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Mature Video Games in the Minority 82

Posted by Zonk
from the most-folks-just-want-to-have-fun dept.
Steve writes "Of the record breaking $7.3 billion in video games sold in 2004, only 18 percent of them were rated "M". This is surprising, considering some media watch groups have great concern over inappropriate video games landing in the hands of children, even claiming that 60-90 percent of video games have violent themes. Filefront uncovers the real trend and includes quotes from ESRB President Patricia Vance."
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Mature Video Games in the Minority

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  • 18% (Score:1, Redundant)

    Is this 18% by title, or 18% by sales? No, I did not RTFA :)
    • Re:18% (Score:2, Informative)

      by _xeno_ (155264)

      Yes, you did. The figure gets mentioned once, at the very top, which "Steve" directly copied. "Steve" didn't write jack, Andrew Serros, the author the article, wrote that. Well, Steve added "Filefront uncovers the real trend and includes quotes from ESRB President Patricia Vance."

      Based on the statistics given by the ESRB website [esrb.org] (which are last year's, I can't find current), that 18% figure is by title. Unfortunately, I can't locate any updated statistics, so those figures are mostly meaningless.

      • Re:18% (Score:3, Insightful)

        So then, the critics' higher number isn't misleading, it is simply a different way of looking at the numbers. I love when folks use apples and oranges comparisons to make their arguments.

        I for one, like the blow 'em up games. I just don't like arguments based on bad math.
      • Also, it is interesting to read exactly what the ratings mean!
        Ratings Uncovered [esrb.org]
        • For those of you too lazy or tired to click my link......


          Titles rated M - Mature have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence and/or strong language.
  • What percentage of top sellers are 'M'-rated?
    • That is totally irelevant in this argument - the percentage of top sellers that are M-rated merely reflects market demand.

      This is an argument about content publishers producing too many violent games, and that is not supported by the facts in TFA.
      • Some people would say that 18% is too many.
        • Re:I must ask (Score:2, Insightful)

          by myurr (468709)
          Fair enough, but more people would probably argue that 82% of games are not violent in nature. IMHO 82% of games being non-violent is more than adequate, and if those 18% that are happen to be the best sellers then that is due to market forces, and not anything underhand by the producers.
          • More telling is that over 70% of games are E/Ec/KA.

            Some Teen rated games are definatly violent. I have played some that make me personally un-easy, and I like violent games. In fact the only game that ever made me feel uneasy playing it was rated T.
            • Now you've made me curious. Do you remember what it was?
              I appologise if this is not somthing you want to talk about, just curious.
              • No, my origianal post had the example but it seamed self important to include.

                It was GC Legends of Wrestling (the worse gameplay of any game period). The sounds were just too up close and persoanl violent for me.

                I actualyl purchased it for my 8 year old brother because of memmories of the Nintendo wrestling. It was a completly innapropriate gift and I ended ip getting him something else after we played half a match together.

                I personally found the violence much worse then Mortal Kombat Trilogy and on pa
    • If you're asking about the M rating you're not even looking at the NR rating, which is a fair percentage of titles in advertised in popular media. Titles advertised with the NR rating may be inappropriate for children, but an alarming amount of titles with the NR rating later end up in the hands of children.

      (I'm kidding)
      • If you're asking about the M rating you're not even looking at the NR rating, which is a fair percentage of titles in advertised in popular media.

        No console game still sold new carries a "not rated", as all console makers require licensed publishers to submit their games to ESRB and get a rating back before the console maker will replicate the game.

  • by harks (534599) on Monday January 31, 2005 @10:21AM (#11528287)
    Their definition of "violent themes" likely includes plumbers jumping on the heads of turtles.
    • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Monday January 31, 2005 @10:30AM (#11528381)
      Well, also consider that, on top of torturing animals, Mario also committed arson, ate magic mushrooms, raided gold coin caches, etc.

      He sounds more like a criminal to me...

      All Mario games should be offlimits to children everywhere.
      • "Mario also committed arson, ate magic mushrooms, raided gold coin caches, etc. He sounds more like a criminal to me..."

