Consumers: Govt Should Regulate Games… ESA: Research Firm Did Us Wrong

A poll of U.S. consumers has generated an unexpected wave of controversy in the video game sector.

The hubbub began yesterday when public relations firm Hill & Knowlton released the results of a survey which indicated that 60% of U.S. consumers favored government regulation of violent and/or M-rated games.

In addition the survey reported that 51% felt that the government should regulate the content itself (aka censorship). 54% of those with kids at home believed that violent or mature game content could affect a child’s behavior.

Even those who self-identified as gamers were surprisingly pro-government involvement. 55% felt the government should regulate sales of games with violent or mature content while 44% believed the government should regulate the content itself.

Of the results, H&K exec Joe Paluska said:

While the industry is reinventing itself by broadening the content and the category, society still tends to view gamers as one-dimensional. The industry’s [bad] reputation centers on mature content due to the sensational nature of the content and subsequent publicity. As a result, our survey suggests that there’s an appetite for more government oversight even among the maturing Atari generation who now have children.

The other shoe dropped later in the day when the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the interests of U.S. game publishers, revealed that the H&K research had been dangled in front of the ESA a few months back as part of a business pitch by Hill & Knowlton.

An ESA spokesman told GamePolitics:

The research released today was conducted by Hill & Knowlton for a proposal the agency made to the ESA this summer… Hill & Knowlton’s decision to release these findings was both unprofessional and unethical and its timing is questionable.

The research was… only performed in an effort to help Hill & Knowlton win our business. In addition, the release of only part of the findings paints an inaccurate picture of the entertainment software industry.

The ESA was also angry that H&K didn’t release other, more positive results, including:

-More than two-thirds of 18-34 year olds currently play video games;
-Less than 1 in 5 Americans think playing video games is a negative way to spend time with friends and family;
-More than half of families think that video games are a positive way to spend time together
-Educational video games are perceived to provide more learning than TV or DVDs.

GP: As we understand it, it’s not uncommon for PR firms to commission research to use in making pitches to prospective customers. Does it help a public relations firm to win business if the numbers indicate that the would-be client has a problem? It would seem so.

Frankly, I don’t put much faith in polling, especially when it’s put out by corporations. Having read No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Campaigner by longtime Democratic campaign manager Bob Shrum, it’s pretty clear that a good pollster can make the numbers sing whatever tune is desired.

The larger question remains, why did H&K choose to release this data at this time? Neither Paluska nor another H&K exec have so far returned my calls and e-mails requesting comment on the ESA’s allegations.

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  1. 0
    Monkey Face ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Ok for starters id be with the 55% saying they should do something to stop it being sold to children

    But as for everything else id say they paid people to vote one way or the other…
    or just picked people who they knew wopuld react the way they wanted
    or just made up the statistics so they could steal our rights without looking bad by playing the half of your own want us to regulate

    Note its probably that last one

  2. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Don’t pay too much attention to this. Polls can be easily manipulated to reflect an outcome you desire. Don’t invest too much trust into this, it doesn’t seem like a well conducted poll.

  3. 0
    deuxhero ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The fact that people think the goverment should regulate video games makes me agree with the Helios AI:”The checks and balances of democratic governments were invented because human beings themselves realized how unfit they were to govern themselves. They needed a system, yes, an industrial-age machine.”

    Can we get that machine now so I don’t have to see their faces?

  4. 0
    Coravin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There are arguments and worse over what our schools need to teach, but here’s more evidence of where they’re falling short. The people questioned don’t know their own rights, don’t know their own laws, and certainly don’t understand the extent of the freedoms they give up for nebulous uncertainties such as “security”. Or the extent to which those freedoms are being curtailed. Without a proper education about these things, and about some of the basic overriding principles and overarching laws guiding our society, it’s no wonder that many voters lack the knowledge or the spines to vote against those who blatantly threaten freedom and other bedrock principles–most of us don’t know we have them to begin with, and certainly don’t understand how much we give away.

