CCFC Inflamed over Violent Happy Meal Toys

August 5, 2010 -

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has taken on games based on ice cream, given Nickelodeon gruff over making violent games available to kids and is part of a group that is urging the Federal Trade Commission to update the Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA). Now the organization is turning its attention towards Marvel action figures included with McDonald’s Happy Meals.

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Children’s Advocates Call for COPPA Act Reform

July 2, 2010 -

As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) begins a review of its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the connected world becomes ever more connected, a gaggle of advocacy groups is calling for more stringent protections to protect youngsters.

Comments were offered to the FTC (PDF) by groups such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Children Now and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). The advocates argued that when COPPA was originally passed in 1998, computers were the only means of accessing the Internet. Now, of course, cell phones, videogame machines and even interactive television provide additional ways for children to get online, and “these developments have increased the risks to children’s privacy.”

In a section on videogames, the advocates noted that:

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CCFC Claims Small Victory Over Nick, Looks to Win War

June 9, 2010 -

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has made no bones about the problems it has with some of the games offered on Nickelodeon’s AddictingGames.com website. Now that Nick has removed some of the titles in question, the CCFC is showing no sign of letting up.

The organization wasn’t pleased with either the content of some of the games offered—stating that “The games at Nickelodeon’s AddictingGames.com have it all: lechery… gratuitous violence… and even animal cruelty”—or the manner in which Nick linked to the content from “every page” of its websites aimed at pre-schoolers such as NickJr.com and Neopets.

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Vote for the CCFC’s Worst Toy of the Year

May 4, 2010 -

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is winding down voting for its annual TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children) awards.

This year’s four nominees include a Barbie Digital Nail Printer and four products related to interactive entertainment:

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Watchdog Group Finds Dairy Queen Game "Egregious"

May 22, 2009 -

Stopping by your local Dairy Queen over the holiday weekend? If so, here's something to consider:

Ice cream-centric PC game DQ Tycoon has come in for some freezer burn, courtesy of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

The Boston-based CCFC turned its attention to DQ Tycoon as part of its ongoing campaign to lobby Scholastic, Inc. to drop non-books items such as toys, make-up and video games from its school flyers. In a press release issued earlier this week, CCFC termed the game "egregious":

CCFC plans to continue to track Scholastic Book club offerings. One of the more egregious recent findings was the Dairy Queen video game, DQ Tycoon, which appears in Scholastic’s June 2009 Arrow flyer.

The Orlando Sentinel's education blog picked up on the theme:

Some might suggest that  DQ Tycoon isn't in the same league with a Newbery Medal winner for children's literature, such as Joseph Krumgold's And Now Miguel, my personal favorite.  But it apparently gets equal of better billing in the book club fliers. That coming of age book about a Hispanic boy in New Mexico, which won the Newbery in 1954, has been "thinker" literature for kids for 55 years. Will DQ Tycoon meet that test??

While it's true that DQ Tycoon is probably not going to change anyone's life, GamePolitics just had to ask: What's so bad about a game based on ice cream? CCFC spokesman Josh Golin responded.

CCFC: The game is egregious because it's an ad for Dairy Queen masquerading as a video game and ads for Dairy Queen have no place in schools. It is particularly galling that Scholastic is enlisting teachers as a sales force for the game because, at a time of heightened concerns about childhood obesity, many schools are limiting the types of foods that can be sold and marketed on their premises.  I think it's safe to say that without Scholastic, DQ would be unable to promote Blizzards (as many as 1,200 calories) in elementary schools.

GP: In my experience the "tycoon" game genre generally would seem to have at least some educational value, forcing players to plan, strategize, allocate resources, etc. Not exactly Manhunt 2. I noticed that the game next to DQ Tycoon in the ad is "1701," which I've played and which also brings a lot of historical flavor as well as the previously mentioned elements to the mix.

CCFC: I don't dispute for a second that some video games can have educational value. Our concerns are a) the highly commercialized nature of so many of Scholastic's offerings  (not just the games) and b) the fact that Scholastic sells so many things that are not books in its "book clubs".

The fact of the matter is that books clearly play a special role in schools which is why Scholastic is allowed into classrooms and given the unique opportunity to sell directly to students.  Scholastic is exploiting that access by selling so many things that aren't books.  I'm sure Game Stop or Toys R' Us would love to have teachers hand out circulars for them every month.

GP: So, why does CCFC hate ice cream? Just kidding...

48 comments

Watchdog Dings Scholastic for Pushing Video Games, Other Items

February 10, 2009 -

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has targeted Scholastic, Inc. over the bookseller's marketing of items such as video games, jewelry kits and toys to school children.

As reported by the Associated Press, CCFC director Susan Linn was highly critical of Scholastic. The company has been welcomed into schools for decades. Said Linn:

The opportunity to sell directly to children in schools is a privilege and not a right. Scholastic is abusing that privilege by flooding classrooms across the country with ads for toys, trinkets, and electronic media with little or no educational value.

The AP details some of the bookseller's marketing practices which prompted CCFC to act:

Items pitched to elementary school students in the last 14 months include M&M’s Kart Racing Wii video game, an American Idol event planner, the SpongeBob SquarePants Monopoly computer game, lip gloss rings, Nintendo’s Baby Pals video game, Hannah Montana posters and the Spy Master Voice Disguiser.

