FTC: Game industry self-policing improving

Feds say gaming retailers have made more progress in keeping inappropriate content out of kids' hands than theaters or DVD and music retailers.

by

While concerned parents and legislators have criticized the gaming industry as selling violent games to children, a report released today by the Federal Trade Commission names the gaming industry as the most improved media when it comes to keeping children from inappropriate content.

"While video game retailers have made significant progress in limiting sales of M-rated games to children, movie and music retailers have made only modest progress limiting sales," the FTC concluded.

According to an FTC secret-shopper program that sent children aged 13-16 to purchase violent media, 42 percent of those sent to purchase games rated M for Mature were able to do so. That's down from 69 percent in a 2003 study.

Compared to other media's enforcement of age-restricted categories, games are second only to theaters. The FTC's newest study found children able to purchase tickets to R-rated movies 39 percent of the time, up from 36 percent in 2003. On the other hand, children could buy R-rated DVDs 71 percent of the time, down from 81 percent in 2003. The FTC also looked at unrated editions of R-rated movies for the first time, and found that children could purchase those 71 percent of the time as well.

Music labeled as containing explicit content was the easiest for children to get their hands on in the FTC's study, as kids were able to purchase the recordings 76 percent of the time. In 2003, children were able to buy such music 83 percent of the time.

In addition to children's access to adult content, the report also addressed the way industries market such material to minors.

"The Commission has continued to monitor industry self-regulation in this area, releasing four subsequent reports, all finding that the movie and electronic game industries had made progress in limiting marketing of R- and M-rated products to children, but that the music recording industry had not significantly changed its marketing practices since the Commission's initial report."

While the FTC's review of publishers' internal marketing documents found no explicit targeting of children with the marketing for M-rated games and diminishing advertising on teen-focused TV programs, it raised other concerns.

"The Commission found many examples... of Internet advertising that would appear to violate the industry's standard of not placing ads for M-rated games on websites with an under-17 audience of at least 45 percent. Sixteen of the 20 M-rated games selected by the Commission ran ads on sites that appear to equal or exceed the 45 percent standard. Moreover, that 45 percent standard, by definition, tolerates advertising on websites with very substantial under-17 audiences."

The report also praised the Entertainment Software Rating Board as leading its music and film industry counterparts when it comes to disclosures of ratings information on advertising. However, it also recommended that the ESRB improve its system by placing the content descriptors for games on the front of the packaging. Currently that information is found on the back of a game's box.

The Entertainment Software Association and Entertainment Merchants Association were quick to respond to the report's release.

"It's our hope that these positive findings on our industry's self-regulatory practices are a reminder to legislators that the most effective way to protect children from mature content is not legislation that has been repeatedly declared unconstitutional by the courts," said ESA senior vice president Carolyn Rauch in a statement. "We once again offer to work with any elected officials, as we have done across the country, in a collaborative way to maintain high levels of awareness and usage of not only the ESRB ratings, but also parental controls."

EMA president Bo Andersen said in a statement he was "very gratified, but frankly not surprised" at the report's findings on game rating enforcement. He added that his group--which represents DVD retailers as well as game stores--is committed to replicating that progress when it comes to R-rated DVDs.

Discussion

113 comments
mskittykat
mskittykat

Finally! Somebody realizing the game industry is doing the right thing, instead of trying to put the blame on them.

dgguidryjr
dgguidryjr

Thank god the gaming industry gets some good rep after all this bad rep, what with Jack Thompson's crap, Hilary Clinton's banter as well, etc.

Merl57
Merl57

how much u wanna guess some politians are going to take credit for this by saying they scared the industry when the ESRB has been doing a good job by itself way before all the hype of gta.

baseballer28
baseballer28

hell, i got my first T game at 7 (Super Smash Bros Melle) wen igot my game cube. first m game was 16

chadw_genx
chadw_genx

This is a good thing. The FTC is actually giving props to the gaming community!!! They never give props..

