State Rep Says Game Retailers Are Not Enforcing Ratings in Washington

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.

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  1. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Thefremen

    I don’t like porn and I don’t think that people should use it. However, as I said up there, I don’t think that things should be banned because I don’t like them. I think that’s wrong to say, “Well, I don’t like this, so it should be made illegal.” If I said that, I’d be no better than anti-game activists.

  2. 0
    Thefremen says:

    So which is it, you don’t like porn or you think that people shouldn’t be aroused?

    “…it arouses parts of the brain that shouldn’t be aroused, according to my religion.”

    “As for porn, I follow what my religion teaches on the issue.”

  3. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Thefremen

    I think that all pornography is bad, but I am not an activist like Jack Thompson. I don’t think that just because I’m against something, it should automatically be banned. By communistic, I mean that in a communistic society, the government says, “We don’t like this, so no one should have it.” That’s what I mean. I am against certain things, but I don’t think they should be made illegal just because I don’t like it. However, I think pornography is bad in all it’s forms and I don’t have anything to do with it.

  4. 0
    Thefremen says:

    Communistic attitude? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

    So which is it, you don’t like porn or you think that people shouldn’t be aroused?

    “…it arouses parts of the brain that shouldn’t be aroused, according to my religion.”

    “As for porn, I follow what my religion teaches on the issue.”

    Pick a stance and stay there, at least for the same thread.

    Controlling media with censorship is an aspect common in the way that both Russia and China have operated but it is not exlcusive to communist governments or even governments which is why I find it extremely odd that you’d say that attitude is “communistic”. the desire to get rid of media you don’t agree with is common among many many groups of people ranging from the Nazis to Fundamentalist Christians to Gregory Peck.

    So yeah, do you interpret the bible as saying people shouldn’t be sexually stimulated, or are you saying you interpret the bible as saying that people shouldn’t be sexually stimulated by electronic media?

  5. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Thefremen

    I am against violence in the real world. I only condone it in video games and movies because there it’s not real, and it’s fun. Violent content in games and movies should be pumped up to the max, but, in real life, it needs to happen a lot less. As for porn, I follow what my religion teaches on the issue. They say it’s wrong, so I believe it’s wrong. You see there are many things that my religion teaches are wrong that I believe. However, I am not an activist, so that means that I think they’re wrong and I won’t do them, but I also don’t protest them either.

    I think certain things are bad and wrong, but unlike Jack Thompson, I don’t say, “I think this is wrong, so no one should have it.” That’s my idea is that if someone is against something, then they shouldn’t do it, but they have no right to stop others from doing it. That’s my mentality.

    This means that if Jack Thompson truly thinks that these games are murder simulators and evil, then he shouldn’t play them, but he has no right to stop others from playing them because others might have a different opinion and might not think that these games are murder simulators. I truly think that trying to stop people from doing something, because you don’t like it, is a communistic attitude.

  6. 0
    Thefremen says:


    A christian a christian a christian! 2000 years ago we would have hung you upside down from a tree with a fork up your ass!

    Micheal Richards lampoons aside, the conversation which could be had on whether or not God hates sex would be interesting, but lets just leave it at I think God doesn’t want us to stay married for 50 years in fucking misery and utter boredom, and you think female orgasms should be seen as often as the loch ness monster.

    Just because I personally disagree with the content of something gives me no excuse to lie about it. I’ll grant you hot coffee lies in murky waters and if you just came to the topic it may be difficult to sort out fact from fabrication compared to someone like myself who followed it from day 1. Still though, read a source like wikipedia which is revised and edited and contains material from all sides.

    I personally disagree with ultraviolence as well, I would not want to hit a woman in the head with a giant ceramic phallus. Maybe that sounds fun to you, but not to me. At any rate, in America freedom of speech does not protect porn so be happy your side has already won. (Again, not that I particularly enjoy porn or want sexual content in everything, but I won’t deny others the pleasure because of what I find distasteful)

    Maybe you should come to the forums, bayushan needs an ally for next time a topic comes up along the lines of “omg the gays are ebil!”.

  7. 0
    Wolf ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You take it because you’re make nonsense claims; it may be for us, but when you start blowing “Jack Thompson!” this and “Jack Thompson” that, and every other example, it makes the community look bad. You don’t defent, you flame. Defending is present counter-evidence, counter-points, which in from I’ve read from you so far, you have yet to present.

