We've Got Reactions to FTC Secret Shopper Report

May 8, 2008 -

The steep decline in sales of M-rated games to underage buyers reported this morning by the Federal Trade Commission is a clear victory for the video game industry on both the political and public relations fronts.

Taking a victory lap is the organization responsible for operating the video game industry's rating system, the ESRB. Via press release, ESRB president Patricia Vance commented on today's FTC report:
 

Video game retailers have clearly stepped up their efforts to enforce their store policies, and they deserve recognition for these outstanding results.  We commend and applaud retailers for their strong support of the ESRB ratings, and will continue working with them to help ensure that these levels of compliance are sustained if not further increased.


The ESA, representing US video game publishers, declined to comment, referring us instead to the ESRB.

Bo Andersen, president of the Entertainment Merchants Association, a trade group representing a number of video game retailers, also weighed in. For retailers, the report is a mixed bag. They scored superb numbers on game rating enforcement, but were criticized by the FTC for sales of R-rated and unrated DVDs to underage buyers. Andersen said:
 

Retailers don’t want children to be able to purchase or rent video games and DVDs that their parents do not want them to have. As a result, they have made real and significant investments in enforcing the voluntary video game and motion picture ratings in their stores. The FTC’s latest ‘undercover shopper’ survey demonstrates that these investments are producing strong results... While we are pleased with the progress that has been made in ratings enforcement, retailers still are not where they want to be as an industry.


On the consumer side, Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, remarked:
 

This is an extraordinary accomplishment from the nation's leading interactive entertainment retailers, as it clearly shows their increased commitment of keeping mature-rated games out of children's hands. Perhaps most impressive is the incredible reversal in their failure rate over such a short period of time and with a comparatively new rating system.

This is truly a vindication for video game merchants who have been falsely damned by anti-game advocates and special interest groups, who now don’t have a leg to stand on.


GamePolitics also offered several high-profile game industry critics and watchdog groups an opportunity to comment. So far we've not heard back from the Parents Television Council, the National Institute on Media & the Family or California State Sen. Leland Yee. There was one critic we did hear from, though...

Despite the eye-popping retail enforcement numbers, anti-game activist Jack Thompson refused to give credit to the video game industry. Instead, he credited... Jack Thompson:
 

I'm more than happy to take credit for the improvement. The threat of legislation has improved performance, not some altruism on the part of the Strauss Zelnick's [or] the industry. To America's parents: Jack Thompson is delighted to have helped.


Of course, Thompson would have been all over the FTC numbers had they been unfavorable to the video game industry. Classy, Jack...

UPDATE: Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media & the Family has now weighed in. NIMF claims a bit of the credit as well:
 

The results of the [FTC's] latest undercover survey are good news for retailers and the [ESRB], but most of all for parents... With its consistent pressure on the video game industry, [NIMF] played a significant role in improving ratings enforcement and education. Similar to our... Video Game Report Cards, the FTC survey shows that specialty retailers, such as GameStop, continue to lead in enforcement and the rental companies need to step up their efforts...


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

Comments

Only Jack Thompson would take credit for something he didn't do, and blame someone who has no control over the results.

Ah, there it goes.

Jack claims credit for doing jack, like that is a new one...

“To America’s parents: Jack Thompson is delighted to have helped.”
... You were about as much help in this as you were in defending your "first amendment proof" and "constitutional" laws.

Seriously, when was the last time YOU were credited with informing parents about anything ESRB related? The main stream media for the most part has ignored you, and all of the noise these days is NOT BECAUSE OR FROM YOU!

That letter was more like a whimper and a cry for help from someone who knows they keep getting more and more irreverent to such things every day.

Yet more evidence that Jack Thompson has a severe personality disorder.

Way to go, Game Industry!

And now...

I’m more than happy to take credit for the improvement. The threat of legislation has improved performance, not some altruism on the part of the Strauss Zelnick’s [or] the industry. To America’s parents: Jack Thompson is delighted to have helped.

Hahaha...

Wah-hahahahahahaha...

Whoo... Oh boy, what an asshole.

If anything, Jack has probably increased the sales of M rated games with all the attention he's putting towards them.

Also,

"I’m more than happy to take credit for the improvement."
But you're still going to be disbarred Jack :)

John Bruce "Jack" Thompson: Taking credit... where ever he can swipe it.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

“I’m more than happy to take credit for the improvement.”

Your credit will be your disbarment.

"I’m more than happy to take credit for the improvement."

Too bad nobody's going to give it.

What a choad.

I'm glad to hear the results, but as for this:

"The ESA, representing US video game publishers, declined to comment, referring us instead to the ESRB."

Same beat, same drummer.

Wow. Jack took credit for it, and in the THIRD PERSON no less.

That friends, is an act of total douchebaggery. Not that anyone's really surprised of course.