        Sounds like a case for Homeland Security. Time to deport him to Italy, along with his ahem "brother" Luigi.

      • I dont think Mario comes to mind when you think of violence in video games. If i were a parent these days i wouldn't vouch for a ban on a plumber who bonks a couple turtles on teh head. Id be trying to ban Manhunt, or Hitman, games in which you can decapitate, suffocate, stab, shoot, inject, beat with baseball bats etc. If you think that a guy who grabs a couple coins, saves a princess and defeats an evil...I dont even know waht that is, should be banned, you must not have played, or viewed many other video
    • PETA already firebombed the Nintendo headquarters over Mario back in the 80's... SEGA made a title called "PETA's Revenge" capitalizing on the tragedy but it backfired. Christian groups were upset with the lack of churches in the video game landscape of 1980's japan.
    • "Their definition of "violent themes" likely includes plumbers jumping on the heads of turtles."

      Funny as that may sound, you're probably more right than you think. My guess is "Mild Animated Violence" is considered a "violent theme" in this case.
    • One of the most gruesome boss battles I've ever seen was in Mario Sunshine. Seriously.

      At a couple points in the game, you have to defeat an octopus. He's about 20 feet tall, has a sickly black ink around his mouth, and sits up on land. The octopus' main defense is his tentacles: four of them writhing around menacingly. He'll try to swat Mario with all of them at once, and if Mario is quick enough, he can grab one.

      Mario latches onto the end of the tentacle with his arms and legs, and tugs on it. Aft

    • Tetris is one the purest violence games out there. It's nothing but a race to blow everything up as fast as you can.

      -
  • by Otter (3800)
    Of the record breaking $7.3 billion in video games sold in 2004, only 18 percent of them were rated "M". This is surprising, considering some media watch groups have great concern over inappropriate video games landing in the hands of children, even claiming that 60-90 percent of video games have violent themes.

    1) What percentage do you have to reach before there's a legitimate issue of "inappropriate video games landing in the hands of children"? 90%? 185%? 18% seems well above that threshold to me.

    2) "Vi

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gothzilla (676407) on Monday January 31, 2005 @10:31AM (#11528394)
      Oh god not that argument. Please.
      A parent defines what is inappropriate. Every parent has different views of what is appropriate and not. If a parent continually finds their child in possession of "inappropriate" materials then obviously the parent isn't parenting. Don't feel like sitting with your kid while they play X-Box? Then don't buy them an X-Box. Sheesh, it's really not that difficult.

      I hate people who want to be lazy parents and force the government to do the parenting for them. Oh, and btw, I have 4 kids (two are teenagers), 2 pc's, an N64 and an X-Box so I know for a fact that these types of arguments are nothing but an excuse for laziness. If people don't want to supervise their kids then thats their problem, not everyone elses.
      • by Otter (3800)
        WTF are you (and the "MOD PARENT DOWN" AC) talking about?

        The assertion presented here was that the "falling into the hands of children" argument is somehow invalidated by "18% M rated", as though 18% is such a vanishingly low number that no child could ever encounter such an item. If you and MOD PARENT DOWN dismiss the "Won't someone please think about the children?" argument in and of itself, be my guest (and I don't particularly disagree with you) but please learn to freaking read before yammering at me.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mmortal03 (607958)
        Regardless of the bad argument that only 18% of games are M rated, a parent still DOES define what is inappropriate, but that does not mean that we shouldn't have a rating system.

        A parent should treat the rating system as a means to good parenting, not an end. A parent cannot know about every single game in the video game industry and about all of what it contains. So, the parent makes use of the rating system, for what it is, and then the parent supervises and takes part in the child's gaming to see if
        • Thanks for expanding my point. That's what I'm saying. You have kids, you have parents, you have games, and you have a ratings system. They all work together. When one doesn't do their job then the system falls apart.
          Kid: play games
          Parent: supervise kids playing games
          Game: entertain
          Ratings: ASSIST parent with information

          It's when parents don't feel like being parents and then get pissed at a game rating system that I wanna smack people upside the head. My kids play Halo2 but not GTA because I'm a parent an
    • MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "What percentage do you have to reach before there's a legitimate issue of "inappropriate video games landing in the hands of children"? 90%? 185%? 18% seems well above that threshold to me."

