Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence Regarding Alcohol Use in Games

July 7, 2008 -

 Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) charged today that the ESRB is "under the influence" when it comes to depictions of alcohol use in video games.

His comments were prompted by Beer Pong, from JV Games. As reported by GamePolitics, the title has previously come under fire from education and substance abuse organizations. In response to those concerns, the game has recently been renamed as Pong Toss (although JV's website still lists it under the original title).

Blumenthal, mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate, issued a press release calling on the ESRB to change the rating of Beer Pong from T (13+) to what the AG refers to as "adult" (presumably the ESRB's Adults Only rating). The A.G. is quoted in the press release: 

The rating T 13+ -- suitable for teens 13 and older -- is absolutely inappropriate. The video game rating board is under the influence -- rating frat party video drinking games suitable for minors. Even as JV Games agrees to alter its Beer Pong video game, both it and the rating board stubbornly deny the damaging influence of alcohol depiction in video games.

 

The ESRB astonishingly downplays and dismisses alcohol depiction in rating the suitability of video games for minors. Parents have the first and last say over their children’s games -- but they deserve to know all of the facts. The ESRB, claiming to consider age suitability in its ratings, has a moral and ethical responsibility to consider all potentially damaging material in the products it rates.

 

This issue is urgent because the 'Frat Party Ganes' promoted by JV Games may soon offer others in this planned series.

ESRB spokesman Eliot Mizrachi responded to Blumenthal's criticism of the video game industry rating board in a statement:

Although we respect Attorney General Blumenthal’s right to disagree, the fact is that ESRB’s role is not that of censor.  Our job is to impartially and consistently label content about which there may be a diversity of views so consumers can make informed choices for themselves and their families. 

 

‘Pong Toss’ involves nothing more than players tossing virtual ping-pong balls into plastic cups, which hardly qualifies it for our most restrictive rating of AO (Adults Only 18+)... 

In addition, GamePolitics has obtained a copy of a June 12th letter from ESRB President Patricia Vance to Attorney General Blumenthal on the Beer Pong issue. It reads in part:

While the assignment of ratings does require that judgments be made about the age-appropriateness of different types of content, it would be improper to assign ratings solely based on the depiction of behavior which may be understandably discouraged by society at large. To illustrate, many car racing games require players to barrel down city streets at high speeds – illegal behavior that certainly should not be encouraged... Still, none of this changes the fact that racing games... tend to be rated E... That actions in a game might, in the real world, be associated with minimum age requirements or be generally discouraged does not, in and of itself, relegate that game to the most restrictive ESRB rating category, Adults Only. Such contextual elements are weighed in the ratings process, however...

 

This title is being made available solely as WiiWare, which means it will not be available at retail, but may be downloaded, for a fee, directly through the Wii console. WiiWare games, available by the hundreds, rarely have marketing or advertising associated with them, and typically draw scant attention. Given this, our concern is that a greater number of consumers (including the age group about which you are most concerned) will be made aware of this game and resolve to play it as a result of publicized statements of advocacy groups and others. Ironically, this is likely to result in more rather than less consumers being drawn to this game, particularly those very minors all of us seek to protect.

 


Comments

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

I bet he drinks. Only drunk people can think of something so stupid...

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

If the Conn AG is looking to protect the kids and keep any ref to alcohol "Away from the children" then what about Simpson's, Family Guy, classic Looney Toon and Merrie Melody cartoons, some Disney movies, any given movie with a PG-13 rating, Monday Night Football or any sporting event usually sponsored by booze companies, alchohol commercials, billboards, magazine ads....am I getting my point across yet?  It is up to a parents to be parents and actually take part in thier childs life and help make appropriate decisions and teach good life choices for thier children.  Not some pompus ass of a politition from the cooshy side of town in Conneticut with judge's in his pocket who the sound of his own voice and his name and face all over the news.  I'll make the decision what my child plays or does not play. 

I wonder if he even knows what his kids watch or play!!! Oh, sorry!  I forgot.  That would be the his nanny's job!!!  

This is ridiculas.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

What makes me sad is, I once told this total bitchy girl who suggested that there should be a Beer Pong game for the Wii that she was a total idiot, among other things.

And now there's an actual game. I'll bury the cock-a-roaches who made this game.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

While I do agree the 'outrage' here is rather heavily misplaced,  I kinda think paul has a point. Seriously who thought this game was a good idea? I mean I can understand frats playing it for real and what not, but what at all is the point of a digital version? Beer pong never sounded fun as a real game to me, so I can't imagine making it digital and essentialy removing the booze from the equation has made it any more pleasant.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

You would be surprised how many people play beerpong on a computer.  Crow, people dump quarters into Megatouch machines to play Beer Pong all the time.. and that is without a nice motition thingie like the Wii has.

