NIMF Slams ESRB As Complacent, ESRB Says NIMF Lacks Understanding

A feud between the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) and the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has erupted, causing the two organizations to clash about the effectiveness of and policy behind video game ratings.

NIMF's 2007 Video Game Report Card claims that, despite retailer and industry efforts, an investigation revealed that minors were able to purchase M-rated games, which are intended for audiences 17 and older, nearly 50% of the time.

Earlier this year, a separate study performed by the Federal Trade Commission showed that though 42% of unaccompanied children were able to purchase an M-rated game, 71% of minors were able to purchase R-rated films on DVD.

NIMF president and founder Dr. David Walsh also noted "several shocking incidents [that] have inadvertently revealed dangerous loopholes in the ratings process," no doubt referring to the ESRB's decision to uphold the M-rating of Rockstar's Manhunt 2 (PS2, Wii, PSP) despite the existence of a technically-demanding hack that allows a clearer view of the game's violence.

The ESRB has been under fire since that controversial decision, with several U.S. senators demanding a re-rating of the game and retailer Target pulling the title from its shelves.

"Over time, complacency seems to have set in and we became too comfortable with the status quo while the industry keeps rapidly changing," said Walsh.

"In many significant ways, this year's NIMF Report Card contradicts recent Federal Trade Comission findings related to parents' awareness, use, and satisfaction with ESRB ratings, as well as retailer support of the ratings," responded ESRB president Patricia Vance.

"In addition, NIMF exhibits a significant lack of understanding of and, as a result, grossly misrepresents the fact surrounding last month's hack into pirated version of Manhunt 2," she continued.

"At a time of year when parents are looking for helpful guidance about video games," Vance concluded, "this year's Report Card does little more than sow unwarranted doubt about effective tools like ESRB ratings."