FTC: Game Ratings Keep On Keeping On

The Entertainment Software Rating Board's (ESRB) game ratings scale is now more effective than ever thanks to growing retailer participation and parental awareness, a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report indicates.

Through a mystery shopper program, the FTC found that 42% of unaccompanied children were able to purchase an M-rated game, a significant drop from 85% in 2000 and 69% in 2003 but unchanged from last year. Figures from this and last year bring game retailers in line with movie theaters, which in the FTC's tests allowed only 39% of minors to purchase tickets to R-rated films. Gaming retailers showed significantly better results than movie retailers, however, which allowed 71% of minors to purchase R-rated films on DVD.

Additionally, 87% of parents were aware of the ESRB rating system and over 70% claim to use it when their children want to play a game. Despite the high figures, many of those polled believe the system is not as effective at communicating violence levels as it could be.

To further increase the effectiveness of the ESRB ratings, the FTC suggests content descriptors be relocated from the back of a game box to the front. The report also questions the ESRB's limited enforcement of a policy that prevents M-rated games from advertising on a web site if 45% or more of its reader demographic is under 17.

Chris Remo contributed to this story.

Chris Faylor was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 13, 2007 2:04 PM

    change the M to an R and the parents will understand just fine.

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      April 13, 2007 2:09 PM

      Yeah, kinda surprised this hasn't been done yet.

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      April 13, 2007 2:22 PM

      Hadn't thought of that. Seems really foolish that the industry would try to teach people something new, instead of adopting something that makes sense to everyone.

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        April 13, 2007 2:29 PM

        I believe the MPAA owns the copyright on their rating system, and won't share, or would make it too expensive, something like that.

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          April 13, 2007 2:48 PM

          Well it would probably throw their system into question if the ESRB had problems using the same ratings scale. All it takes is one movie or one game to stir up controversy that would affect two industries instead of just one. It's best for both to keep them separate.

    • reply
      April 14, 2007 7:54 AM

      M = Rated for Minor :P

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