Rentago
Rentago

Store retailers sell games to kids because their parents are with them also, don't forget parents play an important sleezy roll in our economy.

sieg6529
sieg6529

One guess: which country was founded by a bunch of Puritans?

twisted696
twisted696

its only improving because gamestops buying almost every game retailer there is

AceCometh
AceCometh

Kids shouldn't be playing M rated games. As someone who has worked in retail selling games, as I've mentioned many times, I never sold anything to kids and made sure I carded anyone who bought M rated games no matter how old they looked. If anyone is to blame, it's parents for not taking responsibility for their own kids.

Paparoach20005
Paparoach20005

All these people saying kids should not be playing this game is crazy. With that in mind however, lets take the focus off the kids and focus on who is really to blame, the retail stores who sell it to kids in the first place. Are you trying to tell me that people do not know the difference between a kid and an adult? Give me a break! If Jack Thompson has someone to go after it is the stores that sell the games to kids, not game companies like rock star who doesn't have control whos hands it ends up in because it is not their jobs to monitor stores. GTA is meant for adults and not childern, and these retail stores need to do a better job at carding and asking for the kids age. So if Jack Thompson wants to go after someone go after the retail stores to continue to sell dirty material (M-rated games, R-rated movies, and explicit CDs) to childern and let the game companies make their games without the added nonsense.

zsc4
zsc4

Shows a fair argument, if there is a age rating...why not follow it :roll:

Rentago
Rentago

Yeah, we got to get the 12 and below aged children off xbox live or I'll have to start raping people. (My way of expressing brutal beating) I'm sick of kids ruining the fun of playing online, you go on saints row and the whole thing is covered with poser ass kids who want to be black gangsters who don't know crap. Parents seem to crack down on the producers for making the game, when its them buying their child the game to begin with. Why can't parents do their job? I've had M rated games since I was 7, though then it wasn't online I guess there wasn't a problem. But, when you have kids poluting the online community with immature and annoying acts. I don't mind certain kids, but when you get that brat who yells, screams, curses at you, then talks crap, and plays cheap then that game is going in the trash. Drugs, sex, and violence is a part of our lives, you can't censor media and think it will all be ok. Schools have everything wrong with them, sex is happening already in 6th grade, people are **** so of course things go bad if not taken care of properly and usualy it isn't, and hell everyone I knew did drugs when I went to middle school and still do in high school. Though our messages here won't reach everyone, and although most of the people on this site are below the age of 14, we all know that this is wack. I wonder if its our education system or our economy collapsing slowly, but what is wrong with most people? So guys... and a few of us who are women, is there really any way to get a message out to america? I would litterally go over to a child's house to beat his ass because he thought he could kick mine through a T.V. screen. Eventualy this will go on the news because someone will do it.

wild_world_girl
wild_world_girl

Mr Mitten: "But they should be able to buy Half Life 2 or Halo or Resident Evil... Maybe not things rated for sexual content..." Wow - you certainly are an american. Give the kids all the violence they care to handle, but censor all the sex and insulate them until they grow up to be repressed, middle-aged child molestors. Kudos.

mrsal
mrsal

It's nice that video games are required to list on the back of the game why it is rated M or whatever it's rating is, but movies and theaters are not required to list why a movie is rated R or whatever it's rating is...

SilverGuy999999
SilverGuy999999

The rules on buying M-rated games must be really strict in the US cause here in Canada I have no problem getting them. I'm already 17, but I've been buying M-rated games since I was 14 turning 15. I've never been carded at any of the stores I've gone too and I've never been asked my age either. I'm not a raging psychopath either cause I know the difference. I don't really see the issue, I didn't turn out bad or anything, I was bound to learn about the content in them eventually, what's the point in shielding it for so long? And I also think the descriptor should remain on the back of the box. If you really want to read it, flip the box over, simple to do, yet so many parent's don't take that extra 2 seconds to do it. Just my 2 cents on the article :)

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

That's cool, it's good they realized this. The ESRB rates much better than the movie industry..

