Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia School & Community Groups

June 12, 2008 -

The Fairfax County Times reports that Beer Pong, a soon-to-be-released Wii Ware title, is sparking protests by local advocacy groups.

The game's T (13+) rating has been called into question by Lisa Lombardozzi, chairman of the Greater Herndon Community Coalition. Lombardozzi, who has circulated a petition demanding a re-rating by the ESRB, told the Times:

The game encourages younger kids to emulate the patterns of college-age kids.

Gen. Arthur T. Dean, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, was also critical of Beer Pong. Of the game, Dean said:

Beer pong is an activity that normalizes and encourages heavy binge drinking, shows blatant disregard for the dangers of alcohol poisoning, and can cost lives and result in injury.

 

Furthermore, promoting the video game Beer Pong in the Frat Party Games series under a Teen rating ignores the fact that many youth involved in fraternities on college campuses are not of legal drinking age and that youth as young as 13 can purchase the game under this rating.

The Northern Virginia Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving are also said to be looking into the sitiuation. Readers may recall that MADD came out strongly against the simulated drunk driving in Grand Theft Auto IV.

(GP: although, in my mind the performance hit Nico Bellic takes when drunk is a strong motivator NOT to drink & drive).

JV Games spokesman Vince Valenti responded to the criticism:

I think it's kind of funny. The game promotes the sport of beer pong. We are not advocating drinking any more than watching cartoons or watching the TV show 'Cheers,' or even going bowling or to a baseball game... if anything, you're going to be drinking less. Because you are too busy playing the game, trying to beat your opponent, to be constantly picking up a beer and drinking it.

 


Comments

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

As I mentioned to the other poster, all you have to do is set the parental controls.  That works for off-the-shelf, VC, and Wii Ware games.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

I do find it strange that Nintendo is releasing this on their Wii Ware store, seeing as how they are a relatively family friendly company.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

You forget that they are trying to break that image. The yare also taking a very hands off approach to WiiWare. The only games they don't allow on it are AO rated games.

E. Zachary Knight
www.editorialgames.com

 

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

I don't think anyone forgets EZK; It is just that Nintendo has been trying to remove that image for at least over a decade now, and they persist in the image through their actions, especially even more so with their focus on new potential customers (soccer moms and old people) instead of repeat customers.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

So change the name to Root Beer Pong. Worked for Tapper.

 

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

When did adults forget that they ignored the drinking age when they were kids?  Once again, a problem that is solved with a modicum of parenting is blown out of proportion.

Where do 13-17 yo kids get booze if they are influenced (pun intended) by a Wii game to drink?

Adults.  Parents or adult relatives.  But yes, blame the game for something that adults are responsible for, that makes perfect sense. Stoooooopid.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

I'm going to side with the inappropriate rating on this one. You're simulating an activity that is basically synonymous (sp?) with underage drinking.

The major issue I have here is how do you enforce a M rating over Wii Ware? A kid can go into a store, buy Wii Points, and then activate it over their Wii and circumvent the process.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

Where is the kid going to get the credit card to buy Wii Points online, who is going to take him to the store to buy a Wii Points card, and where is a 13 year old going to get the cash to pay for the card in-store? More than likely, its going to be the kid's parents. At that point it pretty much becomes moot over how they can restrict it, even despite the fact that the Wii has parental controls built in.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

ESRB ratings are suggestions not laws.

The enforcement of ESRB ratings in your house is up to you, and I bet you'll be able to figure it out just fine. But the enforcement of ESRB ratings in someone else's house isn't really any of your business, is it?

I don't really want your help interpreting the ratings for my kids, at least. Thanks anyway.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

Set the parental controls.  Then they won't be able to play the adult rated titles.

Simple.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

 Does the game advocate playing beer pong while driving?  MADD needs to reread its own name.  Hopefully "looking into the situation" means waiting to play the game prior to being against it.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

So well I'm guessing from all this that adults can't have fun. That everything in the world must be made for kids.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

If it's for adults there's no good reason for it to not be rated M.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

Sure there is. The ESRB felt that there was nothing in the game to push it to an M rating. That is all the reason you need.

I don't think any game has een given an M rating based solely on alcohol or other drugs.

E. Zachary Knight
www.editorialgames.com

 

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

I poorly phrased that.

What I mean is that games intended for adults suffer nothing from being rated M, as that merely filters them to thier intended audience. Whether or not the game deserves the M rating is a diffrent story. Suggesting that a game rated T isn't allowed to be fun for adults is just mocking the rating system.

I do believe the game deserves an M rating for glorifying and trivializing a drinking game. Admittedly I haven't played the game and don't intend, but even though there's no drinking, it's clearly taking an activity based around drinking and making a game out of it and using that as its primary gameplay. That's almost as bad as a game that revolves around substance abuse. At least in games like GTA4, getting drunk is only a part of the game. This game seems like BYOB Pong.

