The ESRB sees the game much more simply. "Despite being premised on a drinking game, the game's content involves essentially nothing more than tossing ping-pong balls into plastic cups," Patricia Vance, president of ESRB, wrote in a letter to Blumenthal. "We are thus unsure of the basis for the statement in your letter suggesting that this content 'glorifies alcohol abuse and binge drinking.' "
The states have no authority to regulate video game content or ratings, beyond extreme material that may fall under obscenity laws. "Grand Theft Auto," which has sold over 70 million copies, lets players take on the role of an urban criminal, including carjacking, pimping and assassinations such as killing police. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Rockstar Games, alleging damage from actions by gamers who may have been influenced by the title.
The Nintendo Wii game was originally titled "Beer Pong," but JV Games renamed it to "Pong Toss."
"We changed the name on our own accord," JV Games Co-Founder Jag Jaegers said. "It was something we were discussing before Attorney General Richard Blumenthal even got involved. It's for the most part the same game. But any alcoholic reference we simply removed. If the ball gets in the cup, you get points. In the game we never focused on anybody drinking or getting drunk. We were primarily focusing on the sport of the game itself."
Nintendo, which produces the popular Wii console, said it was satisfied after alcohol references were removed from the game.
"Nintendo supports JV Games' decision to change the name of its WiiWare title to Pong Toss," Nintendo of America said in a statement. "WiiWare is designed to be a forum for creative new ideas that are widely appealing to all consumers, and eliminating alcohol references in the game's title and content allow it to be enjoyed by a wider audience."