    @ Darth

    Stupid teachers are common and fun to deal with. And yes, any teacher whod oesn’t fact-check “common sense” knowledge BEFORE giving it to students is stupid, regardless of actual intellect or skill. That stuff just gets propogated to heinous extents if teachers spread misinformation like that, and they don’t get the privelege of the excuse of ignorance when it’s a subject they TEACH.

    If the easy way–just pointing out, in class so that everyone else knows your teacher is ignorant or else in private if you feel they deserve that respect because it was an honest mistake, correct them privately and let them inform the rest of the class of their error later–but a mistake on this scale, in a subject on which they ought to possess some expertise, is likely just due to laziness and errant assumption; so they really don’t deserve such respect, although you may choose to give it to them anyway so you can maintain the sense of being the better person.

    In case this isn’t enough to fix the underlying problem (for example, if the teacher doesn’t care what quality of education students get or constantly makes mistakes due to sheer incompetence or ignorance), publicly discredit the inadequate teacher. Get parents and kids (as many as possible) to–preferably all at once–send formal letters to the principal if you believe that would help.

    If not, then address them to the local newspaper complaining about the poor quality and lack of preparedness, which of course gives the parents good reason to fear that such ignorance is common to teachers in [whatever the school name is] and therefore, that the school wastes their taxes. Covince them to demand a review of current teacher education or hiring practices and/or a complete overhaul of the same. Delicious irony would ensue if you get the PTA not only involved but up in arms about this failure on the part of the education taxes go toward quality teachers and schools.

    Make sure to send by both snail and email so you can cc the school’s principal and have the mailboxes filled up if the e-mails are ignored. Nothing motivates a principal to sack, replace, or “re-educate” teachers who have no idea what they’re talking about like public outcries that make him/her look like he/she doesn’t care about the quality of the education those parents’ taxes go to provide. It’s easier to fire teachers than to risk getting fired.

    That said, our society gives far too little credit, pay, and education to its teachers, no surprise when public schools are in the same boat. Thus for the record, if you’re not in a school with enough money, good luck getting any improvements that don’t come through parental involvement and teaching rather than from the school. If making the principal look like an idiot who doesn’t deserve his/her position isn’t viable, the lesser options tend to be ineffective, and you’ll probably learn more playing online games than listening to ill-tempered, underpaid and sorely underqualified, teachers with very low expectations and ability.

    But if you are in a decently funded school, pointing out every mistake the teacher makes right there in class is more fun when you bring hard evidence of his/her ignorance and present that in class, too (the next day is ok but not as satisfying, if you didn’t come prepared, although you do look good for jsut knowing, offhand, what the teacher didn’t know). Then you have to deal with potential biased-grading issues, but if the teacher honestly lets something like that influence his/her grading, at least you’ll have evidence of unfairness to such an extent the teacher is proven unfit to hold the position, the sort of evidence that can even break tenure.

  5. 0
    Darth_Toxic says:

    @ Lost Question & ShadowMagus

    A frightening amount of people actually believe that.

    My 10th Grade Civics Teacher was telling the class that the MPAA is government-run and that censorship of films is government-imposed.

  6. 0
    halofantasy1 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I am getting so tired of seeing this nonsense about how the government should censor games. Those idiot parents that do not take care of their children need to shut up. Games could not be censored when it comes to the first amendment. If a company wants to make an ultra violent game, then they can. I have the right to play anything I want without these fucken troublemaking groups messing with my rights because they are losers with nothing better to do with their time than to make a law biding gamer like me mad.

