At Shareholders Meeting, Target Gets Targeted by PTC Over Violent Games

Watchdog group the Parents Television Council lashed out at Target this week during the retailer’s annual shareholder meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

According to a PTC press release, Bob Sherman, director of the organization’s Chicago grassroots chapter, called out Target executives over a 2008 secret shopper sting. In that operation the PTC says that minors were able to purchase M-rated games 41% of the time at Target stores. Sherman told the execs and assembled shareholders:

On average our volunteers, all between the ages of 11 and 16, were able to purchase video games rated ‘M’ by the ESRB for mature content 36% of the time.  Target stores fared worse than the average – underage children were able to purchase M-rated video games at Target stores a stunning 41% of the time.  Parents have the right to expect that age restrictions for adult entertainment products will be enforced at the retail level…

Target represents families to so many consumers.  Your advertising and community good works reflect how Target is embedded in our lives.  The Parents Television Council is eager and ready to work with you to address this industry-wide dilemma.

Sherman and the PTC also slammed Target for selling mature-themed DVDs to underage buyers.

In contrast to the PTC’s numbers, the most recent secret shopper survey conducted by the Federal Trade Commission found that underage buyers of M-rated games were successful only 29% of the time at Target.

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  1. Lucid says:

    So… Everyone hates the PTC, I take it. Don’t really know them from a bar of soap, but I don’t get why it’s so bad to be advocating for the ratings to be upheld in stores.

    I don’t know if the numbers are fudged or not. I’d want to see more detail too. But I don’t see anything wrong with advocating that retailers should be vigilant about sticking to the ESRB recommendations and refusing sale to minors.

  2. MasterAssassin says:

    If what your doing is drawing the wrath of th Parent Trash Cult, then you should wear that as a badge of honor. Getting criticized by a group like this is like getting hate mail from Hitler. They are terrible, sleazy people who want to erode the first amendment.

  3. Kajex says:

    I need to know more details- percentages and fractions can be very fickle things.

    Example- 1 guy eats a cake and 1 doesn’t eat any cake (because the first guy STOLE the cake… fucking cake-stealing eater…): 50% of the people present ate cake.


    9/10 people eat cake at a party, because 50 people showed up- but alot of the people who wouldn’t have eaten cake weren’t invited, because they’re stupid and dumb, because they hate cake. (stupid dumb cake-haters…) If they’d shown up, there’d be more stupid dumb cake haters who wouldn’t have eaten cake, and thus screwed up the numbers.

    The best way to get good percentages is to use the fewest amount of people possible while still getting an odd number to base a percentage off of, and then using drama and "BAAWW" to inflate the significance of that number. 😀

  4. Wormdundee says:

    Man, you guys are flying off the fucking handle again. Yeah, I’m sure these stings are probably flawed in some way, whatever. The point is, some not insignificant amount of ‘underage’ kids were able to buy games, that by store policy, should not be sold to them. It’s not illegal in any way, but they probably could do a better job of upholding their policies.

    And of course, there’s that line about parents having the right…blahblahblah, yeah, no such right exists.

    I’m also curious how this is an industry-wide dilemma? Unless he’s talking about the retail industry, that’s a possibility. 

  5. BearDogg-X says:

    The Parents Trash Cult should learn to grow up and get a life.

    If the PTC had any testicular fortitude, they’d show everybody how they came up with these numbers that contradict the Federal Trade Commission’s better numbers.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  6. robbway says:

    It doesn’t mean much to say Target was worse than an average score involving Target.  It would be more reasonable to simply rank the individual stores.  Without the context of the study, the numbers are meaningless.  If it is Target’s corporate policy to not sell "M" games to those under 17, than this PTC attention-getting drama may be a wake-up call.  If I were able to, I’d recommend Target to take their own studies.  Target needs to verify their inventory flags to ensure they are actually working, and then perform the same study with their own secret shoppers.  You simply cannot take a "street sting" as proof, but you can take it as a hypothesis.  PTC should tread carefully with big-box stores, or they may simply stop caring about age verification and let the parents do their own job.

  7. mdo7 says:


    Yeah PTC, because everybody knows that stores can sell M-rated game to children without proper ID or adult present.  You know what, these days parents are now smart and now know how to buy the right game for the kids.  I’m suprised they didn’t go after Best Buy or Gamestop. 

  8. Valentia X says:

    I’m always extremely wary of these ‘stings’ because I’ve yet to hear how they’re performed. Who are they sending it? If it’s all baby-faced, obviously 13 year old kids, that’s one thing. But people age differently; when I took my brother to see Sin City, he was 17, I got carded- I was 23- but he didn’t, because he’s a lot bigger than I am. I’ve seen plenty of teen males with lots of facial hair, or teen girls who look older than I am now, at 27- sometimes it’s makeup, sometimes it just happens.

  9. hellfire7885 says:

    I’m surprised they haven’t attacked Gamestop over their ads offering trade in deals for violent games.

  10. SounDemon says:

    Go eat some shit, PTC. You don’t contribute anything meaningful to the discussion about media in our lives today, you merely act as a mouthpiece for lazy parents and Judeo-Christian moralizers who want everyone else to believe the way they do.


    Brain: "Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?"

    Pinky: "I think so, Brain, but we’re already naked."

  11. MaskedPixelante says:

    Whenever the PTC says something, why do I hear their complaints in the voice of the morality cop lady from GTA Vice City?

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  12. Zerodash says:

    I don’t buy that 41% number at all.  The friggin’ computer system at Target automatically flags the purchase of M-rated games- requiring the cashier to verify age.

    Of course, this is the same organization that lied about the WWE and got their ass sued by Vince McMahon.  If only the games/retail industries had the kind of BALLS Vince has, perhaps the PTC could be silenced…

  13. wintermute says:

    How much do you want to be that the "secret shopper" test that the PTC ran only targeted a few stores in a county/state, and not every store across the U.S.?  If you have a store that doesn’t do age checks for games and movies, you’re going to inflate your "failure" numbers.

  14. Vake Xeacons says:

    I’m starting to worry that these "secret shopper sting" studies are just about as flawed as the psychological "games do/don’t cause violence" researches, on both fronts. Is it is 71% efficiency, or 94%? Or 59%? What?

  15. Erik says:

    "Parents have the right to expect that age restrictions for adult entertainment products will be enforced at the retail level…"

    Wrong.  No such right exists.  Furthermore they aren’t age restrictions they are age recommendations.  As there is nothing enforcing it as a restriction if a store so wanted to they could offer a discount on all M rated games to everyone 16 and younger, and all that people such as the Parents Trash Council could do is whine about it.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

Comments are closed.