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Family Group Releases Annual Games Report Card 72

Posted by Zonk
from the let-me-spoil-it-for-you-they-don't-like-games dept.
The National Institute on Media and the Family has released their annual 'report card' for the videogames industry. Brian Crecente has some great commentary on the release, which he refers to as 'increasingly out-dated and unnecessary, something that probably explains the desperate tone of this year's report'. "What's interesting is that the summary cites very specific examples for the positive, such as Target removing Manhunt 2 from shelves after finding AO content was viewable with a hack, or that GameStop has started firing people for selling M-rated games to minors, but doesn't really do the same for the negative. Instead [NIMF's David Walsh] writes that 'Complacency, especially on the part of retailers and parents, appears to have caused a backslide in ratings awareness and enforcement.'" The ESRB was quick to point out the flaws in the group's assertions, while a UK study indicates that some 75% of parents are worried about the games their kids play.
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Family Group Releases Annual Games Report Card

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  • by aztektum (170569) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:31PM (#21576821)
    Should make sure they don't play the particular games they are worried about. It beats the alternatives I can come up with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gideon Fubar (833343)
      Parents? responsible for taking care of their own children?

      you sir, are clearly a terrorist. :/
    • by enderjsv (1128541) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:50PM (#21577121)
      75% of parents are worried, eh? Yet, when a Fox affiliate interviewed a group of parents about the parental control settings on the Xbox 360, most of them had no idea there were controls and the ones who did had no idea how to set them. Laziness > Concern.
    • by jdgeorge (18767)
      Should make sure they don't play the particular games they are worried about. It beats the alternatives I can come up with.

      True enough. However....

      The problem I forsee is that while parents might be able to ensure their kids only play appropriate games at home, it is very difficult to do the same at the homes of their children's friends, where a different set of parents (or older siblings) are the responsible parties. It is entirely possible that a 15 year old kid, or some well-meaning, but "hands-off" pare
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by 0xdeadbeef (28836)
        Well damn, it looks like we need to pass a law to put warning labels on your kid's friends' parents.
      • The problem I forsee is that while parents might be able to ensure their kids only play appropriate games at home, it is very difficult to do the same at the homes of their children's friends, where a different set of parents (or older siblings) are the responsible parties. It is entirely possible that a 15 year old kid, or some well-meaning, but "hands-off" parents wouldn't think to prevent a 6 year old neighbor from playing any game in their video game library. In other words, being a responsible parent

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jdgeorge (18767)
          I don't know any "responsible parent" that would let their child go under the supervision of another adult without first speaking with said adult and sorting out things like not allowing them access to violent or pornographic media.

          I expect that most people, if they thought that the other adult in question would NEED to be advised to keep the child away from violent or pornographic media, just wouldn't allow their children to visit. That is not where I see the potential problem.

          The issue is where the adults
          • by PlatyPaul (690601)

            Essentially, someone who believes responsible parenting is easy/simple is not well informed; it requires a LOT of work and personal involvement.

            Exactly. The problem is when people have children but are unwilling or incapable of putting in that level of work and personal involvement.

            And, sadly enough, such cases are commonplace.
          • The issue is where the adults in question don't supervise their children especially closely, and generally assume they are keeping out of trouble as long as they are not making too much noise.
            I'm not a parent, but as a former child, isn't it when the children are not making too much noise that they are most likely getting in to trouble?
        • by sammy baby (14909)

          I don't know any "responsible parent" that would let their child go under the supervision of another adult without first speaking with said adult and sorting out things like not allowing them access to violent or pornographic media.

          Seriously? You expect that the parents of a ten year old will say things like, "Hey, Chuck, you're not going to let my kid watch any porn, are you?"

          Being a "responsible parent" isn't hard because parents don't want to do right by their kids. It's hard because they have differing

          • by mdwh2 (535323)
            And if two parents can't agree what is right for a child - I don't see how an entire nation can agree, so that's all the more reason to leave it to the parents and not have a nanny state ban games for everyone.
    • by HappyDrgn (142428) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:19PM (#21577591) Homepage
      This is not very hard to do. My son knows which games he can play and which ones he can not play. When I buy a new game and he sees it he will always ask first if it's a game he is allowed to play. If he wants to keep playing games and wants me to keep buying him new ones, then he is to not complain about which ones he can play. Which there are some very fun kid friendly games out there, mostly for the Wii, which he has a large library. The xbox is a little limited however, I've only found a few that are for his age. This works the same for movies too! I don't understand parents who have trouble with this. I was over at Gamestop the other day picking up Mario Galaxy for him and Mass Effect for myself, while a mother was there buying Halo3 for her son. She asked the guy at the counter if it was violent and if it had adult language. When he answered yes to both questions SHE BOUGHT IT ANYWAY!!!
       