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


    Mmmm… I’m a typical Kos liberal who has no idea what I’m talking about, and like other statists who can’t take responsibility for anything, I seek to blame the eeeeevil Christian Republicans for everything done by Hillary Clinton (D), Joe Lieberman (D), Evan Bayh (D), Dennis Kucinich (D), Rod Blagojevich (D), Kathleen Blanco (D), Jennifer Granholm (D), Eliot Spitzer (D), Thomas Menino (D), Leland Yee (D), Deanna DeMuzio (D), Linda Chapa LaVia (D), Roy Burrell (D), Sandra Pappas (D), Mary Lou Dickerson (D), Jim Ward (D), Mike Shelton (D), Vi Simpson (D), Julia Boseman (D), Senator Henry Marsh III (D), Helene Keeley (D), Keith Wright (D), Aurelia Greene (D), Joseph Lentol (D), Sheldon Silver (D), Audrey Pheffer (D), Linda Dorcena Forry (D), Michael F. Rush (D), Gloria L. Fox (D), Anthony Petruccelli (D), Steven A. Tolman (D), Kevin G. Honan (D), John A. Hart, Jr. (D), Willie Mae Allen (D), Marie P. St. (D), Fleur Michael E. Festa (D), Elizabeth A. Malia (D), Kay Khan (D), Jeffrey Sánchez (D), Benjamin Swan (D), William Lantigua (D), Matthew C. Patrick (D), Christine E. Canavan (D), Jennifer M. Callahan (D), Stephen Stat Smith (D), and Denise Provost (D), among others.

    There, fixed that for you.

  8. 0
    Jun Malabanan says:

    Go ahead, H & K. Savor the fruits of your devious labor if you wish. Let’s see if you can still laugh when the Atari generation takes over the government and the press itself.

  9. 0
    Pandralisk says:

    Mmmm… I really cannot stand the great contradiction of values that occurs in this country. We live in a country that has long attributed its moral authority to the fact that we permit social freedom and grant people moral autonomy. But a large segment of society, steeped in their religious tradition of hate and bigotry, do not actually value things like personal freedom and individual liberty. Religious hate has distorted the minds of many into presupposing that their moral norms and social values are somehow universal and contain a binding value that should govern the actions of others; their arrogance and smugness in this matter has caused them to forget the fact that their superstitious value systems have never possessed such certainty, and that their perverse values are under writ and defended by the same freedom that protects the rights of others.

    No governing body should have the power to censor any aspect fiction, ever. Due to the fact that entertainment fiction poses no direct harm to a person, moral values in the realm of fiction do not exist, and it remains responsibility of each individual to govern their own morals and standards. One is begging the question if they assume that their own personal interpretation of decency should govern the standards of others; in addition, such actions are clearly prohibited by our Constitution. I understand that religious hate and unwarranted faith motivate others to rape the freedom of their peers, but do not understand how these people can claim that the US embraces freedom and the individual at the same time.

    For those who support regulation and censorship:
    If you wish to rape gamers of their freedom, then allow us to assault your own freedom. Let us censor your hateful religious tradition that encourages the defilement of liberty. Let us inject different moral value systems into every level of your life. Let us protect children from learning about obscenely complicated superstitious hate at an age when they can barely understand basic texts. Let us tear down every form of entertainment you value and replace it with entertainment that encourages intellectual development and diverse thinking. Unlike you, we would never want to take away the freedoms described above. We value your right to choose to live how you wish, no matter how foolish or superstitious you may act. Perhaps if your own beliefs were exposed to be the subjective nonsense they are, and the freedom that defends your values was stripped away (as you are claiming ours should be) you might realize the value of liberty.

    Video games have been in a dark age for sometime and the air remains as cold and dark as ever.

  10. 0
    William Hart ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Sadly, more gamers are for more censorship. I think we have seen this over and over again in forums. Rather then ten years ago public outrage as people discovered we as Americans were getting the kiddy versions of games which turned a lot of gamers into emulation and downloading Japanese Versions and playing a fan based retranslation with the Japanese Versions.

    When I go into message boards for example the Final Fantasy boards they released and retranslated the old Final Fantasy games you see hardly any outrage at the new kid friendly translation and the 1950s type of dialogue.

    It seems more and more gamers tend to feel that what they see and play should be censored….. I as a gamer and a consumer would unfortunately then be forced to buy Video Games and import them from other regions and play that version and since they region lock many games, I’d have to get a corresponding system.

    I think we might be going into a Dark Age of Video Games sadly.

  11. 0
    JustChris says:

    Any PR firm should not be allowed to selectively use facts. They can do whatever else they want to keep their image, but not using half-truths. Isn’t it pretty much wasted effort on their part if they’re going to tuck some of the results of their polls under the carpet? I’d sure be pissed if I was made to work hard for something, only to be told that in hindsight my contribution wasn’t helpful to the company.