    Jack Thompson is not a threat. He goes on and on like the damn Energizer Bunny, but never gets anywhere because he does the same thing; he flames, he provides idiotic “evidences,” he bites and claws but just gets kicked away like a bad dog. His act is old, and we’re tired of it. He’s becoming more and more like a crazy man on a street corner screaming about how the world will end and the alien overlords are coming and the government is reading his mind. People are starting to tune him out.

    You apparently fail to see who we must really target. The parents. We need to get in touch with the parents, and educate them on what the ratings are for and how to use them to make the decision of what they feel is appropriate for their children, and educate them on how to actually BE a parent, instead of sitting there while their kid plays a violent video games, whining about “OH THIS IS SO AWFUL AND BAD!” when they can just stand up and say “Okay, that’s enough. Time’s up, now go do your homework or clean your room.”

  8. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Thefremen

    P.S. One last thing, so you’ll see where I’m coming from. As I said up there, I am a Christian, who likes to play ultra-violent video games. While I’ve met others, who also like gory games. I’ve met many more who think they’re bad. I have had to defend my beloved hobby endlessly in the past. I took a lot of chriticism for it and my only wish was that I could defend these games and help to destroy this BS idea that these games make people behave violently. Defending these games from nasty critics is not a new thing for me. I took a lot of crap because of what I like to do in my spare time. I just never thought I would take it from this side of the fence.

  9. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Thefremen

    I’ve read from many web sites and that’s how I know so much about Jack Thompson. He is a jerk with a very mean spirit. I’m also no fan of Paris Hilton. The only time I’ve ever even heard of her is when Carlos Mencia makes fun of her in “Mind of Mencia.” I simply feel that violent content in games is good entertainment and that it doesn’t effect anybody. On the other hand, I think that sexual content in games is bad because it arouses parts of the brain that shouldn’t be aroused, according to my religion.

    I don’t think that violent content in games leaves any lasting impact other than, “I did it now it’s on to the next level.” However, my reliegion teaches that sexual content in games and films is wrong. I felt like Wolf was saying that I’m in favor of it, so I used the fact that I never defended the hot coffee mod as evidence to prove otherwise.

    I’m not trolling on this site. I’m simply standing up for violent content in video games, which is under attack by Jack Thompson and Congress because of random acts of violence. You’re right, I’m no Jack Thompson. I’m not a stupid lying jerk like he is. Thanks for the compliment.

    I don’t intend to rile up anybody. I want to get all you gamers to try to attack the lies of Jack Thompson, and other anti-game fanatics to destroy their arguments. When I read about debates about violent video games, it sounded to me like only the side of anti-game fanatics was heard. I kept thinking, “Where are the people who are progames?” That’s why I came here to get other gamers to send letters to defend games, just as Jack Thompson does to attack them. That’s my real purpose here. I want us to make our voices heard, so that the people in charge won’t just hear one side and side with anti-game fanatics. That would lead to game legislation.

    Maybe I don’t know much about the hot coffee mod since I have never played that game. I only know what I heard on XPLAY, which has been very accurate on video games in the past. I am not trying to be a jerk. I’m only trying to get others to do something about the threat of anti-game fanatics. You are wrong about me one hundred percent. I tell you all time and again what my purpose is and you still don’t get it. These games are not murder simulators and that’s what I want people to come to see, so the issue will go away.

  10. 0
    Thefremen says:

    Daniel, it has become more than obvious that you are just a troll who makes posts with the sole aim of infuriating those who are reading. Why else would you not do any research whatsoever before making outlandish claims? Occum’s razor sweetie, the more rediculous the claim the more proof is required. This is what defeats moon landing conspiracy nuts and what defeats hot coffee conspiracy nuts as well.

    I have the original game for ps2.




    Hot Coffee AS SHIPPED if you HACK IT to access the content is a clothed female simulating felatio on a clothed man as he makes degrading remarks. CLOTHED.

    Anyways, your trolling has worked, I’m riled up, Brokenscope is riled up…but let’s face it you went the easy route here, you infuriated us by being willfully ignorant and stupid. I mean, I could go to your forum- what is it, ? – and act like I don’t know the difference between her and Lindsay Lohan but what would that prove?