      Let me get this straight - because 18% of games sold are M-rated, that means to you that these games are falling into the hands of children. First of all, that analysis is completely without any statistics to back it up in regards to what percentage of purchases are made by or for children, etc. Second of all, what ar

      • especially since games are ~$50

        Console games that sell a million copies go into the $20 bargain bin. PC and GBA games may even start out $20 or cheaper.

        and, presumably, children are buying games with their parent's money

        What about payments for lawn care services? Or do you subscribe to the theory that children are the property (in the 13th Amendment sense) of their parents?

    • There is no legitimate issue. Parents are responsible for the media their children get ahold of. You cannot blame their lack of control over their children on game developers. I am not against rules which prohibit mature-rated games to minors, however, as their parents SHOULD be involved with their lives. Of course, most major retailers won't sell mature games to kids anyway, because they are afraid of the consequences. It is really irrelevant what percentage of games are rated M.
    • You are very bad at reading. If 18% of the movies that are released are rated R it doesn't mean that 18% of the movies that children are allowed to see are rated R. It just means that under 20% of the movies that are released are rated R, which means that 80% of the movies are PG or G.

      Now go back and read that but replace R with M, PG with T and G with E.
  • "themes" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jeffy124 (453342) on Monday January 31, 2005 @10:22AM (#11528299) Homepage Journal
    yeah, parental groups can easily say there's 60%+ with violent "themes". Their definition includes anything where something blows up, gets killed, burned, etc. Even the original Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda fall under their definition. We all know why they do it, so I wont waste teh space here. But things like this 18% of all sales are of M games is something that needs to be brought up, especially since it's firm fact, whereas the 60-90% figures are based on subjective measures. Unfortunately, the propogandist isn't interested in fact, they're more interested in public opinion.
    • For evidence that the 60-90% figure is wrong just look at the range.

      a +/-15% number has to have something screwed up, especialy something where sales are tracked. Using their reasoning I could say 3-33% are M rated.
    • especially since it's firm fact, whereas the 60-90% figures are based on subjective measures

      Well, "firm fact" in some sense, but the "M" rating itself isn't without its subjective aspects.

      Titles rated M - Mature have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence and/or strong language.

      It's not like they're measured against an ISO standard curse word, or the platinum-irridium graphic violence bar in Paris.

  • The question is what does Medi Family consider a "violent theme"? Some people would see an Italian Plumber jumping on the head of a giant walking mushroom as violence.

  • IMHO, the rating "M" doesn't equal "mature" games, e.g., I don't consider Postal 2 or GTA "mature".
    (But yes, I like them. I'm just a particularly immature 30-year-old nerd).
  • litle misquote... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheOnlyJuztyn (813918) on Monday January 31, 2005 @10:41AM (#11528508)
    The article claims that the watchdog groups say 60-90% of ALL games are violent, however what the page actually says is 60-90% of THE MOST POPULAR games are violent. This sounds more believable to me, when you factor in GTA and HALO's marketshare.

    This is not to say I'm siding with the watchdog, because it's an even less useful point then the misquote. Video games that are popular are popular because people buy them. If people are buying violent video games more then others, that's not the manufacturer or retailer or anybody's fault but the buyer's. Manufacturers make what people want them to make, or else they'd make no money.

    I definately agree with the article's claims that these watchdog groups are incredibly out of touch with what parents want. I worked in retail last christmas, and on one of our busiest days of the season a group of 6 or 7 'violent-game protesters' came into the store. They were all women, probably 60-70 years old, and they kept chanting about how video games make our kids violent. I kept wanting to remind them that it was their generation that participated in world war 2, korea, and vietnam, not mine. And it's their generation right now that's invading Iraq and showing us that, apparently, the only way to solve some problems is through violence. See? I can generalize too.