I heard that sales of idiot-proof riot shields have also increased tenfold - of course, Wacko-Jacko will be willing to step in and take the credit ^^

First time poster here.

Hasn't JT added to the problem by letting his son buy M rated games?
"The world if full of stupid people....watch out."

Jack's a real classy guy... Unfortunately, it's all low. But did anyone ever really expect anything less from Jack than taking all the credit for something he didn't really do?

"I’m more than happy to take credit for the improvement. The threat of legislation has improved performance, not some altruism on the part of the Strauss Zelnick’s [or] the industry. To America’s parents: Jack Thompson is delighted to have helped."

It's nice to see that he will be disbarred soon, but I wouldn't want to see him disappear completely. Who else would be arrogant and stupid enough to be able to produce comedy gold such as this? :)

Is he serious!? Is that f*cking asshole serious!?!?!?!?!?!?!?


Oh hamburgers,Jack Thompson is such an arrogant douche.

Is anyone surprised, anyone at all, that Jack's taking the credit? I'm not really sure what leg he's trying to stand on though - the industry and retailers have proven time and again they couldn't care less about this guy, except when he's harassing them.

He's got his thumb up his butt (being nice) if he things he had any impact at all.

I challenge Mr. Thompson to show one bit of proof that he is responsible for these numbers. And Mr. Thompson, cite something other than 'I was on 60 Minutes' this time...

@jds, ESRB is an ESA operation specifically addressing video game ratings. Why would ESA want to comment twice?

The industry would have improved without you Thompson.

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe steep decline in sales of M-rated games to underage buyers reported this morning by the Federal Trade Commission is a clear victory for the video game industry on both the political and public relations fronts. Taking a victory lap is the organization responsible for operating the video game industry’s rating system, the ESRB. Via press release, ESRB president Patricia Vance commented on today’s FTC report: Video game retailers have clearly stepped up their efforts to enforce their store policies, and they deserve recognition for these outstanding results.  We commend and applaud retailers for their strong support of the ESRB ratings, and will continue working with them to help ensure that these levels of compliance are sustained if not further increased. [...]

Jack Thompson facts:

Responsible for the ongoing war in Iraq

Responsible for $4 gas

Responsible for biofuels actually being worse for the environment overall than traditional oil based fuels

Responsible for global warming

Responsible for anti-semetic feelings in the middle-east

Invented candy

First person to discover that the summer equinox is not actually the longest day of the year, it just feels the longest because there's nothing to do.

Responsible for the Boston Tea Party and the Mexican-American war

Responsible for Cinco De Mayo celebration in the US as opposed to 9/16 celebration.

Despite how many times he's railed against the ESRB, he claims this victory? Wow.

Cant say I'm surprised though.

he's openly threatened, mocked, dismissed, marginalized and written off the ESRB and the work they do, but the one time they do something good, it's because of Jack.

I guess we all need our fictional victories. oh wait, we dont, some of us prefer doing something good than taking credit for something you didnt do.

@TGIaF

And he has twelve hours.

Not so fun to have such a ridiculous deadline is it Jack?

I like how Jack managed to work a Zelnick jab into this despite him being as unrelated to all this as Jack himself is. Your obsession is showing, Mr. Thompson.

Well, wouldn't you start carding everyone as to avoid the hassle of going to court over a frivolous lawsuit. followed by hundreds of faxes a day and court papers with gay porn attached to them...maybe JT does deserve some credit.

This is great, but it's fucked that movies don't have to go through this shit. Where are the FTC to crack down on the sale of R rated movies to minors?

Oh, and Jack needs to stop talking in the third person. It's fucking creepy.

I am happy with the progress made recently. I agree that younger kids don't belong playing M-rated games or watching R-rated movies.
As for Mr. Thompson, his role was sort of important to carry out such progres, but I honestly think he gave himself too much credit.

"To America’s parents: Jack Thompson is delighted to have helped."

I... oooo... you.. I... oh man... the anger... I.. motherfff...

Serenity now!

Glad to hear this gets both the ECA and the NIMF's seal of approval! :D

As for Jack, on one hand I'm glad he's not dismissing this report and callling it spin from "video game apologists," but on the other hand it's just as annoying and obnoxious for him once again taking credit where there is none. Jack, just stop. As they used to say to Pip on South Park, "Go home. No one likes you."

Jack's absolutely right, though. These improvements are largely due to the possibility of costly lawsuits and the threat of government intervention. If there had never been any media hype over violent videogames, there likely wouldn't be any attempts at all to improve the retail enforcement. After all, I'd guess that as many teens as adults (if not more) purchase and play M-rated games. Improving the ratings enforcement, and therefore making it harder for the enormous teenage audience to obtain games like Halo 3 or GTA4, only happened because the companies fear government intervention enough to risk significantly decreasing their profits.

