Senators, ESRB Open Video Game Ratings Campaign

Two prominent U.S. Senators on Thursday joined forces with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to launch a new nationwide television public service announcement (PSA) campaign. The goal is to encourage parents to use the video game ratings when buying games for their children.

Just in time for the holidays, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) joined ESRB President Patricia Vance on Capitol Hill to kick off the campaign that featured Best Buy and GameStop.

In the commercials, the executives affirm their respective company’s commitment to support the ESRB ratings and their store policy not to sell mature-rated games to children under 17 without their parent’s permission.

“We all share in the responsibility of making sure our children play age appropriate video games, and I’m pleased that the ESRB and retailers are working together to educate parents about the video game ratings and make sure they are enforced,” said Senator Clinton. “As we enter the holiday shopping season, it is important that parents have the information they need to make informed choices that are right for their families.”

Mixed-Media Campaign

The ads have been distributed to 800 stations across the country, and were timed to coincide with the busy holiday shopping season when more than half of video games are sold each year.

The ESRB is also distributing a radio PSA campaign — along with its award winning “OK to Play? – Check the Ratings” print PSA campaign — to media outlets nationwide.

“I have long said that the ESRB ratings are the most comprehensive in the media industry. There are many age-appropriate games that are clever and entertaining. Parents should understand and use the ratings to help them decide which video games to buy for their families,” said Senator Lieberman.

Abiding by the Ratings

The ESRB video game rating system was created in 1994 by the entertainment software industry in order to provide consumers, particularly parents, with information about the computer and video games they consider purchasing for their family.

Virtually every game sold at retail carries an ESRB rating. Consumer research shows that 83 percent of American parents with children who play video games are aware of the ratings, and three in four use them regularly when choosing which games they deem appropriate for their children.

“This campaign could possibly change buying behavior. A lot of adults buy kids games that they are too young to play based on the rating. So, if this raises the awareness of parents, it could have some affect,” In-Stat Senior Analyst Brian O’Rourke, told TechNewsWorld.

Classic Politicking

O’Rourke, however, said he wasn’t sure what to make of the big splash on Capitol Hill. It could just be a meeting of the minds between two U.S. Senators and the ESRB in effort to keep minors from getting their hands on M-rated video games. Or it could be classic politicking.

“If Hillary Clinton is going to run for president she needs to appeal to people who, right now, probably wouldn’t consider voting for her — the more conservative voters. By endorsing an effort to keep kids from getting adult level content, she could boost her credentials with those folks,” O’Rourke speculated.

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