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FTC: "Video Game Self Regulation Works"

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the good-job-kids dept.

115

Itesh writes "Following an established trend, a Federal Trade Commission undercover shopper survey found that video game retailers continue to enforce most vigorously the ratings governing age and content that were established by the entertainment media industry. Music CD retailers lag far behind movie theaters, as well as movie DVD and video game retailers, in preventing unaccompanied children under age 17 from purchasing entertainment intended for mature audiences."

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Duh! (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896530)

And yet all the politicians who think we need to enact all these stricter laws when it comes to video game sales will ignore this and try to claim that any 5 year old can walk into a game store and buy GTA IV on their own.

Re:Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35896560)

Politicians...people in the media...parrots...

Facts? We don't need no steenking facts!

Re:Duh! (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896844)

And yet all the politicians who think we need to enact all these stricter laws when it comes to video game sales will ignore this and try to claim that any 5 year old can walk into a game store and buy GTA IV on their own.

The industry should have let the politicians make laws, because those laws would almost certainly have been thrown out as unconstitutional. People would laugh at the idea of mandatory age-ratings on books, so why do they accept it on movies and games?

'Self-regulation' of this kind is bad precisely because it does work and can't be eliminated overnight through the courts.

Re:Duh! (4, Informative)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897072)

People would laugh at the idea of mandatory age-ratings on books, so why do they accept it on movies and games?

Reminds me when I wanted to see a movie and was not allowed in. I then just bought the book and that had WAY MORE explicit sex and violence then the movie.

Also see what Zappa said way back:
http://downlode.org/Etext/zappa.html [downlode.org] and for those too lazy to read: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ISil7IHzxc [youtube.com]

Talking about songs and not video games, but same difference.

Re:Duh! (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897742)

It was a picture book? That's what people worry about, the imagery, rather than the text. If it has to come from your mind, the imagery is already there. If it comes from the movie, the movie can put it there.

Re:Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35899252)

If it has to come from your mind, the imagery is already there.

books would be very boring if this were true.

Re:Duh! (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35899794)

Not at all. Composition is a powerful tool.

Re:Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897084)

There's mandatory age ratings on some magazines.

Re:Duh! (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897204)

'Self-regulation' of this kind is bad precisely because it does work and can't be eliminated overnight through the courts.

I'm not trying to troll you here, but I don't understand what's bad about the video game rating system that it would need to be eliminated?

Re:Duh! (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897336)

I'm not trying to troll you here, but I don't understand what's bad about the video game rating system that it would need to be eliminated?

Would you support mandatory age-ratings on books? If not, why do you support it on video games?

Re:Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897674)

Would you support mandatory age-ratings on books? If not, why do you support it on video games?

But the point is that this is industry self-regulation, which means not mandatory.

Re:Duh! (2)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897726)

I've had instances where I wish there were some sort of rating system for books. An example would be last summer when my 12 year old daughter asked me to get her a copy of a book called "Go ask alice". Sounded ok. Plot summary on the back seemed like no big deal.... it wasn't until someone else mentioned they were shocked I'd let her read it that I actually picked it up and realized I'd made a big mistake. In the end I spent a lot of time talking to her about the issues within since you can't put the shit back in the horse.

Having said that, I think that there are games rated T that I've given to my kids when they were as young as 8. There needs to be some way for a parent to have some idea what the content is and form the basis for an opinion. Games aren't really art, and most aren't even educational unless you're trying to teach the kids that they can get their money back from the hooker in gta if you kill the hooker after using her services. That game's a bad example, though.. even without a rating system it's pretty obvious that it's not for kids.

I think the best thing to do is make it a voluntary system like the one on games, where it is not legislated. When it comes to movies, I think the ratings are often a bit more conservative than they should be. My 10 year old has seen many many PG-13 movies, and even one or two R rated movies. Still, the fact that I think the rating is too conservative doesn't mean that I think the rating system should go away. It provides a baseline for me as a parent to make a decision about letting my kids watch it. It's not a perfect system, but I think it's far better than no system at all. Like the movie system they should all be voluntary, there are plenty of not rated movies out there - some of which are perfectly OK for kids to see; but the fact that it's not rated would tip me off that I need to do some investigation (probably just a quick trip to imdb or something) before letting my kids watch.

So to answer your question, I'd support voluntary ratings for books - but not mandatory ones. I was under the impression that video game and movie ratings were voluntary, are they not?

