helped that improvement is that some of the big retailers like Wal-Mart, Target have software... at the point-of-sale that blocks M and then the cashier has to ask for ID...

We also queried Terry on public comments he made which cited rape as a way to earn a higher score in some games. When pressed, Terry could not cite an example:
That's a good question. I don't know of any [specific games] offhand... I just used the rape, pillage and plunder line...

The actual Terry quote as reported in Variety is:
In some games high scores are often earned by players who commit ‘virtual’ murder, assault and rape.

Terry was a good sport over his lampooning by The Daily Show host Jon Stewart following a contentious 2006 committee hearing on video game issues. He described the experience as:
Humiliating, as it was supposed to be... It was slightly out of context... That's what fake news is about. I saw that. That was fun...

Later, Terry again made reference to his Daily Show experience:
One of the things that Jim [Matheson] and I talked about a great deal is that the ratings themselves seem to be very confusing. We did not to get into that morass because Jon Stewart showed us exactly what was going to happen to us if we did...

The Congressman, who said he occasionally plays NCAA sports games with his sons on their Xbox 360, was familiar with the issues surrounding the controversial but rarely used Adults Only rating. He also pointed out the inconsistency found in the M rating category, where some games, such as as Grand Theft Auto have far more mature content than others. Terry specifically mentioned Destroy All Humans, Call of Duty and Halo in this regard.

Listen to the interview with Rep. Terry (9:08 minutes, mp3) here.


I accidentally killed a kid in Fallout 1, laser flew past a gang member and hit a kid instead. You get labeled a child killer in your reputation, though I don't remember if that affected the game-play at all.

If you were labeled a child killer, the residents would attack you.

Also, the FPS: Shogo had children you could kill. no repricussions.

Deus Ex 1 and I think 2 had killable kids.


They did, but in both there were severe repercussions for opening fire on anyone in such an area.

I really dont give a crap if this bill passes. No big deal. They dont need to censor or ban videogames.

"I just used the rape, pillage, and plunder line." So you admit you were just pulling this out of your ass?

This bill won't pass. It's unconstitutional on it's face and rightfully so. The nanny-state should have no more right to restrict the dissemination of Free Speech materials to minors then they do to adults. Minors especially adolescents/teenagers should have the ability to form their own viewpoints based on unrestricted and uncensored access to information presented in Media/Free Speech. To do otherwise would be an indirect from of government sponsored thought and mind control and is very dangerous.

If a parent doesn't want their kids to have it then that's fine. BUT, it is solely their responsibility of them to make sure their kids don't get ahold of it. Much the same way if they don't want their children to get ahold of The Holy Bible or Holy Koran, Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species, Harry Potter novels, liberal based literature, conservative based literature, etc.

Keep the nanny-state of of our lives and our children's lives!

@ OldschoolVgamer:

It's true that the categories tend to be broad, but that's a requirement for simplicity's sake. The content descriptors are there for more precise information and for really detailed content information people can look to reviews.

That said, I'm still in favor of ousting the AO rating, refusing to rate porn games and adding an M+ rating that would cover the videogame equivalent of a "hard R" rating.

oh come on COD4 and Halo are way way more violent than GTA at least in gta i have things to do that dont involve killing people but in halo all you do is kill shit

its nice to know politicians find it so easy to lie to us

The problem is closer to the idea of "I think your three cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!"

What they will do is, even if the bill passes, use any excuse to move it even further back. It's a slippery slope to single out one medium that doesn't pay the government enough and restrict sales to it.

That is why I'm saying I have no problem with this bill if it was expanded to include ALL media, not just games.

It's all well and good if they think that it isn't as bad for Little Johny to see a violent rape scene in The Hills Have Eyes or gory murder scenes, or explicit sex scenes with REAL actors, not polygons rather then have him shoot an alien in a game. However, if they are planning on making a federal law singleing out that one medium, then I expect them to have incontrovertable proof that what they are restricting is worse then what they aren't restricting. And when I say proof, I don't mean they pay uncle Jack to come in with an Etch-a-Sketch and tell them that this is a brain scan showing this kid is thinking of killing his parents with a waffle iron while wearing bunny slippers.

I mean real proof. Don't just study the ones that have commited crime. Don't just study that video games produce emotion. There is a large field here, and to be truthful, this kind of law is based more on money then on truth.

Right, i forgot about all those :p
Ive played deus ex too, I wiped out the tarsus academy in cairo.

I like how they always say "Well we're allowed to restrict acess to alchohol." Thing is, booze ain't free speech.

Heres a clue you want to protect kids frog ames do it right, start with DVDs and unrated DVDs mark anything 17+ as something that can be fined if sold to a minor, do it right across the board and you will be able to protect the rug rats from the big bad media companies....

This bill (1) gives private, voluntary ratings the force of law, (2) compels retailers to speak by posting signs explaining the ratings of constitutionally protected works, (3) does not concern itself with specific content, but does concern itself with content-driven ratings, and (4) ultimately has the effect of infringing upon minors' enjoyment of constitutionally protected speech.

