VSDA Responds to Video Game Ratings Criticism28 Apr, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf
Video Software Dealers of America president Bo Anderson is speaking out on behalf of video game retailers after comments made by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer April 28.
In a speech at the Delaware Avenue YMCA in Buffalo, New York, Spitzer bemoaned the access children have to violent images through the media, singling out video games in particular.
Spitzer recommended New York follow the lead of states like California, Michigan and Illinois, which have enacted legislation that bans the sale and rental of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors.
“Currently, nothing under New York state law prohibits a 14-year-old from walking into a video store and buying a game labeled ‘Adult Only' — a game like Grand Theft Auto, which rewards a player for stealing cars and beating people up. Children can even simulate having sex with a prostitute and then killing her,” Spitzer said.
"Safe Games" legislation should also require retailers to post signs explaining the video game rating system to customers,” he continued. “Democrats and Republicans both have bills that would address these problems, but they have gone nowhere. It is time to make this a priority.”
Anderson is putting the call out to video retailers to take a proactive stance on adult-themed games, taking care to enforce rating policies, provide educational materials to consumers about game ratings, train store staff in those rules as well and help parents with appropriate purchases for their kids' gaming habits.
But Anderson and the VSDA take umbrage with Spitzer's call for legal sanctions against retailers and his claim that the video game industry isn't doing a good-enough job of self-regulation, noting that the Spitzer's call for legal sanctions against retailers is apparently based on misunderstandings about what retailers are doing currently.
“The latest findings of the Federal Trade Commission on the ability of minors to purchase ‘Mature'-rated video games shows a substantial increase in self-regulation, particularly by major retailers,” Anderson said.
The FTC found that children it sent into video game stores to buy Mature-rated games were turned down 58% of the time. Retailers have improved their enforcement of store policies restricting the sale of ‘M'-rated games by 362% — from a 16% to a 58% turn-down rate — since the FTC's first shopping survey in 2000, and almost doubled the turn-down rate since the immediate-prior survey in the fall of 2003, when it was 31%. The turndown rate was even higher, 65%, for the national retail chains where the vast majority of video games are purchased.