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New Bill Proposes ID Checks for Game Purchases; ESRB, FTC Say Retailers Are Getting Better

A bill presented to the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday would force retailers to check the ID of anyone buying an M or AO-rated game or face a $5,000 fine.

Proposed by Lee Terry (R-Neb) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah), the effort relies heavily upon the Entertainment Software Rating Board's established ratings, and would ask that retailers have in-store materials explaining the system.

The use of the ESRB's rating system sets the bill apart from the typically unconstitutional game legislation proposals, which often use vague standards to label violent games instead of a set guideline.

"Many young children are walking into stores and are able to buy or rent these games without their parents even knowing about it," Terry told Variety.

In a statement released today, the ESRB said that retailers denied sales of M-rated games to 80% of individuals under 17 in a recent Federal Trade Commission investigation. Performed across 253 retail stores across the United States, the study marked a 38% improvement over a 2006 investigation.

"Video game retailers have clearly stepped up their efforts to enforce their store policies, and they deserve recognition for these outstanding results," said ESRB president Patricia Vance.

"We commend and applaud retailers for their strong support of the ESRB ratings, and will continue working with them to help ensure that these levels of compliance are sustained if not further increased."

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

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 8, 2008 8:41 AM

    I dont see why this has not been done already. If it gets the legislators to STFU, Im all for it.

    • reply
      May 8, 2008 8:47 AM

      Government regulation is not necessary for this though. The government does not enforce the ratings system in the movie industry, why should they make any attempt to enforce it in the interactive content world. Stop giving them authority where they have no right to be.

      • reply
        May 8, 2008 8:54 AM

        This is the key. All major retailers already have this policy, and no one cares about R-rated movies in kids' hands. Government involvement likens games to tobacco, alcohol, and porn and cheapens the game industry amongst its entertainment peers of film, TV, and music.

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          May 8, 2008 9:06 AM

          Couldn't agree more. What do you think it will take to place VGs with film, TV and music? A new generation of leaders that grew up with games?

          • reply
            May 8, 2008 10:17 AM

            It will take voters, but not necessarily leaders. The problem is that voters skew old, so it will take awhile.

            The major publishers should take the lead on this and refuse to sell their products through retailers that don't card.

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              May 8, 2008 10:56 AM

              Interesting take. I definitely agree that change could come from publishers' implementing better policies and possibly adding some PR for public awareness of the matter so that even the old-voters are more educated.

            • reply
              May 8, 2008 11:24 AM

              So what should be done about Internet orders?

      • reply
        May 8, 2008 10:07 AM

        I agree with both of you. Government regulation should not be necessary-- the ESRB should have been smart enough to nip the government's meddling in the bud by having this ID-check policy.

        • reply
          May 8, 2008 10:27 AM

          The ESRB has an ID check policy with an effectiveness comparable to that of the movie theaters. (Note that, to my knowledge, there are no mandatory age checks for buying R-rated DVDs.)

          • reply
            May 8, 2008 10:51 AM

            According to the data released, the ESRB policy is working better than that of movie theaters. Here's a handy chart showing that game sales to minors totally owns sales of R-rated movie tickets, R-rated DVDs, unrated DVDs, and parental advisory CDs:


            • reply
              May 8, 2008 11:25 AM

              Wow, that is damning - and should be the front page rebuttal to this trashy legislation.

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