This is a situation where they could adjusted chand the name and adjusted the theme to make use of double entendre and have it be complete innocent, but as it stands you're playing a drinking game where whenever you're supposed to drink you get points instead. I do realize that even if they changed it from "Beer Pong" to "Lemonaide Pong" there will still be plenty of 13-17 olds that will easily see it for what it is, but keeping this as an electronic version of a frowned upon 21+ activity then release it for 13+ is ludicrous.

_-_-_-_-_-_

How does this game glorify/ trivialize drinking games? It references them, yes, but does it really glorify or trivialize them? I fail to see how just because a game is about a drinking game it glorifies that game. If that's so, then if a parent drinks in the same room as their child, and their child can see them, are they glorifying the act of drinking? Or is it because the entire game is based around this driking game that it glorifies it?

 

 

-If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we'd all be livin' large.

Reality/////////////////////////////////////Fantasy. Seems like a pretty thick line to me...

Re: _-_-_-_-_-_

If a parent doesn't want their child to drink, but is willing to with their children around then they're setting a bad example.

Furthermore, I'm believer that reasonably realistic games tend to encourage behavior. For example, playing Skate enough a child may want a skateboard, or playing rock band may lead to instrument lessons, but a playing Flatout won't make  you want to crash your car and Unreal Tournament won't make you go on a rampage. Granted, I'd call anybody who starts going to frat parties because of this game a dolt moron, it still encourages bad behavior.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

People play darts and pool while at the bar drinking. Should all dart and pool video games be rated M? Growing up, my brothers and sisters and I played plenty of games that involved throwing an object into some other object. So should all games based on the premise of throwing an object into another object be rated M because people do it while drunk?

E. Zachary Knight
www.editorialgames.com

 

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

People do everything thing drunk and pretending my argument is that "if a game has something people do drunk it warrants an M rating" is utter nonsense.

The issue is simple. The game takes place in a bar and makes use of peer. It simualtes Beer Pong only stopping short of handing you a glass of Beer. The mechanics of the game aren't an issue, the presentation is. It takes place in a bar and revolves around beer and that's the entirity of the gameplay (or at least as far as the trailer would have one believe). A game taking place entirely in a bar and revolving around beer is inappropiate and deserves an M rating. I think it's been universally recognized that this game isn't intended for children. The ESRB should reflect this in their rating.

Conversely, if Beer Pong was present in a game like Pokemon as a minigame, it would less inappropiate as it's not a game taking place entirely in a bar and revolving around beer, and would be unquestionably appropiate if it was a minigame mechanically the same as Beer Pong but themed to fit the Pokemon universe.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

Actually, I absolutely agree that a T rating is inappropriate for this game, given the specific nature of Beer Pong. It *is* a real-word game that encourages binge drinking, and it *is* very popular with underage drinking. The last thing we need is a 13+ game to introduce it to kids even younger.

I'm not saying this kind of game shouldn't be made; actually, the video looks like a pretty damn good implementation and use of the wiimote. But it *is* inappropriate to only give it a 13+ rating.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

So just an adult oriented activity theme constitutes an M rating for you? It doesn't matter that the ESRB saw no M rated content? There is not killing, no blood, no real life gambling, not sex or nudity. But because it has heavy references to beer, it deserves an M rating?

I am sorry, but the M rating does not mean that the game is for adults. I have seen some E and T games that kids couldn't play because the gameplay was over their heads, but nobody called for those games to be rerated as M.

E. Zachary Knight
www.editorialgames.com

 

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

The ESRB system is not black-and-white, set in stone, and there is not black-and-white, set-in-stone definition of "adult oriented activity theme," either. All there is is subjective judgment based on precedent and general ESRB guidelines.

I think the "M" rating actually does sort of mean the game is for adults, or at least that the ESRB has judged its content suitable only for people 17 years old or older. 

In any case, this story has nothing to do with "T" or "E" rated games that are so sophisticated (or boring) that they go over the heads of younger players. It has nothing to do with making a game illegal, or legally restricting its distribution due to its narrative content, as far as I can tell. All it is about is whether or not a video game called "Beer Pong," based on the drinking game called "Beer Pong," should receive a "T" rating.

None of us can say for sure what we think to that regard, since none of us has played the game. Same goes for these people protesting -- they don't really know what they are talking about either, yet. 

Although I agree with it, the argument that "not all games featuring alcohol use need to be rated M" is moot. The only question here is whether the alcohol use as featured in this particular game warrants an "M" rating, according to existing precedent, ESRB guidelines, and subjective judgment.

To me, getting drunk is a key part of the real-life game Beer Pong, because part of the challenge comes from reduced motor skills due to intoxication. Same goes for most other drinking games, like Quarters. And so, if this Wii game were to involve alcohol consumption as integrally as its real-life counterpart, I would understand people second-guessing the "T" rating, just as I might question a movie like Beerfest or Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke receiving a PG-13 rating.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

"All it is about is whether or not a video game called "Beer Pong," based on the drinking game called "Beer Pong," should receive a "T" rating."

Should kids not be allowed to play racing games cause they are not old enough to drive? Should they be stopped from playing risk and chess, cause they are not old enough to join the military?

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

My point is what you said the ESRB ratings are not set in stone.