This "Protect the children" BS needs to stop.

I am really damn sick of all this "protect the children" bullshit. Children neither want nor need protection from any video games or other forms of Free speech media as their is no evidence beyong some psuedoscientific bullshit studies that so called "offensive or innappropriate" media is actually harmful to kids.

No child is going to be either physically or psychologically harmed by playing this video game anymore then they would be by watching a beer commerical during a football game on T.V. Which of course is none.

When it comes to Free Speech media politicans need to stay the hell out of our lives and our children's lives. Leave it solely up to the individual parents to decide what Free Speech media is or is not appropriate for their own children. Whether that be in their eyes Grand Theft Auto, Scarface, The Holy Bible or Harry Potter novels.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

The guy is too popular here in CT and mentions that he may run for Gov. every cycle but never does.  The republicans simply cannot beat this guy, he'll be around for a long long time.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

"Parents have the first and last say over their children’s games -- but they deserve to know all of the facts. "

They also deserve to be talked about like you're not the only one in the country that knows how to read the english language. If YOU can read the tag marking alcohol content, so can they.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Most politicians are of the opinion that most people are dumb fucks who have to have their opinions spoon fed to them.

The depressing part, the really depressing part, is how many people are happy to be exactly that.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

THIS JUST IN: tossing ping pong balls into plastic cups = porn

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

RIGHT OK SO LET ME SHOW HOW STUPID THIS IS.

whats being said is that basically because something simply 'contains' a reference something, apparently it encourages it... hence the reccomendation that his game move from T13+ to adults only..

 

so then

 

E.T. is a family movie by steven spielberg. In one scene Eliott , under a bond formed with E.T., becomes drunk as E.T. goes to the fridge and drinks beer, and gets very very drunk.

So whats being said is that E.T. should be reclassified as what... 18 rated?

ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY STUPID.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

They changed the name. If your child doesn't know what beer pong, is then as far as they're concerned, they're playing pong toss, and if your child already understands beer pong, it's not the game's fault.

Works for me.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

I am so tired of this guys "protect the children" crusade.  People Keep in mind...this guy is bad news.  Seems to do press releases on big name companies from Microsoft to Coca-Cola.  He is looking for what ever will get his face plastered on news and web to keep his so called polical career going.   He has been put on countless top 10 worst AG lists.

http://www.legalnewsline.com/news/189593-blumenthal-tops-groups-list-of-...

http://firedoglake.com/2008/04/10/did-ct-attorney-general-richard-blumen...

http://cei.org/pdf/5719.pdf

 

 

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

This is also the AG who took on big tobbaco alone.

 

And won.

 

Don't worry, his position here as CT's AG is assured for at least another decade.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Sooooooooooo.................... how's your husband and the kids, Ms Blumenthal?!?  ....

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

I love how the ESRB stuck it to the AG. If he had shut his trap and not drawn attention to this game, the vast majority of people would never know about this game.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Will any parent not know what goes on in a game specifically labeled "Beer Pong?"

---------------------------------

So speak I, some random guy.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

You'd be surprised how stupid some parents can be.  My uncle's fiancee got a GTA game for her son, who was, at the time, eight years old (her ex-husband finally showed her the content descriptors).  "I thought the M stood for motor vehicles" she said, her attempt at hiding her idiocy backfiring and making her look like even more of a brainless twit.  As others have said before, the title of the game is a FELONY, for crying out loud!  It's not child-friendly!  But now I'm ranting and getting off topic.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

You know, actually, that name change would probably mislead parents who wouldn't have let their kids get it.

Oh the irony.

-Roozle

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Historically, the AG is correct.  I know this sounds dumb since it doesn't actually involve alcohol, but the old arcade game "Tapper" was a bartender serving beer, originally.  They changed it to "Root Beer Tapper" for a more rated-G type of environment of a typical arcade.  This was before ESRB ratings.

I just don't think this is a good thing for a politician to worry about, since it is an inconsequential issue compared to the real problems.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

No one ever complains about the "Use of Alcohol" descriptors on Harvest Moon games.

But then again, when has equal opportunity complaining happened... ever?

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............what about family guy and The Simpsons...they drink on these shows all the time....Conn. AG needs to let parents do the parenting and concentrate on bigger issues...

 

 

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Richard Blumenthal scares the crap out of me... How is he still in office.

I can guarantee you that his last concern is children, it's only publicity.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

"Given this, our concern is that a greater number of consumers (including the age group about which you are most concerned) will be made aware of this game and resolve to play it as a result of publicized statements of advocacy groups and others. Ironically, this is likely to result in more rather than less consumers being drawn to this game, particularly those very minors all of us seek to protect."

