Video game retailers are the strictest and most effective among entertainment retailers in enforcing age rating policies, according to a study released today by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In its undercover shopper survey, the FTC found that 87% of attempted purchases of Mature-rated games by children under the age of 17 were prevented. This remains an all-time high for the video game industry and exceeds every other entertainment format, including sales of music with parental-advisory labels, R-rated movie tickets, and R-rated and unrated DVDs. The video game industry is a strong proponent of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), and works vigorously to showcase its effectiveness in ensuring that parents maintain control over the games their children enjoy.
"The ESRB is the gold standard in entertainment ratings. The ESRB and its retail partners deserve thanks and praise for their outstanding work in empowering and helping parents," said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association. "This is the fourth report that has video game retailers performing the best in this important category. We have an unparalleled commitment to working with parents and retailers, and will continue to help ensure that this remarkable level of enforcement remains high."
The video game industry provides several effective tools for parents. First, the ESRB, which is a non-profit self-regulatory body, independently rates every computer and video game on store shelves. These ratings are prominently displayed on the front of every game. In addition to the age rating, games are assigned content descriptors that give more detail on why a computer or video game received its rating and are displayed on the back of a game’s box. Second, the industry also provides caregivers built-in, password-protected parental controls that limit which types of video games, based on the ESRB-assigned rating, can be played on all new game consoles. Additionally, through the ESRB Retail Council, the industry works closely with retailers to support enforcement of policies that prohibit the sale or rental of M-rated games to children under the age of 17.
To help ensure that parents’ awareness and usage levels of the ESRB system remain high, the U.S. video game industry recently announced a public service campaign, encouraging parents to check ratings and enable parental controls available on video game consoles.