NIMF Issues 9th Annual Video Game Industry Report

by Jonathan Metts - November 23, 2004, 9:10 pm PST
Total comments: 23 Source: C-SPAN (No, really.)

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.

MediaWise Video Game Report Card Summary

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

Talkback

MarioNovember 23, 2004

Angst of Persia is recommended for the kiddies? UBI'S NEW MATURE IMAGE IS RUINED.

I second that recommendation for Pikmin 2. I recommend Pikmin 2 to everyone.

m_kakkoNovember 24, 2004

It seems that for violence is worse for kids than boobies and crude humor. But seriously? Halo? its not even all that bloody or anything. Not like the dismemberment of Half Life and all. Anyways, I guess thats the way it should be. Boobies arent that bad after all.

Ian SaneNovember 24, 2004

What the hell is "Screen time related to overweight"? It sounds like they're judging how much content in videogames includes fat people. Maybe it's a weird way of referring to people spending too much time playing and as a result becoming overweight. Anyone know exactly what this means?

"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."

As a conservative moral-minded person myself it really bothers me when people say stuff like this because they're just making the rest of us look bad. I don't want my kids playing violent games. But I'm not going to tell someone who might not have the same opinion as me of what is acceptable content for children to include it in reviews. Movie critics don't do this. Music critics don't do this. It's not their job. Their job is to give me their opinion regarding the quality of the title. It's not their job to tell me if the game is morally acceptable. I don't want a reviewer preaching to me even if I agree with what they're preaching. If I want to know what the level of violence or sex or profanity is for a game I have the rating which most reviews mention already in a little info box.

I also don't think that it's the game industry's responsibility to make sure the retailers enforce the ratings. By putting the ratings on the games (assuming they do it in a consistent manner which they don't but that's another arguement) the game industry, in my opinion, is doing all they should be responsible for. It's the retail industry that has the responsibility once the product is in stores. And this doesn't just go for games, it includes music and movies as well. So lay off the game industry, because they're putting the rating on the box. Get on the retail industry's case for not showing the customer the rating.

CaillanNovember 24, 2004

Quote

What the hell is "Screen time related to overweight"?


Yeah, having run out of things to blame obesity on, they've turned to videogames. The idea is that when you play videogames, the only other activity you could possibly be entertaining yourself with is a healthy marathon or something. You'd never sit and just watch TV instead.

MaleficentOgreNovember 24, 2004

1. give the fat kid DDR and say go for broke. even cube is getting a dancing game so there's no excuse now.
2. The people that make these list are stupid at best. no paper mario, donkey konga, mario tennis, taiko drum master, or karate democracy (its a joke haha). and If I'm not mistaken Warior Within is mighty mature. I'm not sure I want my six year old playing that game. The game is rated mature so they screwed up. and this is the next time I say it, Parents should know what their kids are playing. If not then they aren't doing a good job. My parents always knew what games I had and what games I was playing. My friend's parents did too. parents also need to tell their kids the difference between games and real life. If a kid shoots someone because he wants more points he belongs in a nut house and his parents should get punished for neglect to instill common sense in your kid.

Uh guys, the list doesn't say Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, now, does it? I think they're actually talking about the excellent but neglected original (maybe they're trying to help Ubisoft out?), or trying to steer parents from the sequel to the original.

Edit: By original I mean the first PoP that came out this generation, obviously :-)

DeguelloJeff Shirley, Staff AlumnusNovember 24, 2004

Sly 2: Band of Thieves

Recommended to children?

S-U-P-E-RTy Shughart, Staff AlumnusNovember 24, 2004

Quote

saying that game critics should include morality as a factor in how they review games.


Oh ok, I'll start doing this in the future.

Metroid Prime 2 gets 3/10 for not teaching children to share faustsmiley.gif

Bartman3010November 24, 2004

Who the hell are these people?

Also, I dont see how they should give their ESRB rating so low, especially when that Tom and Jerry game was rated T for teen.

Thats not accurate enough?

cmoneyNovember 24, 2004

Parent Alert! Games to avoid for your children and teens

1. Doom 3 M
2. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas M


I think it's mighty hilarious that their games not recommended for children are all ESRB rated M, and the ones they DO recommend are E & T. Obviously something works.

