Congresswoman Urges Game Publishers to Take Video Game Report Card Recommendations to Heart

December 8, 2007 -

A Minnesota Congresswoman has thrown her support behind the Annual Video Game Report Card issued this week by Dr. David Walsh and the National Institute on Media and the Family. 

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) stood with Walsh on Tuesday while the NIMF executive director introduced this year's Report Card to the media. Also on hand were Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Betty Klobuchar (D-MN).

Speaking of the NIMF effort, McCollum said:
 

The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust.


 

The first step to controlling inappropriate content is for the industry to earn that trust back.


 

To convince us they’re serious about protecting our kids from age-inappropriate content, the gaming industry should quickly embrace this Report Card’s recommendations to adopt a clearer, more universal ratings system, to always disclose content unsuitable for children, and to never market clearly adult games to younger audiences – either overtly or through hidden content revealed in convenient online "leaks."


McCollum, who parried with ESRB president Patricia Vance at NIMF's 2006 Video Game Summit, also announced this week that she will co-sponsor the Video Game Violence and Sexual Content Act of 2007. That bill, introduced by Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) in July, would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report to Congress on the effectiveness of the ESRB content rating system.

Rep. McCollum's full remarks here.


Comments

The problem is, that there is no patern.

BTW, parents who let there little kids play Manhunt are stupid.

Now, I may not visit best buy as much as I used to... but was there a new GTA that had more hidden content that came out between the last "Report Card" and this one?

Or is she saying that the Industry, which is not a person, had learned its lesson then forgot?

Or am I just plain confused?

"The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust."

Surely parents shouldn't be buying GTA and Manhunt for their families anyway, regardless of hidden content?

Stupid cunt.

The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust.

oh you fail so badly here. first of all, by rating manhunt and gta MATURE that means that they should only be accessible to ADULTS, how does that mean the ESRB hasn`t learned it`s lesson. The only person that`s failing here congresswoman, is you.

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is the only game to have "inappropriate hidden content" and it didn't even matter. It was already considered a game that is inappropriate for children hence the Mature rating it received. They claim that the ESRB failed parents somehow by the whole "Hot Coffee" thing getting past them, but I don't see how. It's not like they rated the game Teen or even Everyone, it was Mature (17 and up) to begin with.

What she needs to do is shut her stupid know nothing mouth and wise up to realise that it's not the gaming industry's place to keep these games out of children's hands. It's up to retailers and most importantly the parents themselves. The gaming industry does it's part with the ESRB ratings which are more than adequate and in most cases more harsh than necessary (i.e. A Dog's Life rated Teen?!).

I also love how she refers to the AO version of Manhunt 2 being leaked as a way to market their games to children despite no one making money off of it and the fact that most children don't even know how to go about doing what is needed to get said games.

As for the hacks done to games, such as Manhunt 2, to remove filters and uncensenor the game, it is simply that: a hack, a, possibly illegal, modification of the original game design. Where were these people when the same thing was done to The Punisher? Which by the way, in a lot of ways, is more gruesome and violent than Manhunt. Another thing is that a lot of the "children" that they're "trying to protect" wouldn't even know about these exploits if they weren't constantly telling them about them themselves.

Also, these shots they take at the ESRB's ratings are ridiculous. They're far more descriptive than the movie industries ratings and the rating much easier to spot. With most movies you have to search the whole damn case just to find a small [R] symbol on the back of the case hidden away among a bunch of text no bigger than the bottom of a standard pen cap.

The government, this woman, and video game critics can all go to hell. They're idiots who know nothing about what they speak and only spout off about "saving the children" because they know it's an easy way to gain support from others. Also, if your child somehow got their hands on Mature rated games, it isn't the gaming industry who's failed, it's you as the parent who's failed. If you can't keep track of what your children are playing or what they're purchasing with money they somehow got then you are who to blame, no one else.

"a clearer, more universal ratings system"

...What the... the heck? How much clearer can it GET? Do we need a large sticker on each package saying, "HEY DUMBASS, IF THE BOX ART WITH THE DUDE COVERED IN BLOOD HOLDING THE GUN AND THE BIG-"M" STICKER WASN'T ENOUGH OF A CLUE. DON'T BUY THIS GAME FOR LIL TIMMY."

....Actually, maybe they SHOULD make that sticker...

Well, if the senator is too illiterate to read the flashcard letters or the full descriptors of the ESRB ratings, perhaps instead of blaming the rating system, she should go back for a LEGITIMATE GED as her faked high school diploma or equivilant is showing.