Re:Duh! (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897870)

Seems to me your kid is smarter for having read that book. And when she is offered drugs (because she will be) she will have that novel to include in her decision making process. It could of maybe have waited another year perhaps two but you can never be sure when the first time your kid is offered drugs is going to be.

Re:Duh! (1)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897912)

Plot summary on the back seemed like no big deal.... it wasn't until someone else mentioned they were shocked I'd let her read it that I actually picked it up and realized I'd made a big mistake. In the end I spent a lot of time talking to her about the issues within since you can't put the shit back in the horse.

I see no mistake here. Girl reads book with important issues and the parent discusses those issues with her. That's the way it's supposed to work, it's called good parenting and you have it here.

Re:Duh! (2)

story645 (1278106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898810)

So to answer your question, I'd support voluntary ratings for books - but not mandatory ones.

There essentially are, or at least if you look at hardcover children's books, many of them do give an age range on the front book flap. Also, children's books tend to be separated into age categories in the actual book store. The only category that seems to not be differentiated (though I'm starting to see it) is the teen section, but I think that's also 'cause publishers tend to lump all teens (from 13 to 19) into the same broad category.

Re:Duh! (2)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35899886)

Realistically, the movie rating system is only voluntary if you plan to not make any money, or have anyone see your film. Yes, you can get yours hands on a film where the creator did not accept the review board's rating, but you usually have to seek it out, go find it. You won't see it appear in most mainstream theaters because the theaters simply don't accept them.

On a slightly related note, the review boards that rate movies make some absurd decisions.

Tons of realistic violence? PG-13... Maybe R if you disembowel somebody.
Flash a boob? Rated R
Someone touches said boob? NC-17
There are exceptions, of course, because the review boards also don't have a consistent or transparent process. That NC-17 rating could simply be the result of a few people being on the day they reviewed the film.

Re:Duh! (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897620)

And yet all the politicians who think we need to enact all these stricter laws when it comes to video game sales will ignore this and try to claim that any 5 year old can walk into a game store and buy GTA IV on their own.

Which is more expensive: buying a politician to kill the bill before it becomes a law or filing a lawsuit to have the law found unconstitutional after the bill has become a law?

The United States is a federal system (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35900832)

The United States is a federal system, and these censorship laws are often made at the state level. Convincing an appellate judge to declare a statute unconstitutional in one state followed by what amount to routine filings for summary judgment in other states is likely cheaper than buying legislators in all 50 states.

Re:Duh! (2)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897684)

People would laugh at the idea of mandatory age-ratings on books, so why do they accept it on movies and games?

I think that has one very simple reasons: Violence in books is text, not picture, thus much more abstract and less interesting for children.

And when it comes to picture books, well pornography is already regulated, try to sell that to minors and see how far you get with that. And with violent picture books, aka comics, there also have been quite a few outcries and tries to get it regulated.

So its not really that books are handled different because they are books, but because they actually are different and when they are not, you have pretty much the same issues.

Re:Duh! (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897766)

Self regulation is the opposite of mandatory. Anyone is free to market and sell an unrated game or movie.

Re:Duh! (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898352)

People would laugh at the idea of mandatory age-ratings on books, so why do they accept it on movies and games?

Both the ESRB and the MPAA are voluntary rating boards. You can make a game/movie and release it without a rating, and it's plenty legal (but difficult to get certified for console releases). It's a much, much better solution than attempting to have the government dictate and enforce regulations.

Re:Duh! (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35900848)

You can make a game/movie and release it without a rating, and it's plenty legal (but difficult to get certified for console releases).

You mean impossible for console releases. All three North American console makers require an ESRB rating. And no, releasing without a rating on PC isn't an option in some genres that rely on local multiplayer because publishers think there aren't enough home theater PCs to make a market.

Re:Duh! (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898890)

People would laugh at the idea of mandatory age-ratings on books

Really? So anyone can by a copy of Playboy or Hustler?

I think you better check again, or refine your definition of book.

Re:Duh! (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896946)

And they've yet to demonstrate any negative consequences should a 5 year old actually play GTA IV.

Re:Duh! (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897788)

Re:Duh! (1)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897936)

Studies show correlation, perhaps the explanation is that people with aggressive behavior just prefer violent media, not the other way around.

Re:Duh! (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898014)

First, meta-analyses are worthless. It's a polite way of saying post-hoc data fudging.

Second, increases in aggressive behavior are common after all sorts of normally encouraged activities. e.g. sports, watching Power Rangers, playing Cops & Robbers or Cowboys & Indians.

Third, aggressive behavior is normal in humans. Show me a study where violent video game playing is shown to increase future criminal behavior.

