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Editorial: Sensible approach

Cultural wars are fought over the proper boundaries of polite society, and the battles often involve the young.

Television might still be king, but uneasy lies its crown. The Internet complicates the fight. And now video games are storming the front lines, much like comic books, music and movies have before.

That’s why parents should welcome a measured idea for limiting child exposure to violent and inappropriate video games, a bill offered by U.S. Reps. Lee Terry of Nebraska and Jim Matheson of Utah.

Instead of attempting to influence video game content, a constitutional nonstarter, their bill would quite simply require video game retailers to check the photo IDs of customers before selling or renting games rated “ mature” or “adults only.”

Clerks who don’t check IDs could subject their businesses to civil penalties. People old enough to buy the games would be sold them. Children would have to get Mom or Dad to buy the games, and hope springs eternal that more parents would know enough to check the ratings label and say no.

Many parents ignore the industry ratings system labels on the front of nearly every modern video game sold — or they don’t know the ratings system exists. Common ratings include “E” when a game is deemed appropriate for everyone, “T” when dubbed appropriate for teens, “M” for mature audiences and “AO” for adults only. They find rough equivalents in movie ratings, from G to NC-17.

One hopes the video game industry will drop its knee-jerk reaction to the Terry-Matheson proposal. Congress could do far worse. Besides, it’s not as if ID requirements are foolproof. But they work.

 This rare gem of good news for parents arrived at the same time as Rockstar Games reported a record $500 million in first-week sales of Grand Theft Auto IV. Criminal, indeed.

Video-game ID requirement tackles issue with balance, judgment.

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