And since she clearly has just fraudulently accused Rockstar of intentionally "leaking" Manhunt 2's original AO version, I think she better get together her evidence and get a good lawyer because unless she does have such evidence that it was intentional, she should serve a couple of years prison time for fraud (the intentional lying and deceiving to deprive others of their finances (Take Two's/Rockstar's) as well as Rights (individual Freedom of Speech Rights as well as the Rights of Parents to make their own decisions regarding what is or is not appropriate for their own children).

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

@ Lovely

People would still complain that the content exists, and that somehow because an experienced hacker unlocked content, all the other copies are magically unlocked.

I've said it before, i'll say it again. People are idiots.

The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust.


What hidden content? There's been a stolen pre-release version put on the net, and some people figured out how to easily mod a graphic that really wasn't needed for an M rating. Neither of those is hidden content.


The first step to controlling inappropriate content is for the industry to earn that trust back.


No, the first step in controlling inappropriate content is for parents to monitor their kids. The second step is parents enforcing limits on their kids, as well as teaching them so that when they older, there is no content that is inappropriate for them unless they personally chose to avoid it for some reason. Incidentally, I'm assuming you mean "inappropriate for young children" here, not inappropriate in general.

Better future headline: Voters who play games urge elected officials to take a common sense approach to dealing with games.

This doesn't surprise me considering it is Betty McCollum and Amy Klobuchar, I wouldn't be surprised to see yet another anti-video game bill created by this two.

Everyone at the National Institute on Media and the Family and Harris Interactive who contributed to this report deserves our appreciation for working so hard to ensure that we have what it takes to create safe environments for our children.


Working so hard? Judging but the inconsistencies between this years and years past, it doesn't seem that they worked hard enough.

Unfortunately, this year’s Video Game Report Card makes clear that these graphic games are still all too easily available to young children, and we need a strong, united effort by video game producers, retailers, parents and lawmakers to change that.


At least she tossed parents into the mix. But really it should only be retailers and parents. Lawmakers and producers only in the sense that they should work hard to ensure that parents and retailers are properly educated and enforcing the ratings.

Parents are the first and last line of defense in the struggle to prevent exposure to age-inappropriate games. This year’s Report Card shows us that parents must be as enthusiastic about overseeing our children's video games as our kids are about playing them.


Hey something that makes sense!

Game makers and retailers, however, must give parents the tools to do that.


Should have know that would not last long. The tools are already there lady.

If kids can learn the complex codes that unlock inappropriate content in games like "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" and "Manhunt II," then parents need to be able to understand the ESRB ratings and other information to help keep the most disturbing games out of their hands entirely.


Please show me the kids that know how to hardware hack their game console, transfer the ISO from the game disk to their computer. Hack the ISO to change the code needed and then transfer that hacked ISO back to their hacked game console to access that content.

More importantly, the makers of these games should never be hiding content in games that the ratings board has asked them to remove entirely – content that they know creative gamers will be able to unlock and view.

The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust


You know, every time I hear a variation of the word "hide" in these statements, it makes me think that these people believe that Hot Coffee was done on purpose and that Manhunt 2 wasd meant to be hacked. Sorry lady that does not happen.

To convince us they’re serious about protecting our kids from age-inappropriate content, the gaming industry should quickly embrace this Report Card’s recommendations to adopt a clearer, more universal ratings system, to always disclose content unsuitable for children, and to never market clearly adult games to younger audiences – either overtly or through hidden content revealed in convenient online "leaks."


When you say "universal ratings system" do you mean NIMF's ratings system (whatever that is) or do you mean a better rating system from the ESRB? As for the rest of it, all content is already revealed to the ESRB. As Ms. Vance has already stated in the wake of the Manhunt 2 hack, the unblurred content was still in line with the M rating and was fully disclosed.

As for the "convenient online 'leaks'" you are implying that Manhunt 2 was leaked on purpose. That is absolutely false and the video game industry deserves a public apology. Any cheats and bug exploitations are the works of consumers with way to much time on their hands.

Game retailers, meanwhile, should be doing all they can to educate both parents and their own employees about the ESRB rating system so that both can do their part to follow it correctly.


I am sorry that huge signs, easily accessible fliers, and employees flat out telling parents that the game they are trying to by for their 5 year old child is rated M and not suitable for the kid is not enough effort from the retailers. Perhaps parents need to take some effort themselves.