Mr_Mitten
Mr_Mitten

A 13-16 year old should be able to buy M rated games if they contain violence (Unless it's like Manhunt... I can't even play that it's so disturbing...) But they should be able to buy Half Life 2 or Halo or Resident Evil... Maybe not things rated for sexual content... But violence in games does not hurt kids... I played Syphon Filter 1 and 2 when I was about 11 or 12 on PS1... Syphon Filter 2 was rated M because when you shot someone in the head a nice bloddy smear was painted on the pixelated wall where they stood... Syphon Filter 1 did not have that but the guys bled the same amount pretty much... Syphon Filter 1 was only rated T but probably should have been rated M (I would have rated it so..) And I am perfectly fine... I have not killed anyone... I have not gone on any shooting sprees... I didn't shoot up my high school... I wouldn't even know where to get a gun if I had the urge... Game violence does not cause real violence... Give kids some credit... They do know the difference between fantasy and reality...

subrosian
subrosian

Jack Thompson and Hiliary Clinton are too busy humping each other in a bar in Florida to notice that their crusade is pointless and illegal. Remember, politicians loves issues that they can make the old people who actually vote in this country feel strongly about - they'll build a straw man out of the gaming industry because it lets them avoid having to deal with real issues. "What? Crumbling healthcare sytem? Over regulation and lack of legal protection for doctors has quadrupled costs? Our suggested solutions such as national healthcare would only make it worse because they would be run by the same incompetent people who run the current healthcare system? Uh.... well... look over there! Youth playing violent vidjagames!"

maxsteel86
maxsteel86

Eat that Jack Thompson! You too Hillary

vix
vix

Interesting Study

hepcat00
hepcat00

wtf?? "However, it also recommended that the ESRB improve its system by placing the content descriptors for games on the front of the packaging. Currently that information is found on the back of a game's box." --the MOVIE industry has no content descriptions on the front of their box, so why should the game industry?? besides, the big "M" should tell parents/retailers that a game isn't for their kids under the age of 17, REGARDLESS of content description. begin sarcasm/ why don't the retailers just flip the boxes to their backside facing out, then the content description is there with no need to mess up the coverphoto..../end sarcasm

DrKill09
DrKill09

I was carded the other day at EBGames, and I'm almost 21!

AceCometh
AceCometh

Kudos to the gaming industry! Unfortunately, this information will stop here. The only way this news article could possible have any sort of impact on perception by the general population is by having it aired on Headline News or someother major news broadcast entity. Only gamers will know the truth and Jack Thompson will use the ignorance of the masses to further his political agenda. By the way, Jackie-boy, ever heard of obstruction of Justice?

FilthyYamBag
FilthyYamBag

great news, if the industry polices itselft, politicians have NO chance at legislating games

airboygt
airboygt

How very priceless, actual federal documentation showing that the game industry is not as "evil" as politicians would have you believe. Now if only congress would pass a "kick Jack Thompson's A$$ day" the world would be a nicer place. I certainly hope that this study is published and finds its way into the hands of Senators Lieberman and Hilary so those two could focus their political standing addressing REAL PROBLEMS that this nation has.

xspawn69
xspawn69

Ok... Can Jack thompson go away now?

ControllerLord
ControllerLord

"It's our hope that these positive findings on our industry's self-regulatory practices are a reminder to legislators that the most effective way to protect children from mature content is not legislation that has been repeatedly declared unconstitutional by the courts," said ESA senior vice president Carolyn Rauch in a statement. "We once again offer to work with any elected officials, as we have done across the country, in a collaborative way to maintain high levels of awareness and usage of not only the ESRB ratings, but also parental controls." Damn right.

T-Money8632
T-Money8632

This is great and everything, but I still fail to see why a 13-14 year old isn't technically "allowed" to play these games. I'm currently 17, and trust me at age 12 I could differentiate between game and reality. Violence happens. Sex happens. "Swear" words are said. Why are we trying to shield kids from the actual world. Trust me, your middle school'er swears. He/She has thought about punching someone or has punched someone. He/She knows that baby's don't come from a god damn stork. Get the hell over the swear words, violence, and sex. The more you try to hide it, the more appealing it is. Tell your children the truth, don't hide it from them. They deserve that much.

ketsuatama
ketsuatama

Plaudits to retailers who do this!

TTDog
TTDog

Are they planning to do anything to the parents who buy little Johnny his copy of GTA? Or is it too much o ask parents to check what their child is playing and maybe... not buy the 8 year old brats the 18 rated game.

