NIMF Fires Back at GP

Yesterday on GamePolitics I wrote that watchdog group the National Institute on Media and the Family has been co-opted by the video game industry.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve taken NIMF to task for accepting a $50,000 grant from the Entertainment Software Association, the lobbying group which represents US game publishers. Not surprisingly, NIMF took umbrage at my comments. Spokesman Darin Broton told GameCyte:

We’re never going to stop putting the retailers or the industry’s feet to the fire… You can rest assured that we’ll be talking publicly in 2009 about the issue of gaming addiction.


[NIMF accepted the ESA grant because] we’re working on a project to create an online tool for parents to tackle the issues of online predators, cyberbullies, etcetera. It’s not a blank check. It’s for a specific spot on the website.


Yes, there was hesitation [about accepting the ESA grant], and if there wasn’t hesitation, I don’t think any of us would be doing our jobs. But I think the end result of giving a parent another useful thing for them to make better decisions at home with their kids is worthwhile.


I’ve actually laughed at GamePolitics, because before this, GamePolitics was a frequent critic of NIMF for being too harsh on the industry. It’s a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

I look forward to seeing what GamePolitics has to say in early 2009, and see if they still think we’re in the back pocket of the industry.

GP: I’m glad to see that my comments struck a nerve – they were meant to.

That said, I should point out that I have a great deal of respect for Dr. David Walsh and his organization. But there are certain lines which a self-proclaimed watchdog group like NIMF just shouldn’t cross. And accepting money from the very industry you claim to be watching is one of those lines – maybe the biggest, brightest one of all. It’s the reason why you won’t find any paid video game advertising on GamePolitics, which is owned by the ECA, a game consumer advocacy group.

And while I haven’t always agreed with NIMF’s conclusions or its methodology, I’ve always believed that the organization’s heart was in the right place. Over the years, David Walsh has been unfailingly respectful in his treatment of the gamer community and gaming press. As we all know, not every game critic behaves with such decency.

Beyond that, it’s not a bad thing to have rational game industry watchdogs at work. When operating appropriately, groups like NIMF provide a useful checks-and-balances function. Yes, we may chafe at some of their conclusions, but sparking a dialogue about games and their potential effects on young people can’t hurt.

In taking GamePolitics to task, Darin Broton indicates that NIMF will have some watchdog-worthy comments early in the new year.

We’ll be watching.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

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  1. Praetorian says:

    "It’s a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too."


    You know, they would have learned something very important if they had been playing PC games…

    The cake is a lie!

    NIMF taking 50K for a "grant" looks about as good as a surveillance employee at a casino winning at a blackjack table.

  2. MasterAssassin says:

    Here they are spreading the same false information that the likes of Jack Thompson does. That video games are used to desensitize soldiers to violence and prepare them to kill. This misinformation has been debunked numerous times but any parent who sees that isn’t gonna bother to look up the facts. You know the reason why it’s taken us so long to get the politicians and parent groups to finally start backing down is because the industry hasn’t been aggressive enough. When the Parent Trash Cult tried to blame wrestling for the deaths of children, they got thier asses sued off by the WWE. The game industry should have sued them along with the NIMF and Jack Thompson for spreading these kinds of extremely malicious lies.

    Here are some quotes also from thier 2002 video game report card as well that are pretty outrageous.

    "Even more disturbing this year is the fact that the best selling games of the past twelve months are not only ultra-violent, but feature brutal violence toward women."

    Oh so they weren’t disturbed at all that year when Rayne was cutting up and mutilating hundreds of male nazi soldiers in BloodRayne(it is on thier list of games to avoid for kids but it isn’t mentioned), that’s not sexist at all, yet they are totally outraged over a completely optional thing in Vice City that’s NOT AT ALL required to advance in the game. In GTA VC, people of all ethnicities of both sexes are victims of violence. Also I don’t know what other games they are talking about, but I’m guessing they are talking about games which feature armed female combatants as enemies. So they are seeing women can’t be enemy soldiers in games? That way of thinking in my opinion is very sexist. The GTA series does not in any way degrade women or encourage violence against them, if the morons at the NIMF played the games they would know that. In GTA3, there are a few missions where you have to protect Maria, same with Mercedes in Vice City, In both Vice City stories and Liberty City stories both main characters have love interests that they need to protect(Maria and Louise), In San Andreas there are TWO strong female characters Kendl and Catalina, In fact Kendl is just about the only "good role model" in the entire game, San Andreas also has a "girlfriend system" that allows you to date various women and rewards you for treating them right. In fact the GTA series if anything promotes respect towards women since they are often the motivating factor behind the main character’s actions. The NIMF should be sued Rockstar for this, they started this nasty lie and it hasn’t gone away. The industry needs to do to it’s critics what the WWE did to the PTC. Maybe if we do that, they will actually play the games and be more careful about what they say and we wouldn’t have lies like this being spread through the mainstream media.

  3. Conejo says:

    the phrase is "eat your cake and have it too."  in the purpose of the statement, "have" indicates not ownership but existing in a pre-eaten state.  you cannot have cake on your plate once it is in your stomach.

    Here are we — and yonder yawns the universe.

  4. Neeneko says:

    Unfortunatly the line between ‘heart in the right place’ and ‘modern stealth sexism’ is pretty slim.

