ESRB sits down with PTA

Game ratings body distributing pamphlet detailing Internet safety and console-lock features to parent group's 26,000 locations; live webcast scheduled for April 23.

With Rockstar Games gearing up to release Grand Theft Auto IV next week, the Entertainment Software Rating Board is likewise bracing for scrutiny over the readily granted M-for-Mature rating it awarded the game earlier this year. In advance of that controversy, which has already begun to rear its head in Chicago, the ESRB today announced its latest partnership with the Parent Teacher Association to help keep parents informed.

As with its previous collaboration with the PTA, the ESRB will be distributing free booklets to all 26,000 PTAs that offer a step-by-step guide to setting parental lock features as well as a guide to online safety penned by Andrew Bub of GamerDad.com. The booklets will also be available online in both English and Spanish through the PTA and ESRB Web site.

Tech-savvy parents will also have the opportunity to participate in an online Q&A session with PTA president Jan Harp Domene, ESRB president Patricia Vance, and Andrew Bub. The webcast will take place at 7:00 p.m. EDT on April 23, and will cover such topics as the ESRB's rating system, online safety, and parental controls on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and PSP and Vista.

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53 comments
chilledcactus
chilledcactus

Video games have been around for quite a long time now. There have always been games that are violent, gorey, and otherwise unsuitable for children. Chances are, if you are complaining about gta4 and how it will affect your children, you grew up in a time with video games but before the esrb. It seems like you turned out fine (mostly) so stop complaining. If it is still bothering you, LOOK AT THE RATING. your child needs to be with you in order to buy the game. If your child gets the gme its your fault. Stop throwing a hissyfit about it all. Your kids are probly handling all this in a more mature manner then you are.

education
education

Parents should learn to be better parents before they kick up a stink about games like gta4. Dont rely on government to ban games like this simply cas you lack the ability to parent. Other games have been released but not quite so anticipated as gta4, without a whisper of contraversy. Parents today have no control so it seems so they want other people to do it for them and thats pathetic. And one more thing, the game will no doubt cost 70 bucks at least, here in canada so for a 10 year old kid to be able to buy this he will need to get the money from his parents or better yet, get his parents to buy the game, look at the big M for mature as they are paying and then complain about it later when they see their son doing something "bad" lol in the game. "Oh I guess that why it had a M on the front". But anyways thats my 2 cents. I'm not a parent but if I was I'd have no problem letting my son/daughter play games like this because I know violent video games dont make violent people.

Lenown
Lenown

Ok heres what I think. Video games don't effect kids behavior. I am a 21 year old gamer. Been a gamer sence the age of like 10. Playing everything from E games to M games. Its not the games or music that mess kids up. Its the parenting the kids have. If you read anything about school shootings or murders. Its always been the kids that was abused pysical/sexual as a young kid that turns out to be the bad kid. Or a kid thats lived in a bad part of a town with gangs and drugs. When I was kid like I said I played EVERYTHING. And now that i'm a adult I have to say I've never once thought about killing someone. I have thought about beating someone till they cryed like a **** tho, but who hasn't before? haha But anyways. It all boils down to the parents and living enverment the kid comes from. And now the video or music he/she listens to. Parents are just looking for something to **** about so they can get "help" with raising "their kid". Which if you can't take the time to raise your own kid and censor him the way you want. Then you have no right to be a parent.

BigSmitts07
BigSmitts07

like Proust below me, my parents let me watch R's back when i was in grade school and let me play M games around the same age, and i havent hurt anybody or done anything simliar, my dad always told me that he didnt care because he knew that it was only a game, and people who blame things as games should be slapped...i agree...but i also do agree some people should be informed if they seek it

Proust
Proust

I watched many R rated movies as a small child and, so far, have managed not to kill anyone. There are plenty of issues much further up the list than Video Games. Waste of time and money. Spanking will create a more violent adult but because so many now adults were spanked as a child the PTA wouldn't think of educating parents on that one.

console-deity
console-deity

Squirrel you mean non gaming parents, gamers would know Okami is safe for a 5 year old but not GTA.

iceveiled
iceveiled

This doesn't mean retailers will actually start I.Ding people trying to buy M-rated games....

0678
0678

lol the PTA

-Squirrel-
-Squirrel-

Great move by the ESRB. The politicians and groups who don't like the game industry regulating itself have to look at this and maybe acknowledge the ESRB can do a great job rating and that they actually care if people know what ratings mean. A lot of parents still won't pay attention, or worse even care what their children get their hands on, but the ESRB can't help parental apathy. After you see a man turn down buying Okami for his 5 year old daughter and ops for GTA San Andreas, you kinda lose faith in good gaming parenting.

