Tough Love? Hollywood Reporter Examines ESRB – 3D Realms Dust-up

Recently, GamePolitics and other sites reported on 3D Realms CEO Scott Miller’s harsh criticism of the ESRB over the rating body’s demand that the company’s website bring content descriptors and rating icons into line with current standards.

Among Miller’s comments at the time:

I think [the ESRB] came off like a school yard bully, rather than an industry partner. Why all the threats right off the bat? If the ESRB people know what was being said about them in underground channels, so to speak, they’d see that their antics have caused them much loss of faith as an industry leader.

Paul Hyman of the Hollywood Reporter follows up on the controversy, including a shot in Miller’s direction fired by ESRB president Patricia Vance:

It’s unfortunate that Mr. Miller’s feelings were hurt, but let’s be clear. The ESRB is the self-regulatory body for the video game industry. We were established by the industry and we simply enforce the rules and guidelines that the industry has imposed upon itself… We created a standard notice by which to do so, and that’s precisely what Mr. Miller received…

Many other companies have received similar notices over the years and not one of them has ever complained about their tone… We’re hardly the heavy-handed bullies that Mr. Miller is painting us as. Tough love might be a better way to describe it.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Hyman writes: 

It would seem that the ESRB may be caught between a rock and a hard place, industry observers note – if it fails to enforce its regulations, critics take it to task; if it enforces the rules, the industry balks.

Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) expressed sympathy for both parties:

I can see how the same correspondence to a developer who may not have on-staff council could be interpreted more harshly in tone than intended, as seems the case here. Honestly, I believe this is more a case of that than anything with malice.

Full Disclosure Dept: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

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