Measure would bar minors from buying adults-only or ‘mature’ video games

TRENTON – A lawmaker wants minors barred from buying certain explicit video games.

Assemblyman Sean T. Kean, R-30, Wall Township, has introduced legislation to prevent minors from purchasing “mature” or “adults only” rated video games. 

The Entertainment Software Rating Board, a non-profit, self-regulatory body, independently assigns ratings to video games.

“The ESRB’s ratings are designed to alert parents to the content of the games, however, they do not preclude a retailer from selling them to minors,” said Kean in a release.

“The bottom line is games rated ‘mature or “adults only’ should not be sold to minors. They are often very violent, sexually explicit and deal with themes not appropriate for children.”

The first measure would prohibit the sale of any video game with an ESRB rating of “mature” or “adults only” to a person under the age of 18.

A violation would $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for each subsequent offense.

In addition, the Attorney General would be permitted to issue “cease and desist” orders against the retailer and award punitive damages to the minor.

Under the second bill, minors would be permitted to purchase video games containing mature and adult content only if their parent or guardian is present during the purchase and gives their consent verbally or in writing at the time of the sale.

Penalties for any violations are the same as with the first bill.

A “mature” ESRB rating means games are not meant for children and should only be played by people older than 17. They may contain greater amounts of violence, blood and gore, sexual content and stronger language, according to Kean.

An “adults only” rating means they are for adults because the games contain prolonged scenes of violence and/or sex.

Measure would bar minors from buying adults-only or ‘mature’ video games