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

    No, it’s not likely that the people arguing for videogame regulation by the government realize that movies are NOT subject to such regulation. Most of us (U.S. citizens) don’t know our own laws that well, and for that reason, if no other, these results are utter trash. The vast majority of us think the movie ratings are a government requirement, and many believe it’s a federal crime to take or allow children in a theater to watch movies rated above their age.

    Wait, let me rephrase that: the vast majority of “us Americans” believe it’s a crime–many even believnge it’s a federal crime and a law enforced by our highest courts–to be CAUGHT letting a child into the theater to watch movies rated too high for them.

    To make such results mean anything at all would have required that the questioner ask the same question about movies and other media forms, or else inform those questioned that movies are not governmentally regulated. I much prefer the latter, since too many of us are uneducated about such matters, but for the sake of scientific enquiry (i.e. in order to not bias the responses to match up with what they’ve been told is the case for movies), the first method might be best. With a caveat that the response be based on how they think restrictions should be made on each medium, regardless of current restrictions, if any.

  13. 0
    Steven ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I wouldn’t trust that survey for anything. Or any survey for that reason. It’s all about how you ask a question. You can get people who are against something to sound like they’re for it, just by the simple wording of your question.

    Penn & Teller BS Season 4 Episode 9 Numbers had a good example of this.

  14. 0
    Grendal says:

    I generally have a severe distrust of polls unless the questions asked are released alongside the results. I’ts extremly easy to get the results you want by finessing the questions so that certain options will appears better. Unless Hill&Knowlton release the questions they asked, this is bunk as far as I’m concerned.

  15. 0
    Loudspeaker ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ All

    Anyone can get these kinds of numbers when you take a poll right outside an AARP meeting that just got out.

    This is obviously skewed.

  16. 0
    monte' ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    One thing i’m wondering is whether or not the people who said video games should be regulated by the gov’t knew that Movies are not gov’t regulated; its a very common misconception and one that could alter how you answer a question about gov’t regulation… I myself at one time was in favor of gov’t regulation of video games on account that i thought Movies were gov’t regulated; i simply thought, “well since we regulate movies, why not regulate games; games should be treated like any other medium”… that was ofcourse until someone corrected me…

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

    This reminds me of a poll phonecall I got awhile back. The woman asked me what I thought the government should do about the horrible sex/violence in today’s media. Before I could finish telling her I thought it was the parent’s responsibility…she hung up on me. I wonder what that poll showed?

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


    I haven’t read it, but I think I’ve heard a little bit about it.

    I remember one such example using two different brands of toothpaste. Crest and Colgate. Out of ten dentists, if four prefer Crest, the other five prefer Colgate, all you gotta do is take the four that like Crest, take only one dentist that likes Colgate, and say “FOUR out of FIVE dentists recommend Crest”.

  19. 0
    JimK says:

    Welcome to the byproduct of converting the US to a socialist paradise where everything is run by and regulated by the nanny state.

    Keep that in mind when you vote. Every time you vote FOR a politician with another another “social” program, you are telling the government you want them to run your life.

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

    I recommend that you all read “How to Lie with Statistics.” It shattered my faith in polls a long time ago.

    Anyways, if America wants a constitutional amendment that overturns the bill of rights, then I’m sure we can then accommodate the censorship of video games.

  21. 0
    Mr. Lucky says:

    the people who support “regulating and censoring games” are probably the ones who voted for Bush and think civil liberties are silly obstacles in the way of government. How can anyone in their right mind say they support government censorship? let alone over half.

    i want to know details about the survey population as well as the actual survey itself and record on the information gathering and the creation of reports.

  22. 0
    chadachada(123) ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Like the first comment said (haven’t read the ones in between), I’ve asked kids in my school before, many of thing think that selling or renting an R rated movie as a minor is illegal. It’s up to me and the fellow gamers to point out that it is the companies, stores, movie theaters, etc that keep those movies out of our hands. Same with gaming.

