With the holiday shopping season in full swing, a legislator in Washington State says game retailers there are not adequately enforcing the ESRB ratings.
Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D), the sponsor of a failed 2003 video game sales law, has issued a press release charging that youthful secret shoppers in King, Snohomish and Thurston counties were able to buy M-rated violent games – including GTA San Andreas – over half the time. Speaking of the survey results, Dickerson said:
That’s kind of a shocking statistic. I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was… This experiment shows that parents need to be vigilant about the video games their kids are buying, because too many retailers are still selling mature games to children.
The secret shoppers also reported that only two of 19 randomly targeted stores displayed signs to inform consumers about video game ratings. A 2005 Washington State law requires such information to be posted.
A retail clerk in Lacey, WA is said to have told one of the youthful buyers:
Just don’t tell anyone. I know your mom will just buy it for you anyway.
While none of the offending stores were named, Dickerson did offer praise to Microsoft and Best Buy for keeping parents informed about ratings. GP notes that Microsoft HQ is located in Dickerson’s state.
An audio report – produced by the Washington State legislature – on Dickerson’s investigation is available here.
Click here for a local TV news report on the secret shopper survey.