The Video Game Report Card Gives Good Marks
Unlike last year after the tumultuous "Hot Coffee" scandal, the MediaWise Video Game Report Card, issued by the National Institute on Media and the Family, has given the industry good marks on rating games and enforcing them. Specialty shops and parents were not so lucky.
Large retailers like Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart scored good marks for not selling M-rated games to minors this year, garnering a perfect score in the limited testing done by the institute. Specialty shops (unspecified) did not fare so well, getting an "F" from the report. "Specialty stores seem more interested in making money than anything else. Despite years of scrutiny and repeated promises to clean up their act, it is still far too easy for kids to purchase inappropriate games at such stores."
Parents also got low scores for not keeping up with their children's gaming habits. "While nearly two-thirds of surveyed parents said they had rules about how much time their children may spend playing video games, only one third of their children said they had such rules." The report claims that the amount of time kids spend playing games is on the rise while parent involvement seems to be stagnant.
The impact extended gaming sessions have on obesity and diabetes were also mentioned as a concern. "The link between obesity and media use has become increasingly clear with each new study. Children, ages 8 to 18, spend more time (44.5 hours per week) in front of computer, television, and game screens than they spend on any other activity in their lives except sleeping."
Finally, the report card lists some of the games parents should watch out for. As Joystiq noted, Gears of War is strangely absent from the list while games like Saints Row, Dead Rising and Just Cause are flagged.
GoW missing from the watch list? I guess chainsawing alien-like creatures is ok. But, doing the same to digital humanoids is a no-no!
I'd bet that Gears of War wasn't released when the report was originally written, and they didn't consider unreleased products for their watch list. It takes some time for things like this to go through an approval process before they get released.
As Joystiq so aptly said, "All of the games listed above already carry M-ratings, as do countless others not on the list. Wanna protect your kids? Just go with the rating on the box."
Wanna protect your kids? Just go with the rating on the box.
Couldn't agree more.
What I find most interesting about this study is the attitude of parents. Parents say they monitor their kid's consumption of video games, but, according to the kids, many actually do not. This leads me to assume that a lot of parents pay lip service to monitoring their kids video game usage, but do not really do much about it. So why is it that violent and sexually themed video game content is such a media and political football. The country gets all worked up every few months, when it may turn out that parents really do not give a crap what their kids are doing as long as they stay out of trouble. Or...maybe they do and just want the government to take care of it for them so it is one less thing they have to worry about?
Well, you could read the report to say that 66% of parents do not monitor their childrens' playing habits, but half of those still want the appearance of doing so without actually doing the work. I'd say it's less that they don't give a crap, but more that they don't want to make the effort.
What it comes down to in the end is that people generally care about things based on how they influence their lives. To most parents, monitoring video games is just a chore, and since they don't play them, regulating them to the point that they're always 'safe' is an ideal solution. Then they can just buy them and give them to the kids without paying attention. Think of them like any other toy - a toy that isn't 'safe' will get removed from store shelves.
Likewise, if a similar movement was working against television or film, the same people would probably be against it. At that point, it directly touches on their entertainment. They probably know enough not to take a young child to an R-rated movie because they actually care about movies (or did at some point in their lives), and are therefore at least marginally educated on the topic.
That is actually the problem with the current state of things. Enterprising politicians are getting these laws passed under the guise of "protecting the children" for no other reason than they would like to look good, and most of the public doesn't care about the details. I mean, who would say that they're against "protecting the children" except a horrible person not worth listening to? The only good thing so far is that every one of these has been shot down at some point by a judge that has taken the time to educate themselves.
The danger is that one of them won't get shot down at some point, and set a precedent. Or that the industry will castrate themselves to prevent it (like the comics industry).