Video Games, Ratings, Parental Controls, & Public Policy: Where Do We Stand? . Adam Thierer [email protected] Progress & Freedom Foundation April 2008 www.pff.org. Version 3.0. All materials in this presentation are available in this free PFF report…. www.pff.org/parentalcontrols.
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= regulation must yield to private alternatives if they are available and effective (Q: but what is effective?)
(1) convey information about a given media product to consumers (especially parents),
(2) so that they are able to make an informed judgment about the wisdom of consuming that media, or allowing children to consume it.
EARLY CHILDHOOD: Titles rated EC have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
EVERYONE:Titles rated E have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
EVERYONE 10+: Titles rated E10+ have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.
TEEN: Titles rated T have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
MATURE: Titles rated M have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.
ADULTS ONLY:Titles rated AO have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
RATING PENDING:Titles listed as RP have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game’s release.)
(discussed in concluding section on “Future Trends”)
= a check / watchdog for the ESRB
But.. none are as comprehensive as the ESRB; many games not considered by these sites; they focus mostly on popular titles
(1) renewed push for universal media ratings? or just…
(2) Oversight of ESRB by Congress or non-profit / academic groups?
(3) More FTC oversight of retailer enforcement?
(4) Mandatory age verification for MMOGs & online activities?
(5) Mandatory parental controls defaults (i.e, controls forced “ON” out of box, requiring parents to opt out of controls)
(6) What happens when “AO” games hit consoles?
(7) What about virtual reality games?
= Any non-technical method of controlling media consumption
1) “Where” Rules
Pew survey: 74% of homes with teenagers have their computers in an “open family area”
2) “When and How Much” Rules
Pew survey: 59% of parents limit the amount of time their children can spend playing video games and 69 percent limit how much time their children can spend online
3) “Under What Condition” Rules
4) “What” Rules
Pew survey: 67% of parents already have rules for the kinds of video games they can play