ESRB Responds to NIMF, Makes Alphabet Soup

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The National Institute on Media and the Family officially released their Video Game Report Card today, the one we leaked yesterday. No surprises there, but today Patricia Vance, head of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, responded to their not so wonderful "grade" in the report.

In a nutshell she says that the NIMF folks totally misunderstood the whole Manhunt 2 fiasco and that their "study" on parental awareness of video game ratings contradicts what the Federal Trade Commission found earlier this year.

Bottom line, the ESRB rating system is an effective and reliable resource for parents. We will continue to provide ratings that, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation , are considered by parents to be the most useful among media rating systems for movies, music, TV and games.

Full release after the jump."The ESRB and NIMF share the common goal of providing parents and caregivers with reliable information so they can make informed decisions when it comes to the games they choose for their families. We appreciate their praise of the effectiveness of ESRB ratings as a tool for parents as well as our ongoing efforts to educate consumers about the ratings. However, in many significant ways, this year's NIMF Report Card contradicts recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) findings related to parents' awareness, use and satisfaction with ESRB ratings, as well as retailer support of the ratings. In addition, NIMF exhibits a significant lack of understanding of and, as a result, grossly misrepresents the facts surrounding last month's hack into pirated versions of Manhunt 2, a game rated for ages 17 and older that carried prominent and explicit warnings to consumers about its violent content. At a time of year when parents are looking for helpful guidance about video games, this year's Report Card does little more than sow unwarranted doubt about effective tools like ESRB ratings.

The FTC's report to Congress earlier this year called the ESRB rating system "a useful and informative tool that parents increasingly use to help them make informed decisions about games for their children." Its nationwide survey of over 1,300 parents showed that nearly nine in ten parents with children that play video games are satisfied with the ESRB rating system, three in four use it regularly, 94% find the ratings easy to understand, and 59% never let their children play Mature-rated games. The most recent FTC mystery shopper research concluded that "substantial" progress continues to be made by retailers to enforce their store policies regarding the sale or rental of M-rated games to those under 17, matching that of theatres' restrictions of admittance to R-rated films and far exceeding that for the sale of R-rated DVDs.

Bottom line, the ESRB rating system is an effective and reliable resource for parents. We will continue to provide ratings that, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation , are considered by parents to be the most useful among media rating systems for movies, music, TV and games."


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