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Press Release
November 29, 2005
Andy Skoogman 651-276-0093
Brad Robideau 651.231.2482
Blois Olson 651.276.1678
New School Communications 651.221.1999
10th Annual MediaWise® Video Game Report Card:
Console Makers Have Evolved, Ratings Have Devolved,
Most Retailers Take Step Backward, with One Exception
Parents Need to "Watch What Your Kids Watch" and Play

Institute Calls for Ratings Summit; Provides Ten Year Review and Preview; Unveils 2005 MediaWise Parents Video Game Shopping List

Washington, D.C. -
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Contact: Blois Olson
New School Communications

The National Institute on Media and the Family, the nation's leading resource on the effects of media and video games on children, today released its 10th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card and a Ten Year Overview on the Past and Future of the Video Game industry today in Washington, D.C. This year's MediaWise Video Game Report Card highlights serious issues with the ratings system; lack of parental involvement; and commends the responsible retailers and game console makers.

David Walsh, Ph.D., president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, presented the 10th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card and was joined by Senator Joe Lieberman to unveil the report card. Nationally syndicated columnist Steven Kent also spoke on the trends of 2005. After a decade of research and monitoring, the Institute gave the video game industry a cumulative grade of "D+."

"There has been significant industry progress and reforms over the last decade, but ever more violent and sadistic games are still ending up in the hands of children," Dr. Walsh said. "We feel the ESRB, which is owned and operated by the video game industry, needs to be overhauled. Retailers need to stop selling violent video games to children, and lead all entertainment sectors by embracing a universal independent ratings system."

"Two years ago, the Interactive Entertainment Merchant's Association promised the public they would enforce policies preventing the sale of M-rated video games to children under 17," said Dr. Walsh. "Unfortunately, they're not making good on that promise. Retailers would rather appear as if they care about children instead of actually taking small steps to protect them."

Other areas of special concern in the 10th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card include: a student survey that shows M-rated video games are more popular than ever; the widening gap between what kids do and what parents know; and an update on the arcade industry's development, implementation and enforcement of its rating system. Similar to previous years, the Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card provides parents a list of recommended video games and games to avoid.

The National Institute on Media and the Family is an independent, non-partisan, non-sectarian, nonprofit organization. The Institute's mission is to maximize the benefits and minimize the harm mass media have on children through research and education. For more information, visit on the Web or call 1-888-672-5437.

Highlights of the Report Card and 10 Year Report Include:

  • Call for a Ratings Summit
    Despite 10 years of alert and repeated calls for improvement, the Institute has concluded the ESRB system is beyond repair. The Institute will convene a Ratings Summit in 2006 to be held with leading parent, health and child welfare groups. The Institute is also calling for an Independent Universal Ratings System to replace the ESRB.
  • Retail Enforcement
    This years' Institute's survey of retailers found that retailers were actually more lenient in their selling practices this year compared to last. The number of young girls able to buy M-rated video games without adult supervision skyrocketed. The secret shopper survey found that boys as young as 9 were able to buy M-rated video games 42 percent of the time and girls were able to purchase M-rated games 46 percent of the time. Last year, girls were only able to purchase games 8 percent of the time. One exception is Best Buy Corporation, which implemented its policy in 2005 and scored a perfect 100 percent in clerk enforcement in all of our sting efforts.
  • Parents Need to "Watch What Their Kids Watch"
    Parents and children are on different planets when it comes to what parents think their children are playing, and the games they are actually playing. To this effort, we will renew our "Watch What Your Kids Watch" PSA campaign in 2006, and expand beyond the 20 markets we targeted in 2005.
Trends for the Next 10 Years
The Institute's 10 Year Overview also identified the following trends as issues that the industry, researchers, retailers and parents need to begin to address moving forward.
  • Who's Playing Video Games Now?
    The most important trend in video games, one that has remained consistent with every new Report Card: each year more kids play more video games for more hours. Over the last ten years, video games have become one of the most prevalent and popular forms of entertainment.
  • Gaming and the Obesity Epidemic
    Increasingly, it seems that the average gamer is getting heavier. That's because the amount of time kids spend playing games, even non-violent and educational games, is contributing to the obesity epidemic among American youth.
  • Video and Computer Game Addiction
    Although the Institute was initially very skeptical about whether computers and video games were "addicting" to some individuals, there is now scientific evidence that the concept has validity.
  • The Teaching Power of Games
    The media revolution that laid the technological foundation for graphic first-person shooter games and addictive online games has also been a wellspring for games that teach learning skills, make exercising fun, train professionals, and offer fun, safe and engaging entertainment.
  • Family Friendly Settings
    The incorporation of parental controls and family settings in the new Microsoft Xbox 360, and the announcement by Nintendo last week that they would do the same, are key developments that illustrate the partnership and progress the Institute and others have made in the past ten years, and will keep pursuing for the next ten years.
10th Annual MediaWise® Video Game Report Card

Ratings Education - C+
Retailers' Policies - B
Retailers' Enforcement - D-
Ratings Accuracy - F
Arcade Survey - B-
Industry's 10-year cumulative grade - D+

MediaWise® Report Card Parent Buying Guide
Game Lists   Rating:
Parent Alert! Games to avoid for your children and teens
1. Far Cry M
2. F.E.A.R. M
3. The Warriors M
4. Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse M
5. True Crime: New York City M
6. Blitz: The League M
7. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories M
8. God of War M
9. Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil M
10. Urban Reign T
11. Conker: Live and Reloaded M
12. Resident Evil 4 M
MediaWise recommended games for children and teens
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire E 10+
2. The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer E 10+
3. Peter Jackson's King Kong E
4. Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap E
5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe E
6. Sly 3: Honor Amongst Thieves E 10+
7. We Love Katamari E
8. Sid Meier's Pirates! E
9. Dance Dance Revolution ULTRAMIX3 E 10+
10. Backyard Baseball 2005 E

©2005 National Institute on Media and the Family.