    The sad thing is, I still can’t get an M game by myself at the stores nearby, it’s always up to my parents. But I can go to any movie store and get any movie I want (besides pron), without being asked at all.

  23. 0
    Mad_Scientist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Ah, yes, I used to believe that the movie ratings were enforced by law myself. I was surprised to learn how wrong I was. I was also surprised to learn that video game ratings were better enforced. (At the retail level, there’s no video game version of theatres to compare to.) And the enforcement of game ratings has improved since then, to the point where they now match theatres even. Funny how those who quote the “40%” figure to bash the game industry convienently forget to point out the enforcement of other forms of media.

    “Game ratings enforcement is poor”, they say. It’s poor compared to what?

  24. 0
    ~the1jeffy says:


    Can you add to your list of Big Lies? I’d say the false notion that the MPAA (etc.) carries the force of law qualifies as the root cause of this whole survey.

    It’s the main hurdle to real progress, as the movie industry is quite happy to remain silent on the misconception because then they are no longer under fire. I spend most of my time explaining that one fact when I discuss video games with people think it’s OK for the government to have a hand in ratings.

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

    1) PR firms decides to make sales pitch to an industry.
    2) PR firms commissions a poll that coincidently paints said industry in a bad light.
    3) Industry tells PR firm no thanks.
    4) PR firm releases negative poll results and hurts the public image of the industry that refused it’s services.

    Basically, what we’re dealing with here is pretty much extortion, ableit extortion that would probably be impossible to prove. At least that’s how I see things.

  26. 0
    illspirit ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As others have said, this poll could very well have used a loaded question. Something like “do you think the government should protect young children from being brainwashed by deadly murder training simulators” would have yielded different results than “should the First Amendment be repealed.”

    And even if the question wasn’t loaded, well, this is precisely why the US isn’t a democracy. 😉

  27. 0
    Ohma ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well duh! People are wired to desire “strong” rulers (which in modern society extends to the entire government). Make a poll asking which government someone would prefer, ensuring that the questions only point out the positives of both, and I promise you that the majority of people would say they prefered the “safer” “stable” one to the “progressive” “liberal” one.

    Saying that you’d rather have your government censor a form of entertainment to ensure it’s doubleplusgood rather than take a half second to consider whether or not something entitled “Manhunt” is appropriate for your kid, is a logical extension of that.

  28. 0
    Tinkerbell says:

    Censorship? What manner of buffoonery is this?

    If youre that worried about the content of video games then maybe you should pay more attention to your child.
    Dont fuck it up for the rest of us, ok?

  29. 0
    paul says:

    The Wikipedia article on Hill & Knowlton lists some other controversies they’ve been involved in:

    For example:

    “In 1953, Members of the Tobacco Industry hired the firm to help counteract recent scientific findings that suggested cigarette smoking led to cancer. As a result “A Frank Statement” was released to nearly every major newspaper and magazine, misleading readers into believing that cigarettes had no verifiable links to cancer.”

    And also:

    “Coppertone, a company that creates and sells sun care products, enlisted H&K in 1994 in order to boost profit. H&K exaggerated scientific reports of a depleted ozone layer to encourage the general public to protect themselves from skin cancer by using Coppertone’s products”

    They seem to be a sleazy propaganda outfit that sells there services to the highest bidder. Including “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the dictator of Haiti.

  30. 0
    Marlowe says:

    @Father Time
    Actually that’s not a terrible number for a poll if you randomized your sample well enough. What should definitely be a dead give away is the fact that, as a publicity firm presumably attempting to get the ESA to solicit their services, they have a highly vested economic interest in seeing those numbers fall in such a way to make the ESA believe they need the services of a publicity firm, and as Dennis has pointed out, when you’re conducting a poll you can make the results look anyway you want them to. It’s like someone who knows nothing about cars taking his car to a mechanic to find out that it apparently “needs” some expensive service that will cost the car owner a couple hundered bucks and lo and behold the mechanic happens to be an expert at just that service.

