Parents Television Council Attacks Videogame Retailers

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Parents Television Council Attacks Videogame Retailers

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An 80% success rate isn't good enough, says media watchdog the Parents Television Council, not when it comes to retailers enforcing ESRB guidelines.

In its bid to protect children from the horrors of videogames, the Parents Television Council has blasted retailers for their "abysmal performance" in adhering to the ESRB rating system. In a "PTC Action Alert," it said that the incredible rate of non-compliance with the guidelines meant that legislation to fix the problem was inevitable.

The PTC's comments were based on the results of a recent secret shopper campaign it performed, where activists targeted 109 stores across 11 states to see how easy it was for a minor to purchase a game rated Mature by the ESRB. According to the PTC's statement, a youth aged between 12 and 16 went in to the store and tried to buy an M rated game. The youths were instructed not to lie or misrepresent themselves in any way. The PTC specifically targeted the ESRB's retail partners, as well as local retailers in each area, and found that its secret shoppers were able to buy M rated games in roughly 21% of the surveyed stores.

The PTC referred back to a similar study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission in 2008, which seemed to agree with its results, concluding that compliance with the ESRB's guidelines hadn't improved in the last two years. It neglected to mention, however, that the FTC's study also found that videogames were more difficult for minors to purchase than tickets for R-rated movies, R-rated DVDs, or music with Parental Advisory stickers.

The ESRB hit back against the PTC's findings, criticizing the methodology and saying that the results from a similar operation the PTC conducted two years ago actually showed a considerable improvement in the rate of compliance over the last two years, something that the PTC never made clear in its statement. "Frankly, the latest PTC member sting operation actually verifies the effectiveness of the ESRB rating system and the ever-increasing support it receives from retailers," said Eliot Mizrachi, the ESRB's director of communications.

What's frustrating about the PTC's statement is not that it's false - because nothing in it is technically a lie - but that it's filled with half-truths and spin. By taking statistics out of context and painting them in an incredibly negative light, the PTC creates the impression of gross negligence or incompetence on the part of videogame retailers, when in fact they're actually doing more to comply with the relevant guidelines than anyone else. The PTC isn't stating facts here, it's issuing propaganda.

Source: GamaSutra

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Oh for fuck sake. When will these braindead fools stop trying to destroy a medium that they don't fully understand.

- Edit -

Wait a minute... did I read that right? The "Horrors of videogames"? I think that this proves that what we have been saying all along is true. They have absolutely no comprehension of the medium, and, now that people are starting to see them for what they are, they are so desperate to find some shred of indecency in the industry. Its pathetic really, and I pity them.

Sounds like they're really that desperate to get attention back to them with those declining numbers they have. I guess I see why they're doing so badly. Parents, in regards to their own children, tend to be pretty stupid when it comes to how hard they try to keep children away from stuff that isn't even aimed towards them in the slightest. Oh well...

And I'm willing to bet that most the kids who did get sold M rated games were 16 and likely close to 17, or looked 17. That's just my opinion though.

Thats actually bad.... in GAME (European/British Game Store branch) We're pretty much on pain of jail time instructed to ask for ID for 16+ and over games...

It sucks but...Adults come into the store and buy them for their kids and to my disgust it isn't illegal. As long as they doll the money and make the purchase there's nothing I can do, even if their little hellspawn is standing next to them pulling the puppet strings.

To be honest, I don't want to sell GTA4 to a kid. That to me is morally irresponsible.

But these crusading parents in the US are just as silly, you push these laws like we have? It's just going to become more and more risque, kids are going to buy them off older kids, resort to other means, and then eventually scream and whine at their parents, who will come in and just buy it for them.

Pointless effort is pointless.

And really they're no worse than movies.

Not to mention that the retailers are doing all of this compliance completely voluntarily. There's also bound to be some failure rate among the low-income workers at these places as well, aggravated by the fact that many of these retailers are gearing up for the holiday season with new hires.

Oh joy, more useless creatures too stupid to raise their offspring trying to regain some of their lost power. These people have no understanding of how things work. As Charli stated in the above quote, the kids are just going to weasel their way into getting the games one way or another, so why bother?

One step closer to giant flaming disclaimers in the sky above every game store in ze land.

Oh for crying out...


They are completely flying now. Attempting to find somthing slightly wrong, somthing that also applys to film and music even more so.