Criminal copyright infringement (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35900864)

Show me a study where violent video game playing is shown to increase future criminal behavior.

People who play video games are more likely to make infringing copies of video games than people who don't play video games. I don't have a study yet though.

Re:Duh! (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898290)

Interesting article, thanks for posting. Definitely one of the better ones out there. I'm glad to see that they put more thought into this than other studies (ie ruling out past experiments that had crap controls, boring games, etc). But a big problem is that the tone of the article is quite sensationalist, and clearly has a solid agenda (comparing the video game industry to the tobacco industry is a bit ridiculous). It is also pretty clear that you can't turn correlational data into causal data (which they seem to think is possible with meta analysis), and that there need to be long term studies of this issue. For example, watching a movie about genocide might make one sad, but repeated viewings may not lead to depression.

Re:Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897208)

No, that just means that game lobbying industry doesn't fund the politicians to the same level as the music and movie industry lobbies do. If the game industry lobbied harder (i.e. paid more $$ to elected officials) then we would hear as much complaining about mature games as we hear about mature rated music and movies, in other words it wouldn't even be an issue...

Re:Duh! (1)

Thexare Blademoon (1010891) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897712)

That's because they're new enough to get old men and lazy parents riled up.

Self-Regulation Never Works (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35896568)

Hmm... not that I support the nanny state or game censorship but self-regulation doesn't ever really work.

Look at BP and the natural gas fracking disasters.

I don't know anyone who would seriously wait till they are 17 to play Grand Theft Auto. I mean you can drive to the store to buy it at 16.

Though your still better off finding and fucking a girl IRL once you get a car.

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896668)

And yet try to send a 6 year old to buy a Mature rated game and watch them get denied in almost any store you can send them to.

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896682)

Even the most unscrupulous of organizations will self-regulate if it's directly essential to retaining their customers. Besides, with games, unlike other media, it's natural to hold off on access to things until certain conditions have been met: "YOU MUST BE AT LEAST LEVEL 17 TO PURCHASE THIS GAME."

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896696)

Just because self regulation can fail doesn't mean it always fails.

I don't know anyone who would seriously wait till they are 17 to play Grand Theft Auto. I mean you can drive to the store to buy it at 16.

No, but it should at least mean that fewer 8-year olds are going to play it.

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35896720)

The thing about video game sales that encourages self regulation is that when the store sells a game to a kid who's not old enough to buy it, then they go home and use up the activation key installing it, and their parents come back in to legitimately ask for a return the store probably winds up eating the cost.

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (2)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896776)

I don't know anyone who would seriously wait till they are 17 to play Grand Theft Auto. I mean you can drive to the store to buy it at 16.

You could say the same thing about alcohol...

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896978)

Though your still better off finding and fucking a girl IRL once you get a car.

Video games come without crabs, and don't get pregnant.

Just sayin'.

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897456)

Video games come without crabs, and don't get pregnant.

Just sayin'.

So does porn. Doesn't mean the argument is valid for a 16-year old to be watching some hardcore fisting series. Just sayin'...

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (1)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897974)

Other than the fact that the 16 year old would be probably highly grossed out, I fail to see a problem with that...

Just sayin'

Re:Self-Regulation Never Works (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897162)

Just because Self regulation of a complex industry such as oil, where failure is disastrous shouldn't be self regulated it doesn't mean self-regulation doesn't work. What is the real cost of failure if part of the self regulation of video games fail. Not much, Mommy sees the game and forbids the kid from playing the game, perhaps nightmares for a day or two. Returns the game and complains to the store owner. And they yell at the clerk who sold him the copy.
The game industry doesn't want angry parents all the time so they will try to be fair in their ratings.

Kids getting material at an age younger then they should has been happening for ever.

In all fairness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35896600)

People who sell DVDs to kids won't have to listen to them over voice chat when they get off work.

I'm not surprised (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35896614)

Does not shock me in the slightest, I see kids get turned away at my local gamestop routinely, and I actually get carded there pretty often as well despite the fact that I'm 30 and have a full beard.

read it too fast (1, Insightful)

uncanny (954868) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896664)

Strange, i will have to read the article again. I missed the part about parents being responsible for their children.

Re:read it too fast (2)

dev.null.matt (2020578) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896786)

From the article:

Parents can learn more about how entertainment media for children are rated here [ftc.gov] . This site describes the different ratings systems, and provides links to the organizations that sponsor them.

I guess you did read it too fast.