    Why are you trolling anyways?

    To sum things up: Read a God Damned book or maybe even a fucking webpage it won’t hurt I promise; if you’re going to troll do it with some pinache, this forum has seen the most epic troll ever, Jack Thompson and you are no Jack Thompson; again, research or at least read what other posters are saying for fuck’s sake.

  11. 0
    Wolf ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Daniel, I was using GTA and porn, as a R-E-F-E-R-E-N-C-E.

    Main Entry: 1ref·er·ence
    Pronunciation: ‘re-f&rn(t)s, ‘re-f(&-)r&n(t)s
    Function: noun
    1 : the act of referring or consulting
    2 : a bearing on a matter : RELATION
    3 : something that refers : as a : ALLUSION, MENTION b : something (as a sign or indication) that refers a reader or consulter to another source of information (as a book or passage) c : consultation of sources of information
    4 : one referred to or consulted: as a : a person to whom inquiries as to character or ability can be made b : a statement of the qualifications of a person seeking employment or appointment given by someone familiar with the person c (1) : a source of information (as a book or passage) to which a reader or consulter is referred (2) : a work (as a dictionary or encyclopedia) containing useful facts or information d : DENOTATION, MEANING

    Did I ever say you’re for it? No, I didn’t. I said if you think we should sell Rated M stuff to kids, LIKE GTA!, then we should sell porn, too! I mean, one year is hardly a difference, and who cares if it’s going to a child? I mean, it’s all the same logic, right? The child should have no restriction of what could be bought regardless of age because your daddy wouldn’t let you buy higher-rated games.

  12. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:



    For a history major, you ability to doubt a source is rather weak.

  13. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Brokenscope

    I don’t intend to sound like Jack Thompson. I am only saying what I heard on XPLAY. Adam Sessler described it as a hidden mini-game. That’s the only place I’ve ever really heard of the hot coffee mod. I heard all about it on XPLAY and I didn’t really question it because I’ve always found XPLAY to be a credible source of information and I took Adam Sessler’s word for it. However, it must be pornography because they wouldn’t fuzz it out if it weren’t.

    As for the issue of pixelated violence, the way I look at it is that Jesus didn’t die for pixels on a screen and pixels don’t have souls, therefore, there’s nothing wrong with it. I don’t like the idea that it’s all or nothing. You have to be in favor of both, or be against both. Also, people have an inclination towards sex, not violence. That’s why sexual content is bad and violent content isn’t, according to my way of thinking.

  14. 0
    jonwanker says:

    Should stores enforce the age requirements? Absolutely, if the industry’s claim that they can self-regulate and don’t need government oversight/regulation, then it has to take the responsibility to do the things it says it would do to assauge the fears of the public, no matter how irrational they may be. That means enforcing the ESRB ratings. Argue all you want about whether or not games actually have negative effects on minors, but at the end of the day, this is the way things are.

    It’s like the porn example someone else brought up. It’s arguable whether or not porn has adverse effects on kids, but society has deemed it to be so. The law says that stores cannot sell porn to minors, and (for the most part) stores obey the law; and that’s why there isn’t a Jack Thompson of the porn industry. It doesn’t matter that any 14 yr kid can get his hands on porn, all that matters is that he’s not getting it from the stores. If the kids are buying the games from the stores, or online, then it’s the industry and the stores that are subverting the system and the parents/politicians can (rightfully) blame the stores/the industry; but if the kids get the games off bittorrent, or DC++, then it’s the kids subverting the system, and the parents have no one to blame but themselves. Dickerson makes a good point in that respect in her press release:

    “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… Parents need to know that if they aren’t monitoring their children’s games, probably no one is.”

    From my perspective, despite the questionable parametres of her study, Dickerson is right, for the most part. She isn’t saying anything extreme, or outrageous, just that stores don’t do a good job enforcing the self-imposed rules of the industry and parents need to be aware of that.

  15. 0
    Thefremen says:

    To daniel:

    Wikipedia, do you fucking use it?

    Yes, hot coffee was in the game with clothes. No, hot coffee was not accessable without a hack, the mod enabled the hack and added nude skins which were shown on tv for sensationalist value. The mod was created by someone who was more than glad to take credit for it back in the Gamepolitics LJ days.

