Former U.S. senator and anti-video game critic Joe Lieberman dies at 82

Joe Lieberman

Former U.S. senator Joe Lieberman, who notoriously led a moral panic against the medium in the 1990s, has died at the age of 82.

News of Lieberman’s passing came from his family in a new statement, confirming he died over “complications from a fall.”

The Democractic vice-presidential nominee for the 2000 race alongside Al Gore, Joe Lieberman also held office from 1989 to 2013 in Connecticut for the U.S. Senate.

Lieberman was outspoken against the rising popularity of video games, specifically violent and/or adult video games, and demanded the industry learn to better police itself to shield children from potentially being exposed to said content.

Joe was like many other critics of the medium and claimed playing violent video games like the original Mortal Kombat, which got popular due to its excessive blood and gore, would make you violent in real life.

Any of the claims that video games can actually affect your real life tendencies or personality go against numerous studies done that conclusively disprove these assumptions.

Lieberman also used the infamous FMV game Night Trap as an example of the industry needing to police itself in the 1993 Senate committee hearing on violent video games, alongside the aforementioned Mortal Kombat, among many other examples.

While it didn’t have gratuitous violence, Lieberman and Wisconsin senator Herb Kohl (who also led the hearing) said as such, and also said the game promoted sexual aggression or violence towards women. The main concern with these two particular titles was the more photorealistic people, which they again claimed could lead to real life violence or aggression.

All of the discussions in the Senate hearing led to retailers removing Night Trap from their shelves (the game then had its production stopped), and the entertainment software industry was given a year to form a rating system – otherwise the government would.

Thus the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was formed and is still in use today as the defacto ratings system for all publicly sold games. New titles have to be submitted to the ESRB board, after which the title is given a rating and a synopsis for consumers to know more before purchasing a game.


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