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Video games scrutinized, new bill seeks "violent" warning labels

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(CBS News) A new bill has been submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives that will require most video games to include a warning label that states: "WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior."

Introduced by Rep. Joe Baca and Rep. Frank Wolf, H.R. 4204 would require any game rated "E" (Everyone), "Everyone 10+" (Everyone 10 and older), ''T'' (Teen), ''M'' (Mature) or ''A'' (Adult) by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). That only leaves games rated with "EC" (Early Childhood) unaffected by the bill.

If passed, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) would have 180 days to make sure that the ESRB include the new labels on games - violent or not.

"The video game industry has a responsibility to parents, families and to consumers - to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products," Baca told The Hill. "They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility.

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Violence in video games has been a contentious issue for decades. Video game opponents attribute aggressive behavior to exposure to violent games. On the other hand, not all games are violent and studies have shown they can improve cognitive skills.

A recent studypublished in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology concluded violent video games desensitized players to violent imagery. Further testing showed that subjects who played games like "Killzone" or "Grand Theft Auto" showed more aggressive behavior against opponents.

"A single exposure to a violent video game won't turn someone into a mass murderer," Dr. Bartholow, associate professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, told CBS News. "But if someone has repeatedly exposed themselves, these kinds of effects in the short term can turn into long-term changes."

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On the flip side, there have also been studies that video games can improve cognitive skills. Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, discussed the conclusion of 20 studies conducted on the topic with the National Public Radio show "Morning Edition" in 2010.

"Her studies show that video gamers show improved skills in vision, attention and certain aspects of cognition," said "Morning Edition" correspondent Michelle Trudeau. "And these skills are not just gaming skills, but real-world skills. They perform better than non-gamers on certain tests of attention, speed, accuracy, vision and multitasking."