Congress Urges ESRB Ratings Check

Eight Members of Congress today urged parents and other consumers to check the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating before purchasing computer or video games this holiday season. Senators Santorum, Kohl, Allen, and Ensign and Representatives Pelosi, Blunt, Hoyer, and Coble asked shoppers to make sure the games they give to young people are age and content-appropriate.

"Nearly forty percent of all Americans plan on giving or receiving a computer or video game this holiday season according to a poll conducted by KRC Research for the Entertainment Software Association," said Senator Rick Santorum (R-NC). "I urge parents to be aware of the ESRB rating system and the guidance it can provide."

"The ratings system makes it crystal clear whether or not the content of the video game is appropriate for young children. With such a vast array of games available, parents will be able to find a suitable gift for the all the kids on their list with just a pause to check the ratings," said U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI).

"As a father, I appreciate that parents want to purchase their children these exciting games," said Senator George Allen (R-VA). "I understand that it's easy just to grab whatever's on the shelf, but I encourage all parents to check a game's rating to make sure that what they're giving as a gift is OK to play."

"It's important that each and every one of these millions of shoppers is aware of the ESRB rating system, so they can better understand what's in a game and if it's suitable for their families to play, "said Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

"Parents should know that when it comes to buying computer and video games, the control is in their hands," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. "There are a wide variety of games made for ages 6 to 60, so parents should check the rating to know what’s in the box and whether it’s right for their family."

"The ESRB computer and video game rating system is the best guide parents can use to determine if a game's content is right for their children," said Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO). "The message is simple: often the best present you can give your child is taking the time to really understand the gift you're giving to him or her."

"Though the holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for us all, it’s also perhaps the most important time of the year for consumers to stop and make sure they know what they’re buying for their loved ones," said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD). "The ESRB rating system provides parents and others with both age and content information about games, which can be an informative tool when purchasing games for family and friends."

"Buying computer and video games isn’t child's play. Shoppers need to make sure they understand what’s in the games their kids will be playing, just like they know what movies they see and books they read," said Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC). "The ESRB age ratings and content descriptions provide consumers with the details they need to decide what games are right for them, and I’d urge all game shoppers to use it this holiday season and throughout the year."

"The fact is that the average age of today's gamer is 30. This means that just as there are books, music, and movies produced for audiences of all ages, there are a wide variety of games available, so it's very important for parents and others to know exactly what's in the game before they buy it," said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. "With that said, it's also important to remember that close to 85% of all games sold last year were rated either "E" for everyone or "T" for teen, so consumers should know that there's a game out there for anyone."

Seventy-seven percent of adults with children in their household plan to check the rating when purchasing computer or video games as holiday gifts this season, according to a new survey released today that was conducted by KRC Research for the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. Poll results show that 81% of parents with children under the age of 12, and 71% of those with children between ages 12 to 17 will use a game's rating to guide their gift-giving decisions.

"We're very pleased that so many parents are planning on checking the rating," said Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB. "We would ultimately like to see each and every shopper who is buying a game for a young person makes full use of the rating system, which means checking both the age rating on the front of the box and the content descriptors on the back. These important tools give parents just the information they need to make appropriate game buying decisions for their families."

The ESRB ratings are designed to provide information about computer and video game content, so consumers can make informed purchase decisions. ESRB ratings have two parts: rating symbols suggest age appropriateness for the game, and content descriptors indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating and may be of concern.

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