Personal responsibility (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35896904)

If everybody took responsibility for themselves, their children, and their own actions and words, then what's in that for government? The goal is to transfer that natural human responsibility to the business of government, justifying yet even more power and revenue for the elite few. The goal is to have the populace run to government at the first hint of a problem -- NOT to think for themselves and come to a reasonable solution, skipping the middleman entirely.

You're not in the buisiness of government, are you?

Re:Personal responsibility (3, Insightful)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897058)

Natural human responsibility? You're not a student of history, are you? Everyone's always been blaming everything on someone else. Even the bible toting population can escape it with the myth of the first man Adam blaming eating an apple on the first woman Eve who blamed it on a snake. So... If that's your baseline "natural", then there ya go, nobody takes responsibility "naturally".

Of course, if we're talking evolution, taking responsibility only makes sense if it propagated our species. Doesn't make much sense in a death penalty court case. Doesn't make much sense in telling your lover you screwed around on her/him (since you are now very unlikely to procreate with said lover).

So... what's this "natural" thing you are talking about? Or is that some 1950's sounding buzzword to return us all to the "good ole days"?

If everybody took responsibility for themselves, their children, and their own actions and words, then what's in that for government? The goal is to transfer that natural human responsibility to the business of government, justifying yet even more power and revenue for the elite few. The goal is to have the populace run to government at the first hint of a problem -- NOT to think for themselves and come to a reasonable solution, skipping the middleman entirely.

You're not in the buisiness of government, are you?

Re:read it too fast (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898370)

If you really think that parenting is the cause or solution to all problems dealing with children and adolescents, you are quite naive. Responsible parents raise bad kids, bad parents raise good kids (sometimes even a few of each!). Kids disobey their parents. Parents have to strike a balance between trusting their kids and being invasive. For example, you can argue "why did that kid have a gun to shoot up the school, where were his parents?!" - when that kid was well behaved and the parents had no reason to search his room for anything. It is sort of like saying "why did that guy have an arsenal of weapons in his garage, where was the ATF?!" when they never had any reason to investigate the guy or get a warrant. Although I don't have kids yet, I'm sure that most people with kids will probably empathize more with the argument that a bit of help from outside institutions makes their job easier, and their relationship with their kids a bit easier too.

Missing the point. (5, Insightful)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896722)

If someone is old enough to walk into a store and purchase a product, then that person is probably old enough to not be significantly harmed by hearing, seeing, or playing the content. The ratings should exist as a guide to parents, who shouldn't purchase these products for young children. By the time they're teenagers and have their own money and transportation, there are more pressing things to worry about than if they're seeing boobs in a movie, hearing explicit lyrics in a song, or turning enemies into a mass of blood and gore in a video game. Let's worry about keeping them in school, off of drugs, and not pregnant.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896772)

Amen. Preach it brother.

Re:Missing the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35896926)

Teenagers? Seriously, all of this evidence of "Harm" is pretty dubious, even at very young ages.

The main "harm" is from sitting around and not getting exercise. Aside from that the rest is mostly BS and on par with "Harming" mormon children by telling them that their Prophet was a con artist.

Seriously... look at the recent research into speach learning. It was found that a baby's ability to respond to specific phonetic sounds changes over the course of a few months. Basically, they start out able to distinguish sounds from any language equally.... within a few weeks/months their ability to discern sounds within their own language goes way up, and ability to distinguish sounds not in their language goes down.

Why do I mention this? Well... a study was done that found adding an hour a day of exposure to another language causes sounds from that language to be learned along side the ones from their parents language... so far so good right? Well... what happens if that exposure is via TV instead of a human being, in person, teaching it?

Well, the babies whose foreign language exposure is on TV respond the same as those with no exposure to other languages... yes... even a baby with no ability to understand language already understands that the "people on tv" are not "real" and doesn't learn from them.

Re:Missing the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897266)

Well, the babies whose foreign language exposure is on TV respond the same as those with no exposure to other languages... yes... even a baby with no ability to understand language already understands that the "people on tv" are not "real" and doesn't learn from them.

That's probably because the people on the TV are non-interactive. Video games while less interactive than reality are more interactive than passive media such as TV, music or books. It's entirely possible that if babies played video games in other languages they would learn from the games in a way more closely matching that of interacting with a real person than the do from watching TV.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897540)

...It's entirely possible that if babies played video games in other languages they would learn from the games in a way more closely matching that of interacting with a real person than the do from watching TV.

Yes, and it's also entirely possible that babies playing certain video games in other languages would result in an Army-certified Sniper by the age of 10, able to kill you at 800+ yards, and whisper "goodbye" to you in Russian.