    Fucking seriously, all you Gaia fags think you walk in here and say “desu” and you’re the same as a GP vet? Fuck you, lurk moar or gtfo noobs.

    This is not copypasta.

  16. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Never hard of the term work hard than you play harder?
    Japan has a lower limit on sex than it dose on violence,games like RE4 are censored while they have games like Sexy beach and and various sex and nude versions of the game type DOA Volly Ball,not to mention some of the most deprived set of comics and animation known to man yet over all as a society they are mature look at Britain they have a cap on violence and sex but not like japan they have a higher over all crime rate,look at the US where censorship and ignorance are the most bliss and have a higher crime rate then them,protecting citizens from life a bit to much creates more unhappy and off balanced people.

    with the puritan set violence is a necessity for growth,while frowned on its viewed as soemthign “human” were as sex has become the great evil look at the 50’s and how sex and rape was treated begin raped was the same as being the raper and sometimes the raper was seen in a better light,to go back to that time we do not need.

    You might not like sex even I have my limit on it I cant stand TV because its ether sex or violence and no to little story.
    But to say sex should be baned and violence is not all that bad is sound as silly as thos that wont to ban games just because they don’t understand it.

  17. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It also tends to result in t…. never mind I am not going to go there. The mini-game was also not even complete. Both characters are fully clothed unless you mod the game even further.

  18. 0
    Malarac ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Daniel

    It’s kinda funny you argue that you aren’t a hypocrite yet you condone shooting pixels with pixel bullets but are against shooting pixels with ‘clue goo’…
    You say that real-life violence is bad and pixel violence is fine, yet pixel sex is just as bad as real-life sex?
    Sexual freedom is liberation, conservative religion is a prison

  19. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You are starting to sound more like JT with every post.

    g4 is not a very good channel let alone news source.

    Disabled not hidden. There was no hiding, it was disabled and no where in an official copy of the game is there the ability to view a sex scene.

    Also if you are going to bring the bible into this. god said thou shalt not kill. He also said thou shalt not commit adultery.

    How is one acceptable in virtual form and another is not. Do not bring religion into this argument. It adds nothing and the people here tend to get annoyed with it.

  20. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Will someone please back me up on this.

    Daniel A cheat code cannot and will not ever. EVER EVER open hot coffee. That is a lie jack has been telling and that politicians have been using. Once again. GTA has not nudity that can be accessed without a third part modification tot he game. AS in if you played every bit of the game it would never appear.

  21. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Brokenscope

    When I say that sex is bad. I mean sexual content in a game and that’s the only reason why I don’t play Grand Theft Auto because it has sexual content. I don’t think sex is completely bad. I only think that pornography and sexual content in games and movies are bad and if you look at my posts, I never said anything in favor of sexual content.

    I heard that the hot coffee mod was a hidden minigame in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and a cheat code was used to get into it. Also I watch G4 TechTV and they had to fuzz out the graphic sex acts in the hot coffee mod. In fact, when I started coming here, there was a fuzzed out picture from the hot coffee mod on one of the listings. I don’t think the people in the hot coffee mod were wearing clothes, or they wouldn’t have had to fuzz it out.

    @ ZippyDSMlee

    I think that violent content in a game is not bad. Real violence, in real life, is bad. If it’s real, then it’s bad. I’m a history major and I don’t condone the Gladiator games that the ancient Romans had because they were killing real people. They weren’t pretending and they weren’t killing pixels on a screen. They were killing real people. The ancient Roman’s games destroyed real human life and that was wrong.

  22. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    “Sex is bad because it makes people think bad things.”

    Actually, I’ve always thought that sex is natural. Sex is good. Not everybody does it, but everybody should.

  23. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Sex is bad and violence is not?

    Just stop and think about it……if violence was as “bad” as “sex” this world would be alot better since they would not kill themselfs over the dumbest of things,better to hump a leg than to kill soemone .

  24. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sex is not bad. The bible never says that. It says sexual immorality is bad. If you think sex is bad I would suggest you avoid the song of Solomon. That might make you lose your religion.

  25. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Gratz you just dropped the fucking BOMB.

    To quote an old game advert, with my own editing “Jack Thompson just made you his bitch.”

    You have now believed the lies of JT. You have just proven yourself to be uninformed.

