This very cool holiday card arrived via e-mail yesterday from the nice folks at video game comedy site The -Minus World...
At least Kym Worthy has updated her list.
We last peeped the Wayne County Prosecutor during the 2007 holiday shopping season. At the time she was blaming games for the crime problem in Detroit and pushing an outdated list of ten games to avoid.
Ms. Worthy is back, reports the Detroit Free Press, with a brand-new list but the same old line:
The last year has convinced me more than ever that children are at risk of becoming desensitized to violence and can exhibit more aggressive behavior if they repeatedly play certain violent video games.
The [Sorensen murder] investigation revealed that the youths would often play violent video games. I believe that certain video games are connected to the proliferation of violent crimes being committed by youthful offenders such as Orlewicz and Letkemann.
Perhaps Worthy picked up on GP's criticism that last year's top ten list was embarrassingly outdated. This year's edition is cadged from the National Institute on Media and the Family's 2008 Annual Video Game Report Card:
GP: If you think that this stuff is insignificant, consider that Worthy's 2007 list was picked up and subsequently regurgitated by the government of Thailand during its August video game crackdown.
Fat, angry and stupid is no way to go through life, son...
At least, that's what an education consultant seems to be saying as he cautions parents against buying video games as holiday gifts for their teenage sons.
In a guest column for EdNews, Bill Costello writes:
Boys are spending more than thirteen hours a week playing video games. As a result, they're spending less time outdoors playing and exercising. Perhaps this is partially why they are four times more likely to be obese than they were thirty years ago.
Research consistently confirms that the more time boys spend playing video games, the more likely they are to do poorly in school—regardless of age. At a time when boys are already underperforming in school, video games only make the situation worse.
Many recent studies suggest that playing video games saps the motivation of boys and disconnects them from the real world... Violent video games are especially harmful. A definite link has been established between violent video games and antisocial behavior. Games like Grand Theft Auto and Halo can make your son more aggressive.
So if you're thinking of buying video games for your son this holiday season, you might want to reconsider.
The Timothy Plan, a Florida investment firm which bills itself as "conservative Christian," is warning holiday-shopping parents away from what it calls the 30 "most offensive" video games.
While the usual suspects (GTA IV, Saints Row 2, Blitz the League II) make the list, there are some surprises as well, including the T-rated Bully: Scholarship Edition and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.
In its game rankings, the organization displays an obvious anti-gay bias. While it evaluates titles for sex and nudity, a gay/lesbian rating is also included, meaning that a game with a gay sexual encounter might get a double whammy when compared to a game where the sex is of the straight variety. This effect, for instance, pushes Fable II onto the group's most offensive list. Along that line a report prepared by the Timothy Plan contains this rather bizarre comment:
Army of Two: Homosexual Encounters: ...Somewhat homo-erotic undertones between the two main characters are present.
WoW made it onto the dirty thirty, thanks to a high "addiction" rating as well as a high rating for alcohol use (curse you, Noggenfogger elixir!).
How the group determined the addiction rank is really quite unfathomable. WoW received a 3, for example, the worst possible rating, while Lord of the Rings Online got a 1 and Age of Conan a 2. In fact, all of the MMOs were tagged for addiction as well as some multiplayer games like Halo 3. A few games (The Darkness, Devil May Cry 4) were punished for "demonic" references.
Timothy Plan president Art Ally (left) comments:
Many, if not most, parents who buy their kids video games really don't know the extent of sex and violence imbedded in them. From drug use, prostitution, murder and mayhem to vulgar profanity and blasphemy these games have become a powerfully negative influence on our kids...
I believe, if parents would take a moment to look at the report we've created, their game selections would be quite different.
The group maintains a corporate "hall of shame" which includes game publishers EA, Take-Two and Microsoft. The Timothy Plan also offers to screen your portfolio to see if any of your mutual funds have investments in shameful companies.
Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping season and, for third straight year, Nintendo's Wii console remains a smoking hot gift choice, according to PriceGrabber.com.
The well-trafficked price comparision site lists top products searched for by consumers. Its most recent results, which include Black Friday data, show the Wii at #1 and the Wii Fit exercise board/game at #4.
Despite recent economic conditions, a press release cites an 11% uptick in Black Friday traffic at PriceGrabber over 2007's numbers. Pointing to sales driven by retailer discounts, PriceGrabber Ron LaPierre remarked:
Prior to the Black Friday weekend, 71 percent of shoppers intended to spend less money this holiday season compared to last year and 66 percent planned to give practical gifts. Thanksgiving and Black Friday traffic shows that value drives consumer spending. Consumers are responding to aggressive promotions and price drops on popular electronics.
Although the PriceGrabber list is heavily populated by Ugg boots, digital cameras, laptops and flat-screen TVs, there are several game items in the top 200. Following the Wii and Wii Fit are:
Via: Test Freaks
With the t-shirt serving as the centerpiece of many a gamer's wardrobe, The Examiner's Carol Orsini pens a fun article listing her choices for the top 10 gaming shirts for the holidays.
With the holidays right around the corner, nothing says 'I love you' to that special button-masher in your life more than the gift of garb. As one fanatical gamer to another, these are the absolute best t-shirts that loudly proclaim; 'Yes. I play games.' ...And as an incentive to you non-gamers, buying your gamer a shirt rather than a game equals more time they spend with you wearing it and less time that they're glued to the TV.