    These 'watchdog' groups piss me off.
    • You need to check a few dates. 60-70 year olds were not involved with World War II. A 70 year old would be 11 at the oldest by the end of WWII (1939-1945). A 70 year old would be 18 at the end of the Korean War so it is possible that they could've been involved with that (1950-1953). A 60 to 70 year old would be a prime target for involvement in the Vietnam War (usually considered 1962-1972). For the most part, 60 to 70 year olds are also not involved with Iraq (aside from a VP and maybe a few high ran
      • For the most part, 60 to 70 year olds are also not involved with Iraq... but I imagine that your generation... is very involved with [it]...

        I think what the dude was trying to express is that the decisions are being made by the very people protesting. I'm not sure whether or not I agree with that, but it's hard not to wonder where those protesting ladies stood on the whole war on terror or preemptive strike on Iraq. I myself have debated people that decry video game violence out of one side of their mou

  • The problem is that many games rated T contain gratuitous sex and violence, M contains straight out sex acts and A (Adults) isn't used at all.

    In addition MOST kids are buying and playing M titles.

    http://www.lionlamb.org/factsheet1.htm [lionlamb.org]
    http://www.lionlamb.org/E_T_M_rated_games.htm [lionlamb.org]

    Now personally, I think ratings are all fluff and a giant political boondoggle to argue about silly stuff while ignoring real issues (like a poor education system). A parent should be able to look at a game like Playboy Mansi
    • ob: I work for A video/game rental chain, the views expressed here are soley my own, and do not reflect the views or opinions of the staff or management of said chain

      With titles such as GTA:SA, or Halo2, etc. M titles make up much more than 18% of titles sold at my store. Part of the problem is parents: "Have you played this before?" Kid: "Yes, I played it at Johnnies" parent: "and his mom is okay with that?" kid: "Yup"
      Most parents don't ever look at the game, they rely soley on the word of their kid that
    • Ratings deflation is the real reason there are "so few" M rated games.
    • Well, I would hardly call either of those links very enlightening or informative.

      The first one uses a surveys from 3+ years ago throught. But most talk about how quick it is all changing. They all talk about Mature game sales on the rise, but what about the over 18 gaming population quickly growing at the same time? Almost all of the things about how quickly mature game sales were rising were independant of age. Also the mention of over 70% of people under 18 buying M rated games doesn't mention how su
    • how do you get off saying most kids are buying M rated games mased on those links?

      Are you saying most COULD buy the games with transport and money? And maybe even keep them if their parents didn't care?

      I hope that when I have children I am smart enough to keep track of what they do even if it is on some new fangled (20+ year old home game console) technology that I don't really understand at all (mostly do to willful ignorance, how else would I not know that it is possible to get something violent for it
    • The problem is that many games rated T contain gratuitous sex and violence, M contains straight out sex acts and A (Adults) isn't used at all.

      Define "many". For that matter, define terms like "sex" and "violence". Does a kiss or embrace qualify as gratuitous sex? Does Mario jumping on a turtle qualify as violence? These are blanket terms that are bandied about without any explanation of how they are being used. They idea that a child should not be exposed to an in-game kiss, when they certainly see their
      • "When it comes to kids buying games, it is RARE that I see a child purchase a game..."

        This is also like saying "4 out of 5 dentists" How many kids do you watch when you go into a store? When do you go into the store? What stores do you go to? I know the cliche is that parents care about what their kids buy, but in fact I've seen many kids buy games WITHOUT their parents present or buy M rated games with their parents not even batting an eye. (I watched parents bring their 6 year old kids in to see bot
  • One trend that I have noticed is that if a game has a gun in it, it gets at least a T rating. For example Jak And Daxter did not have any guns and it was rated E. Jak II and III both featured guns and was given a T rating. Many games that have you shooting robots or non humans get a T as well such as Ratchet and Clank, but once it features shooting people it will get an M. I don't know the guidelines for the rating system and what determines the boundaries between E, T, and M but noticed that the inclusion
    • Not exactly true. One perfect example would be the Mega Man series. Since 1987 Mega Man's been shooting up other robots, and since the ESRB put ratings on games, Mega Man's gotten K-A (Kids to Adults, before it became E) and E.