      That being said I would like to see better parental controls in game systems. An access allow/deny list type thing would work perfectly if added into the xbox style profiles. Give each person in the house a profile, perhaps with a password and choose to allow all access or only certain games to each profile. This would prevent a child who was able to buy/borrow/rent a mature game from a store that did not care the ability to play it. This is not to say good parenting can be replaced with a switch on the game system (which is how most parents would treat it I'm sure), it would be a reliable extra step to make sure kids dont play adult games in my house however.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Von Helmet (727753)

      When I was little (like, 6 years old) I asked my dad about various board games that we had in the cupboard. I remember asking whether we could play Monopoly, and he said not yet, but that I could play it when I was older. I thought it must have boobs or something in it. Imagine my disappointment...

    • by kalirion (728907)
      The article is useless without the actual survey questions. I would bet the question was not "Are you worried about the games your kids play", but more along the lines of "Do you think there are some games your kids should not play." Makes a world of difference.
  • Ratings systems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Merls the Sneaky (1031058) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:36PM (#21576889)
    Rating systems are no substitute for good parenting. That includes playing or at least monitoring the games your children play.
    • Re:Ratings systems (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nos. (179609) <andrew@NospaM.thekerrs.ca> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:02PM (#21577341) Homepage

      Absolutely, but there is nothing wrong with a rating system in general. As a parent, am I expected to keep up on every game for the game platform(s) in my household. Suppose walking through the store one day a child sees a game on sale and wants it. The child has been behaving and doing extra chores, and I feel buying a game for him/her is not out of the question. If there is no rating system, I have little choice but to say "No", or at least "Not yet", and go home and research the game before returning to the store to purchase it, or another instead.

      As a parent I'm all for the rating system and fining retailers for not enforcing them. If, as a parent, I feel its okay for my child to play a game rated for older than he/she is, then I will go to the store with said child and purchase it for them. This is not a big deal to me, and certainly preferrable to my child doing hookers and mugging them afterwards in a game, when they're too young to even know what sex is.

      When my children are old enough for games, they will only be playing them in common areas of the house so we can monitor what they are playing. But as much as you try to, you can't watch what they're doing 24/7.

      • by plague3106 (71849)
        So, you just don't want to do the research? Nevermind that your kid probably knows before you leave what game he'd want. What about parents who have kids in the 14-17 range? Should they have to buy the game for their kid, even if they don't mind their kids playing an M game?

        I also see a problem with you wanting to watch your kid 24/7. You don't trust your kid? You don't think you would have done a good enough job raising them? You can't let them outside their bubble, so that maybe they see the world i
        • by Nos. (179609)

          So, you just don't want to do the research? Nevermind that your kid probably knows before you leave what game he'd want.
          I don't mind doing the research at all. If my child comes up to me and asks if I'll get him a specific game for his birthday or Christmas or something, I have time to do the research before hand. However, there isn't always the opportunity to do the research beforehand.

          What about parents who have kids in the 14-17 range? Should they have to buy the game for their kid, even if they d

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by plague3106 (71849)
            Yup. They should have to. That's the point.

            Who are you to tell another person how they should be raising their child? If another parent feels comfortable enough to let their kid make their own decision about what game to get, what gives you the right to force them to do more effort?

            As far as watching my kid 24/7, you're taking a very literal approach to what I said. Of course I don't expect to, or even want to watch my children every moment of their lives, but I do have a desire to protect them and only in
            • by Nos. (179609)

              Who are you to tell another person how they should be raising their child? If another parent feels comfortable enough to let their kid make their own decision about what game to get, what gives you the right to force them to do more effort?
              I'm not telling anyone how to raise their child. They are free to allow (or disallow) there child to play any game they want. I'm sorry if you feel that a parent spending some time with their child is such an enormous effort.