Scary part about some of these games is their realism and tactics mirror reality in many ways.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898332)

Army-certified Sniper by the age of 10, able to kill you at 800+ yards, and whisper "goodbye" to you in Russian
That's Hollywood. in real life they never make it past script kiddie or phone pranking your house, your neighbors, your family, your employer, your financial institution and your insurance agent.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898394)

I think the argument about babies is dubious, not all learning is created equal, so I agree with you there. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that if you talked to anyone in the military they could rant forever about the lack of realism in video games.

Re:Missing the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897888)

Maybe those people just need a bigger tv, with HD.

Re:Missing the point. (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897850)

Of course the kid isn't going to be harmed by sexually explicit stuff. The average kid sees his first female breast within their first day of existence, probably plays "doctor" before he's in school, and has probably kissed someone of the appropriate sex with somewhat sexual intent by the time he's about 10 or 12. I distinctly remember my middle school principle getting on the PA to tell students to stop copping feels the hallways. And a bunch of my high school classmates ended up pregnant years before turning 20. In short, kids are nowhere near as naive as their parents would like them to be.

These legal efforts aren't and have never been about protecting kids. They're about protecting parents from the thought that their little angel will at some point in their life have sex. Kids are rather horrified at the thought that mom & dad would get it on too, but they're legally second-class citizens and can't vote so their opinions don't matter politically.

Re:Missing the point. (3, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898060)

And a bunch of my high school classmates ended up pregnant years before turning 20. In short, kids are nowhere near as naive as their parents would like them to be.

You just contradicted yourself. It is exactly the naivete of high schoolers that leads them to getting pregnant in the first place.

Granted that draconian rules on keeping kids away from each other rather than teach them how to be responsible can tend to lead to that kind of naivete, but underage pregnancy is still a symptom of the kids being naive so my point still stands.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35900030)

Actually, a significant number of my pregnant classmates got that way intentionally. For very stupid reasons (e.g. keeping an older boyfriend happy or cementing a marriage that began when he was 18 and she was 16 because she really wanted out of her parents' place), but intentionally.

There was one who didn't though. She was as naive as you describe, and was both pro-life and in no condition to raise a child. She told me later she miscarried, and I didn't entirely take her word on that but also didn't press the issue.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#35900438)

Actually, a significant number of my pregnant classmates got that way intentionally.

I'd argue that those girls were also being naive. Getting pregnant to keep a boyfriend, or just not appreciating what having children means, is definitely a symptom of naivete.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35900800)

Actually, a significant number of my pregnant classmates got that way intentionally.

I'd argue that those girls were also being naive.

But that's still a different sort of naivete to getting pregnant because you don't know that that's a potential consequence of having sex. They were knowledgeable enough to know the likely immediate consequences of their actions, and intelligent enough to intend for them to happen, but not wise enough to know that their methods were unlikely to lead to their real goal. That's not really naivete, but rather foolishness, and failure to compute consequences correctly is a very common human failing, enough so that it's possible it should be taken as the normal case...

Works for what? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896800)

If the purpose of the ratings are to increase piracy and disdain for authority, then yes it's working just fine.

Re:Works for what? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897376)

If the purpose of the ratings are to increase piracy and disdain for authority, then yes it's working just fine.

You act like piracy or disdain for authority didn't exist well before any entertainment rating system came along...

Re:Works for what? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897840)

You're both acting like piracy and disdain for authority are bad things.

Re:Works for what? (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898130)

How is he acting like that? To put the idea into a more easily understood example:

I had some money in my bank account before I ever had a job (from gifts etc.) Then I got a job, and had a lot more money in my bank account. Would it be acting like I never had money to say that my job puts money in my bank account?

Torrents (1)

earls (1367951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896826)

Of course a six year old can't walk to the store and buy a mature rated video game. That's what torrents are for.

Self. (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896842)

We're not supposed to have a problem with censorship when it's by private industry, because it's only censorship when the government does it. But if the industry is self-censoring because the only alternative is the threat of the government stepping in and doing it (which would presumably be unconstitutional) and that results in a whole range of content not having distribution and titles that do have distribution being modified so that they have less teeth (think of the most mature game versus the most mature movie you can get at the theater or on DVD) . . . and I have to ask "what's the difference?". One is a result directly mandated by the government and the other result is derived through extortion by the government. Worse, the extortion/threat method allows them to accomplish the same thing through a ratings middle-man in a private industry that keeps them from getting their hands dirty at a legal level.