      Hell, Mega Man Zero, in which you see the robots spew out blood, oil, or whatever it was, is Rated E. I think that the ESRB guidelines are just plain retarded.
  • by ebingo (533762) on Monday January 31, 2005 @11:19AM (#11528959)
    Not having an "M" rating doesn't mean it doesn't have a violent theme. Medal of Honor is rated "T" and it looks like it's based on a violent theme. The fact it has no blood doesn't make it any less violent: You're still shooting people and they still scream in pain.
  • Some rateings are bs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bird603568 (808629)
    I know we have all played Diablo 2. Its rated M. I don'y know why it just is. Its recockulou, that a game wher you use magic to kill made up animals and save the world is rated M. On a side note, is Madden considered violent becuase you tackle people?
    • The naked bodies strung up with intestines hanging out didn't make you pause? How about the huge amounts of blood left over once you've gone through a camp of fallen? The large amount of naked or half naked female or near female characters? The people in various states of torture in Hell, the salamander caverns, and Nihilanth's lair? The graphics screams of pain from the monsters as you kill them? The slaughtered and imapaled harem guards and harem girls as you descend into the palace? The blood flying ever
      • but where I am comming from is a game like say Doom 3 where the blood looks real and it flys all around, but in d2 it looks like red
        • There is no possible way that you could rationally argue that Diablo 2 should have gotten a Teen rating. There is more blood in the first act of that game than in many other Mature games. Discounting that the tortured and partially dismembered naked people hanging on hooks alone is pretty bad, even if they aren't photorealistic.
          • There is no possible way that you could rationally argue that Diablo 2 should have gotten a Teen rating. There is more blood in the first act of that game than in many other Mature games. Discounting that the tortured and partially dismembered naked people hanging on hooks alone is pretty bad, even if they aren't photorealistic.

            Honestly, I haven't noticed those partially dismembered bodies around the dungeons. If that is true, then I'd agree with the "M" rating - but for now, let's assume that it isn't.

            • It is no blood it is red blood in a humanoid creature.
              This was discussed a few years ago when the MMORPG Asheron's Call 2 was released. They had red blood and also as you damaged creatures they started to show cuts, it got rated M.
              They also had the in game option to turn the blood green and according to old discussion if they had gone with that it would of rated an upper teen. They stayed with the red blood since the MMORPG demographic is already primarily adult.
  • by tod_miller (792541) on Monday January 31, 2005 @11:34AM (#11529148) Journal
    R* games seem to revel in being the violent and edgy game company, whereas lucasarts are reknown for thier familyesque non-violence (non-human death).

    Carmagedon the original sprite based version was banned in Germany, but I haven;t heard too many reports of games being banned now.

    The huge ammount of FPS and RTS games being developed would make me question those stats - but I am not an advocate of violent games for children.

    I realised that NO WAY in hell would I let my 11 year old nephew play GTA:SA. He plays soul blade and other fighting games, but this is different stuff.

    Fighter against fighter, a match, a game, like boxing.

    GTA:SA allows for free roaming and killing of innocents. I think it is hypocritical for R* to not place child models in the game, if somehow the proportional dimensions of the vertices makes a difference. They are walking a fine line. I do not see the peds in GTA:SA as innocent people, I just see them as utter bastards who would sooner steal my car as be mowed down by my gatling gun (nuttertools - cheat for nice weapons [gta:vc]).

    Other adult themes (non-violent) are a little quaint in GTA:SA, and probably put in there as to say, hey, movies are violent, and movies contain sex, if we make our game contain sex, then you cannot complain about the violence.

    People worry about the interactivity of violence in games, I did a small study into students attitudes, and those who thought games were too violent showed no more concern for violent games and children than those who didn't think games were too violent.

    So, let games contain violent (yet fun) themes. I wouldn't particularly like a game that was violent but not fun, IMHO GTA isn't even violent, it is a depiction of violence on a non-realistic, joking scale. It isn't harmful (the other content is - I would happily let my nephew play a game where you could shoot people or accidentally run them all down!)

    If you think about it, it makes sense.
  • by IndiJ (842721) on Monday January 31, 2005 @12:16PM (#11529592) Homepage

    I don't think TFA, the slashdot editor or the filefront writer knows what the hell to think about all this. ("Mature Video Games in the Minority"?) Who fucking cares? Even if it were true that games inappropriate for kids are in the majority, so what? That's true for movies, music and books.