              It seems to me that if a child should stu

              • by plague3106 (71849)
                I'm not telling anyone how to raise their child. They are free to allow (or disallow) there child to play any game they want.

                You're forcing them to buy something for their kid, which they would perfer having their kid purchase themself.

                I'm sorry if you feel that a parent spending some time with their child is such an enormous effort.

                When said "child" is 15 or 16, its natural that they become more independant. Your wish to force a rating system is forcing the kid to be more dependant that the parent wishes
                • by Nos. (179609)
                  I was trying to have a reasonable debate with you, but resorting to insults and name calling ends my intrest in it.
            • I'm neither. I do resent though be carded to buy a game. I also resent that games are toned down to fit into some box, and that other games are never even created at all because of console maker rules. You chose to have kids, yet more and more that choice is affecting my life and freedom. Ratings systems lead to censorship, I don't appreciate that. Nor do I apprecate having to jump through hoops because you would rather a ratings system so you don't have to research. What's worse is that you are willing to do the work, you'd just rather not.

              Sorry, your argument, though well formed, has a few discrepencies.

              I'm going to assume that you are old enough to purchase your own titles (up to AO) since going to the store with your parent to purchase a title doesn't seem to be much of a hoop to jump through. With that said, what is so difficult about presenting your identification? Unless you carry cash everywhere, you should want to do it (for security reasons) when you make a credit card purchase or cut a check. Do you also resent being carded t

              • by plague3106 (71849)
                With that said, what is so difficult about presenting your identification?

                In a free society, a free person shouldn't have to prove to his goverment that he is allowed to view some content.

                Unless you carry cash everywhere, you should want to do it (for security reasons) when you make a credit card purchase or cut a check.

                No one checks ID for credit cards, and i don't use checks because they are inconvient and slower than a check card. I don't have a worry about fraud, because I watch my statement and report
          • by Alsee (515537)
            Seems most of the people who are against the rating system fit into one of two categories.

            Then you are not very perceptive.

            There are good reasons to have gun toting government enforcers walking around.
            There are also bad reasons to send gun toting government enforcers walking around.

            This falls in the latter category.

            There is no law to enforce movie ratings. Where does anyone get the loopy idea that it would be a good or appropriate idea to send gun toting government enforcers around trying to enforce REPEATE
            • by Nos. (179609)

              And while you're at it, why don't you explain it to me why you are are unable to be a parent to your kids? If I tell my kid he's not allowed to eat Twinkies, then I damn well expect him not to buy Twinkies.
              If you can honestly say that your child has never disobeyed a rule you've given him, your child is either so scared of you as to make you an unfit parent, or your living in some sort of fantasy world.

              • by randyest (589159)
                [So] your child has never disobeyed a rule you've given him

                He didn't say that at all. He made a lot of valid points in my opinion, but you just ignored them all and made up something out of thin air to disagree with. That's odd.

                And if I do find a box of Twinkies under my kid's bed [after telling him not to eat the] then I'm damn well going to deal with it... and I won't need any police assistance

                Hmm, it's almost like the poster is explaining that he would deal with disobedience without police as
              • by Alsee (515537)
                If you can honestly say that your child has never disobeyed a rule you've given him

                I did not say that.
                Did you stop reading my post when you reached to that sentence? Because I addressed exactly that issue. I'll just copy past the rest of my post after that sentence, and specifically highlight the portions answering exactly that:

                I don't expect the police to go around pointing a gun at the local supermarket cashier "helping" me. And if I do find a box of Twinkies under my kid's bed then I'm damn well going to
                • by Nos. (179609)
                  I didn't feel the rest of your comment was worth reading, let alone responding to. Every law does not have to be enforced by "gun toting".... Not to mention you're questioning of my parenting abilities, which I find insulting. You start insulting me, I stop paying attention, its that simple. If you want to have a calm debate/discussion, thats fine.
                  • by Alsee (515537)
                    Every law does not have to be enforced by "gun toting"

                    Yes, they do. Even parking tickets are ultimately enforced by "gun toting".
                    If you decline to pay the fine "gun toting" will eventually seize assets and/or lock you in a cell.