    It was a thrid party modification. IT WAS NOT MADE BY THE INDUSTRY. A modder took disused code in the game and unlocked it, an opened a minigame. I’m not going to call it a sex mini game, because it wasn’t. IT can ONLY be view with a THIRD PARTY modification.

    If 2 clothed people dry humping is considered hardcore porn what the hell do you consider an anatomy class. How do you walk around in a city or a mall. Unless you go get a third party modification you see nothing in any form that could be considered nudity.

    Also, please don’t start a discussion on the bible right now, those never end well here.

  26. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Brokenscope

    Yes, I know what it was and I’m totally against it. It’s hardcore pornography and I hope you don’t think I’m in favor of that. I’m against pornography because the Bible say, “Flee sexual immorality.” With pixelated images of violence, that doesn’t effect anyone because, in most people, there is no tendancy to be violent. However, with pornography, it destroys the mind and the soul. Sex is bad because it makes people think bad things. I am in no way in favor of the hot coffee mod in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. The video game industry went way too far with that one. I don’t condone pornography period.

  27. 0
    Daniel says:

    I made a mistake in the first sentence of my second post. I thought I had worded it wrong. I am against pornography and I thought I had said the wrong thing. I messed up in the first sentence of the second post. I’m sorry for the mix up. I’m against it and I don’t condone it. I hope that clears things up.

  28. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Wolf

    Hey, wait a minute. I’ve said before that I am in favor of pornography. I never defended Grand Theft Auto San Andreas’ Hot Coffee mod. I don’t think pornography is good and I’m against it. I’m only in favor of violent content in games because I truly believe that it doesn’t effect people. All I’m saying is that I am not against underage people playing violent games because I did it and I don’t think that what I did was wrong. That’s all I’m saying.

    If you notice in my posts, I almost never mention Grand Theft Auto. I don’t play that game because of the sexual content. If Jack Thompson were only against sexual content, I wouldn’t be posting things on this site. I just can’t admit that violent content in games causes violence because it doesn’t and that’s what I’m getting at.

  29. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Wolf

    Hey, wait a minute. I’ve said before that I am not in favor of pornography. I never defended Grand Theft Auto San Andreas’ Hot Coffee mod. I don’t think pornography is good and I’m against it. I’m only in favor of violent content in games because I truly believe that it doesn’t effect people. All I’m saying is that I am not against underage people playing violent games because I did it and I don’t think that what I did was wrong. That’s all I’m saying.

    If you notice in my posts, I almost never mention Grand Theft Auto. I don’t play that game because of the sexual content. If Jack Thompson were only against sexual content, I wouldn’t be posting things on this site. I just can’t admit that violent content in games causes violence because it doesn’t and that’s what I’m getting at.

  30. 0
    Wolf ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Tell you what. Go work in one of these stores, and allow the games to be sold to 10, 11, whatever-year-olds. Then you can deal with the angry parents who want to know why (and how) their children got a hold of something they, the parents, don’t want their children playing, because they feel their child is still a bit too young for such entertainment.

    Maybe we should allow them to buy porn as well; after all, that doesn’t hurt anybody either and just because the parents won’t allow it, well…Who cares! They’re just parents, they hold no form of authority in this situation! And I’m absolutely positive the business would be just happy to lose money and customers because some kid who can’t even drive wants to play God of War or GTA!

    If the kid wants to play it, he can ask his parents nicely, and if they feel it’s okay, then they can go with him to buy it. So very hard. And if they don’t, well, then it’s just more incentive for the kid to grow up and get their own place.

  31. 0
    Daniel says:

    I think that M rated games should be sold to minors. As I said before, I bought two M rated games back in 1999 and I don’t think I did anything wrong. You see the way I feel about it is if I said that it’s wrong, I would be a liar and a hypocrit.

    Let me give you an example. I was always against the idea that people under the age of eighteen owe people, who are over the age of eighteen tons of respect and to call them by their last name because they’re over the age of eighteen. That’s the way I felt about it years ago and I still feel the same way now.

    I don’t think that people, who are under the age of eighteen, have to call me by my last name and give me tons of respect because I’m over eighteen. If I feel a certain way about something that isn’t fair, I will continue to feel that it isn’t fair and, thus, I’m not a hypocrit. If I said that people under the age of seventeen shouldn’t play violent video games, I’d be a lying hypocrit because I did it and I didn’t think it was wrong and I still don’t think it was wrong.

