Video Game Ratings
Written by Jan Fox and Dorsey Edwards
Created:7/31/2002 4:12:40 AM
Last Updated:7/31/2002 2:59:08 PM
We first told you about the rating system a couple of months ago when we sent two 8th graders out to see if they could buy video games rated 'M' for kids 17 and older. They bought the games, no problem. Shortly after we aired our story, we got calls from parents and child advocates who say the rating system is inaccurate and misleading
So, in Tuesday night's 9 consumer watch extra, does the rating on the outside match what goes on inside the game?
Your kids are playing video games with guns so real, "if a cop saw you he would shoot you..."
Games parents thought were okay for their kids because the rating on the front of the box says "e" for everyone.
But some moms aren't so happy about the guns and violence. Even for middle school boys.
One parent told us, "It says 'e' for everyone but the fight scene goal is to get them to fight more and more...."
One game we saw was rated a 't' game, for kids 13 and older. It encourages your child to train to be a sharp shooter ....
Daphne White, a mother of a young teen is also the founder of The Lion & Lamb Project, devoted to stopping the marketing of violence to children. She's says parents should not look for help from the ESRB to protect their kids. "it's an industry sponsored rating system and the industry hold all the cards. They set arbitrary rules and guidelines...."
Parents say ratings are inconsistent and the information about the violent content is ambiguous. Just what constitutes minimal violence.
She added: "The rating system is very confusing...maybe done slightly on purpose..."
A study by The Lion & Lamb Project found
nearly one-third of all games rated 'e' for everyone have a violent descriptor like blood and gore or mild violence -- and 90% of the teen games carried a violence descriptor. A study by Harvard University found nearly 2/3 of a sample of e" rated games involved intentional violence;. 60% of the games rewarded injuring or killing characters.
The ESRB stands by the rating system. They say use of and trust in the rating system is higher now than in recent years. And they say a large majority of parents strongly agree with the ratings and describe them as both useful and effective.
Bottomline, an 'e' or 't' rating does not automatically signify a level of violence acceptable in your home. Watch it yourself first. If you see too much blood and gore for your taste, game's over.
The Lion & Lamb Project is calling for a universal rating system to be developed by educators, pediatricians, and psychologists. They want accurate, trustworthy information about the amount of violence in the games. They want the government to step in to stop the violence. Again, the ESRB stands by the rating system and says that it's up to parents to monitor what your kids are playing. If your not sure about the game, rent it before you buy it and flip the box over to look at the descriptor on the back.