                    I'm no radical libertarian, but I do understand and assert that ALL laws are ultimately "enforced by gun toting". There are all sorts of things we would like to achieve, but using the law to enforce achieving that result ultimately requires presuming the authority to point guns at pe
        • You don't trust your kid? You don't think you would have done a good enough job raising them?

          Don't be so naïve. It's not about trust, it's about authority. If the console is in the main room, it's like a warning label that screams "You're gonna get caught if you try". And they will (one way or another), and they'll meet your authority. If a child wants their own game system, they can earn it by demonstrating responsibility in one way or another. In other words, it's part of raising them.

          • by plague3106 (71849)
            I never said anything was wrong with keeping the system in a main room. I questioned whether or not he trusted his kid to not buy things that he was told not to. So much that he expects OTHERS to be watching his kid and enforcing his rules.
      • by thebdj (768618)

        Absolutely, but there is nothing wrong with a rating system in general.

        Indeed, this is rather true. Ratings systems have their uses; however, it is important for them to be used appropriately. It does not good to rate things if PARENTS are not willing or incapable of using the system to ASSIST in determining what their child should/can play or watch.

        As a parent, am I expected to keep up on every game for the game platform(s) in my household...If there is no rating system, I have little choice but to say "No", or at least "Not yet", and go home and research the game before returning to the store to purchase it, or another instead.

        You should be going home and researching the game anyway. Ratings systems are not a catch-all, and they can only be used as a guide to assist a parent in making a decision. It is pretty clear that all 'R' rated movies are not

  • by Sciros (986030) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:38PM (#21576931) Journal
    If you're "worried about the games your kids play," then you either
    a) haven't taught them to listen to you when it comes to not playing certain games
    b) haven't bothered to look at what games your kids play to begin with
    c) don't trust your kids to not be adversely affected by the games they *do* play
    d) haven't a freaking clue about games, period, and don't understand that they don't affect your kids in any harmful way unless there's some other serious issues that need looking into in the first place.
    • by scubamage (727538)
      If your children don't cower in fear upon your entry into the home, you have failed as a parent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krotkruton (967718)
      I think this was just another poor use of surveys. The article's title said "worried", but used the word "concerned" in the body. I agree that parents should be concerned about what their kids play. They should be concerned about how well they are doing at school as well as what they eat and who their friends are.

      If asked if you are concerned about the types and content of games your kids play, I think most parents would say yes. If asked if you are worried about your kids playing violent video games,
  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @04:58PM (#21577281) Homepage Journal
    We live in a country whose government considers torture both moral and lawful. How else do they expect us to condition children to accept that if we don't start early? I mean, it's not like many eight-year-olds watch 24, it comes on after their bedtime.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ucblockhead (63650)
      You should talk to a third grade teacher. You'd be shocked what parents let their kids watch.
      • by arkanes (521690)
        My third grader has decided that he wants to eat termites after watching Man vs Wild. I probably should file some sort of lawsuit.
        • Maybe he should be filing a lawsuit against *you* if he's determined that termites are an option over your cooking. :-P Besides, they're a great source of protein. If he wants to sleep inside a dead camel, on the other hand, you might have some problems.

          • by Alsee (515537)
            If he wants to sleep inside a dead camel, on the other hand, you might have some problems.

            No kidding. Where the hell am I going to get a camel?

            -
    • Someone should come out with a Guantanamo simulator for the Wii with motion-control waterboarding rated E for everyone due to lack of torture and compliance with the Geneva Conventions. That would shut them up.
    • by kalirion (728907)
      We live in a country whose government considers torture both moral and lawful.

      No they don't. "Enhanced interrogation techniques" are not torture as long as the President says they're not. By law. And the law is just because John McCain said it was a landmark victory against torture. McCain wouldn't sell out on torture, now, would he?
  • by Quila (201335)
    I just downloaded Pain for the PS3. I'd love to hear what they have to say about that game.