What's that? People flaming something they don't quite understand? Quick! Phone the Logic Police!

How many times does it have to be proven that ESRB rating is the most effective media rating system? How many times have we seen it beat the MPAA ratings and the Parental Advisory stickers?

It's just another case of some group obtaining information that doesn't damn who they're trying to damn so they misrepresent the findings. It's a tactic that is never going to stop.

Oh please; when will these people see that this entire 'will someone please think of the children' mindset is a complete waste of time? Some of the kids around my area are more bloody violent than anyone I've ever met and haven't even picked up a controller in their lives.

It's not the game retailers fault. It's not the game industry's fault. Hell, it's not even the parents faults in my eyes. Personally I see nothing wrong with buying a game for a kid - my mum's done that with several games for me, including Dungeon Keeper (which unbelieveably is an 18), GTA and a few other games which were so lasting, dynamic and clearly mentally scarring I can't even remember the names of them.

Eh, I know not everyone is going to be like us pro-game crusaders, but seriously. This war has to stop. And the game industry can't even get a word in edgeways without being repeatedly drowned out by the wailing cries of 'terrified parents' and clearly moronic individuals such as these.

Maybe I just get way too fired up over things like this, but this is really stupid.

ESRB ratings are effective. 80% effective may not be good enough, but I doubt it's ever really going to drastically change for the better. There will always be the odd one. And if they're that worried about ESRB ratings, then maybe they should start attacking the film industry as well. This has all been done before with that media. I doubt it's stopped with films, but video games are taking the limelight for now. Then it'll be the next thing until they finally run out of things to complain about. Which they won't.

The reason they are attacking video games is because all the other mediums have already gone to a case like this one and beaten the censors, so it's the only one left that can be attacked like this.

Quite "simple" solution for the retailers:

Get everyone who buys a 16+/18+/whathaveyou game to sign a receipt that he has, in fact, bought the game.

So if any parents try to complain that their offspring has bought an unsuitable game, whip out the receipt and prove that the parent in question has bought the game. Respond with sueing them for false accusations and breach of contract if applicable (maybe put a paragraph on "giving games to minors" to your store policy), and after the first 1000 sued parents or so you're golden.

Obviously it's the parent foundation whatever that has the upper hand here.
What the problem really is, is that Gamestop, one of many, are backing down like growling wounded dogs from the issue.

If any, you have to go on the offensive and bite them in the fucking leg, as they walk forward ever so dominant. You'll see them scream and retreat in no time, squirming away, crying for help.

Show them who's dominant! Come on Gamestop! Make the rules!

(It's all just a metaphor though, so PUH-LEEEASE....)

Really I would have expected this grade of material from the beginning. It's not a problem as all it takes to counter is pointing out that all other media is doing worse and therefore it's above socially acceptable levels.

Charli:

It sucks but...Adults come into the store and buy them for their kids and to my disgust it isn't illegal.
To be honest, I don't want to sell GTA4 to a kid. That to me is morally irresponsible.
.

The laws in Britain exist so the child's parent or guardian can determine what their child is capable of understanding properly and not have others interfere. The gradings are a guideline for parents and law for everyone else to prevent others allowing a child to be presented with potentially 'damaging' media.

It doesn't matter whether you think they are being irresponsible, you don't know that child or the moral stance of their family. In all probability they are being utterly irresponsible but it isn't our place to deny them the decision.

It's funny how willing people are to lie when they "know" that they're right and only searched for evidence because they know how little credence they'll be given in its absence.

Well, 80 % success is not really that great. Sure, it's easy to think it is not a big deal. But! A minor should not be able to buy a M rated game without the parents approval. Just like at the movies.

Still predicting a videogame prohibition soon...

It's so easy to put a blame on someone else for not raising your children right. If they have a problem with video games then they should not let their kids play them. Why the fuck do they care how other people raise their kids? Since when is it alright to meddle in other peoples personal business? First those religious freaks trying to force their opinions and their way of life on everyone, and now this? Leave it be assholes, there are bigger problems out there. Stupid people fuckin' annoy me.

Ya know. I am gonna refrain from openly attacking this bunch of jackasses and instead ask a simple question.