    I mean that's a nice bit of bullshit statistics, that "60-90%" figure, but even if it were even remotely relevant the picture is clear as mud. For example, let's say that 60-90% of games (popular or no) "have violent themes", the first question you have to ask is what percentage of gamers are old enough that it doesn't make a damn difference (maybe 60-90% of gamers are over 18)? Next you have to ask what 60-90% of parents think constitutes "violent themes" - maybe your group's views represent only 10-40% of the population, if that. Next you could ask who buys more games - 20-somethings or (parents of) 8-year-olds (seems to me that I buy a hell of a lot more games for myself then my mom ever bought for me)? And so on, et cetera, ad nauseum.

    Reading TFA's I have to ask: what the hell does the "watchdog group" (and their ilk) think should be done (or: what do they recommend in their "holiday warnings")? The games are clearly labelled with a big sticker on the front, and plenty more info on the back. And even if you think the labels are bullshit, the store employees are happy to give you more info if you really want it. Any parent stupid enough to hand their kid $50 and send them into EB without even looking into what they're getting doesn't deserve a voice in this debate - same goes for parents who bought the game themselves without doing proper research. Eliminate those numbnuts and what's the problem? What else would they have done?

    That whole mediafamily.org page is just a scattershot of random facts without context, mixed up with a steaming, piled helping of bullshit. Why the hell is it being used for a reference anyway - it's like 3 goddamn years old? As for the filefront article, the spokeslady/president gamely tries to explain away the kooks, but the kooks shouldn't have been given any attention to begin with. The whole thing is just a waste of everyone's time... except for one tiny point:

    "They're all mixed in, so you have M-rated next to an E-rated."

    Very good point, and true almost anywhere I can think of. Maybe video game stores having a children's section should be the norm. But what the hell does sniping at the ESRB do to make that happen?

  • I am 22 and was carded for buying a copy of Diablo 2 yesterday from wal-mart. (Rated M) Don't complain to the makers of such software if your son or daughter was playing a Mature game that caused them to commit violent acts. Blame the shopkeeper / store who sold the game to them.
  • Yo no entiendo (Score:1, Interesting)

    by jbich (819618)
    I've never really understood the take these people have on things like this.

    Columbine happened because of violent video games? What? Kids become disassociated from reality because they come to believe that video games represent reality? What? It's the government's job to control media? What?

    Most of the kids I've had interaction with, or have been able to listen to comments from believe that video games represent things we can NOT do in life, and therefore make a great escape.

    Why is there no outr
    • Most of the kids I've had interaction with, or have been able to listen to comments from believe that video games represent things we can NOT do in life, and therefore make a great escape.

      The problem here is that Columbine incidents involve kids whose contact with others is minimal and disorted.

  • by alexo (9335) on Monday January 31, 2005 @02:53PM (#11531294) Journal
    > some media watch groups have great concern over inappropriate video games landing in the hands of children

    If your children get access to material that you deem inapropriate, it is your failing as a parent.

    If my children get access to material that you deem inapropriate, it is none of your damn business!

    Capiche?
    • I wholeheartedly agree.

      You want to know why there are so many violent games in stores nowadays? Because they sell!

      You don't like it, fine. But if the majority of america does like it, you have to live with it. Thus is the nature of democracy.

      And don't even get me started on children buying video games. It is the parent's responsibilty (and ONLY the parent's responsibility) to control what their son/daughter plays. Don't like what the next door neighbor has? Well, your son can't go over there. Don't kn

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Someone explain how Need For Speed Underground 2 got an E "for everyone" (mild lyrics, suggestive themes). It is packed with Rap songs that I would not want my 5 and 7 year old daughters to hear. They love to watch me play, but the music is not suitable.

    The songs are "blanked" every third or fourth word on most songs, but some of the others are *really* blatant. And the "don't play" feature doesn't persist between sessions.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...that letting someone else think for them
    is an invitation to disaster. The 10th Gerbil
    was too busy swearing at the Steam(tm) validation
    screen to constructively comment.

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