    NIMF is a ‘white knight’ morality orginization.. protecting women from themselves by reminding them that they are still property who’s primary value to sociaty is thier virginity.. but trying to claim to be non-sexist at the same time.

  5. MasterAssassin says:

    Dennis I would be really careful about saying that this group’s "heart is in the right place". This is the same organization that just a few years ago claimed that the Grand Theft Auto series promoted and glorified violence against women. And this was not a minor thing. This criticism has brought up multiple times despite the fact that you can kill anybody in the game and it doesn’t encourage you to kill women or promote violence against them.  In fact it was them who started this malicious lie as well, it’s in thier 2002 video game report card, where they talk about GTA VC. I would suggest looking up thier history before making such a claim. While I will agree they aren’t as bad as the Parent Trash Cult or Jack Thompson, they have a long history of using lies and fear mongering to get thier point across. They also called for Grand Theft Auto San Andreas to be rated AO before the hot coffee mod was even discovered and once even had the nerve to criticize the industry for not agreeing with them that M-rated games are harmful to kids. They have also supported unconstitutional legislation and and have used the same fear mongering about violent games "causing kids to be more aggressive" to scare and mislead the public. The only reason why I think they have been less critical of the industry lately is because the industry has been giving into thier demands by strictly enforcing the age limit on M-rated games, which I think in some ways is a mistake because it opens the door for them to demand more from the industry. Next thing they’ll do probably is demand the industr censor certain content out of games. The NIMF is better then some watchdog groups but they have the same moralist, fear mongering agenda. They aren’t a lamb, just a lion with some slightly duller teeth.

  6. Krono says:

    "I’ve actually laughed at GamePolitics, because before this, GamePolitics was a frequent critic of NIMF for being too harsh on the industry. It’s a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too."

    No it isn’t a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. It’s a matter of wanting you to be unbiased. When you’re using inconsistant ratings that call the industry an absolute failure for one thing that was pretty much beyond their control, you’re being biased against them. When you’re taking their money and saying they’re doing great, you’re being biased in favor of them.


  7. beemoh says:

    I’m going to re-post what I said on the original story:

    >The National Institute on Media and the Family […] How does a watchdog organization justify taking money from the people it is supposed to be watching? Not surprisingly, NIMF’s 2008 Annual Video Game Report Card was a valentine to the game biz

    That’s because NIMF was never a watchdog, but instead a mafia-like extortion racket, dealing not in murder but in bad PR.

    That $50,000 isn’t a grant, it’s protection money.



  8. DeepThorn says:

    I can think of a few reasons why, one is that GP will report it anyways, so they get their story reported more places if they go else where. 

    Second, is that they know that GP will be against them taking funds from ESA no matter what since it is a conflict of interest, even if it is for a worthy project.  

    If they needed money for something like that, they should have went else where for it.  I don’t know what ESRB, Parents Television Council, and many more people who put their fingers in the gaming cookie jar before are at money wise, but I am sure they could and should have gotten the money somewhere else.

    Granted, that little of money really wouldn’t sway many people morally in the first place, but even putting an online donate button for people to donate money to that project and a list of a few other projects if it goes over the goal amount would have been an idea too.  Then, even if the ESA did donate, it wouldn’t look as shady.

    There are too many ways things could have went, for this to go how it allowed to.  It isn’t professional, especially for their position, and I would go as far to say that they should donate the equal amount of money to a good cause outside of their organization to save face.

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  9. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Why is it whenever you are critical of any organization, they don’t have the nerve to come directly to you with their rebuttal? They always end up wining to some other site about it. It happened with the ESA and now NIMF. I am pretty sure it has happened with other groups as well.

    I don’t remember reading any comments from NIMF yesterday. So what is the deal?

    E. Zachary Knight
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  10. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    What’s the betting that Jack comes on here with his usual bullshit?


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  11. zel says:

    *walks in* hi is this where the Gamers Anonymous meetings are? no? oops wrong room… *steps out*

    He did strike a nerve sounds like. The funny part is that now it feels like they want to lash out at the industry purely because of the article. It’s almost like, uhh ohh, someone called used out, better whip the industry! Then they yell out "ohh ya? is that what you think? watch out we’re coming for youuuuuu!". I mean what are they going to do? "We think the gaming industry gets an F this year because the games are too addictive and don’t suck enough"  Ahhh, the coming year sounds like fun 🙂 


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  12. Vake Xeacons says:

    A lot of respect for the NIMF? I don’t know about that…
    I mean, yeah, I think Dr. Walsh’s heart IS in the right place, and he is on our team. But he’s the loudmouth benchwarmer who goes against his own team from time to time, just to make that winning touchdown for his own personal glory, rather than thinking about what’s best for the team.

  13. JC says:

    I still find redundancy in their making of an online-tool, wouldn’t something focused on the ignorant parents be more appropriate? I still think that most parents with online access would come across the ESRB with so many cards and crap that point towards them and just making a copy of the ESRB won’t really be making a tool. Then again, I haven’t see what they are planning yet.

    Dennis, I feel I detect some glee from your remark when you say you wanted to strike a nerve. It is a bit hard to believe how much things have turned around, or the simple Hot Coffee scandal is all it takes to make the difference between the F and B~A. I think it is laughablethat something like that, which isn’t available normally through retailers garners a pure F.


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