ESRB, NIMF Jointly Remind Parents that GTA IV is Not For Kids

April 25, 2008 -
The relationship between the National Institute on Media & the Family (NIMF) and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has often been a contentious one.

But the two organizations have joined forces in the run-up to the Grand Theft Auto IV launch to remind parents that Rockstar's controversial game is not intended for younger players. A press release jointly issued by ESRB president Patricia Vance (left) and NIMF president David Walsh (right) reads, in part:
With [GTA IV] to be released on April 29th, parents need to be reminded to make sure their kids are playing games appropriate for their age and level of maturity. Grand Theft Auto IV is rated M (Mature for ages 17+)... The game’s rating also includes content descriptors for Intense Violence, Blood, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Partial Nudity and Use of Drugs and Alcohol.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a parent is involved in the purchase of a video game nearly nine out of every ten times, so it is critical that parents consider the assigned rating carefully when purchasing or renting computer and video games for their children.

The ESRB and [NIMF] encourage parents to be informed and exercise their discretion when considering the purchase of all M-rated games. Parents should look for the ESRB rating on the game’s box, which provides guidance on age-appropriateness as well as describes the content in the game...


I wouldn't say that GTA4 is "not for kids"--but rather that it "may not be for kids," that parents should talk things over with their kids before buying GTA4 for them.

Still though, I commend the ESRB and NIMF for passing the responsibility to parents and leaving it up to them to make the decision of whether or not to buy the game for their kids, instead of just going "WAHHH LET'S BAN GTA4 SO THAT PARENTS DON'T HAVE TO BUY IT."

@Ian Cooper:

And you shouldn't be telling me how to raise my children.

With that said, a couple points.

The press release is aimed at those parents buying the game for their children, not themselves. Also, it says that a parent should consider the content carefully before making the decision. They didn't say "don't buy this game for your kids or they'll shoot helicopters out of the sky when they get older."

Also, just set the parental controls. There's no harm in it. That way, the kid won't be able to play the M rated games while the PARENTS ARE AWAY. I'm not saying people leave their 5 year old kids at home. I'm just saying the basic principle: when the cat's away, the mice will play. This could mean that the kid plays the game while a babysitter's around (or the babysitter plays the game without respect to the kid).

There's no way you can monitor EVERYTHING your kid does ALL the time. They're going to go to school. They're going to have friends. They're going to go to those friends' houses. They're suceptable to do things their parents don't know about or wouldn't aprove of. Then there's the kids that go home alone. Yeah. It happens.

It's not lazy parenting to read the descriptors of what's in a game. It's not lazy parenting to then say "no" to your kid. In fact, that's often good parenting when it's done the right way.

In short, your naivety on the matter astounds me. No one is really saying ratings are the magic barrier to keep kids safe from harm. A rating is one thing, the descriptors are another thing. Oh, and the descriptors are supplied by the same "faceless and undemocratic beurocracy" you so... erm... lovingly described.

I'm just wondering what would happen if your daughter accidentally pressed the wrong button in Assassin's Creed, causing Altair to stab someone from behind. I'm guessing you tell her not to press those buttons, but the finger can slip.

They also mention not JUST to check the warning but to check reviews online. Reviews are a great source of information. I'm not talking about the bottom line score of a game that game reviews often have, but I'm talking about the filler. That stuff that says "Oh, by the way, there's a point in this game where you can toss someone off the roof into the spinning blades of a chopper." The more you know before purchase, the better.

Also, having a rating system helps keep those pesky lawsuit happy people at bay, which is part of why they have one in the first place. What I mean is that someone would buy the game knowing full well what content is in it, then turn around and sue because a warning of some sort wasn't given on the outside of the box, and their kid was "traumatized" by the content.

Silly Rabbi. Kicks are for Trids.

Props to NIMF for being on the same page with the ESRB. :)

Very good, they seem to be on the same page for this.

Jackhole take note. This is the way it's done.

No references to Hitler, nazis, God, scriptures, 60 minutes or any other completely irrelevant stuff.

I'm beginning to find some newfound respect for NIMF, and specifically David Walsh. Now, if they can keep on this track and not derail themselves I MIGHT (big emphasis there) begin supporting them.

