Mom and Dad forgot to turn an assignment in, apparently.
While lavishly praising the video game industry in its 13th Annual Video Game Report Card, the National Institute on Media and the Family has tagged parents with an "incomplete."
Actually, the "I" grade is NIMF's cutesy way of saying, well, not much, to be honest. Here are the grades along with NIMF's commentary:
ESRB Ratings.... A The addition of ratings summaries is yet another step forward in the growing list of improvements that the ESRB has made in recent years.
ESRB Ratings Education.... A We commend the ESRB for intensifying efforts to help parents understand the video game ratings. The ESRB has become the entertainment industry leader in educating retailers and parents about the rating system.
Retailer Ratings Enforcement.... B+ The 80 percent enforcement rate shows significant progress with still some room for improvement.
Gaming Console Manufacturers.... A Parental controls, timing devices and parent education efforts are all major
improvements giving parents more tools to supervise game play.
Parental Involvement.... Incomplete The focus of this year’s report card is providing parents with the information they need. All segments of the industry have made significant improvements in recent years. Parents now have more information and tools than ever before. However, the constant changes present new challenges. Parents need to pay more attention to the amount of time and the types of games their kids play. The parent guide section in this report card is intended to motivate and equip parents to do this.
GP: We can't argue with the grades assigned to the game industry categories by NIMF, and the industry must certainly be pleased. There was a time, and not so long ago, that the ESA and ESRB dreaded this day as NIMF head David Walsh and Sen. Joe Lieberman would step to a Capitol Hill podium and deliver their annual video game beatdown, er, report card.
As to the incomplete for parents, it's meaningless, since NIMF has no way to measure it.
We must also say that the process would be far more coherent if NIMF maintained the same grading categories from year to year. The 2007 version, for example (which was far less complementary to the industry), included grades for "Retailer Policies," (broken down by National, Specialty and Rental) and "The Gaming Industry."
The 2005 version absolutely savaged the industry and included grades for "Ratings Accuracy," "Arcade Survey," and "Industry's 10-year cumulative grade."
In addition to the grades, the report card contains about 30 pages of material regarding topics such as game addiction and a section on aggression research by Prof. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University.
Finally, NIMF's unfortunate decision to accept game industry funding clouds their grading effort. Inevitably, there are those who will say that the one-time watchdog has become a lapdog.