Re:Self. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897390)

what are you talking about? this isn't about censorship in the least, it's about the video game retail industry regulating itself in order to leave the decision of whether certain games should be played by kids up to parents. the games themselves are not being censored at all; there are as many violent, gory, profane, etc. games out there as there have always been, if not more
  this is about kids not being able to walk into a store and buy such games unless their parents are with them.

Re:Self. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897724)

What about nudity and sex? I find it hard to believe that Fallout: New Vegas really required censoring out the sex scenes which were apart of the story was really reasonable. I don't know whether they ever planned to include more, but considering the amount of violence and other adult themes, I think they could have put more in than a cut away.

Re:Self. (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898526)

What about nudity and sex? I find it hard to believe that Fallout: New Vegas really required censoring out the sex scenes which were apart of the story was really reasonable. I don't know whether they ever planned to include more, but considering the amount of violence and other adult themes, I think they could have put more in than a cut away.

Want to know the 3 biggest companies involved in game censorship?

Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony.

I'll let you figure out why.

Re:Self. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35901298)

Meh, I'm fine with the "fade to black" thing. CG sex scenes are lame, example: DAO.

If you really want animated porn in your Fallouts, there are plenty of mods for that.

Re:Self. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35898780)

If Walmart won't stock it, there's no money in making it.

Re:Self. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898986)

No, this is about the threat of government regulation causing private industry regulation to accomplish the exact same thing, without putting the government into any sort of legal mud. You see the results in nearly every title that is developed to avoid an M rating or to stay within an M rating (nobody carries AO rated games). In effect, what we have is far worse than if the government directly censored, because if the government directly censored it, we could go to court over it and hash it out once and for all.

Re:Self. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35900304)

Exactly. It is censorship BECAUSE of the knowledge that the government threatens more control and restrictions and coercion. Society doesn't need a law to change some behavior. It can react to knowledge of what the state will do in the future, and plan accordingly. This is evident all over our society's economy. It is not self censoring any more than abstaining from jaywalking while a cop is driving by is self controlling. It is a response to knowledge of what the government would do if we were to act otherwise.

You don't need to shoot someone with a gun to control them. You need to convince them that you will shoot them if they don't comply. That is the nature of 'self censorship' in the entertainment industry.

The actual ratings need an overhaul, though. (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896874)

I would be a lot happier with the ESRB if they changed their second-highest category to some name other than 'Mature' or anything else with a positive context. Most of the games in this category handle their subject matter in the least mature ways possible, so the name isn't accurate (and yes, I'm aware of how the name is intended to be used; the fact remains that it's not used that way). Worse, by using a word with positive connotations, the ESRB only increases the rating's viability as a marketing tool, which developers know all too well is a big selling point among their true target audiences: namely, people not mentally prepared to handle their content.

Maybe "C" for "Creepy," as in "you are unlikely to enjoy this game unless you have the mindset of a 14-year-old male, and if you do, that's just creepy."

Re:The actual ratings need an overhaul, though. (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896996)

They could change it to Adults Only, but it turns out they already have a rating with that name.

Re:The actual ratings need an overhaul, though. (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897324)

What did you find creepy about Red Dead Redemption or Black Ops?

One word: (1)

pla (258480) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896914)

"Amazon".

With the exception of things legally forbidden to children (alcohol and tobacco), kids can get anything they want online. It amazes me that brick-and-mortar retailers bother even trying to enforce "industry standard" self-regulation (then again, compare their sales, and it doesn't look so surprising).

And before someone points out the obvious (but wrong) problem with the above - Visa gift cards. Greatest things ever.

Re:One word: (1)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897418)

With the exception of things legally forbidden to children (alcohol and tobacco), kids can get anything they want online.

How are those things exceptions? [google.com]

Re:One word: (1)

Samedi1971 (194079) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897694)

With the exception of things legally forbidden to children (alcohol and tobacco), kids can get anything they want online.

How are those things exceptions? [google.com]

A child can order those online without supervision, but they can't be delivered unless an adult of legal drinking age is present to accept.

Re:One word: (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897738)

Typically they require a signature from somebody of legal age in whatever jurisdiction. The post office doesn't just leave a box like that sitting on somebody's porch or hand it off to a ten year old. I doubt very much that UPS or FedEx would either. They all have an option for mandatory signature just for such things.

Re:One word: (1)

pla (258480) | more than 3 years ago | (#35899240)

Typically they require a signature from somebody of legal age in whatever jurisdiction.

