Thursday, October 23, 2003
More Bang for Your Buck: Video Game Ratings
As this week proves, baseball is still our national pastime. But there's another popular pastime with the kids - video games. If you're always shopping for the latest games, you know the content can be questionable. So in tonight's More Bang For The Buck, we thought we'd review the ratings system, before you spend your hard-earned money.
(WSVN) -- Shooting and street fighting are just some of the scenes plastered throughout video games.
These are images Cynthia Shannon wants to keep out of her home.
Cynthiasays, "We really try to keep the boys away from that kind of useless violence shooting of other people."
To help families like the Shannon's, the gaming industry formed the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Patricia Vance of the Entertainment Software Rating Board says,"We rate based on a variety of different elements in a game. Contact, intensity, frequency, the control."
But now parents and doctors alike are questioning how games are actually rated.
PediatricianDr. Michael Rich says, "There is something inherently flawed about an industry rating its own product."
The Entertainment Software Rating Board uses raters toview games, read about them and then assign a rating.
There are a total of five ratings in all: "EC" for early childhood, "E" for everyone, "T" for teen, "M" for mature, and "A" for adults.
"This game is rated 'T' so, the industry says this is fine for your teenage child."
"I disagree. It's a murder simulator for all intensive purposes."
Cynthia says, "We have found that the ratings system is totally inconsistent. That the teen ratings become a free-for-all."
But the industry cautions their warnings are only a recommendation.
Patricia Vance says, "It's really there as a guidance to provide objective information in an easy format."
It's that information that Dr. Rich feels is not very useful to parents.
He says,"I think that we have to take them with a grain of salt."
So he recommends the following before you buy:
Read reviews online.
Ask your kids why they want a particular game.
And try to sit down and play the game yourself. That way you can see firsthand exactly what is in it.
Dr. Rich says, "We need to move toward a system where the parents are aware of the content."
Video game ratings are not mandatory.
They are done on a voluntary basis.
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