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Annual Video Game Report Card Is Positive, For Once 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-wii dept.
Every year, the National Institute on Media and the Family releases a report card which grades various aspects of the video game industry on how well they keep "inappropriate" games out of the hands of children. This year's report was largely positive, which is surprising given the history of strong criticism by the Institute. They acknowledged that gaming is becoming a much bigger part of family life than it was in the past, and they're making an effort to shift the focus onto the parents to keep their kids' gaming habits under control. The full report is available here (PDF), and Game Daily has an interview with Entertainment Software Alliance CEO Michael Gallagher which touches on some of the same issues.
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Annual Video Game Report Card Is Positive, For Once

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:00PM (#25909645) Homepage Journal

    They acknowledged that gaming is becoming a much bigger part of family life than it was in the past

    Great news! Where can I pre-order Manhunt 3: Family Edition? [youtube.com]
    • I want to know where this guy is getting plastic bags without those annoying holes (to reduce litigation child strangling, I guess).
  • Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kingrames (858416) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:03PM (#25909679)
    For Once? I distinctly remember the gaming industry scoring well every single year that they've been graded. Who's hosting this year's report card?
  • by Mishotaki (957104) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:15PM (#25909757)

    Is it only me or "INCOMPLETE" means "FAILS MISERABLY" in this case?

    Especially when they use the grade on parental involvement and they talk about how much parents got no clue on how the game console that their child use has options for them that they had no clue it existed!

    The media should stop saying that the kids are becoming violent because they play violent videogames.... They should say that the kids are playing violent videogames because parents don't care about what their kids do when they play, not even when they "virtualy murder people".

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by PeterKraus (1244558)

      +1

      And this is the best part:

      "they're making an effort to shift the focus onto the parents to keep their kids' gaming habits under control"

      I mean, fucking DOH!

  • Wrong idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:22PM (#25909811)

    They shouldn't receive an award for this. I'm sorry, but telling the video game industry they're doing a good job of "keeping inappropriate" content out of the hands of children is both a slap in the face to the parents that should be watching what their kids are buying, and a slap in the face to the kids who buy these games hoping for something interesting, only to find talking frogs, barbie, and games where everybody gets along and wins -- when they're 14! Why can they go see a few hundred zombies get set on fire, shot at, or otherwise die in the theatre (as long as they're all non-smoking zombies), but can't get the same thing in a video game? This entire idea of "for the sake of the children" has gone too far when children aren't encouraged to take risks and make their own decisions. These "appropriate" video games... I've seen them -- They suck so hard they're in danger of forming an event horizon.

    My 12 year old kid sister has been fed a steady diet of these "positive self-esteem" books, videos, and games. Last year I tried to show her Happy Feet (it's a movie, look it up) and she couldn't get past the halfway point because that's where the penguin "got sad". I tried showing her some "real" video games, only to have mom come down on me like a ton of bricks... So it's back to watching bubbles with numbers in it and talking animals. And then mom (and other parents from Generation "Precious Snowflake") wonders why she has no inclination to read, write, do her homework, clean up after herself, or even brush her teeth...

    Well, duh... it's because she's being fed sanitized crap that is the electronic equivalent of valium every day!

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And then mom (and other parents from Generation "Precious Snowflake") wonders why she has no inclination to read, write, do her homework, clean up after herself, or even brush her teeth...

      Yeah! Put her to play Left 4 Dead and then she will be interested in reading and writing. Killing zombies is the answer!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Nathrael (1251426)
        Well, maybe she might get interested in the Zombie Survival Guide, at least. Doesn't cover the writing part though.
    • My 12 year old kid sister has been fed a steady diet of these "positive self-esteem" books, videos, and games... And then mom (and other parents from Generation "Precious Snowflake") wonders why she has no inclination to read, write, do her homework, clean up after herself, or even brush her teeth...

      Well, duh... it's because she's being fed sanitized crap that is the electronic equivalent of valium every day!