To what do you refer here? I have never had to sign for a delivery from Amazon (well over 90% of the time, they just leave it on the porch, the delivery guy never even sees me).

If you meant beer or smokes, then okay (in fact, in my state, as an adult I can't legally get alcohol shipped to me). But Games? Music? Movies (even pornos)? Nope. No one cares about, much less bothers to check, the buyer's age.

Whats the point of the system (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 3 years ago | (#35896998)

When the parents will just buy the games anyways. Its cheaper the babysitters.

Rating systems (2)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897026)

I have no problem with self-regulation, however, it needs to be simplified. There is one rating system for movies, one for TV, and one for games. Let's make one common scale, and something easy, and then have all the boards work together - I mean, TV shows are like movies. Games are like movies. TV shows are sometimes about movies, and games are sometimes about both. It only makes sense.

How about a rating system like what Xbox Arcade uses?

Sex: 0/5
Violence: 3/5
Language: 1/5
Drug References: 0/5

Then, add up the numbers and apply to a chart to determine overall age appropriateness, and say, "Not appropriate for children under X." Do that for all three types of media (hell, even books). Only makes sense.

Re:Rating systems (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897554)

Add them all up and look up the sum in a chart? Really?

So, if a hypothetical game is:

Sex: 1/5
Violence: 2/5
Language: 2/5
Drug References: 1/5

That means it should be rated the same as one that is 5/5 for either sex or violence and 0/5 for everything else?

I would think that the highest score in any category would be more relevant than the total. Having high scores in multiple categories even more so.

However, I'm amazed at just how hypersensitive we are about some of those things, and how callous we are to others. Unfortunately, video games, other forms of media, fails to make a distinction between nudity, artistic nudity, gratuitous nudity, sex, gratuitous sex etc. We all just clump them together as "sex" and overreact to them, while video games allow for levels of violence that would be generally considered unacceptable in the majority of other forms of media.

I guess the extreme violence is ok, because no real people are getting hurt, unlike the *real* exploitation and harm that happens from video game nudity and sex, right? > >

Re:Rating systems (1)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897860)

I'm saying the "chart" should factor both the sum total of "offensiveness", as well as the high-water mark. I agree whole-heartedly with your premise that a game that's 5/5 in anything should be more closely scrutinized than a game with 5 1's. The reason I propose listing the specific reasons is lifted from the TV rating guides, which tell you WHY a show is rated what it is - that way, if a parent is worried about their kid seeing drug imagery, but is OK with violence, they can make informed decisions based on that.

A merged rating scale would also allow for more effective parental monitoring software - in the age where a PC can be an all-media device, content filtering that says, "You can't watch DVDs, or look at web sites, or play games, in which the total rating is above 12 or the sex rating is above 3" would be very useful for parents. The same logic could be built into DVD players, consoles, and even smartphones. It just makes sense. I know the /. community is very heavily anti-content filtering, and for grown adults I agree 100%, parents need some ability to control what goes on when they can't be there every minute and I am all for giving parents any tools they need (even oppressive ones) to effectively do the difficult job of parenting a 21st century child.

Re:Rating systems (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898870)

ESBR ratings already have a content descriptors which provide far more information that a 1-5 scale (does 2/5 for violence mean violence of a more graphic nature that a 1/5 score, or does it mean a higher quantity of the same violence?).

Rather than having to pick a number on a 1-5 violence scale to limit what can be played you choose from a list (note this is alpabetical not orded by violence level - which is debatable anyway is a photorealistic rape scene more or less violent than an animated decapitation):

Animated Blood - Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood
Blood - Depictions of blood
Blood and Gore - Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
Cartoon Violence - Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted
Fantasy Violence - Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life
Intense Violence - Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death
Sexual Violence - Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts
Violence - Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment
Violent References - References to violent acts

And there's the whole "gambling" category you didn't include that some people would consider "worse" than language.

Yes the top line rating isn't very useful, but there's a lot more detail on the box take two games both with an M:

Homefront: Blood, Strong Language, Violence

L.A. NOIRE: Blood and Gore, Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence

Clearly very different, but the current ESBR system provides the information to tell the difference if you look at a bit more than just the top level rating.

Re:Rating systems (1)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898996)

Nothing wrong with adding these to the proposed system:

Violence (3/5) - cartoon, sexual
etc.

Re:Rating systems (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35899810)

I do like how ESRB does break down and say why it is rated a certain way (as another replier pointed out). However, as many will always say, so much of the responsibility should be on the parent, and the "problem" of kids getting access to these games is almost always the fault of the parents, not the stores.

