Doctors Want to Put Game Ratings Under the Knife

Dennis Faas's picture

While video games regularly face a heat wave of criticism from politicians, "crusading" lawyers, and other members of the mainstream media, the industry is currently facing a particularly brutal firestorm.

Not long after Florida lawyer Jack Thompson tried his hardest to connect the Virginia Tech massacre with PC sensation Counterstrike, Rockstar's Manhunt 2 has raised concerns to new heights. It's prompted a re-evaluation of video game ratings, in both the United States and United Kingdom (where the game has been outright banned). (Source:

Now, American physicians are weighing in on the video game debate. The American Medical Association, or AMA, is determined to launch further research on the effect games have on young people. Most pressing seems to be worry over video game addiction, with the group concerned about gaming and the overall health of those who play. One answer, according to the AMA, may be for the Federal Trade Commission to "establish an improved ratings system."

Countering the call for reform is the ESRB, the group responsible for rating North American video games. Currently using a letter-grade system (with ratings like E for Everyone or Manhunt 2's AO, or Adults Only), the ESRB argues that its system has been proven "effective" by the FTC and is in need of no major revision. (Source:

The present attack on video games comes after a prolonged period of unrequited joy for the gaming industry. With the rebirth of Nintendo and promising futures for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it will be interesting to see if games like Manhunt 2 erode mainstream favor for games or find acceptance within a niche market no more harmful than the average slasher flick.

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