Well, great, just what we needed, another illegal videogame restriction law based on outdated statistics. Funny how he acknowledges having no idea what the rate of sales to underage people is, what is actually in any videogames, or what impact videogames really have on people.

I assume it's come up on here before, but my search didn't locate it--has everyone else been seeing the "videogames good for boys" articles talking about a longterm study that found non-gamers at significantly greater risk of getting into trouble--including crime and violence--and a correlation (which they pointed out as impossible to pin down as causation) between gamers who played a lot of violent games throughout their lives and violent behavior as adults?

I've seen it at 2 places:



Only boys?

[...] Dennis MacClauey of Gamepolitics interviewed one of the authors of the Video Games Rating Enforcement Act. The extended version of his interview can be found here, along with an audio transcript of the account. Personally, I find most congressional representatives to be out of touch with the gaming industry, only caring about ‘the children’ and ‘protecting moral values’ which really just serve as an excuse to get elected. [...]

"Humiliating, as it was supposed to be… It was slightly out of context…"

I'm sure when taken in context, it's even more moronic.


Am I the only one who's first reaction was "WTF is with this music?"

So, im listening to it right now and i just used WMP, so I get to watch the swirly kaleidoscope designs while listening to his droning voice.

I highly recommend you all try this.

Y'know it would be sooooooooo much cooler if these politicians focused on real problems instead of beating a dead scapegoat. 'Course that would require actual effort and commitment...

He might be talking nonsense like most other video game critics, but he actually admits that he lied. That's gotta count for something.

I'm not defending him or anything, I just think it's refreshing to see a critic who's actually able to admit defeat.

[...] Exclusive GP Interview: Congressman Talks Video Game Ratings, Video Game Rape, The Daily Show An exclusive GamePolitics interview with Rep. Lee Terry (R) demonstrates that the Nebraska Congressman, co-sponsor of a new video game ratings enforcement bill, has a grasp on some video game rating issues, yet a flawed understanding of others.  As reported earlier this week by GamePolitics, Terry and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) introduced the Video Games Rating Enforcement Act. If approved, […] [...]

@ Necromancist

Youre right, but he didnt /really/ admit defeat. He consented to being unable to come up with any examples, but then he brushed it off in a frighteningly casual way.

what is the song playing in the interview? sounds like generic folk punk stuff, but interesting enough.

[...] GamePolitics has an interview with Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb), one of the congressmen, along with Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), attempting to pass a federal law forcing retailers to check IDs before selling M- and AO-rated games. One of the better moments in the interview is when GP asks Rep. Terry what game he was talking about when he stated there are titles players could score point for virtual rape. Terry responded, “That’s a good question. I don’t know of any [specific games] offhand… I just used the rape, pillage and plunder line…” [...]

A steep in the right direction for some Congressmen trying to understand Videogames.

Of course, I would love to see AO rated games finally being able to be marketable. That would make things allot more easier.

But one thing is that any Videogame Rating MUST be marketable so console makers would allow those types of games on their consoles.

So much money is needed to make even one single game these days and an AO rated game that is not going to be Marketable makes both the Developer, Publisher and the Console Maker lose all that money just to make an AO rated game, so therefore many of the adult games must to tonned down to an M rated content so they can be marketable.

This is not being greedy, this is just the Videogame Industry trying to survive.

If Politicians are ever going to understand anything about Videogames, they must be able to understand this fundemental understanding about the Videogame Industry.

I just hate it how politicians connect the M rating with an AO rating in the same sentance, it just tells me that they clearly don't really understand anything about Videogames.

But yeah, good points were that he did point out that his kids do have an XBox 360 console, I would also like to mention to him about a game his kids might be able to enjoy called Banjo-Kazooie 3 that is coming some day for the 360 in the near future. Just so he can be informed about some of the games that will be ok for his boys.

Could have mentioned the Parental Controls and that could help parents with a bit of helpful information like that.

When he mentioned that he just used the words Rape and Plunder (maybe he is refering to a Pirate game), it just does not suit right with me, even if they are exagerating, there is nothing funny about saying that there are games on the market that feature Rape when you know yourself that you don't know of such a game like that.

A steep in the right direction for politicians, but they really need to think more about this bill before it is ever passed in the coughts.
Or else the First Admendment will destroy this bill if it violates in individuals freedom of speech and expression or if it ever imposes any needless harm on the Videogame Industry

[...] Exclusive GP Interview: Congressman Talks Video Game Ratings, Video Game Rape, The Daily Show An exclusive GamePolitics interview with Rep. Lee Terry (R) demonstrates that the Nebraska Congressman, co-sponsor of a new video game ratings enforcement bill, has a grasp on some video game rating issues, yet a flawed understanding of others.  As reported earlier this week by GamePolitics, Terry and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) introduced the Video Games Rating Enforcement Act. If approved, […] [...]

"This is a rather simple bill in that it focuses on making sure that retailers ID young folks when they try to buy an M or A[O] rated game."

Now by a show of hands who here knows where to buy an AO game that you can actually play?

@Austin Lewis

"Fucking Nebraska."

Is that a reference to the fucking California line from the original Die Hard

Yes, as well as a reference to my feelings on a state that would vote this guy in.

Cool :-)
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