Mr_Saturn26
Mr_Saturn26

i think this is where we rub jack thompson face in it, and hey its nice that the industry is really progressing toward the goal.

epormada
epormada

This news will be long forgotten by the time GTA IV comes out in October. Plus people still widely view video games as being for children, so politicians will still use them as a tool to make people think they care about their kids safety.

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

What will u say now Mr. Jack? :twisted:

Manatassi
Manatassi

Stick that in your Pipe and smoke it Jack! Go bug the Movie studios and get your attention there :P

diablobasher
diablobasher

Good. Not that this is something to be proud of mind you, i view this with the same attitude as quitting smokin. Why should you deserve praise for NOT doing something that is bad?! But yeah, minors shouldnt be allowed to play these games, end of discussion, the word Game has too many assosiations with children and playing, is the reason parents and the general public are so ignorant/foolish about what games should be. There is plenty information on the boxes, there is a big M, or 16+ rating on the box, with little pictures (with description) of the themes presented on the back of the box. And for adult rated games theres a great big red 18! on the front of the box, it's unmissable because it's illegal to cover it up. Any and all blame lies with the parents, or the store selling mature games to children. I mean the company i work for it is policy for staff to have no choice whether or not to enforce the non BBFC rating (the advisory ones) we are told not to, the company wants more money. I don't like it, and it needs to change, but the majority of those games are nowhere near as bad as the GTA's, which parents buy for their 7+ year old children without a second thought. The only parent i have ever seen pay any sort of age ratings attention, said that he made his kid play the game with no sound?! I nodded and smiled politely, but how is that gonna help?!

rond5566
rond5566

Yje rule is if you don't look over thirty you get carded. Guys I know card me at my gamestop, although I think they are just doing it to be dicks

Ottothebobcat
Ottothebobcat

The EB and Gamestop in my town have started carding anyone who buys an m-rated game, period. I believe they've instituted a zero-tolerance policy or something. I find it funny that I got carded buying a copy of Devil May Cry and didn't buying a pack of cigarettes the other day.

nazraq
nazraq

i'm glad that i'm too old for this stuff to matter.

MasterAsh42
MasterAsh42

42%? To what stores do they send those secret shoppers? GameStop and the like seem rather on the ball, so I can only assume a fair amount of these folks check out larger, non-gaming retailers.

BIGboss600
BIGboss600

who cares no matter what people will bit*h and complain about the rating i need an id now but i still cant see penetration in gta wtf dude :I

Arlandro
Arlandro

The average gamer is 30 years old.

Mkeegs79
Mkeegs79

Politicians look at it bad in their own "personal" view of not being able to get easy votes!

JamesL007
JamesL007

Well if the FTC says it than DAMN, I have always been behind the game industry and I have always felt the blame rested on the parents more so than the retail store that sold the product. But its good to see they are improving and maybe someday we will shut up Jack Thompson for ever. Down with Jack Thompson Today, and Freedom for tomorrow hail to the king baby. Peace out gamers until next time

CyphenX
CyphenX

Legislators, politicians, parent, peoples of the world, take heed! Open your eyes and see that the ESRB is one of the best d**n rating systems out there! Parents especially, use this! Don't let government legislation tell you how to raise your kids, do it yourself!

foxy318
foxy318

"However, it also recommended that the ESRB improve its system by placing the content descriptors for games on the front of the packaging. Currently that information is found on the back of a game's box." isnt it enough that theres a big M on the box?

Axe_336
Axe_336

Oh good, another report that will be ignored by everyone but gamers who will use it to further view politicians and people against violent games as fools. Just what I always wanted.

Kfoss
Kfoss

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! WHAT NOW!

coollizy
coollizy

However, it also recommended that the ESRB improve its system by placing the content descriptors for games on the front of the packaging. Currently that information is found on the back of a game's box. No, no, no, PLEASE NO. Especially as someone who proudly displays the boxes of his games, adding ALL the ESRB information on the front just adds unneccissary clutter. If I want to buy it, then I'll look at the back. It's not my fault Wal-Mart and Target put the games behind locked glass where minors can't see the back. -_-