Is the Video Game Rating System Effective?

ByABC News via via logo

Nov. 29, 2005— -- Video games can be so sexually explicit and violent that they require a rating system to prevent young people from being exposed to their edgy themes.

The raw images range from "Studds the Zombie" eating a virtual police officer to a scantily clad cheerleader from "Blitz: The League" dancing provocatively.

Although these games are rated M for mature, they are often readily accessible to minors below the age of 17.

Later today, David Walsh, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Media and the Family, will go to Capitol Hill to argue that the video-game rating system is broken and needs to be overhauled. In fact, two sons of ABCNews employees were able to buy a game rated mature, despite the fact that they are 14 and 16 years old.

"It's the industry rating itself," Walsh said. "It argues ratings give parents clear descriptions of what's in the games. The rest is up to them."

Retailers are getting better at policing themselves, the video-game industry says.

"Parents need to take responsibility for the games their children play," said Doug Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association. "I respect and trust the judgment of parents in the country to make those choices."

But some influential people send consumers mixed messages. For example, last week, rapper 50 Cent, who stars in the violent video game "True Crime: New York City" said: "Just because it is rated mature doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it for your kids."

The video-game industry said that the next generation of video-game consoles, including the new Xbox and the 2006 Sony Play Station, have V-chip components that will allow parents to better control their children's gaming.

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