Lawmakers Target Video Game Retailers

Lead by the likes of Sen. Hillary Clinton, lawmakers are beginning to put the heat on video game retailers, asserting that too many violent and sexually explicit games are getting into the hands of minors despite the rating system.

"What we're talking about is keeping a harmful product like alcohol or porn or cigarettes … from underage children," said Clinton, D-N.Y.

Clinton is helping to lead the charge to pass a new bill that will make it a federal misdemeanor to sell games rated "mature" or higher to anyone under 17. Store managers who sell the games to children may face thousands of dollars in fines and hundreds of hours of community service.

Do Kids Have Access?

Children of some ABC News employees were easily able to buy M-rated games. A retailer sold a game featuring cannibalism to a 14-year-old girl.

Video game retailers say those kinds of incidents are aberrations.

"We think that retailers are doing a good job," said Sean Bersell of the Video Software Dealers Association. "Is there room for improvement? Definitely."

Legislation similar to the proposed federal law has been passed in California, Washington state, Michigan, Illinois, Indianapolis and St. Louis County, Mo. But many of those laws are on hold as courts decide whether they violate the right of free speech.

The video game industry says politics is behind the new effort to clamp down on video game retailers. It claims Democratic senators Clinton and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., are trying to appeal to values voters for rumored 2008 presidential runs.