@ Pixelantes Anonymous - "ESRB is an ESA operation specifically addressing video game ratings. Why would ESA want to comment twice?"

Well, if I won some sort of cultural battle against people and entities that lie, twist and make up facts you better believe I'd be shouting from the mountain tops. Even if I had to shout, have my wife shout, and my kid. I'd do whatever I could to get my message out.

They seem not to want to do that as boisterously as I presumed they would.

That's all, nothing more.

I would not go so far to say that the likes of NIMF and John Bruce had no effect on the change. I would also not go as far to say they are the only reason for it.

My point is that change does not happen unless someone is calling for it.

You cannot make wine without pressing the grapes.

@Jarhead101689

Too much?

He gave himself all the credit.

Lmao, Jacks megalomania really is almost as entertaining as his paranoia.

"I’m more than happy to take credit for the improvement. The threat of legislation has improved performance, not some altruism on the part of the Strauss Zelnick’s [or] the industry. To America’s parents: Jack Thompson is delighted to have helped."

Come on. There is no way they feel pressured by this legislation. Even if by some utterly ridiculous long shot that it passes they couldn't be retroactively punished for selling these games to minors (A point Thompson himself made). Therefore, I think it's quite obvious that this is in fact the retailers own actions, not Jack Thompson's.

Also, I don't think this bill was even drafted by Thompson, so he had no part in this at all.

Jack thompson also emits an ultrasonic freqency that deters polar bears.

Hey guys, go easy on Jacko. After all, he cured cancer, ended world hunger, and single-handedly ended pollution. Not to mention his endless donations to worthy charities. The man's a freakin' hero, for god sake!

*steps out of Jack's mind*

My God what happened? How did I get in there? I think I need to take a bath.

@hayabusa75

Bleach. Lots of bleach.

JT is allowed to take credit for this, much like Dr. Doom can take credit for the Fantastic Four. JT's actions have prompted good actions on the part of the ESRB, but I suspect the world would overall be happier and sleep a little better if it wasn't constantly worrying about what crazy stunt he was going to try next.

Side note: Anyone who felt like replacing Doom with JT in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance would win a million internets in my book. For one, the thought of JT masterminding the Masters of Evil amuses me, and for another, watching him and Wolverine beat the stupid out of each other would be most excellent.

@E. Zachary Knight

NIMF and the like perhaps, but not Jack Thompson. The retailers listen to peoples with legitimate complaints (I consider regulation and education a legitimate complaint because it is common sense), not to those who accuse them of being pornography retailers.

Some critics can get the credit, but not Jack. The only credit he deserves is his persistence and his denseness.

"They scored superb numbers on game rating enforcement, but were criticized by the FTC for sales of R-rated and unrated DVDs to underage buyers."
I can believe it, I see kids prevented from buying M games all the time, but rarely R movies.

Jack, the only "threat of legislation" that hangs in the air around you is the need to sue Walmart one when kid shots another ("kid" in this case applying to any male from childhood through mid 30's).

@Jack Wessels:

"Also, I don’t think this bill was even drafted by Thompson, so he had no part in this at all. "

Didn't stop him from taking credit where it wasn't due... :P

@hayabusa:

I don't think anything less than sulfuric acid will get that off... eww don't get any on me! :P

Ah, man...
If I ever want to increase my ranks in "douchebag" I totally know who to call up for training. Or read the works of for training.
At least we all get a good laugh every time he opens his mouth. Seriously, how can JT not know how ridiculous he sounds?

Why am I not surprised Jack is taking credit for this?

Oh wait, I shouldn't.

I'm about to rant about something absolutely not new:

Jack Thompson is a self-centered ass. He doesn't care about his family, the good of society, the safety of our children, or the benefit of mankind. He just cares about his own agenda and his image. Rather than say, "Hey, someone's doing the right thing", he goes out of his way to say, "I did it all!" He has an inferiority complex as well as a God complex. I wonder if he takes pictures of his crap, frames it, and sits there to admire it. *cracks open a beer* Here you go, Jack *cheers* Here's to you, you egotistical prick.

While industry and government are breaking their arms patting themselves on their collective back, is there anyone keeping in mind whatsoever that this is a *voluntary* system?

I think the ESRB is going to be co-opted as the new CCA. I think it's pretty clear that the slope really *is* slippery, since we have slid down it before.

Actually, folks, I am the one who is responsible for this improvement. Zerodash is delighted to help.

@ Nick: that's superiority complex.

@Pierre-Olivier

Jack Thompson is at least good at stirring up others, even if he himself mostly does nutball complaints. As much as I hate to admit it, I have to agree with EZK that the overall pressure the industry has gotten from various groups has probably had something of an effect on the enforcement. And even more disturbing, Jack Thompson is involved in that a bit.

For him to take full credit for it is pure arogance though. For him to act like he's even that big a part of it is stretching it, in my view.
 
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