  32. 0
    ~the1jeffy says:

    “Just don’t tell anyone. I know your mom will just buy it for you anyway.”

    Superficially, this is pretty damning quote. However, as a former retail employee, I can tell you that this sentiment isn’t due to under-handed tactics. It’s a sign of the season. If that retail clerk ha time to breathe in-between customers, perhaps the turn-away rate for underage would be higher. For example, try those same stores in February, even the same clerks. I’ll give you 10:1 that the turn away would be better.

    The extra minutes it takes to turn away/ card someone, only to have his/her parent come over later and buy the same thing, lets a line form. Then you get complaints about poor customer service. Or you can take the safe bet that the kid’s parents don’t care, get the kid out the door, and get on with the next lunatic asking if any PS3’s are in-stock.

    I really blame the whole thing on the anti-piracy crap the industry forces on retailers. Once the game’s open – no return. So if the parent sees GTA after the kid buys it, they are stuck with it. However, the number of times that the parent cares enough to return to the store to complain about it is tiny. Even so, those few times do happen, and if the parent pisses and moans enough most times the retailer will store credit the game.

    The more likely scenario is that the parent will simply complain to other parents about the retailer’s, “Not doing enough,” and this message will trickle up through PTA orgs and the like. Not realizing, of course, that setting your kid loose with 50-60 bucks gives that kid the responsibility for that money. So what happens when the kid buys a game the parent doesn’t like? Nothing, normally, since good parents have prevented this (or take the game and tell the kid SOL, or talk it over, etc.), and bad parents don’t care, and a tiny fraction of bad parents scream to high heavens about protecting the children.

    So, really, anyone who has worked retail over consumer-mas can fully understand the sentiment from that clerk’s quote.

  33. 0
    King Nintendoid ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Protip: there is nothing to enforce.

    If you do think so, then you’d better start enforcing other serious warning labels such as “this side up”, “may contain nuts” and the dreaded “do not stick in pooper”.

  34. 0
    Andrew Eisen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    While I’d like to know what the success rates by age was and what stores were visited (Non EMA stores like Larry’s World of Humidifiers, Spatulas, and Video Games may have different sales policies), what it all comes down to is “who cares?”

    Seriously. So a twelve-year-old plays San Andreas. So what? Is that child going to get cancer? Melt? Spontaneously combust?


    Is that child going to start torturing kittens with hacksaws or stabbing people in the face with safety scissors?

    Not unless he or she is psychotic.

    I’m still confused by the fact that so much effort is expended over something that isn’t a problem. When studies show (or even reasonably suggest) that games harm people, then worry about it.

    Me? I’m going to continue to eat Jell-O until studies show that it rots my innards. No reason to abstain from something I enjoy on the off chance that someday, someone might find it to be harmful.

    Andrew Eisen

  35. 0
    Gamer81 says:

    “National Center for Media and the Family” ???? Does the press release really say that? I thought they were called the National Institute on Media and the Family.

    Also, what would be the odds that the same 12-16 year olds would be unsuccessful in getting their hands on R rated DVD movies? Oh I forgot, the movie industry is doing a “wonderful” job restricting movies from children, as lawmakers have long told us. If only these lawmakers would learn to read, maybe they can read the FTC report which states children were far more successful in getting their hands on R rated movies than M rated games.

  36. 0
    Phantom says:

    And meanwhile, my coworker’s 10-year-old son just bought a PS3 with money he’d been saving up from family gifts (Chinese New Year, etc) and odd jobs. So saying that 12-year-olds can’t get that kind of money isn’t true. Heck, even when I was 12, I was getting $7 or $8 a week for my allowance. If I wasn’t an avid comic book fanatic, saving up $50 would have been easy.

  37. 0
    Andrew Eisen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I recently conducted my own underage shopper sting. Yes indeedy, I told 20 twelve year olds to go to Wal-Mart and purchase a copy of San Andreas. The result?

    Not a one of them had fifty bucks or transportation to the store…

    Andrew Eisen

  38. 0
    gs2005 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    She is not to be trusted by default-she is the first politician that launched an anti-video game legislation attempt in 2003. It was thrown out, but I’d bet she is still very sore about that.