I am hopeful that the gaming industry will do everything in its power to assist parents and keep unsuitable games away from children; if not, lawmakers will step in to see to it that kids are kept safe. I am signing on as a cosponsor to the Children Protection from Video Game Violence and Sexual Content Act of 2007, which requires an FTC review of the effectiveness of the current video game ratings system.


I am hopeful that parents will do everything in their power to keep unsuitable games away from their own children. If not maybe lawmakers should do something about bad parents.

Good luck with that Bill. You'll need it.

Bring it on, stupid politician, seriously. Pass an unconstitutional law, get sued and fined by the industry and then let's see how tough you are after that.

E is for Everybody
T is for Teen
M is for Mature

How hard is that to understand?

"The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust."

There was no hidden content in Manhunt 2, all it was was Hackers illieagly(sp?) removing the blur filter from the kills.

@MonkeyPeaches

Apparently they think that something being under a blur constitutes "hidden". Never mind that the ESRB was well aware of what was under the blur, and still rated the game M, so it's not like it was hidden from them.

I live in Minnesota, we get quite the snow storms up here. If it weren't for board/video games, I think there would be many cabin-fever-induced family killing sprees. This woman was clearly left out of some family game nights.

Right from the first paragraph you could tell there was a lack of research here. What a tool...

"The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust. The first step to controlling inappropriate content is for the industry to earn that trust back. To convince us they’re serious about protecting our kids from age-inappropriate content..."

Let's continue to ignore the fact that both games are rated M and AREN'T FOR KIDS TO BEGIN WITH.

"...adopt a clearer, more universal ratings system..."

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the ratings system. It's basically the same system as the MPAA rating system. Actually, it's even simpler to understand. How much clearer can it possibly be? Beating people over the head with the game going "This is not for little Timmy!".

@DoggySpew
i cant help my self but pattern has two t's

anyways having a Act passed in congress is the first step to having censorship in the media NO BUENO

The problem is parents who even if they bother to check the rating think it would be an indictment of their parenting skills to admit that their child is not mature enough for a video game.

That "mature" business is to keep other people's children/grandchildren/nephews/nieces/godchildren/friend's children away. MINE are mature.

Then when some major story breaks, we must blame Rockstar and cause a fuss before somebody thinks of blaming us.

Shes a illiterate little girl moaning and groaning because retailers don't do enough, and parents don't care, so shes wants to force the raters, and makers to do the work for em. Hell, why do that, why not use the government to turn us all into zombies while were at it! Hell, lets go into a Hitler Dictatorship! Brainwash everyone into thinking games are bad, yea... yea..
damn...

Repeat after me Ms. Congresswoman: "Not all gamers are FUCKING children!"

@Rep. McCollum
I believe you are the one that has failed on this subject. Violent games are not easily accessible to children. The most recent FTC report found that only 42 out of every 100 people under age 17 were able to buy M-rated games without parental consent. That is less than half the time. Another deterrent from children buying M-rated games are the parental controls in the XBox360, the PS3, and the Wii.

Your comments on the alleged pattern of game companies hiding content is nothing short of wrong. Rockstar got heavily punished and scruitinized for the Hot Coffee scandal. They have learned their lesson and would never intentionally do that act again. There was no hidden content in Manhunt 2 anyway. Those were blurred kills, which were not possible to remove without hacking into the game, which is illegal and too complicated for a child to do.

I agree with you when you say that parents need to be more involved in the games their kids play. However, it should be the parents and ONLY the parents that make those decisions. If those parents are either too leiniant or just don't pay attention to what their kids play, that in no way is the fault of the industry or the ESRB.

I find that your faith in the NIMF is a little disturbing. They have a long and documented history of lying and deception. Read this: http://www.d3dgames.com/bbb.html (whether this complaint went anywhere is not the point at this time).

The video game industry and the ESRB are doing a better job than the MPAA. The previous FTC reports show this. The ignorance of you and other politicans on this matter results in many bills passed that will be marked unconstitutional and cost the tax dollars, thousands of tax dollars, of the voters that put you in office or in your seat. All of the previous efforts to legislate againt the industry have failed. Let's not attempt another try, especially with the lies that you are putting out.

"The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust."