Why lie? I mean, filling these "reports" with half truths and bullshit does nothing but damage their own party when the truth of the matter is revealed. All of a sudden they no longer have any credibility anymore so the next set of tests, even if it gets the answers they wanted, even if it reveals for 100% fact that no company upholds the ratings system anymore, will be considered worthless since they squandered any credibility they ever had.

It honestly just boggles the mind that people would go out of their way to do something so stupid that they know will just come round and bite them in the ass again very soon.

Charli:
Thats actually bad.... in GAME (European/British Game Store branch) We're pretty much on pain of jail time instructed to ask for ID for 16+ and over games...

It sucks but...Adults come into the store and buy them for their kids and to my disgust it isn't illegal. As long as they doll the money and make the purchase there's nothing I can do, even if their little hellspawn is standing next to them pulling the puppet strings.

To be honest, I don't want to sell GTA4 to a kid. That to me is morally irresponsible.

I see what you mean, but I personally wouldn't have too many problems over selling a 16 year old CoD, although I probably wouldn't fo the sake of keeping my job.

I think the best way out of all this crap is if there is some better education set up for parents. Unfortunately, I doubt Yee or the PTC will listen.

Kapol:
Sounds like they're really that desperate to get attention back to them with those declining numbers they have.

This seems the most likely scenario. The timing and the way the study was targeted is screaming, "Hey, concerned peoples! Look at us; we're being relevant! Please join us and give us money!"

Oh for fuck's...When will these nuts just shut up already?! Seriously, stupidity like this is one of the reasons I'm so cynical.

I hope the Supreme Court sides with us and crushes this arguement once and for all.

I wonder what they'll attack next in their ongoing war against stuff they don't or are not willing to understand.

Logan Westbrook:
By taking statistics out of context and painting them in an incredibly negative light, the PTC creates the impression of gross negligence or incompetence on part of videogame retailers, when in fact they're actually doing more to comply with the relevant guidelines than anyone else. The PTC isn't stating facts here, it's issuing propaganda.

Why would they do anything else? They are a propaganda group. They have a strong message, and naturally will massage statistics and other data into correlating with their message, just like every other propaganda group, government report, news report etc. The reason they exist is to accomplish their goal, so expecting them to neglect an opportunity to push their agenda is just silly.

Oh, and FYI 'source' is typoed at the end of the article ;-)

What the fuck is wrong with these people?

They may never have seen a pair of tits or some violence until they were 35, but kids have been getting their hands on stuff they shouldn't for a long time, and you're never going to catch every piece of illicit material. It's not actually going to do any damage.

I've actually found that the most messed up kids I've met actually don't play games. Eat that one PTC.

Unrulyhandbag:

The laws in Britain exist so the child's parent or guardian can determine what their child is capable of understanding properly and not have others interfere. The gradings are a guideline for parents and law for everyone else to prevent others allowing a child to be presented with potentially 'damaging' media.

It doesn't matter whether you think they are being irresponsible, you don't know that child or the moral stance of their family. In all probability they are being utterly irresponsible but it isn't our place to deny them the decision.

Pretty much. My mum knew what games I was getting because she had to get them for me (GTA, basically!). I couldn't go into GAME or Gamestation and get GTA of my own accord, I had to get her to get it for me. When San Andreas came out, again, she knew I was getting it because she bought it for me. Yes, all I had to do was give her the money and ask her to get it for me, but that law meant she knew what I was getting. Even though I'm 21 in December, she still knows if I bring GTA or other games of that ilk into the house because I tell her.

I, personally, think it's a brilliant law. I'd rather that, in a situation like this, the retailers are overbearing with checking for ID. I've been ID'd for gaming magazines! :p

Seeing as America is only 400 years old and was settled by political extremists (dissidents against the king), I have to wonder whether all this (from the position of logical people) rampant idiocy is merely the teething pains of a nation.

Did the British Empire have this sort of crap about the European continental art influx I wonder?

Charli:
It sucks but...Adults come into the store and buy them for their kids and to my disgust it isn't illegal. As long as they doll the money and make the purchase there's nothing I can do, even if their little hellspawn is standing next to them pulling the puppet strings.

Which is odd, because if you were to do that with alcohol or cigarettes, there'd be big fines. I realise that the two are not really comparable in terms of the damage they do, but that shouldn't matter in the eyes of the law. If something is illegal then it's illegal.