Next up in obviose news daily, Driving a motorcycle at 60 mph into a brick wall is harmful to everything BUT the brick wall.

At least some quarters are finally coming round to the idea that Video Games that are rated 'M' for Mature might actually not be intended for those who are Immature. When Immature people get involved with M-Rated games, the result is always unpleasant, you only have to look at LaRouche, Thompson or a fair percentage of 'Moral Crusaders' to see the outcome...

Common sense, at last!

I have a sneaking suspicion that had the ESRB not been a part of this, NIMF would have made an announcement on their own with all the customary inflammatory tripe that we've come to know and love them for.

See, this is the nice thing about Walsh. He's actually got some diplomacy, and is willing to work with the industry from time to time.

To Pixelantes Anonymous:

You forget gay porn, assessination of fax machines, name-calling and self-promoting rants...

oh, and his book.

Because we all know teens will go violent after playing GTA.

Hope the union lasts. EQUALLY. I don't want NIMF swaying the ESRB to give every game an M rating.

I get the sneaking suspicion that they both are just humoring each other.

I'm not sure who's just trying to look good and to whom they are trying to look good for. I'm going to have to look into this more. A NIMF and ESRB alliance. Interesting.

Damn this is pathetic.
@ everyone

How old were you guys or girls when you played your M-rated game?
Just curious.

I refute the point, the game is for the mentally mature, not all kids are brainless sheeple not all adults are bright induvendauls....

@ TheEdge

M-Rated and otherwise violent games of yesteryear DO NOT, I repeat, do NOT compare with M-Rated games of today.

I believe i was around 10 or so when i played the 2D-console Mortal Kombat's, and i think... i dunno, 13 or so for Perfect Dark? I was never much a fan of FPS games, and i bought GTA3 when i was 19, and it bored me. (though that may have been because it was the PC version and my PC just plain SUCKS, but that's another story)

@ TheEdge

If I remember correctly, the first M-rated game I played was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I was 10 at the time.

I was 7 when I got Ultimate Doom for the PC and Mortal Kombat 2 for the SNES.

I was like, seven or something when I played my first Mortal Kombat game.

@ The Edge

I was about 12. The only thing they desensitized me to is the clearer graphics of today's M rated games. I could no more rip someone's heart out of their chest as I could run over a helpless squirrel.


being alive pre-ESRB, i couldn't say which was my first mature-rated game.

i remember playing the Gabriel Knight games, and phantasmagoria. those were pretty freaky, but i also watched tons of horror movies and read Stephen King as a young child.

my parents still helped me put things in context, and when the ESRB did begin, i used that to help them monitor what games my little brother played.

How old we were is kind of beyond the scope of this article. We could provide several million examples where fairly well adjusted people were exposed to inappropriate media before they reached the age of majority. Unfortunately it wouldn't really prove anything.

Currently our culture feels the need to protect anyone under 18 from everything. That is not my concern. You raise your kids the way you feel they should be raised. I disagree with the government telling me that I should raise my kids the way some congressman thinks my kids should be raised.

What I would like to do is give them props. THIS is the way it should be done. This contrasts with Yee's address yesterday. Notice no insults of the company, no accusations. It's clear that the game was put out for adults so trying to villify it is as rediculous as trying to forbid Playboys for showing things kids aren't allowed to see yet.


Yeah, I can't bring myself to kill an actual thing either (not including ants, spiders, flies, etc.). I once stepped on a mouse and killed it and I freaked out like a total pussy. I sometimes wonder if the games have actually made me more sensitive to real death and violence.


I agree with you there but it's nice to see NIMF joining the ranks of common sense (education with the ESRB) rather then censorship (government regulation with the likes of nanny-state Yee and Clinton).


Mortal Kombat 2 when i was 12.


Very well put. There is a difference between those who seek to just educate people and parents (the ESRB) and those who seek to censor or have the government come in and do the job of parents and decide though law what is or isn't appropriate for children (Leland Yee, Clinton, Thompson).

Public warning to the ESRB: if you see a growing shadow in front of you on the walk home, get out of the way -- it's the other shoe dropping.