      Or, maybe it's because she is 12.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        When I was 12, I had a college-level reading comprehension and my writing was equivalent to a junior in high school. I made my own meals, did my own laundry, cleaned my room, and all the other daily things a person needs to do. Everyone else in my family was the same way by her age. The only variable here is the change in parenting style, which encourages her to be codependent and reliant on others to make every decision about her life... even down to what clothes she'll wear to school that day (not just bu

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          maybe your sisters just a little slow, but I would guess that your partially right. I doubt the lack of video games is hurting her as much as the lack of free thought. Growing up I was told to get the hell outside and didn't start playing video games(besides cold and rainy days) until I was a junior in high school. Before then I read tons of books, I sketched I played with lego(love lego), and I played sports. Frankly I think you have to let a childs mind wander and do what it wants. The problem with
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            I agree completely. but how do you encourage free thinking in a society that considers children the property of their parents until 18? There's an informal term for this too - "chattle", which is a combination of child and cattle.

            • Re:Wrong idea (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Wandering Wombat (531833) <mightyjalapeno AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @05:03PM (#25911395) Homepage Journal
              Shut up and graze your spaghetti.

              I'm a parent of three, and I'm pretty opinionated on this matter. My nephews are only allowed to watch non-violent shows and play non-violent games (they're both complete Pokemon addicts), and both of them are on MUTLIPLE medications for violence and agression. My oldest has been playing Killer Instinct and Kingdom of Loathing and Carmageddon since he was four, and he's about as non-violent as a kid can be (his teacher likes to tell me about his 'Champion Manners' in class, because they have a Manners rating system).

              Video games are a FACTOR that determine psychological development, just like humidity is a factor in a car accident... in both cases, the DRIVERS make the biggest impact (note: drivers = parents).
              • and play non-violent games (they're both complete Pokemon addicts)

                Does the phrase "Poke-battle" mean anything to you? These creatures spew lightning at each other. Team Rocket kidnaps your precious poke-monsters and do horrible things to them. I know this from not even trying to watch the show. My xgf played (some of) the games; I wouldn't exactly call them non-violent. It's cartoon violence, but that still effects kids. I recall a guest on The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe (http://www.theskepticsguide.org) saying something to that effect; with a little digging I'

                • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

                  by Anonymous Coward

                  Wandering Wombat's kids are allowed to play violent games.

                  The nephews are "only allowed non-violent games" and are addicted to Pokemon. That means your rant was pointed at Wandering Wombat's sibling and not at Wandering Wombat him/herself.

              • by brkello (642429)
                I have no issues with violent video games...I have played most of them. But to provide anecdotal evidence that kids are more violent because they pay non-violent games or less violent games is pretty ridiculous.

                I am sure that some kids are less violent because they play violent games. I am also sure there are some kids that get more violent after playing these games.

                The real answer to all of this is that each kid is different and needs to have different boundaries. Thinking that your way of raising chi
                • But to provide anecdotal evidence that kids are more violent because they pay non-violent games or less violent games is pretty ridiculous.

                  I agree. When someone does that, I'll let you know.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Xaositecte (897197)

          When people are young, they have terrible habits that seem incredibly stupid to people who have matured a little bit. Naturally, you assume that -you- were perfect back in the day, or at least far more developed than your current example.

          In my experience, a given 12-year old might have different annoying tendencies or immature behaviors, but they'll still have immature behaviors. I'm picking up an "egotistical know-it-all" vibe from you, for example.

          By all means correct her behavior as much as you can, ge

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            So, your saying that the guy who says "I wasn't anything special at 12, so any kid could do as well as me" is an "egotistical know-it-all"? You must have a funny definition of that term.
            • "When I was 12, I had a college-level reading comprehension and my writing was equivalent to a junior in high school."

