The ICCR: Clueless, Ignorant, and Uninformed

I'm going to do something a little bit different with this op-ed piece. Since the ICCR is a group of completely uniformed individuals who feel it is the responsibility of major corporations to do a parents work, I'm going to play a game with them. I'm going to spot them 5 "credibility" points. Then, if I find something that they say is either ridiculous or untrue, they lose a point. If they say something that has merit, they gain a point. Simple? Good.

First, all of the comments are either taken from this joint statement, or this hour long conference call.

Starting off with the first statement:

"One factor contributing to violence is entertainment media products such as violent video games. Years of research have shown that viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behavior, particularly in children."

What they have failed to mention is that plenty of other studies have been done which show no ill effects. Credibility points: -1 for a total of 4

"Video games have emerged as a popular form of entertainment, with 70% of children living in a home with at least one video game player, and 33% with one in their bedrooms. $7 billion were spent in the United States in 2003 on video and computer games."

Ok, that seems about right. Credibility points: +1 for a total of 5

"We believe that corporations in the video game industry, who may pride themselves as good corporate citizens with an interest in promoting healthy communities, must assume greater responsibility in ensuring that violent interactive entertainment is not accessible to children and youth."

So parents should not be responsible for knowing what their child is doing with $50? Why should a company be responsible if you let your child run around town spending money on violent video games? Credibility points: -1 for a total of 4

"We ask companies to consider what messages are being sent to children and youth when they market certain video games that promote violence and gender and racial stereotyping. For example, the Federal Trade Commission's July 2004 study expressed a concern about advertisements promoting Mature-rated games (for ages 17 and older) in publications oriented toward younger children. We believe this type of marketing must end."

Those are called "video game magazines." Do you think they will not feature advertising for the hottest games of the year? Even if a child is exposed to an ad, that doesn't mean they should get the game even when they go yelling to dad about what it is they want for Christmas. Credibility points: -1 for a total of 3

"While a number of retailers have made efforts to restrict the sale of inappropriate games to children, we are not satisfied with the results. The Federal Trade Commission's "Mystery Shopper Survey" in 2003 found that 69% of children were able to purchase Mature-rated games in retail stores."

So, you purposely sent a child into a store (who's age was not mentioned) to buy a violent video game? What exactly does this prove? It has no bearing on the situation. In a normal situation, the parent should be with the child and be able to make an informed decision. Credibility points: -1 for a total of 2.

"We call on the marketers and sellers of video games to:
Prevent minors from purchasing/renting M-rated games by separating these from other games so that parents can shop for products appropriate for their children."

A parent can't see the very bold "M" on the front of the game packaging? If they can't see that, then separation surely isn't going to do much good. Credibility points: -1 for a total of 1.

"We urge those who purchase video games for children, or allow children to purchase such games, to do so with great care."

Agreed, Common sense, but agreed. Credibility points: +1 for a total of 2.

"The current rating system is confusing to parents. The information is not available."

Huh?? Have you missed the flyers at EVERY store that sells video games? Did you miss the phone number AND website address included in those flyers? The ESRB even has a video on every game system kiosk that plays constantly. Oh, and they advertise in those "evil" game magazines too. Credibility points: -1 for a total of 1.

"The game box should list what it is children need to in the game to progress."

Hey, guess what? They do. Though recent (as of this year I believe), the back of every game states exactly what it is the game contains, from violence, to drugs, to other potentially offensive material. Credibility points: -1 for a total of 0.

WORST VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES
1. Doom 3
2. Grand Theft Auto: "San Andreas"
3. Gunslinger Girls 2

So, Doom 3, a game where you kill various monsters is worse than killing cops in GTA? Might also want to mention that half of the population has likely never even heard of Gunslinger Girls, but since it's based off a Japanese anime, why don't you just tell them to put the DVD's in a special place too? Credibility points: -2 for a total of -2.

RECOMMENDED NON-VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES
1. Antigrav
2. EyeToy:Antigrav"

Well, thanks ICCR for making this one easy. Both of those are the same game. How it made it onto two spots (which is certainly more confusing to a parent than the ratings system) is baffling and shows that you have absolutely no idea what you preach. Credibility points: -1 for a total of -3.

"7. Prince of Persia"

You have to assume that they are referring to the first game (which came out last year by the way). This one is pretty violent with the Prince hacking his way through various evil monstrosities, but I guess you missed that part and tossed it on the "good" list anyway. If it's the second one, then you people are flat out stupid. Credibility points: -1 for a total of -4.

"Most of the violence is embedded deep into these games... The people who rate them for the ESRB just see a short video."

Wrong. Dead wrong. Companies who send in the tapes to the ESRB submit the games worst content. The length of the video obviously depends on the content of the game. IF there is something that should be shown that is not, the company is faced with a huge fine and it is resubmitted. Stretching the truth will get you nowhere. Credibility points: -1 for a total of -5.

"The people who rate these games do not play them"

Later in the conference call after being asked a question by a media member:

"I don't play the games. I don't believe that is relevant."

Gee, sounds like someone is hypocritical. Credibility points: -1 for a total of -6.
Ok, these people are trying to do a public service. There are multiple problems. First and most obvious is that these people do not have a clue about what they are talking about. They rip on the game industry but fail to do so for movies which certainly depict violence in a much more realistic manner. All this group (and others) is trying to do is grab attention to themselves since games are such a hot topic.

Second, this is a parent's job. Yes, they need to work to survive, but that is no excuse for not accepting proper responsibility for raising their child. That's what happens when you have a kid. If you can't care for them, you should have thought about that before you had it. Don't blame the media, game developers, and stores for not doing their "job" when it isn't theirs to begin with.

Finally, people need to understand that a very small percentage of games end up with the dreaded "M" rating. Yes, a lot of these games are best sellers, but the average age of the gamer has increased since the days of Pong, something they also failed to mention. Of course the games are going to sell when the target demographic is 18-27. Duh. Kids under that age have the other 90% of the market to play with.

Let's end on this simple note that I hope the ICCR can understand: Shut up. No one cares. Those who do already know the rating system can figure it out for themselves making the list useless and those who do not surely don't care what you have to say. Leave us alone. This hobby is ours, not yours. If you don't like it (which you obviously don't since you don't play the games), just stay away. Quit wasting money and find something that's actually productive to do.

Comments (1)

Spencer Zoran:

I completely agree with you on all of your points. The ICCR should stop wasting their time, well spoken.

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