Just because people play a game about tossing ping pong balls into a glass while drunk, does not make this game any less of a game about bouncing ping pong balls into a glass.

If anyone here can really justify why a game about bouncing ping pong balls into a glass should be rated M and make a convencing argument of it, I will step down. Until then, just alcohol references does not justify an M rating.

E. Zachary Knight
www.editorialgames.com

 

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

Nor does it make it any less a game about being drunk, as far as we know. If you are trying to justify why a game that promotes the dangerous overconsumption of alcohol should be rated "T", I believe there are a lot more people than just the group in Virigina who would step up to disagree.

I mean to say, is this a game that merely references alcohol in passing, or is it a game that features alcohol consumption as an integral part of the narrative? Probably the former, but I don't know for sure -- and neither do you.

Nobody said that all alcohol references warrant an "M" rating. It sort of sounds to me like you are arguing that no narrative content involving alcohol use should ever warrant an M rating, however, and that is something very different.

At this point, though, I agree with what you've been saying elsewhere on this board, that without firsthand expeiencve with the game, the best we can do is assume the ESRB has assigned an appropriate rating and that the game's narrative content is suitable even for people still too young to legally drink.

If so, though, I do wonder why they chose the name "Beer Pong." Seems either they're courting controversy such as this, or else sorely lacking in creativity and foresight.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

That is just it. The ESRB weighs alcohol reference and alcohol cunsumtion differently. The latter being heavier. As long as the game only refences alcohol, it most likely will not cause it to pass over whatever threshhold they have between T and M.

On another note, I cannot find any information on the ESRB's website about this game. So how do we even know that it has a T rating?

E. Zachary Knight
www.editorialgames.com

 

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

Elder Scrolls: OBLIVION had alchohol consumption even before the re-rating from T to M.

 -If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we'd all be livin' large.

Reality/////////////////////////////////////Fantasy. Seems like a pretty thick line to me...

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

And many RPGs rated Teen have references for alcohol, too...

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- The cynical side of videogames (spanish only): http://thelostlevel.blogspot.com/

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

On that note World of Warcraft allows you to get your character blitzed but I've yet to see anyone cry foul on them.

-Loudspeaker
"Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

"Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

It's pretty clear that the gameplay itself isn't questionable at all, but to actually call it "beer pong" when no beer is involved is just stupid. It's recreating a drinking game, but just not supplying the beer. It's not teaching kids how to drink per se, but it's a drinking game and doesn't even hide it. Needs to be renamed or rerated.

For the record, teaching kids the straight edge version of a drinking game is perfectly fine, but teaching them the adult version and just not supplying the booze isn't good.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

but it's a drinking game and doesn't even hide it.

True, and it doesn't help their claims as such when they say things like:

... if anything, you're going to be drinking less. Because you are too busy playing the game, trying to beat your opponent, to be constantly picking up a beer and drinking it.

Like others have said, then why not pull a "Tapper" with the name?  Sure it isn't going to completely hide what it is based on or use to be, but it is just stupid of them to say such BS to defend it.

Then there is the free PR issue, and them playing up what will probably turn out to be yet another Wii shovelware title.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

I agree, the name is stupid and I wouldn`t be suprised if this game`s name was only picked just to gather free attenttion.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

I didn't see anyone using the Wiimote to simulate tossing back brews. It looked more like a bouncey version of skee ball. If you used the Wiimote to actually do a drinking motion THEN I coudl see it.

-kurisu7885

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

The ESRB rates narrative content. It doesn't rate gameplay.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

If you're folloing the example of a videogame to know how much to drink you are stupid. No exceptions.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protests From Virginia

And the people who follow the rules of an actual beer pong game to determine how much they drink are...?

I am impressed that you can determine a person's stupidity based solely on his drinking habits, but how does that tie in with this game's "T" rating?

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protest From Virginia

I wonder, if they were to re-title the game "soda pong" would there be the same outcry?

How about two different versions "soda pong" rated "T" and "Beer pong" rated M

Simple texture swap to turn the Beer cans into Soda cans

There...controversy solved.  Someone pay me for that stroke of genius.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protest From Virginia

thats a good one. you should get payed for that idea.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protest From Virginia

Our high school JROTC marching band had to censor out the word "Tequila" while playing that classic in our marching cadence. The class leader thought the song still needed a verbal hook, but not the word "Tequila"

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protest From Virginia

Pretty sure they already paid the guy who thought to rename "Tapper" as "Root Beer Tapper." Good idea, but you're about 25 years late.

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protest From Virginia

Then some group would try to twist it into promoting childhood obesity or something. >_>

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protest From Virginia

All I see is people hitting a ball into cups. OMG ban cups to PROTECT THE CHILDRENS!!!!

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protest From Virginia

And adults! Adults playing a videogame with beer.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------The cynical side of videogames (spanish only): http://thelostlevel.blogspot.com/

Re: Beer Pong Wii Ware Game Prompts Protest From Virginia

I dunno, I can see actually drinking beer going along quite well with playing this game.  Course, actually drinking beer goes along quite well with most things.

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