TheRooskie
TheRooskie

I highly support this move the the ESRB. It's about time they opened up direct dialog with the PTA. Maybe now the gaming industry will be less scrutinized by "informed" parents and the media.

ichiban30
ichiban30

This is a great first step to inform all the parents out there; however, there needs to be a bigger step sooner or later. Back in school, I didn't have one close friend that had a parent in the PTA. My mom wasn't in the PTA. This shows a couple things. Parents either don't care or they don't have time. There needs to be a more widespread and powerful way to inform the parents. The parents can look it up online at the PTA or ESRB websites, but parents won't look if they don't got time or don't care.

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

Someone on here made a good point... that the problem isn't that the parents don't know what's in the games. It's the fact that the parents don't really care what's in the games and that the government is trying to encroach on parents' rights to raise -- or, more adequately, not raise -- their children. This is what this plan is designed to keep in check. It's troubling that our nations' governments are eroding our civil liberties day by day and the most insightful thing most people can come up with is what their parents will or will not buy for them.

SOcean255
SOcean255

It's good to see the gaming industry taking a stand, although it is the ESRB. I would have liked to see actual publishers go out and tell parents that there is a ratings system in place, and yes there are some games kids shouldn't be playing, but that wouldn't be good for business. I'm tired of listening to parents complain about the graphic nature of some games that they buy their kids. It's not that hard to look at the box art or read the description on the back, but sadly most parents don't care until it's on the screen in front of them. Maybe once parents finally become educated on what they're buying their kids we won't be seeing so many lawsuits on M rated games for having M rated content on the game

taylor888
taylor888

maybe if your kids are 4 years old they shouldnt even own an xbox, and unless the kid has some kind of problem (or are 4 years old, i have seen you), you dont hav to worry about them growing up to be serial killers, it just doesnt happen, and with that columbine incident i heard they played some jfk simulator, but even if they did, it would be in like 8 bit and you wouldnt be pushed that extra level, which may not be the same when it comes to gta 4...

cleanslate1982
cleanslate1982

This story is stupid. "Online Safety", are you kidding me?!? They talk like gaming and the internet is as dangerous as climbing a mountain or driving a car. The only thing they need to worry about is online predators, which are the only dangers associated with the internet. Even before the internet, people always used to tell their kids not to talk to strangers. Guess that no longer applies.

blindsided82
blindsided82

Oh, and to be clear, the majority of the problem here isn't even necessarily from the parents themselves. When you really look at it, the only thing that has made this such a big issue is politicians and the media. The politicians for making big deals out of this stuff in order to turn it into a career move and get realected by the mindless masses who just take what he's saying at face value without actually looking into it for themselves. The media (and yes, this includes much more than just FoxNews) is to blame for taking every single issue put forth by the politicians, and sensationalize, simply because it gets them ratings. They do it with current events, Iraq, China-Tibet situation, and of course, video game issues. It is all about slanting a sensationalized story to fit their bias, and to grab peoples attention. They tell bent-truths and half-stories in order to show one side, which is plain old irresponsible reporting. It seems like they don't even investigate into the issues beyond just finding the negatives, and how they can blow those out of proportion. And in closing, the biggest culprit? The mindless masses who take in all the crap that is being spoon fed to them by the crooked politicians and sensationalizing media without even blinking, questioning, or for god's sake doing their own homework. THINK FOR YOURSELVES PEOPLE!

blindsided82
blindsided82

GTA causes most controversy simply because people recognize it from past controversies. I have to say though, I do like seeing steps like this being taken. I've been a gamer all my life (from way back in the days of Atari and Commadore 64; You should be able to guesstimate the age from that), and I have to agree that the ratings system should be enforced a little more. This is for multiple reasons, which I'm sure any other 20-something on here will agree with: -Playing a mature game online and hearing the voice of a kid who has yet to begin growing man-hairs is like nails on a chalk board (or white board for you kiddies out there), especially when he is trash talking like an old sailor. I seriously can't tell whether I should block you or pick up on you (as you sound an awful lot like an older girl). -The immaturity of younger players when playing games with very specifically Mature ratings shows so highly. Mature doesn't just refer to the amount of blood and F-bombs, but also the maturity of character you should be displaying (though after playing against some of the older idiots, I can't place this squarely on the younger crowd) -For god's sake, enjoy your childhood and don't be so quick to grow up. It will come soon enough. (I know it sounds cliche, but believe me, it's true, and just about any other guy in here above the age of 23-24 that has a job and/or goes to school full time like me will tell you the same exact thing) While I know every minor in here will start slinging crap at me for saying so, I do think your parents should be watching the kind of stuff you play, and have a more active role. If that means telling you to wait to play Mature games until you are at least 16-17 (or at least not 12. If I bump into one single 12 year old in multiplayer, I'll be sticking to single player for some time, thank you very much), so be it. Enjoy all the other not quite so explicit games in the meantime. While its sad that it takes a step from the game industry and not necessarily from the parents to make sure the real info is out there, it is good to see that critics now have one less reason to complain. Parents should be paying attention to this, and for god's sake pay attention to the games little Jimmy is bringing home. At least this is a positive step in the right direction and the parents who give a damn can start taking some responsibility.