Wait, excuse me? First off how does the games of a singular company show the failures of the entire industry. Secondly this did not a violation of parents trust because ITS A MOTHER FUCKING M RATED GAME, DON'T BUY IT FOR YOUR KIDS YOU TOOLS. My god, its like buying a porno magazine for your kids then getting mad because there is violence in it.

"This porn is too violent for my children!"

@Erik

Exactly, her statement is redundant. She blames the industry for the retailers' shortcomings. You don't sue Playboy just because a child manages to buy a copy from a gas station mart.

Like everyone else it makes me wonder whats so hard about seeing a M on the box and reading what the game is about on the back of the box. But why would I even need the rating all I need to do is look at the cover of the box. If I see care bears hugging each other then it seems pretty safe for a kid. But if I see a pictures of people with guns and zombies biting someones arm on the cover then it kinda seems sensible to me that its not kid friendly. Yeah the retailers have some really lazy checkout employees. But mostly its the really lazy ass parents.

Also when ever I go to a store with games like best buy there is a sign that explains what the ratings mean. Usually its pretty big. Explaining to us what E, T, and M mean.

It seems like enforcing the safety of children is a new thing these days.
I can just see the day now. Police busting into your house with a warrent to arrest you because you are letting your kid play grand theft auto. And taking your kid away from you because other people know whats best for your child. Not their child your child. And once that child is safe from the evils of video games. They forget about them and move on to the next. The child taken away from there good parents grow up with out loving parents cause he is that problem child that played grand theft auto. He is a murderer in training. We don't want a child trained to kill by a video game.

On a serious note it just seems like there are alot of other things out there these people can be doing to help children. Yet they are wasting money on things like this.

"adopt a clearer, more universal ratings system"

For the ratings to get any clearer, Patricia Vance would have to personally stand in GameStop or whatever and smack parents in the face with an orange in a sock.

http://media.gtanet.com/illspirit/randompics/ratings_deathmatch.jpg

The two games she talks about, Mahunt and GTA, are both rated M for mature. That's a 17+ rating. Video game stores should not be selling M rated games to minors. Parents should not be buying M rated games for their kids.

I don't see why publishers or the ESRB should be blamed for this.

A few minutes of research reveals that since the year of GTA: San Andreas' release, 2005, there have been approximately 6800 video game releases.

This woman is claiming that two out of 6800 constitutes a "pattern?"

Oh yes, in case you're interested, of those 6800 titles 1929 were rated E whereas only 526 were rated M. Also, if this woman is actually interested in patterns in the game industry, in 2005 there were 597 E games, in 2006 there were 645 E games and so far in 2007 there have been 687 E games.

She's lying for political gain. It's disgusting.

@illspirit

ooh, orange, (drools) :-)

Good god when will people learn? M=Mature +17, what's so hard about comprehending that? Also I'm a little worried about that bill that was proposed.

Politicians should learn about this before they talk. Because they blame only the gaming industry and not the retailers and parents.

"Do not buy M rated games for you kids!"
My response: We are not stupid parents. But people who buy for their kids are idiots.

Geesh... I wish someone would do their research.

Just think, eventually there will be politicians who are gamers. Video games have become very mainstream and I think in the not too distant future we will see gamers who are also politicians.

I can see the smear campaigns coming already. "Jo Schmoe played Grand Theft Auto at age 15, he is not fit to be our Congressman! -Paid for By Luddites for America"

I think if we make it through the storm eventually things will change. I am not saying that justifies anything going on now.

"The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust."

Hidden content or not, the games clearly don't belong in the hands of children. An M rating isn't an invite for little kids to play violent games, it's basically one year behind the Adults Only rating.

If a parent bought their child an M rated game, I seriously doubt the AO rating is going to be a bigger obstacle for irresponsible parents to choose to ignore... sorry... 'not be aware of' because as we all know, parents are completely innocent in this, and are merely uneducated in how the very confusing rating process of the ESRB works.

E for Everyone
E10 for Everyone 10 and Up
T for Teen
M for Mature
AO for Adults Only

YOU'RE SPEAKING IN SOME KIND OF FOREIGN CODE ESRB! NO ONE IS ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THOSE RATINGS! IT'S PURE MADNESS.

If politicians really wanted to protect kids they'd put the punishment in the parents hands when the child has a violent game.

So you are saying people should listen to flawed and poor studies made by basis watchdog groups because you need votes.....no wonder the US is going to hell!

Why the hell do people bash the ESRB for not having clear rating labels? I know for a fact the ESRB ratings are pretty damn large compared to the midget text on the back of DVD cases with some puny little R that most people have to squint their eyes to read.