I just find it ironic this is a council of parents bitching, maybe instead of going out concerning themselves with how gaming retailers are treating children they should watch their own. I'm fine with the idea of not wanting to have retailers selling to underaged kids, but exactly how do the kids sneak it past the parents?

"What do you want to do today brain?"
"The same thing we do everyday Pinky TRY TO DESTROY THE GAMING WORLD!"

Clearly these guys consist of old age pensioners, over zealous christians, bleeding hearts and whiners who collectively have NOTHING to do other than bitch about stuff that doesnt affect them but seeing as children play these games it must be evil because they aren't reading Dickens, Studying the bible / homework or in a school / library / church somewhere being good little conformists doing exactly what they are told to.

Apperently free will in the entertainment industry is wrong.

"Parents Television Council" ...

I feel sorry for the children of these "Parents"

Most people play videogames on pcs or hook their PS3 / 360 through high def 22 inch monitors so no this is not television and if im being pedantic a monitor is not a tv.
In fact being super anal about this I will raise the point that a Television "watchdog" Should be out there whining about TV shows on TV that come through a TV but seeing as Family Guy isnt making new episodes and is basically untouchable they just go after the games industry instead.

You sad, sad people.
You know what might cheer you up and take your mind off whining?

Here hold this lump of white plastic while I push this button, HA! Now your playing Modern warfare 2! THE HORROR OF THE FAKE BLOOD AND SIMULATED WAR TIME SCENARIOS!

OMG THE SHEER HORROR OF IT ALL.

Surely this is the end of days!

I think I'm going to momentarily step into the circle of failed personalities on this site who quote Yahtzee to seem intelligent / funny:

It went along the lines of "A video games controller is about as realistic of an actual guns controls as 'something offensive about something'" probably another shot at the wii.

so yeah...

Down with the PTC!

Unrulyhandbag:
Really I would have expected this grade of material from the beginning. It's not a problem as all it takes to counter is pointing out that all other media is doing worse and therefore it's above socially acceptable levels.

Charli:

It sucks but...Adults come into the store and buy them for their kids and to my disgust it isn't illegal.
To be honest, I don't want to sell GTA4 to a kid. That to me is morally irresponsible.
.

The laws in Britain exist so the child's parent or guardian can determine what their child is capable of understanding properly and not have others interfere. The gradings are a guideline for parents and law for everyone else to prevent others allowing a child to be presented with potentially 'damaging' media.

It doesn't matter whether you think they are being irresponsible, you don't know that child or the moral stance of their family. In all probability they are being utterly irresponsible but it isn't our place to deny them the decision.

Yep and the few parents who are aware I have no problem with, it's those sleepy eyed, obviously ruled by their kids, idiots who don't even look at the boxes and their screaming brat is jumping up and down yelling at them to hurry up...

It's almost insulting to sell them something far too sophisticated for their tiny brains to understand past "BLAM BLAM DEAD, RAWH, *VIOLENCE*" ...And don't get me wrong I have neighbors with that problem, watching them play video games is like watching an ADD child play with the medicine cabinet... So very very wrong, and no concept of what they really are...

I don't want to police video games. I love video games. I want parents to understand their kids better. Giving a child of twelve something like Fable 3, I have no kicks with, they'll probably get it and even enjoy it. It's giving 7 year olds Call of Duty that I disagree with.

But that's just me, you only quoted a fraction of my post, I disagree with the parents in America whole heartedly.

SonicWaffle:

Why would they do anything else? They are a propaganda group. They have a strong message, and naturally will massage statistics and other data into correlating with their message, just like every other propaganda group, government report, news report etc. The reason they exist is to accomplish their goal, so expecting them to neglect an opportunity to push their agenda is just silly.

That's a valid point, but the instances of minors being able to buy R-rated movies are much higher, and as a media watchdog, rather than just a videogame watchdog, you'd think that the PTC would be more concerned over those figures.

My personal theory is that the PTC is pushing this angle specifically, because for music and film, there's no chance of laws being established which regulates their sale, whereas for videogames, that's currently a very real proposition.

Well i dont like either part in this. But to be fair and as a dad myself, i DO think Gamestop have some responsebillety in conjunction whit the parents to make sure 11 year olds dont find there way to my Call of duty session. Or at least to the headset.

In my humble oppinion i would prefer a age rating for owning a headset.

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