Just to hop on the bandwagon: I was familiar with the likes of Doom and Street Fighter when I was a kid, but I largely ignored them in favour of Final Fantasy and Mario Kart. It wasn't the violence that bothered me so much as the complexity (plus the seeming futility of being able to see a soul sphere but not get to it.) The solution is obvious: game companies need to make their games harder and more annoying, so that younger players will be give up after being discouraged by the effort required.

...Well, maybe not, but any excuse to demand more challenging games in this day and age.

I think the release of GTA IV may do more for the rating system than any PSA they could make. It is forcing people to face the fact that games are not always for kids.

Strange bedfellows would be the term to describe them. I hope this shaky relationships lasts for a long time.


Don't be too optimistic.


I had to kill a rat once, it ws chewing up my house. I still felt real bad for it.

I captured a squirrel in my apartment once. I knew we had someting eating something in my house, but it was so skittish that every time I almost saw it it would move like a streak and I coulnd't tell what it was.

I put down a glue trap (instead of a mouse trap) to catch it. Well it turned out it was a baby squirrel. It had gotten it's tail stuck in the glue trap, jumped down to the linoleum floor and the glue trap fell sticky side down. It was trapped and stuck to the floor, I don't know how long but I'd guess for several hours.

When I cam home and saw it, I put a trashcan upside down over the body and carefully cut the glue trap off the floor. Then I slid a piece of cardboard under the trashcan to be able to take the squirrel outside. I figured that it would have been a tramatic enough experience that it wouldn't ever return there again.

The next day I came home and there was the squirrel, sitting on my counter eating my bread. The only thing that changed was it was frightened of me anymore. Instead of seeing me as the mean giant that glued it to the floor, I guess it thought I was the nice giant that rescued it...

@ TheEdge

My first M rated games I played were a bunch of PC FPS. Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, etc starting when I was 8.

Y'know, I've heard a lot of people say they'd be pretty much okay with their kids playing HALO, but not GTA. I know that GTA is more "adult" than HALO, but I'd like to know if the context of the violence is a factor in the decision. Is it?

I hope you guys have not forgotton that NIMF is the same organization that gave the ESRB an 'F' last year for rerating Manhunt 2 after Rockstar edited it.

But that aside, I am glad to hear some common sense during this whoe GTA IV advertising campaign.

Kudos for finally going the right route NIMF.

Neat to say that people are getting real information out there.

Oh my god, I have to post this...
Penny Arcades comic finder was down and I was looking for something, I picked a date at random and it came back with this:

Soooooo apropos!


HAHAHAHAHAHA! Dude, that was kick ass!


It won't do anything. This isn't the first high profile M game (see the 3 GTA III's), why didn't people figure it out then?



It's nice that they are trying to educate parents and what not, but holy crap. I am the only who thinks it looks like they're treating GTA IV like it's the freaking Death Star come to destroy Yavin IV and the Alliance in one fell swoop. IT'S A GAME, PEOPLE!!! This much fanfare and warning does not need to be spent/used on a freaking game!!

Wow ... a games industry rating entity and a watchdog group ...

Can it be ... ?

And what's that sound ... ?

It sounds like fear-spreading, axe-grinding activists weeping and gnashing their teeth at this ominous portent of the death of their pet cause through common-sense and peaceful resolution...

I say it'll last until someone posts a picture of something sick to most on GTAIV and then NIMF will blame the ESRB with another F or something. Maybe they'll try F-?

As Zach pointed out, they don't understand technology. ESRB, team up with Bub from GamerDad instead! He understands technology and isn't an old senile man that can't tell the difference between unaccessible and accessible content.
Watch someone mention a rape scene in a mission to get misconstrued as a rape mission.


It's great to say that they already are. Take a look at this webcast the PTA and the ESRB just did a webcast for parents, and the PTA did a brochure to hand out with Andrew helping to write it. You can watch it at

It really turned out great.

Of all the acronyms in the world, they picked NIMF. NIMF!


It plays to their suppressed sexuality. Kind of a Freudian slip.

@TheEdge, by the time they started rating video games I was already of age, by several years.

Yes. I'm old.


I'd let my kid play Grand Theft Auto 4.

@Pixelantes Anonymous:

Or references to Jack Thom-- oh wait you already said 'irrelevant stuff', my bad. :P
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