              Look at that! Your reading comprehension skills RIGHT NOW are inferior to the OP's when she was 12! Amazing!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Who the hell said anything about perfection? This is about teaching kids that hard work and critical thinking skills pay dividends far more than innate ability or smarts do, an idea I happen to agree with. I didn't have everything spoon-fed to me; I learned from an early age that if I want to be better than average I needed to take my life into my own hands, take risks and eat the consequences, and that hard work eventually leads to a pay off if only I can beat my own impatience. Nothing worth having comes

            • Don't flip out, I wrote what I did because you were bragging about having reading and writing ability far beyond the level people you age usually had - as well as being able to do chores and such.

              You saw early on that being smarter than other people was an advantage, so you worked at becoming smarter than other people. I made pretty much the same choice (This is probably why we're having a conversation on Slashdot right now!) - and it worked out well. This doesn't necessarily mean someone else who doesn't

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          The only variable here is the change in parenting style, which encourages her to be codependent and reliant on others to make every decision about her life...

          You're forgetting a big variable: she's a different person than you and everyone else in your family. My brother and I were raised quite similarly (we're only a few years apart), and we're such polar opposites in so many ways, it's hard to believe we're brothers sometimes.

          She's still twelve... that's pretty young. She still has a lot of time to grow up. Probably the best you can do for her is just to be a positive role model.

    • by sowth (748135)

      Flamebait? I think one of the mods has been listening to clerics a bit too much.

      I didn't know the term precious snowflake [urbandictionary.com]. I think that was started with the boomer generation. When I was a kid, there were lots of parents doing that at my school, and lots of teachers complaining about it.

      Most of the people who graduated from my high school could barely read at a 3rd grade level. Now they've done the same thing with math. No wonder they no longer teach anything, too many people would complain!

      Though it

    • I'm sorry, but telling the video game industry they're doing a good job of "keeping inappropriate" content out of the hands of children is both a slap in the face to the parents that should be watching what their kids are buying, and a slap in the face to the kids who buy these games hoping for something interesting, only to find talking frogs, barbie, and games where everybody gets along and wins -- when they're 14! Why can they go see a few hundred zombies get set on fire, shot at, or otherwise die in the
      • Yeah, I took her to see Twilight on opening day with a friend, and she is reading the book. She's also interested in Harry Potter but it's above her reading level so far. The problem is that it's easier for her to just sit down and watch youtube and play webkinz all day and reading is hard.

        It gets easier if you stick with it as we all know, yet it takes drive and ambition to accomplish that. Being told over and over that you're special and gifted leads to the conclusion that if something doesn't come easily

    • I agree. Generation "Precious Snowflake" has had an impact on my life as well. The other side of that coin seems (to me at least) to be the more common one and that is Generation "I have kids?".

      Video games seem to me to be split to the extreme. There just aren't very many games made these days that are "appropriate" for younger children, yet engaging enough for teenagers and adults. This is one reason I'm a fan of older games. I think they're higher quality.

      I don't think that parents would need to worry so

  • They changed the subjects every time in four consecutive years? With so little consistency the grades don't mean anything.
  • Simple answer: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan @ n o t r oswell.com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:27PM (#25909839) Homepage Journal

    Parents shouldn't buy their kids games that they consider inappropriate (Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, etc). They should keep an eye on them to make sure they don't play these games.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If your not allowed to get GTA, how else will I know I can get my money back from a hooker by running her over?!?

      Seriously though:
      Rather than be concerned about mental problems (its VERY difficult to create mental problems in people when they are given a wide range of experiences)

      why not be concerned about our fat asses?

      I sit way too much... damnit.

  • From the summary and they're making an effort to shift the focus onto the parents to keep their kids' gaming habits under control. If that is not a sudden out a break of common sense, I don't know what else could be.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ettlz (639203) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:34PM (#25909881) Journal
    Seriously, now, why do we even give a short one for what the "National Institute on Media and the Family" think?
    • Because these are the types of organisations that lead more trusting people astray and thus, they need to be mocked ceaselessly.
  • Hypocrites (Score:2, Funny)

    by billcopc (196330)

    Did they even think before choosing that name ?