    @Lost Question
    Dammit I was going to say the same thing you did, I definitely think a good number of people mistakenly believe it to be a crime for a movie theater to let a kid into an R rated film.

  31. 0
    Mad_Scientist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I wish I knew the methodology behind this survey, but the press release included practically zero info. They do give an email and phone number you can contact to get more info, but I doubt they’d just give that info out freely.

  32. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Ahhh… that explains a great deal, these guys would get on with the likes of Thompson, it’s all about controversy, not accuracy.

  33. 0
    paul says:

    Some information on Hill & Knowlton:

    A few months after the Bari bombing, Hill & Knowlton was hired by the Kuwaiti government to generate support for U.S. entry into the Gulf War against Iraq. One of their most successful deceptions was the incubator story. “I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns. They took the babies out of the incubators … and left the children to die on the cold floor.” This was the story told by “Nayirah, ” a 15-year old Kuwaiti girl who shocked a public hearing of Congress’ Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990. It was widely reported in the media, and helped demonize Iraqis in American public opinion. The young woman was later unmasked as the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador, and Kuwaiti hospital officials interviewed after the Gulf War had ended said no infants had been dumped from incubators, but only a small fraction of those who were exposed to the original propaganda ever learned that.

  34. 0
    Xenos says:

    Disgusting. Yeah, the double standard shows up again. You don’t hear this crap about TV or films. No, let’s pick on the new kid on the block. People fear what they don’t understand. It’s too new and different. Let the government lock it up and censor it. How stupid. How scary.

    I really don’t know which end of the political spectrum to blame. You have the conservatives complaining about sex and violence, more so sex. Then again Hillary and Joe are quick to join them. Also on the other side liberals are more for big government and government doing the control and regulation.

  35. 0
    Mikeu ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You have to balance the results with one key fact: The percentage of people who voted in this poll is not an accurate indication of the feelings of the actual population. It is merely an indication of percentages taken from a pool of results filled by the people who participated in said poll. Lacking numbers of people polled, how they gathered said people, etc. I can assume they polled 10 people, all aged 65, and thus discredit and disregard their results. I’m sure that’s not the case, but it’s an extreme example of how inaccurate polls are and why I refuse to trust them.

  36. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I agree that they should not be denied the right to publish their findings, just as we have a right to not agree with it.

    However, that particular statement has always confused me a little, because if you are going to fight to the death for someone else’s’ right to have a different opinion, who, exactly, are you going to fight against? Because whoever it is, you are squashing their right to have a different opinion.

    Not really relevant, just something that I’ve often wondered.

  37. 0
    Master Fink says:



  38. 0
    Stinking Kevin says:

    I do disagree, that the “right” is more to blame than the “left” for anti-game politics. It seems to me there have been plenty of Democrats involved as well. Here in Michigan, at least, our anti-game laws were originally proposed by a Democrat from Detroit (Hansen Clarke) and heavily promoted by our Democratic governor (Jennifer Granholm).

    In my opinion, anti-game laws are not a Republican or Democrat issue; they are a Populist issue. They are written in a vacuum, with no consideration of principle or precedent, and they are based completely on the ephemeral, malleable whims of a population that, overall, doesn’t really care about games in the first place.

    I think this is why none of the laws have ever stuck. We have a representative government, and we have a constitution. Our whole set-up is designed to dissuade “mob rule.” (Yay Founders!)

    My personal axiom is “The Populist is always wrong.” I can’t prove this theory conclusively, but it hasn’t failed me yet.

  39. 0
    Judith Iscariot says:

    Just goes to show: lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    I think I may have to get back to learning Japanese and import all my games if the government actually starts to regulate game sales…

  40. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The thing is, the fact that they chose only to release the information that casts Video Games in a bad light is already an open implication of bias on their part, had they just released all the facts, it might have been viewed differently, however, if they can pick and choose what results to release, then they can certainly pick and choose the outcome of those results to mirror their own opinions.

