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Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman help launch game-rating ads

Senators join rating board in announcing public-awareness campaign aimed at advising parents of game-rating system.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board on Thursday joined Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joe Lieberman in announcing a cooperative effort to get inform parents about the game industry's rating system.

Last year, the two senators introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act--federal legislation that seeks to limit minors' access to objectionable games based upon their ESRB ratings.

The new initiative is focused on a nationwide advertising campaign that consists of public-service announcements. In them, Best Buy President Brian Dunn and GameStop President Steve Morgan affirm their companies' support of the ESRB and their policies not to sell games rated M (for "mature") to minors without parental permission.

An M rating indicates content--including violence, sex and strong language--that may be suitable for persons 17 and older, according to the ESRB.

While Clinton, a Democrat from New York, and Lieberman, who in November was elected as an independent from Connecticut, don't appear in any of the campaign's four 30-second TV spots, both legislators offered their support for the initiative in a statement.

"We all share in the responsibility of making sure our children play age-appropriate video games," Clinton said, "and I'm pleased that the ESRB and retailers are working together to educate parents about the video game ratings and make sure they are enforced."

"I have long said that the ESRB ratings are the most comprehensive in the media industry," Lieberman noted. "There are many age-appropriate games that are clever and entertaining. Parents should understand and use the ratings to help them decide which video games to buy for their families."

Both senators have been vocal critics of the game industry in the past. Lieberman pushed the game industry to adopt a rating system in the early 1990s and has remained vocal on the subject of violent games ever since.

Clinton came to the forefront of the industry's critics when the best-selling game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, produced by Take-Two Interactive Software, was found to have hidden sex scenes.

Joining the outcry over the explicit scenes, which were known as "Hot Coffee," Clinton called for a Federal Trade Commission inquiry into the matter. Earlier this year, both senators called for the Centers for Disease Control to study the impact of electronic-media use on children.

Brendan Sinclair of GameSpot reported from San Francisco.