The campaign said about one-third of the items for sale in Scholastic’s elementary and middle school book clubs were either not books or were books packaged with other items such as jewelry, toys and makeup.

However, Scholastic exec Judy Newman defended her company's offerings to the AP:

We’re losing kids’ interest (in reading). We have to keep them engaged. This (book club) model is 60 years old, and it has to stay relevant to do the work it does. To the extent we put in a few carefully selected non-book items, it’s to keep up the interest... some kids learn through video games.

 

48 comments

LEGO Batman Makes Watchdog Group's List of Terrible Toys

January 22, 2009 -

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has had little to say about video games since joining the 2007 fight against Manhunt 2.

But the Boston-based group has named a popular video game as a finalist in the voting for its first annual TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award.

So, which game has drawn CCFC's wrath? Grand Theft Auto IV? Left 4 Dead? Saints Row 2? Blitz: The League II?

Actually, none of the above. The CCFC has targeted LEGO Batman. Here's what the watchdog group says about the E10-rated game on its website:

How do you turn the ultimate creative toy into a symbol of commercialized childhood?  Begin by partnering with media companies to sell that toy in branded kits designed for recreating movies like Star Wars, rather than creative construction. 

 

Then, dispense with hands-on building altogether by turning your toy into a video game so that instead of deciding what to build next, children choose which cyber weapons to use to beat up their opponent. 

 

Finally, ignore the fact it was rated suitable for ages 10 & up and partner with McDonald’s for a Happy Meal toy giveaway to simultaneously promote the video game, junk food, and the violent Dark Knight movie series to preschoolers.

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MattsworknameInfo, Im with goth on this, the moment people start saying "You can but you shouldnt" thats a slow slide into censorship07/01/2015 - 6:05am
InfophileIn other words, you stopped when you found out it was arguing for a position you disagreed with, but before you found out why.07/01/2015 - 5:29am
Goth_Skunk"In short, anyone can write a rape scene—but should they? Chances are, the answer is no." And that's where I stopped reading.07/01/2015 - 5:11am
InfophileRelevant to our discussion of rape in fiction yesterday: http://www.wired.com/2015/06/rape-scenes/07/01/2015 - 4:58am
Mattsworknameof players, over and over for the last seveal years. Among non RPG games, which make up the vast majority of current games, I think that you still see a large scale disparity between male and female in the AAA industry.07/01/2015 - 1:36am
Mattsworknamewilson. Out of RPG players yes, thats true, and in pc ciricles im not suprised, but RPGS make a small fraction of Console games these days and while pc gaming is seeing a resurgance, MMOs are actually retracting in size , as shown by WOW losing millions07/01/2015 - 1:33am
Matthew Wilsonhere is the study to prove it. http://www.pcgamer.com/researchers-find-that-female-pc-gamers-outnumber-males/07/01/2015 - 1:17am
Matthew Wilson@matt wrong over half of rpg players, both singleplayer and mmos, are female.07/01/2015 - 1:15am
MechaCrashRight, women don't usually play AAA games because none are aimed at them because they don't play them because none are aimed at them because okay you see where I'm going with this.07/01/2015 - 1:11am
MattsworknameI think the better path is this, more games built to give you the Choice of playing as male or female, and give the females good voice actors07/01/2015 - 1:08am
Mattsworknameup more then a fraction of the AAA games industry, but they make up a much larger part of the moble market.07/01/2015 - 1:04am
Mattsworknameandrew is right, to a point, as you are seeing a slow increase of women in games, but the sales shows that the lions share of gaming money comes from a male demo, and while andrew is right that it is changing, it's gonna be a LONG time before women make07/01/2015 - 1:04am
Andrew EisenI think more professional gamblers should get into games publishing. They'll play the odds but they'll also take risks to maximize profits.06/30/2015 - 11:57pm
Andrew EisenAt the end of the day, the ball is rolling and it's rolling in the right direction. Maybe not as fast as we'd like, but it is moving. All we can do is play the games that interest us and make our thoughts known.06/30/2015 - 11:55pm
Matthew Wilsonits unfortunate that the dataset is so tiny for female leads, and is a mixed bag, so money people get the wrong idea.06/30/2015 - 11:54pm
Andrew Eisen"Duke Nukem Forever sold poorly. See? Games staring white guys don't sell!" Pretty silly thing to say.06/30/2015 - 11:50pm
Andrew EisenOr, at the very least, that gamers aren't turned off by female leads.06/30/2015 - 11:49pm
Matthew Wilsonyou would think games like metriod, portal and tomb raider would show that it work, but hopefuly those knew ones will.06/30/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenBut, luckily strides are being made and the money peoples are slowly learning that diversity -> larger targeted audience -> more potential dollars.06/30/2015 - 11:43pm
Andrew EisenSure does. That's why there should be more than just one or two attempts. (7 games at E3 with female leads and 35 with a gender option. I think it's safe to say that not all of these will fail!)06/30/2015 - 11:42pm
 

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