    National Instutite on Media and the Family.

    N.I.M.F. ... Nymph?!

    I'm going to found the Coalition of Unsolicited Neutering of Fundamentalist Sectists.

    • Coalition of Unsolicited Neutering of Fundamentalist Sectists.

      Don't you mean "Coalition of Unsolicited Neutering of Traditionalist Sectists?"

    • I've founded the Media Institute for Life and Family. Lots of single moms have signed up so far and I'm helping them through their time of need with very pleasing results.
  • I haven't read the report from these people in previous years, but the last few pages are recommendations for parents on how to monitor their children's game use. That's good for parents who want to do a good job supervising but don't have the "technical" knowledge on how to do it.

    I have to wonder about a couple of things though. The blurbs for games they recommend and games they avoid all look like they came from marketing departments. In a way, it's good that they're not editorializing too much about t

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Your right. 31 pages is too long. It should basically just be a chart with a 1 to 5 in columns named things like Sex, Violence, Religion. This would be simple AND quick to read.

      I wouldn't worry too much about just taking the game industry's word for what is in the games. Businesses lie for gain. Video game manufacturers have no reason to lie on these. If they say that a game is less violent than it really is, they are likely to lose more sales than they gain. It is kind of like porn. The porn ind
  • Their list of games [yahoo.com] to be concerned about looks like the best "Top 10 Games for Christmas" list I've seen yet.
  • Kids are Kids (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jekler (626699) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:54PM (#25910697)

    Video games have been around for about 40 years. To put them in some kind of special category that needs unique oversight or attention is just ridiculous, alarmist behaviour. Kids have been entertaining themselves with one thing or another as long as humankind has been around. They play with fire, fight, pick on and make fun of each other, climb to dangerous heights in trees or towers, toy with combustibles and explosives... sometimes they get hurt, sometimes they die, but video games haven't altered childhood in any significant way.

    Of course parents should be aware of the games they're playing, but no more so than they should be aware of everything their child is doing.

    It's frustrating that the world is scrambling to deal with computers, cellphones, video games, movies, etc. They haven't really changed the nature of what it is to be human. We had Sweeney Todd, The Tell-Tale Heart, King Lear, and MacBeth long before we had video games. Kids have been getting warped ideas into their head as long as human imagination has existed. Sometimes kids even act out those fantasies to horrific ends which I don't believe is any more frequent either before or after the advent of video games.

    As much as people want to attribute violence to video games, people are very quick to hush up once they realize the perpetrator of the latest school shooting, mall shooting, or spree killing wasn't even a gamer. For the first 48 hours, dozens of investigative reporters tried to draw a line between the Virginia Tech killer and Quake/GTA/Halo until they realized he didn't like video games or TV for that matter.

    The whole video games : violence angle is a dead horse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Belial6 (794905)
      Hey! No fair using logic and well though out ideas!

      Seriously, when my parents were kids, they would play cowboys and indians. This would entail physically acting out the action of slicing the flesh from a living victims head, and physically acting out burning people alive.
    • by Hao Wu (652581)
      Sticks should all be rated for violence, depending on the stick.

      Cardboard boxes can be used for sexual activity. Why is there no warning label for parents?

      Your child may have access to sticks and cardboard boxes... and you don't even know about it.
  • So lets see video games have been available and around for 30-40 years. And so how many "violent" acts have been caused by video games? Very few. How many injuries have been caused by video games? Very few. I think people better ask your parents how they spent time as a child/teenager and you will find that many of them shot themselves/others in BB gun fights, played with M-80s and other high-powered fireworks, played violent games of "cops and robbers", and most of them probably got hurt doing such things.
  • Video games are no more responsible for violence than guns are responsible for killing.
  • It might be better in general but it's never been worse in Australia.

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