This is more proof that these people do not know a damn thing about the world of gaming. (or anything for that matter). These fools only want to look good in the eyes of others by spitting out lies about how they want to "save teh childrenz!1".

"The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust."

Two games out of many thousands wow. Also both games were made by rockstar so don't you think it's unfair to blame the entire industry for that?

There is so much ignorance in her paper that I'm not even going to bother to shift through it. Suffice it to say that she is blaming things on the wrong people and making a big issue out of minor problems.

She also advocates legislature and claims the industry markets violent games to children. Not that again.

I think it should be repeatedly pointed out that even with the unblurred 'hidden' content manhunt 2 still gets an M rating. It also already has a rating for intense violence so what difference does it make?

How can humans be so stupid? America is supposed to be one of the best, and yet our goverenment is run afoul with all of THESE?! They act like video games are much more available to kids than movies. I could get into any R movie I want, and these people think that violent video games need to be checked?

Uninformed and highly opinionated.

That's the way I feel about a lot of the people in the "think of the children" crowd.

And the "convenient online leaks" comment? Does she really think that Rockstar released a pirated version of their own game? Now that's being ignorant.

@Father Time

I think it should be repeatedly pointed out that even with the unblurred ‘hidden’ content manhunt 2 still gets an M rating. It also already has a rating for intense violence so what difference does it make?

Agreed. It keeps bugging me that the counter arguments focus on the fact that it's a user mod, and not that the ESRB already accounted for what was under the blur in their rating.

she clearly has no idea what shes talking about or chooses to misrepresent the facts. the FTC report says that opposite of the NIMF report.

she shows no understanding of the Manhunt2 events. how many kids really have the skill or will to alter the hardware and programing on their PSP just to see screens from a crap game.

shes needs to be put in her place by someone calling her out on these mis truths in the mainstream media.

thats one big problem with these politics is that the truth and our perspective are rarely represented to the mainstream instead all we get is crusaders and politicians who have no clue what their talking about and just want face time on tv and votes.

There is no "hidden" content in Manhunt 2 lady. Everything is plainly viewable to someone with a modded console and modded game disc.

Yeah, the ratings system is SO hard to understand. You know, that M can be easily confused with Minors, I mean honestly, how stupid are people that they can't take the time to read a freakin label.

I've long supported a "universal" video game ratings system.

I really don't see why you need two different ratings systems.

Reduce the complexity and you reduce the misinformation and miscommunication.

It's not perfect, but it will reduce the amount of people who use the miscommunication of ratings as a political tool.

Maybe they should conduct studies on parents who let their kids play violent video games instead. It's only fair.

@Funky J

You'd think so, but I don't think the MPAA will switch to the ESRB ratings, or vice-versa. They are essentially the same though. E = G, E10+ = PG, T = PG13, M = R, AO = basically NC17

Why the hell do people still vote ignorant hicks like this into office???

I mean this woman doesn't have the intelligence of a trained monkey so what the hell is she doing in a position of power???


"Ignorant Congresswoman hick writes:
The gaming industry has clearly failed to learn its lesson here: The pattern of inappropriate content hidden in Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt is a violation of parents’ and families’ trust."

Would you please point out what is hidden in Manhunt....

The pattern of you blabbing your mouth about things you know nothing about is just as clear as the pattern you speak about, because apparently, for you, a pattern is once since the creation of the industry...

""Ignorant Congresswoman hick writes:
The first step to controlling inappropriate content is for the industry to earn that trust back."
How??? By banning any and all games for a year? Would that make you feel better?
or should they just make good wholesome family movies like Hostel 2 or The Girl Next Door(2007 not the one with porn stars...)

"Ignorant Congresswoman hick writes:
To convince us they’re serious about protecting our kids from age-inappropriate content, the gaming industry should quickly embrace this Report Card’s recommendations to adopt a clearer, more universal ratings system, to always disclose content unsuitable for children, and to never market clearly adult games to younger audiences – either overtly or through hidden content revealed in convenient online “leaks.”"

I can't wait for you to attack the RIAA and the MPAA for "convenient online “leaks.”" of age inaproriete lyrics and movies on to the internet...


Sorry for calling her an ignorant Congresswoman hick, but I can't find any more words for her insane rant... well maybe that she is simply lying but I don't want to call her a lier since she seems like she actually believes what she said...

Wow what an idiot.
 
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