Media watchdog NIMF shutting down

National Institute on Media and the Family to close doors after nearly 14 years, marking an end to Video Game Report Card program.

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While a rush of huge new releases dominates the gaming world at this time of year, the holiday quarter has also played host to the National Institute on Media and the Family's annual Video Game Report Card. That ends this year, as the NIMF today announced its dissolution, effective December 31.

Manhunt 2 embodied much of what NIMF opposed.
Manhunt 2 embodied much of what NIMF opposed.

NIMF is currently in discussions to have some of its programs and initiatives adopted by other nonprofit organizations, both local and national. However, an NIMF spokesperson confirmed for GameSpot that the Video Game Report Card is not among the continuing programs.

In announcing the group's closure, NIMF founder Dr. David Walsh said that discussions about passing off its programs to other organizations have been taking place for the past two years, but "the current challenging economic environment accelerated those discussions."

Over the years, NIMF frequently butted heads with the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Notably, in the wake of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas "Hot Coffee" scandal, the NIMF labeled the ESRB system "beyond repair." In 2007, when a hacker found a way to restore the M-for-Mature-rated Manhunt 2 to the previously rated AO-for-Adults-Only version, the NIMF took the ESRB to task for failing to keep up with the technology it was rating. (An uncut, AO-rated version on Manhunt 2 was released online earlier this year.)

The watchdog group's tone toward the ratings body softened in recent years, with the 2008 report card giving the ESRB an "A" grade. That assessment came two months after the Entertainment Software Association, which owns the ESRB, awarded the NIMF a $50,000 grant to "develop an online e-learning zone for using the latest interactive technologies to help kids and adults understand the issues and potential areas of concern with the Internet."

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