  39. 0
    Thefremen says:

    I randomly polled 16 people totally by random and 100% of them thought Rep. Mary Lou Dickenson was doing a piss poor job. Of course, I randomly selected who would be randomly selected but I think that’s perfectly fair.

  40. 0
    Benji says:

    The fact that it’s the holiday season will also make enforcement worse. Stores hire a lot of seasonal help, and the new seasonal hires are less likely to know all the ins and outs of ratings enforcement than someone who’s been at the store longer.
    Still, at least her emphasis is on the fact that parents need to pay attention and that retailers are being somewhat lax. She doesn’t insinuate that the game industry or the ratings system as a whole are broken – just that they’re not being used to their proper extent.

  41. 0
    Phantom says:

    @ ChrowX

    You’re reading things into it that aren’t there. The press release specifies that this was Washington state. There’s nothing in there accusing stores across the nation are selling these. Hell, it’s not even stores across the state. She stuck to three of the counties with higher populations and major retail centers. She probably stuck with the Alderwood Mall area in Snohomish County, which is located in a Seattle suburb and is one of the bigger malls in the state. Likewise, the other two areas she went to were probably Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, and the Capital Mall in Olympia.

  42. 0
    Sigma 7 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is not an issue.

    Usually, the violent games are expensive – the child is usually given a large amount of money, thus implying that the parents trust decisions with semi-large purchases. (Otherwise, the child was given small increments of money over a large period of time – which has the same effect, or belongs to an allowance-sharing club.)

    I remember buying two games while I was underage – Doom and Duke3D. I did have a beard at the time, and if challenged, I could easily try bluffing the fact that I had a pirated version and wanted to become legit. (e.g. recite the Doom levels, and make a quick description of modifying one of the bosses to make it more “challenging”). These were also pre-ESRB games.

    While the situation has improved since then, you should not expect anything approaching infalliability for “soft” standards – especially when minors still manage to get their hands on tobacco and alcohol products.

  43. 0
    Phantom says:

    @ Marshie,

    The only available information is a couple of snippets from a press release.

    I live in Seattle. It would not shock me at all that poorly-trained temporary cashiers earning minimum wage are selling M-rated games at a higher rate to kids during the holiday rush season.

  44. 0
    ChrowX ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I think she fails to mention what stores they hit up. for all we know she could’ve gone to a bunch of hole in the way used videogame store. So the guy as ‘Bob’s Videogame Barn’ sold your kids a copy of GTA. I guess this means that stores all across the nation are selling things (god forbid!) this is madness!

    The thing I hate here is not that fact that this little sting operation of hers is so poorly executed, but the fact that it ALWAYS comes back to parental responsibility. Ya, a 12 year old should be playing GTA:San Andreas, but more importantly, he shouldn’t want to. Those games aren’t aimed at young kids even if everyone claims they are. These senators are putting the Videogame industry on the same level as big tobacco. They want everyone to think that there’s some shady guy at Gamestop telling their kid to buy GTA instead of Super monkey ball.

    What’s worse is they want to treat these games like alcohol and tobacco and tax them, impose government regulation and control, and pretty much ruin the industry, just because these morons don’t take the time to pay attention to their kids. My theory is that they’re too busy out on these moronic anti-videogame crusades to pay attention to what their kids are actually doing.

  45. 0
    Marshie says:

    Eh… As far as I’m concerned, this secret shopper thing is a total wash, Phantom. The only information available suggests that the study as done was unscientific and was designed to produce the information they wanted. The press release only mentions specific ages where it would be damning of the industry as a whole instead of praising, and gives the impression that it was a horde of pre-teens doing the study.

  46. 0
    MechaTama31 ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

    This woman used to be my den mother when I was in cub scouts, and she was awesome. It makes me so angry to keep reading about her crusade against games. How did she get so misguided? When? Why?


  47. 0
    Phantom says:

    I’m sure if you emailed them, they would probably be happy to provide you with a more detailed breakdown of the age groups of the kids involved, and which kids purchased from which stores. If they had each of the 9 kids involved try to buy something from each of the 19 stores, then you’re looking at a better sampling.

  48. 0
    LordLundar says:

    Wow, does this lady ave a vendetta or what!

    “Gee, I can’t force stores to comply with what I want, so I’ll just make them look like spawns of Satan.”

    Washington, here’s your JT, and she’s in the political circle.