So do you think they honestly haven't figured this out, or do they lump it in the same cost-effective pile as doomed-to-fail-but-look-good-on-tv anti-gaming legislation?  Tough call.

I wish someone would just provide him with a list of prime time network television that exceeds the level of vulgarity, drug and alcohol depiction, and violence in any of these games.  Pretty sure the Law & Order series by itself would suffice.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

<Sigh>

The age rating is the youngest you should be to play the game, not the recommended age group for it.

Silly Politician.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

So what, no alcohol consumption in PG-13 movies or on TV anymore? 

Hypocrisy is fun!

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

If use of alcohol in any way is sufficient for an "adults-only" rating from the ESRB, then every movie that depicts use of any alcohol period should get be considered porn and treated as such. The same goes for television shows and beer commercials.

The AG has a moral and ethical responsibility to be honest and impartial. Judging from his quote, I do not think he is living up to that responsibility.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

I agree with you completely.

Why should video-games be the only medium targeted when every other medium out there is essentially telling us that "Drinking is ok, its what cool people do and what you'd do when your with a group of friends in any social situation".

Look at all the beer commercials, or any other commercial out there that features an alcoholic beverage.  Aside from the hilarious super-bowl commercials, they all feature a few key things:  friends, a good time and most importantly, the alcohol. 

Yet video-games are the only one targeted?  Why not impose such restrictions on movies, television and even literature. 

If they are unwilling to target those other mediums, then their argument for regulating games over alcohol is pure bullshit.

Also, on the topic of alcohol comsumption:  If they were all so worried about our children being taught to drink and so forth, why are they not placing more restrictions on bars and liquor stores?  What about harsher penalties for those who are caught supplying alcohol to underage children?  Drunk drivers?  Public intoxication? Pregnant women caught drinking? 

Eh...freakout...booze...bleh...

Eh, I find myself kind of indifferent on this one. I think this is blown a bit out of proportion, but it seems like everybody's hearts are more or less in the right place. I think a T rating would be plenty appropriate, considering there doesn't appear to be any actual alchohol consumption depicted. Also, various Final Fantasy games have depicted some level of alchohol consumption, but they get T's. Or am I mistaking FF for other Japanese RPG's? Anyway, they still get T's. Whatever though.

 

-If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we'd all be livin' large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

Reality/////////////////////////////////////Fantasy. Seems like a pretty thick line to me...

Re: Eh...freakout...booze...bleh...

Yea, FF games tend to reference or show alcohol in some way shape or form. I remember earlier FF games having more references than their modern counterparts, but one earlier FF, I think it was 5 or 6, had Cid portrayed as always drunk, or "sloshed," and in FF7 the home base for Avalanche was a bar. Both of those games got rated T when they were released, or in some cases re-released.

Re: Eh...freakout...booze...bleh...

FF6 on the GBA/DS is rated E10 it had PG13 convos with lite cussing but the graphics where so low they went with a E10 rating, we kinda need a T15 level there are always 2 mid steps in the main age slots kids,teens and adults, not counting the learnign elvel slots in teh kid ranges.

I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
(in need of a bad overhaul)

 


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Re: Eh...freakout...booze...bleh...

Probably Jrpgs, DQ8 has drinking and womanizing and its PG13 as it should be, look at POTC PG13, remember the PG13 level is for teens not for kids.

 

I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
(in need of a bad overhaul)

 


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

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Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

Basically.

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

"Parents have the first and last say over their children’s games -- but they deserve to know all of the facts. "

Well, I'm pretty certain it's accurate to say that Parents WON'T be getting all the facts from YOU, AG.

I wonder if he and NiFong attended the same ethics courses.

Nightwng2000

NW2K Software

Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

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

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

I had to blink at that phraze a few times.....,

Any parent who can't figure out that a game called "Beer Pong" has beer in it shouldn't have kids.

Yet no one has protested Bioshock for the massive amount of drinking in that game ^_^

Re: Connecticut Attorney General: ESRB Under the Influence

I may not be clear on the game itself, but it doesn't sound like it actually involved DRINKING alcohol?

If there is a game that I know of that involves the virtual drinking of alcohol as a "contest", it's the minigame in Magna Cum Laude.

Not that I believe it ENCOURAGES drinking alcohol.  But it's the game I know most directly involved in young drinkers (college students).

I also know of Last Call which puts you in the position of a bar tender who learns to mix drinks.

And there was a really old game that had you sliding mugs of (root?) beer to bar patrons.  You had to move up and down among 3 or 4 bars, sliding the mugs to patrons who would appear faster and faster.

Nightwng2000

NW2K Software

Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

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
 
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