  41. 0
    mogbert ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ve shown to my co-workers how you can manipulate statistics. I took the top 30 games sold in Japan this week and manipulated the data several ways. Then I made a number of different statements showing how different companies could spin the results in order to show positive results. And that was with hard numbers. I showed that I can significantly change results by limiting the data to 20 or 10 games. If that doesn’t help, you can compare the reults to a previous month that wasn’t as good and claim a large percentage gain.

    When you can twist the data by choosing who to poll, the rest becomes easy. We have an area in the city nearby which has two malls, one is an normal big mall, and the other is a really upscale mall with only fancy and expensive shops. I asked, if you wanted to prove that more Americans have retirement accounts or are not concerned about tightening their belts for holiday spending, where would I go? I go to the upscale place, I have a wide variety of age groups but they are all upper class with pleanty of money.

    Other solutions are to sort the surveys into two piles, one with all the data you want in it, the other with the data you don’t want. Then, one pile gets misplaced, but results are able to be extrapolated from the sample you still have.

    In short, you can make the numbers say whatever you want. I could go and do a survey saying “Do you think the government is properly rating movie releases?” And more then 90% of them will say yes, simply because the question is misleading.

    One is curious exactly what were the questions determining if the person was a gamer and how they determined if they favored censorship or not:
    “Have you ever played a game?”
    “Should extremely violent games that could possibly be played by children be unregulated by the government?”
    “Should the government allow extremely violent and graphic content in games which may be played by children?”

    With these questions, I could easily get 90% of gamers to say the government should regulate games and content.

    I think I missed my calling…

  42. 0
    Simon Roberts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Being Canadian, my first response to this story was, “oh good, now more companies will come up here where we don’t care about the regulation.” Then I realized they’d probably all move to Quebec for the subsidies. So go ESA, I guess!

  43. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The larger question remains, why did H&K choose to release this data at this time?

    Trying to drum up business from the other side I would guess. Maybe they hope one of the game-bashing types will hire them since the ESA snubbed them…

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

    Government regulation of video games will never happen due to the protection of the 1st and 14th amendment. The only way morons like Leland Yee and Hillary could get government regulation through would be a constitutional amendment that either says games are not free speech or minors have no First Amendment constitutional rights.

  45. 0
    Overcast says:

    “Next generation consoles combined with a near-Hollywood experience translates into increased scrutiny for a $7.4 billion industry that seeks to outpace movies and music as the number one choice for entertainment,”

    That sums it up, greedy politicians see an opportunity to make a bunch of cash now. I’d like to see the actual questions in this ‘poll’, I bet they were baited – looking for a specific outcome.

  46. 0
    Cheeselikescereal says:

    “The other shoe dropped later in the day when the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the interests of U.S. game publishers, revealed that the H&K research had been dangled in front of the ESA a few months back as part of a business pitch by Hill & Knowlton.

    An ESA spokesman told GamePolitics:

    The research released today was conducted by Hill & Knowlton for a proposal the agency made to the ESA this summer… Hill & Knowlton’s decision to release these findings was both unprofessional and unethical and its timing is questionable.

    The research was… only performed in an effort to help Hill & Knowlton win our business. In addition, the release of only part of the findings paints an inaccurate picture of the entertainment software industry.”

    Sounds like the common excuse that one typicaly hears.

  47. 0
    jadedcritic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t even want to get too far into the heavy stuff, but even if we assume the survey should be taken at face value, and most of the public does think that the government should regulate games. Oh…nice… So I take it the highways are finished, Iraq’s a democracy, there’s economic prosperity everywhere, and no illiteracy in the schools?? There isn’t? Oh, so don’t you think maybe THEY’VE GOT MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO THEN BABYSIT YOUR KIDS FOR YOU.

    (The really annoying thing about this is let’s pretend that they did actually regulate the industry. I’m sure they would do -such a good job-, I mean everything else they do they excel at right? Come on people, -think-. Lately it seems like they can’t even pass a domestic bill without squabbling amongst themselves. I wouldn’t trust them to regulate my sock drawer. The closest thing we have to intelligent government is isolated pockets of extreme intelligence. I have no idea how Alan Greenspan made it 20+ years without catching the stupid.)