  49. 0
    RaZor says:


    “The same thing happens with alcohol and cigarrettes.”

    I know it’s a common state law if not a federal law, but if a person looks like they’re under 30, you’re supposed to card. Not just if they look the age. Video games don’t have such a thing yet because their rating system is not mandatory. I hope it doesn’t get to the point where politicians think that this should be mandatory.

  50. 0
    Marshie says:

    @ hayabusa75

    Yes, I did. I’m aware of the fact they had a range of ages… Which is not the figure I’m looking for. I’m looking for a breakdown of the ten purchases which were made sorted by age. IE, does the breakdown look like this:

    16 – 5 Sales, 0 Rejections
    15 – 3 Sales, 1 Rejections
    14 – 1 Sale, 2 Rejections
    13 – 0 Sales, 2 Rejections
    12 – 1 Sale, 3 Rejections

    Or like this:

    16 – 2 Sales, 1 Rejections
    15 – 2 Sales, 2 Rejections
    14 – 2 Sales, 2 Rejections
    13 – 2 Sales, 2 Rejections
    12 – 2 Sales, 2 Rejections

    The former could be a case of mistaken age, if the sales are weighted towards one end and rejections are weighted towards another. Plenty of 16-14 year olds could reasonably pass for 17 and I doubt if the shopkeeper has reason to believe the child is of-age he’ll be too inclined to press the issue. It’s sad, but let’s face it… The same thing sometimes happens with alchohol and cigarettes, and until THOSE can be regulated with 100% accuracy it’s unfair to ask the same thing of game store owners enforcing a voluntary age restriction.

    The latter is another case entirely, and would demonstrate a wanton disregard for the rules by some stores with others strictly enforcing the age restriction. That’s why I want to see the numbers, because I’m pretty sure they’ll resemble the example numbers I outlined first.

    It’s patently unfair to include 12 year olds in the same category as 16 year olds because one has not hit puberty and is clearly still a child while the other might be almost finished puberty, six feet tall and possess the ability to grow a full beard*. If they’ve both got the same chance of being rejected based entirely on age, it’s a bigger enforcement issue than it would be if it’s mostly the older kids getting the games.

    That’s not to say that it’s necessarily better if the older, but still blocked age group is getting the games, it just means that it’s more understandable.

    *And yes, I knew a few people capable of growing a full beard at fifteen, so it’s not unheard of.

  51. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Did you read the actual press release? They list some of the figures there, as well as the ages of the kids used (12-16). If they were smart, they would have used the same 12 year old kid for all the stores. I knew plenty of 16 year olds who could’ve easily passed for 17 back in high school.

    I wonder if there might be legal ramifications involved in performing a secret shopper test and then naming the stores. No basis for that theory, just wondering aloud.

  52. 0
    Siftr says:

    Wow, the bullshit meter is breaking again.
    of course she can’t say anything bad about a company that’s HQ is in her area.

    I think the simple fact that the names of the stores wasn’t disclosed proves this to be a farce (I mean, they are the people who have tried to legislate videogames essentially as illegal, so what are they afraid of?)

    Besides the fact that they say “violent games” not “mature” “M Rated” “mature rated” or any combination of those words and letters. Street fighter 2 is violent, that’s why it’s called a FIGHTING game. I call bullshit, shenanigans, and farce on this.

  53. 0
    Marshie says:

    I hate to say this, but I’m highly skeptical of the results as claimed.

    For one, due to the law which requires that stores display information on the ESRB ratings, most chains of stores WILL have this in effect. I’m highly suspicious about the makeup of the “random” sampling and I’m willing to bet that the majority were mom and pop shops which might not have heard of this legislation.

    Second, I’m suspicious of something like this where actual figures and statistics aren’t named. She mentions teens and pre-teens. Was it mostly the teens who got the ten of nineteen sales, or were people giving Resident Evil 4 to an eight year old kid?

    Third, nineteen stores is a poor sampling when trying to determine the scope of a problem. I could take a random sampling of twenty people in Ontario to determine what people think of the Liberal government but I doubt I’d get even close to the same result if I did it again with a different twenty people.

    Finally… Just as there is bias in anything done by the gaming industry, there will be a bias in stuff like this. Without evidence to back up her story, it’s just her confirming her beliefs through unprovable “facts”.

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