    BTW, it's the funniest game I've played in years, literally gut-busting LOL.
  • But I honestly believe Parental involvement is a KEY factor in controlling the development of a child. If I were issuing the grade it would be F -. If you believe that Violent video games have a damaging impact on your child, and then you bring a game console into your home, allow your child an allowance, and do not monitor that child's usage of said console, or time spent with his / her friends, what right do you have in being surprised when your child is impacted by something you do not approve of. It's
  • Luckily, the NIMF has been kind enough to point out the quality gaming experience that is Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour. Also, I hear that this Bioshock game is good, and it isn't on the Don't Buy list, so it must be good for all ages.
    • Luckily, the NIMF has been kind enough to point out the quality gaming experience that is Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour. Also, I hear that this Bioshock game is good, and it isn't on the Don't Buy list, so it must be good for all ages.
      Bioshock encourages playing with your little sister.
  • I think one of the big problems with the Video Games industry is that it's still considered to be entertainment almost exclusively for children. This is why you get these parents groups up in arms about ultra violent video games being available.
    You have to compare video games to some other form or entertainment to actually get some perception on it. You can get both movies for children and adults in the same format that play on the same DVD player. Somehow people have managed to figure out the difference be
  • Based on the summary at least, it seems that approximately 75% of the responding parents t 'worry about the games their children play'. So... that means those parents have no control of what their kids consume. We can safely assume this doesn't refer to the games they the kids play at their friends house and don't know about. Maybe they just shouldn't give these kids allowances, or credit cards... or are they afraid that their kids will give blow jobs for cash to buy games?
  • by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @06:13PM (#21578397)
    From TFA: 75 per cent of respondents were concerned about the content in videogames that their children played.

    Of course parents are concerned. Any responsible parent would be. But that's not the interesting question. The interesting question is "Do you feel that you have access to enough information ensure that the games your kids own meet your standards for content?" Put that question in your survey and smoke it, why don't you!

    I'll always be concerned at one level or another about what's in the media my kids consume, but I'm not worried about it in the slightest.
  • by bn0p (656911)
    The full NIMF report is located at http://www.gamepolitics.com/images/legal/NIMF-2007.pdf [gamepolitics.com]. Some of the report makes sense (like having parents learn more about game ratings) and some of it does not (e.g., recommending that the ratings board review all the code in a game before assigning a rating, not just the "official" game code - how many games would get rated each year if they had to do that?).

    Their main gripes about the ESRB seem to focus on children somehow getting to Adults Only (AO) content in M
  • Eh. Personally, I automatically discount the findings or views of any organisation with "Family" in their name. Putting emotive words in a name doesn't automatically make them an authority worth listening to, especially when they don't even get basic facts [wikipedia.org] right...
  • Suppose that the US FDA allowed companies to sell dangerous foods, but put a big honking label on them that says "OMG! THIS WILL KILL YOU DO NOT EAT IT!" I bet 75% of parents would say that they are concerned that they might be buying deadly poisonous foods, but don't have time to check the labels. They might cite that it is much easier to just put the food in the cart and buy it, because little Jimmy likes to eat "Radioactive Puffs" and it shuts up his whining.
    • by mdwh2 (535323)
      Suppose that the US FDA allowed companies to sell dangerous foods, but put a big honking label on them that says "OMG! THIS WILL KILL YOU DO NOT EAT IT!" I bet 75% of parents would say that they are concerned that they might be buying deadly poisonous foods, but don't have time to check the labels.

      1. Violent computer games are fiction, and don't kill.

      2. It is entirely legal to sell many substances that will kill you if eaten, the problem and danger is in labelling such a substance as "food", which would be
  • http://www.whattheyplay.com/ [whattheyplay.com]

    Done by John Davidson previously of Ziff / 1up fame, seems to summarise games into who they are suitable for and what they contain.
    Also seems to be quite unbiased to boot, no leaning towards any system / developer, probably a good thing.

  • ...when the entirety of the legislative branch at least is at the age where they should rightfully be in nursing homes, not in the halls of government. I can't remember the last time I saw a bio page for a US senator where the photo didn't look like that of a re-animated corpse.

    There needs to be a legal prohibition against anyone holding political office over the age of 40. Churchill was right when he said that the mind's proclivity towards fascism generally increases with age. The single main problem wi
  • I don't think the report card is far from the truth. I think the only score I disagree with is the one given to the ESRB itself, which I think is doing a pretty good job. As far as retailers and rentals, I think it's worth noting that movie ratings are probably enforced far less than game ratings. That's not to say both shouldn't be better monitored. There are more than a few companies in the industry whose practices have really tarnished the industry as a whole. For that reason, I think their grade is

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