ZEALOTzeus
ZEALOTzeus

I don't remember any controversy about chainsawing people in half when gears of war came out.

werc96
werc96

Who needs parents anymore these days? Just leave it up to the governemtn and tv! Tv teaches them the abc's...as they get older they can watch MTV and hang out and party with the drugged out scene! While your at it...let the governemtn let you know what you can and cant play...what you can and cant watch...and as an added bonus...you have the internet. Lock free...

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

Parents do parent anymore, they think its the goverenments job. No wonder kids are going nuts these days. If I acted as bad as some of the worthless sludge I see coming from the high schools nowadays, I would still not be able to sit down.

VenomRitual
VenomRitual

dang android. u got it down perfect. even if ur kid somehow gets a hold of it, it's up to you to set parental blocks if u feel the neccessary. and these pamphlets should get the message across .

android_M
android_M

Someone make a note of this event, because in the (more than likely very near) future--say around the time GTAIV is released-- when the ignorant and incapable parents try to point their finger of hate against the industry for its "irresponsible distribution of inapporpriate material to their younglings", we'll be able to point at this and say : its not our fault you are damn ignorant and incompetent; we tried to educate your dumb asses about how to monitor what your kids were playing!

SonicTheMonkey
SonicTheMonkey

While this sounds like good news, what's the deal with the massive controversies always surrounding GTA? Has GTA4 even done anything to warrant this? I highly doubt we're going to have another Hot Coffee incident...but keep your eyes out for a Cool Smoothie Mod--you never know what'll show up on that crazy internet.

Rowr14
Rowr14

nice work, informing people is the first step to allaying their fears.

dicerolla
dicerolla

Parents need to be EDUCATED!!!!!!! Its about time!

Tasty_Ninja
Tasty_Ninja

PsychoLord, the government is not involved with this: This is the ESRB covering itself over the assured controversy involving GTA IV, and a step in the right direction towards pointing the finger away from the actual video games when discussing youth violence. --- Anybody who actually cares about these rules aren't old enough to have an opinion on the matter anyways. There will be no regulations preventing parents from buying their children M games, just informing them so they can make whatever decisions they decide is necessary on how to raise their child. Oh, parents making informed decisions when raising their child? How dare they! Children should have all the say in their actions!

PsychoLord13
PsychoLord13

haha, people need to breathe, like seriously. In an age when Iraq may be close to getting nukes, Palestine uses Mickey Mouse rip-offs to make kids hate Israel, and HAMAS puts up posters to recruit suicide bombers, politicians really need to stop worrying about violence in video games. We've got bigger things on our plates, I don't mind seeing ads for GTA IV. In fact, I like it. I'm even pretty flattered that GTA IV is set in a knock off of my home city. That actually grants the game extra appeal to me. Parents really must stop playing the blame game.

Kenzo287
Kenzo287

You know what it's about time that parents get this crap cause then we can get over the violent games made my kid a psycho murderer phase we're in now and move onto the real problem which is bad parenting made your kid a psycho murderer.

PEELEDbanana
PEELEDbanana

I am with ghost, the video game industry really needs to stand up for themselves. We really need to get some good lawyers to fight for video games. Sue Fox for slander (Mass Effect) would be a good start.

kingdre
kingdre

That should keep the parents happy for a while.

ghost867
ghost867

Can you say "GTA IV clause?" Yea, good job covering your ass ESRB, glad to know somebody is thinking over there, and that's not sarcasm. It's actually really smart to be doing that now. Though if Rockstar and Take-Two would grow a pair (aka: some balls) and stand up for Fox News and all these ****ing hack job, ignorant, bias politicians, then the ESRB wouldn't need to do anything.

SunofVich
SunofVich

About time ESRB does something to educate dumb parents but this probably wont stop the Jack Thompson/Politician game hatin' that will follow GTA4 release.

linkrul3s
linkrul3s

Hopefully there won't be any arguing and controversy over GTAIV. It is really annoying when people judge a game before they even take the time to understand the rating system and the game itself. I just want to enjoy my hobby by doing things that are not [yet] possible in this world like shoot a couple aliens and save the universe! Hopefully this will put an end to all of that!

BoogieManZero
BoogieManZero

Damn it...I was really hoping PTA would end up being P T Anderson.

Sparticus1013
Sparticus1013

Good for them. Their job is to make people aware of the rating system and what it means, and teaching this stuff directly to parents is a good way of handling it. Assuming the parents are open minded enough to listen.