I have actually had the misfortune of working behind the counter of such a store. I would absolutely not sell a mature rated game to the kids directly, but they simply get their parents (or other adults) to buy it anyway.

Now, if I knew they were buying it for their kid, I tried to be helpful and made sure that the parents knew what they were getting. I would start to read out, "by the way, this game is rated as Mature because it contains Strong Language, Graphic Violence, Blood, Sexual Situations, and Drug References," and they'd obviously tune you out (I assume because you are hurting their ability to rationalize giving into their kid), seem to be offended that you'd even mention it (become defensive because they think you are judging their parenting), or simply just didn't care at all.

Only about 10% of all the people that I ever warned would ever say something like, "oh really? I didn't realize that," and then tell their kid to pick a different game instead.

Tons of parents buy 6 and 8 year olds Grand Theft Auto, even after being told what it is, yet sensationalist media wants to blame the video game industry.

Re:Rating systems (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897756)

I have no problem with self-regulation, however, it needs to be simplified. There is one rating system for movies, one for TV, and one for games.

Can't be simplified. Why? Intellectual property! From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Association_of_America_film_rating_system [wikipedia.org] :

In the U.S., the MPAA's rating systems are the most-recognized guide for parents regarding the content of movies, and each rating has been trademarked by MPAA so that they are not used outside of motion pictures.

Everyone slaps a trademark on their variant of the rating system specifically so others can't use it.

Re:Rating systems (1)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897988)

Hence making a new one, and convincing all the agencies to switch to it (possibly with some help from government, as a compromise - use a rating scale that is consistent and makes sense, and we won't regulate you.

Laws won't fix... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897060)

They won't fix parents who put their five year old kids on killing games. Five year old kids would never have chosen such a thing.

ESRB ratings are best IMO (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897136)

Of all the ratings systems I think the ESRB ratings are the most informative as to the nature of the material:

Eg: Rated T for teen
Contains:
violence, alcohol and tobacco references, some blood

Rated E for everyone
Contains:
Comic Mischief

Compare that to movies (Rated PG-13, no reasons given) or worse, music (explicit or not), and you'll see that ESRB ratings give far more info to parents/buyers to decide on if the game is a good idea before purchase. (Should I let my kid play World of Goo? oh, E, comic mischief, sure why not).

Re:ESRB ratings are best IMO (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898426)

The music industry actually lacks a coherent standard. The label is given pretty much arbitrarily.

Flawed stats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35897552)

This SOUNDS like they're enforcing the sales on video games more than on other things, but it's really more a matter of how video games are sold in most retail stores.
Buying a CD or DVD just involves grabbing it and going to a cashier, at least at most of the stores I frequent. Video games (console ones, at least) are in a locked cabinet, so you have to get someone to get it out for you.
That means an underage kid has to actually talk to someone to get a video game, vs just grabbing it and throwing it down in front of a cashier who's running on auto-pilot.
Unless the major retailers flag the items in their POS systems, that probably won't ever change.

Re:Flawed stats (1)

Itesh (1901146) | more than 3 years ago | (#35897578)

It depends on the store. I can go into Best Buy and Fry's and the majority of games are not locked up.

Music CD retailers lag far behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35898342)

Of course they lag behind, they are just happy to actually sell a CD, they don't care to who.

Video Sales and Ratings (2)

Drathos (1092) | more than 3 years ago | (#35898644)

I worked at Suncoast several years ago and we were explicitly told not to enforce age restrictions on movies (discretion allowed on the "adult" movies, but still no carding). Anyone with the cash was allowed to buy R or Unrated movies. Meanwhile, the Gamestop next door was turning away kids trying to buy Grand Theft Auto. Often parents would come in, ask why their kid couldn't buy it, then buy it for them anyway.

Re:Video Sales and Ratings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35901468)

Same here. I worked at a big box store and asked kids buying GTA3 for ID all the time. Every time the kid just brought their parent(s) to the register, who purchased it for them. Lawmakers can pile on all the warning stickers and ratings they want, because in the end the parents will just buy for the precious snowflake anyways.

To me the ratings system is a complete failure. (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35899662)

I hang out with my 8 yr old cousin sometimes. He roughly says,"I want to play a mature game, all the cool kids play games designed for older kids above their age." He then says,"I want gore and language in my games" If there wasn't a system in place that rated gore and language, he probably wouldn't care. But since there is a system in place, he wants this stuff because it is what older and "cool kids" get.
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