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As the violence continues to grow, so will the attention of the ESRB's involvement of rating systems, rules, and regulations with the publications, production, and other uses for and with games.
If you play video games, buy music, or watch movies, I am sure you have seen the rating labels. If you are confused with how they rate video games here is a small scale. Remember, the games got rated starting in 1993 or so when Mortal Kombat was first released, a shock game to the industry in terms of violence and gore.
ESRB Rating Categories:
EC = Early Childhood: content suitable for children ages three and older
E = Everyone: content suitable for children ages six and older
T = Teen: content suitable for personas ages 13 and older
M = Mature: content suitable for persons 17 and older
A = Adults Only: content suitable only for adults
RP = Rating Pending: product has been submitted to the ESRB and is awaiting final rating
Again, as you know the ESRB takes a lot of work into their rating system and definitely provide a good, fair rating systems at mostly all times. They have been rating for a long time and separate individuals are now publishing report cards for the gaming industry which you can check the link to the report out in a second. Let me get into a little bit of what they said. Here is a big fact I also noticed....
"The gaming industry has become bigger than Hollywood."
-True but astonishing at times.
Here is a little tidbit of why the constructed the report card, where they got their information, and how.
Copyright 1999 The National Institute on Media and the Family All Rights Reserved.
"Why An Annual Report Card?
Areas Covered in the 1999 Report Card
- Video and computer games are among children’s most asked-for gifts during the holiday shopping season.
- The video and computer game industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the entertainment industry in the United States. 77.5 percent of teenagers, for example, now own a video game console. Additional teens play games on home computers.
- Electronic games are only 27 years old and require technical skill to play. As a result, most parents and other adults over thirty are not knowledgeable about games and their content.
- Rapidly advancing technology guarantees that players will experience game environments with increasingly greater “real world” interactions.
- More children are spending more time playing games every year.
- There is growing concern about the effects of some games on children among parents and professionals.
- Research is starting to confirm the beliefs that violent and antisocial games do indeed affect youngsters.
How the 1999 Report Card Research Was Conducted
- Review of progress on 1998 recommendations
- Industry Ratings
- Retail Stores
- Rental Stores
- Arcade Industry
- Internet Gaming Safety
- Marketing Activities
- Update of the research on the effects of violent video and computer games
- 1999 Parent Guide to Electronic Games
The National Institute on Media and the Family:
- Visited 25 arcades in three states (MN, FL, CO)
- Conducted a telephone survey of 53 retail and rental stores in 13 states (AZ, CA, FL, IL, KS, MA, MN, OR, PA, TN, TX, WA, WY)
- Reviewed the recent research literature on the effects of violent games on children.
- Viewed representative samples of 78 electronic games and compared their ratings with those assigned by the Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) and displayed on the game packages.
- Reviewed marketing techniques in stores, publications, and on the Internet.
Although this is not a scientific study, the results will provide valuable information for all concerned about the welfare of children."
Here is the table of results:
1999 Video and Computer Game Report Card
Grade for percentage of games
Grade for accuracy of rating
Retail and Rental Stores
Grade for ratings education
Grade for IDSA's plan for ratings education
Grade for ratings enforcement
Grade for ratings display
Grade for ratings enforcement
Internet Gaming Safety
Internet game site ratings/
So what are my views on this report card and the government taking action against video game companies? I think it's good in a way to keep children somewhat protected a BIT, but going as far of limiting content creators creativity is terrible. I would never even try to do that, though others may differ on this one. Here are my thoughts individually on the Recommendations by the National Institute on Media and the Family.
Producers and distributors stop all marketing of adult or teen games to young children
Hello! This will never work. First of all, most young children have access to gaming magazines, internet, or other places. Limiting TV broadcasts or what not are not going to do anything. If they take away the right for marketing, isn't this against the constitution? We have the right to free speech people, and marketing I think is part of this to an extent. Saying oh this game is great and good for 4 year olds is free speech. Saying the game is meant for 4 year olds when the rating proves otherwise, is not. I feel it is very unfair to take away all marketing tactics of companies to promote a game. So what if your targeting a 12 year old kid for a teen game. A 12 year old kid could be as mature as a 15 year old for all you know. This right here is unfair to the "more mature" kids in our society. Basically they are saying that all young kids are immature and have no sense of reality. This is very untrue and TOTALLY UNFAIR to state.
The Advertising Review Council implement and enforce the code of advertising conduct developed by the Interactive Digital Software Association.
I agree with this in a sense, but it isn't fair to go as far as they want to go with it. They are talking about limiting freedom here. There are some do's and don'ts of advertising though, one of them being you don't include sexual "like scenes" like those found in games like Tomb Raider 2 and girls in very skimpy bathing suits (even though I like those there not appropriate for 4 year olds) at the end in a little kids highlights magazine. God, that's just insane. Now, that advertisement would most likely be fine in a magazine like PC Accelerator, a magazine focused more towards teenagers in high school and adults. In a magazine like PC Gamer these would be okay to an extend.
All retail and rental stores develop and enforce policies preventing the sale of “mature” games to children without parental permission.
This won't happen. There are too many e-commerce and now even e-rental sites that allow anyone with a valid credit card number rent or buy games and have them shipped to their doorstep. If a kid that's 8 asks to order Toy story game but really will actually rent Resident Evil from a local e-rent store, the parents nor government has control over this. It is just totally out of the question. Now, maybe this will work in stores in malls and things, but on the internet no way no how.
The arcade industry develop and implement a plan to provide education about and enforcement of its rating system.
This is a great idea so people know what they are getting into when buying a game. Parents might look at a game with the Ratting M and say oh its Magnificent lets get it! Then when the read the 17+ rating in small text they will get confused. This will be a good idea though and will help people get knowledge of what they are buying.
Arcades that do not provide any supervision should only equip the arcade with designated “green” or “yellow” games
This wont happen, or arcades will not be able to function anymore. The whole point to coming to an arcade is to have fun, mostly with fighting games. The thought of removing Tekken 3 or something absurd like that is unnatural. Overall, I think they did a good job pointing out things, though the recommendations are ridiculous.
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