The advocacy group announces its verdict on the industry’s efforts to keep adult games away from kids.
The National Institute on Media and the Family held a press conference in Washington earlier today to unveil its yearly report card on the video game industry. David Walsh, founder and president of the organization, presented the grades and gave a speech detailing the group’s findings. Walsh expressed concern at what he calls a “double message” being sent by the industry, that parents should heed the ESRB ratings system (which is a self-imposed, voluntary regulation) even though there is insufficient scientific data to show that games have an effect on a child’s mental or social development. Walsh also commented on the fact that many of this year’s most violent games are also among the most critically acclaimed, saying that game critics should include morality as a factor in how they review games. Walsh also criticized the ESRB for what he considers inadequate enforcement of the “AO” (Adults Only) rating, saying that many games being granted “M” (Mature) ratings fall under the ESRB’s own criteria for “AO” but are given the lesser rating.
Walsh was joined by Massachusetts Senator Joe Lieberman, Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum, and video game journalist Steven Kent, who appealed to parents to play games with their children and stressed that games rated “M” and “AO” are still a small percentage of the total number of games released.
The group pointed to “secret shopper” investigations which showed that retailer enforcement of the ratings is still allowing 50% of young boys and 8% of young girls to buy M-rated games. The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) later issued a statement claiming that the NIMF report is unfair, because full retailer enforcement of the ratings system is not planned to roll out until next month.
ESRB Ratings Accuracy B-
Ratings Education C-
Retailers' Policy and Employee Training B
Retailers' Enforcement D
Screen time related to overweight F
NIMF also provided the following list of game recommendations:
Game Lists: Rating:
Parent Alert! Games to avoid for your children and teens
1. Doom 3 M
2. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas M
3. Half Life 2 M
4. Halo 2 M
5. Resident Evil: Outbreak M
6. Psi Ops: the Mindgate Conspiracy M
7. The Guy Game M
8. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude M
9. Mortal Kombat Deception M
10. Rumble Roses M
MediaWise Recommended Games for children and teens
1. ESPN NFL 2 K5 E
2. Pikmin 2 E
3. Sly 2: Band of Thieves E
4. Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 E
5. Madden NFL 2005 E
6. Jak 3 T
7. Prince of Persia T
8. Myst IV: Revelation T
9. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 E
10. SimCity 4 E