  48. 0
    Buckeye531 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is the big flaw with statistcs and polls: they are highly manipulative. I think that H&K did what Fox News does: sipn and manipulate the results into what I believe are their own views. I also want to know who participated in the survey and what their views are.

    “The industry’s bad reputation…” If they looked at the FTC report (doubt it), they would notice that the MPAA and RIAA are in FAR WORSE shape than the ESA and ESRB. Tell me which medium needs regulation. I also want to know if the researchers and the participants know that the Wii, XBox 360, and the PS3 has parental controls (doubt it). I also wonder if the researchers and the participants know that such measures they support are unconstitutional on 1st and 14th amendment grounds (doubt it). All attempts at such legislation have been defeated in courts and cost the unfortunate constituents hundreds of dollars of their own tax money. I also want to know if the reasearchers did what Fox News has the constitutional right to do: lie to and decieve the participants (don’t doubt it).

    I should also say that I don’t favor any government regulation of other entertainment forms. I’m sick and tired of politicians, the media (all of it), lawyers, and researchers not giving the ESA and ESRB credit when the make drastic improvements and instead spinning it into needs for government regulation, but I guess that’s what campaign contributions from Hollywood and Musicians (Leland Yee and Hillary Clinton) does.

  49. 0
    Icehawk ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Not only are the numbers of polls never accurate (as mentioned by Catch 33) but I for one am curious what cross-section of the population was surveyed.
    Since H&K seems to have little to know touble leaving out info they don’t want known I would not trust that source either. In fact I would not trust much of ANY of this. Who are H&K exactly? A PR firm (with piss poof PR skills apparently). This is what to do with gaming, rating or much of anything? If they were going to try to come up with a catchy phrase to sell I title I could understand but to dump negative info apparently on a whim.

    The timing on this as noted is very interesting… right after the NIMF did their bit in fact… how odd.

  50. 0
    ShadowMagus ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m with Lost Question on this one. I wonder if people are aware that the MPAA, which issues movie ratings, is not a government entity, and not allowing minors into R rated movies is not a government regulation.

    Plus, I have a hard time swallowing 55% of gamers want government regulation involved. This brings me to an interesting question, though. Who tends to be more friendly to the video game industry in American politics? I would think it’s liberals, since conservatives have the whole “family values” thing going on. I could be wrong though.

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

    Isn’t the 55% want regulation kind of low, showing people don’t care about video games as much? I seem to recall a poll from a year or two ago that 76% thought newspapers should be regulated.

  52. 0
    Wengler says:

    Hill and Knowlton is a PR firm, not a polling firm, therefore lying is its official business. I am not sure if I remember correctly but I believe it was H and K that was behind the testimony of a girl in committee before the vote for authorization of military force in Kuwait in 1990. The girl claimed that she was a nurse in a hospital in Kuwait City and that Iraqi troops had come into the maternity ward, taken the incubators and dumped the babies on the ground to die.

    The girl of course later turned out to be the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US’s daughter and the story was a total concoction by H and K to win sympathy in what was sure to be a narrow vote. Many congresspersons said later that this single story made up their mind.

    The lesson of the story is that PR firms are paid to lie, and in that H and K’s reputation has been proven.

  53. 0
    Catch 33 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Polls are almost never accurate, especially since they don’t take into account the kinds of people being polled. Mainly, in this case, there are so many gamers these days that we’re bound to have a lot more ignorant morons amongst our ranks than in years past.

  54. 0
    Mort ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Spread enough FUD, lie, cheat, steal, profit.

    I was fairly disappointed as it appears that the only reason that H&K did this was to spread more FUD and add more fuel to the fire of controversy. Omitting data that was not bad is a sure sign of this.

  55. 0
    Evan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I can’t fathom the majority of gamers believe in government regulation of video games. That is just mind boggling because you certainly don’t see that attitude anywhere in video game sises online or in print. I’m not talking about just the writers either, I can’t think of many, if any, comments in favor of government regulation and censorship.

    I do wish that parents would pay attention and not get their kids M games. The things My parents would have killed me if I said half the things I hear on Halo by obviously young kids.

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