MiltoxBeyond
MiltoxBeyond

Actually its not the ESRB that thinks that. Otherwise they'd have changed the rating system a long time ago... Its because to think that games affect people the most is currently the general Adult cool thing to believe... lol... I'm overly simplifying but basically, people look for any reason as to why kids have begun doing the horrible things they are doing. They see a violent game in the collection of a mass murderer and immediately assume the game is to blame. They don't usually take into account life trauma's (abusive parents, deaths, broken heart, school bullying, etc. etc.) that drives these kids that far. People should pay more attention to their kids to see if they're depressed or not... and talk to them... you know. If your kid is a mental case, then you probably want to steer him away from games that feed the masochistic or sadistic sides to them... but the only way to find out is by talking to them. Anywho... I'm getting GTAIV :P And I'm gonna beat the game without committing a single crime... ^_^ . . . . . . . . . . Yeah right :P What's the fun in that. Games are where you can escape the rules even if for a lil bit without the real-world repercussions...

GatCloudX
GatCloudX

i hate the esrb not because it decides what games i buy but because they are so stupid and its annoying how they think games are the reason kids do bad things

RoboWizard
RoboWizard

"the problem isnt so much that parents arent aware as the teens getting the game behind the parents back. With most families having both parents working to make ends meet. Parental supervision is limited. I can blame the retailers or online sales for the underage purchases of MA content. Today i went online to order a game it was easy and didnt even verify my age. All you need is a credit card and you can get anything. my son 13 went to a gamestop and purchase gta San andreas last week with out a problem. So who is really responsible for it. If this was over Cigerettes or beer heavy fines would be handed out plus possibly jail. What pentalties happen if you sell a MA rated game to a teenager under 18 ? I agree parents need to look and see what kids are playing but i also feel the retailers have to check ids as-well." Instead of comparing video games to alcohol and cigarettes (things that can actually lead to physical damage in the hands of naive kids), how about we compare them to movies and music? Kids buy CDs with explicit lyrics and get into R-rated films all the time. The fact of the matter is, individual retailers and venues have policies against kids purchasing such media, but no laws exist to punish the people who allow such sales because it IS NOT ILLEGAL.

the_monkey_god
the_monkey_god

Is the rating system that complex? I mean you look on the back of the box and it tells you what the game contains. For the love of god get the PTA some frickin glasses!

hunter8man
hunter8man

It's not rocket science. The ESRB has no reason to do this other than to look like they give a damn about these idiots who would rather complain instead of monitor their kids activities like real parents do.

fixer293
fixer293

Now parents can't say... "we,,,well I didn't know."

AlphaHawkP
AlphaHawkP

Atleast they're talking to the people that matter in this whole debate. PARENTS.

snakes3425
snakes3425

Personally I feel if kids wants to play a Game like GTA IV, they should earn the right to play it, not play the make your mom and dad feel guilty about treating you badly card. Parents also shouldn't jump to conclusions about a game. Just because a game is violent and told from a criminal's perspective, doesn't mean your kid is going to go completly insane.

anti-viper
anti-viper

If a parent doesn't know the god dang rating system by now, it's their freaking fault. The last time I went I went into a game spot, they had pamphlets for the system at the counter. And any parent who buys their 10 year old kid is either completely incompetent, or a complete idiot. Parents need to know what their kids are doing. And god knows Rockstar's done messing around with the ESRB after San Andreas and Manhunt 2.

artson1966
artson1966

the problem isnt so much that parents arent aware as the teens getting the game behind the parents back. With most families having both parents working to make ends meet. Parental supervision is limited. I can blame the retailers or online sales for the underage purchases of MA content. Today i went online to order a game it was easy and didnt even verify my age. All you need is a credit card and you can get anything. my son 13 went to a gamestop and purchase gta San andreas last week with out a problem. So who is really responsible for it. If this was over Cigerettes or beer heavy fines would be handed out plus possibly jail. What pentalties happen if you sell a MA rated game to a teenager under 18 ? I agree parents need to look and see what kids are playing but i also feel the retailers have to check ids as-well.

KittyKatLaura12
KittyKatLaura12

I do agree that it needs to be revised. And yeah I work at Gamestop too and whenever I say "Hay this is rated M for Mature for blood, gore-" the parents go "yeah yeah whatever..." It's quite annoying when the child is very young. Sorry Proman you just sounded like an angsty teenager in your earlier post. :D

NFS102
NFS102

I think the rating system needs to be revised. I think 14 years old is easily old enough to play MOST rated M games (like Halo).

aarow82
aarow82

parents these days are idiots with the way they just let their kids run amok in shopping centres, let them eat whatever they want and then wonder why they get fat. this sort of thing is good but it can only work if the parents are responsible in the first place.

Proman84
Proman84

I still firmly believe that the current rating system needs to be revised.

dragonslayer22
dragonslayer22

that's great. despite what proman84 says, too many parents still don't know about the ratings or what they really mean. I work in retail, and you wouldn't believe some of the uninformed parents out there.