Also, I'm not sure I understand their priorities. They decided Doom 3 was more dangerous for the children than San Andreas. Someone tell me how saving the world from hell is worse than racial gang wars and killing hookers.

Also, how many of you actually enjoyed a football game as a child or young teen? Pft. Something smells funny.

KDR_11kNovember 24, 2004

Doom 3 induces fear (well, if you fail your saving throw against atmosphere face-icon-small-wink.gif) which GTA 3 doesn't.

Including PoP is potentially dangerous as well, parents WILL confuse SoT and WW.

Interesting enough, they rate ESPN higher than Madden...

cmoneyNovember 24, 2004

Ahhh. But I thought we were rating content. One who is afraid of bugs and whatnot might have a hard time with pikmin? Either way...some strange recommendations face-icon-small-smile.gif

Bartman3010November 24, 2004

I guess Metroid Prime 2 is okay?

KnowsNothingNovember 24, 2004

Hahahaha, everytime I read "The Guy Game" I laugh. It makes DOA: Extreme Beach Volleyball look sophisticated.

.....speaking of sophisticated, what about Myst IV? If Myst IV is anything like the original or Riven, no kid is going to ba able to play that. Hell, the only people that will be able to play the game without a guide would be the people old enough to get the M games anyway.....

norebonomisNovember 24, 2004

i thought those female sand demons were pretty sexual, i'm surprised the christian rite suggested the game for children, i mean c'mon, when you stab them and take their sand they practaclly scream in extasy.

down with censorship. your morals/values are not my morals/values

BiLdItUp1November 24, 2004

I highly doubt any of those people actually played these games or got to see every portion of it, unless Steven Kent made up the list...

D-Mac DoubleNovember 24, 2004

Quote

Originally posted by: norebonomis
i thought those female sand demons were pretty sexual, i'm surprised the christian rite suggested the game for children, i mean c'mon, when you stab them and take their sand they practaclly scream in extasy.

down with censorship. your morals/values are not my morals/values

NIMF is not a Christian group.

And what does this report have to do with censorship? It just recommends what games kids should/shouldn't play. Actual censorship would involve editing and removing aspects from a game.

DjunknownNovember 24, 2004

"Sly 2: Band of Thieves
Recommended to children?"

Remember kids, its ok to steal things if you're not caughtface-icon-small-wink.gif
But blood, guts, and boobs? Blasphemy!

They're giving games like the Guy game and Rumble Roses free publicity. Maybe if they kept quiet, they would disappear from the shelves.

I'm starting my holiday job at a popular mall retailer soon. It'll be interesting if they'll tell to me to enforce the ratings, or reccomend 'family friendly' products for their loved ones...

PaLaDiNNovember 24, 2004

"Metroid Prime 2 gets 3/10 for not teaching children to share"

But what about the whole good vs. evil thing?

Metroid Prime 2 teaches children that if you try to steal energy from good guys a female bounty hunter will come down in her spaceship, kick your ass and take your name.

CaillanNovember 24, 2004

Hmm... it looks like only two of the surveys they went out were ever returned. There's a pretty good write up here if you're interested.

Infernal MonkeyNovember 25, 2004

Quote

8. Myst IV: Revelation T

YES, CHILDREN WILL LOVE PLAYING THIS GAME.

"Welcome to Myst, read this 7000 page book to try and solve a puzzle involving dirt and cups"
"THANKS MUM, NOW I SHALL COMMIT SUICIDE"

KDR_11kNovember 25, 2004

cmoney: Phobias and Doom 3's intentional use of fear are two different things. Doom 3 is intended to scare the user and a little child might find that a bit much.

couchmonkeyNovember 25, 2004

I don't think they meant the lists to be rankings of how bad/good the games are for kids, there are a lot of things in there that I think would be judged more or less harshly if it was a proper ranking, in particular I'm sure the boobies in the Guy Game would earn a place in the top 3, and no T rated game would even make it into the "good" list if it was a ranking.

I wonder what games they felt were unfairly given M instead of AO ratings?

Edit: From what I can tell the ICCR list and the NIMF list have nothing to do with each other, but the article about the ICCR opened my eyes. What a bunch of hypocrites! I hope NIMF is more responsible than them, but I'm not convinced.

Also, it's ironic that their acronym is NIMF.

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