Check it out, and feel free to link to your own favorites.
State Senator Leland Yee (D), author of California's contested video game law, has issued a press release urging parents to avoid violent video games when shopping for their children during the holiday season.
In doing so Yee referenced a recent longitudinal study which linked violent games to aggression in Japanese and American children:
There is mounting evidence that such ultraviolent video games have negative effects on children, and can cause real behavioral changes....
Eighty-seven percent of children between 8 and 17 years of age play video or computer games and about 60 percent list their favorite games as rated M for Mature, which are games designed for adults. It is vitally important that parents and grandparents consider the content in video games before making holiday purchases.
Yee cited the National Institute on Media and the Family's Annual Video Game Report Card, which includes a list of ten violent games to avoid. The Democratic State Senator also offered these guidelines to parents:
GP: We should note that the findings of the longitudinal study referenced by Yee have been called into question by at least one other prominent game violence researcher.
When gamers last heard from Bill McCollum, the Florida Attorney General was fretting that the motion-controlled Wii version of Manhunt 2 would have a generation of kids practicing to be killers. As GamePolitics reported in June of 2007, McCollum apparently got that idea from Jack Thompson.
These days, McCollum is, like many political colleagues in other states, urging parents to follow ESRB content ratings while shopping for holiday gifts. A press release on his official website quotes the Republican A.G.:
Though the holiday season is one of the busiest times of year, it is also perhaps the most important time of the year for consumers to make sure they know what they're buying for their loved ones. The ESRB rating system provides parents and others with age and content information which can be informative tools when purchasing games for family and friends.
McCollum's press release also quotes ESRB head Patricia Vance as well as ESA CEO Michael Gallagher.
But not Jack Thompson.
AS we enter the holiday shopping season, the ESRB has apparently been working overtime to gain endorsements for its content rating system from state-level political heavyweights.
In recent days GamePolitics has reported that key elected officials in Mississippi, Missouri, Kansas and New Jersey have endorsed the ESRB ratings.
The latest to climb on board is Nebraska's Attorney General Jon Bruning (R). Yesterday, Bruning and the ESRB jointly launched a public service announcement which will air on local radio and TV. The campaign is designed to raise parental awareness of game ratings as parents begin their holiday shopping. Bruning, no doubt, is also expecting that the ads will raise parental awareness of Bruning.
In the spot, the A.G. is seen playing Xbox 360 game with his children. The game isn't shown, but we can safely assume it isn't GTA IV or Left 4 Dead. Bruning offers a comment in the accompanying press release:
Parents should be involved and take an active role in choosing games for their kids. The ESRB ratings are an effective tool every parent can use to pick video games that are age-appropriate and family-friendly. I use them when I buy games for my children. I hope Nebraskans will too.
GP: In addition to Bruning and others who signed onto the ESRB campaign recently, more than a dozen elected officials, primarily governors and A.G.s, are already on board.
As GamePolitics has pointed out before, the ESRB PSAs are a win-win for the game industry as well as for the political figures involved. The ESRB proactively gets its message out to parents. The political figures in turn are able to promote an image of helpfulness and concern. Production costs are on the game industry's dime, and, because they are public service announcements, radio and TV stations run the ads for free.
From a strategic perspective, this campaign has been little short of brilliant. Whoever thought of it deserves a raise.
New Jersey State Senate President Richard Codey (D) has teamed up with the ESRB on a public service announcement designed to remind parents about video game content ratings.
Timed to coincide with the holiday shopping season, the PSA will air on local television and radio. Codey and ESRB President Patricia Vance unveiled the new campaign during a press conference at the Statehouse in Trenton yesterday.
In addition to his long service in the State Senate, Codey also served as New Jersey's interim governor after the 2004 resignation of James McGreevey.
Of his involvement with the ESRB, Codey said:
As a father, I know parents face tough decisions these days about the media they allow into their home. There’s simply no substitute for parental involvement and responsibility, and it’s important that parents play an active role in choosing games for their children. With the ESRB ratings, parents don’t have to feel like a Scrooge if their kids want a game that’s not appropriate for their age. The ESRB is a great resource that provides plenty of tools for parents to determine if a game is appropriate or to find a suitable substitute...
While many parents are aware of the ratings, and are making sensible game purchase decisions as a result, there is always more that can be done to raise awareness. Working with ESRB, we hope that these ads will help arm parents with the information they need to make the right choices about the video games they deem appropriate for their children and families.
Video games are no different than movies and TV shows in that they are created for a diverse audience of all ages. That is why it is so important that parents remember to check the rating when purchasing games for their children. I’m pleased to be joining Senator Codey in announcing this effort to reach out to New Jersey’s parents and educate them about the ratings.
Also on hand to support the campaign was Diane Zierler, president of the New Jersey Parent Teacher Association.
An anti-violence group in Winnipeg gave poor marks to Wal-Mart and Toys'R'Us after conducting "inspections" of local retailers yesterday. Violent video games are among the items that concern Project Peacemakers.
Spokesperson Wendy Kroeker told the Winnipeg Sun:
The kind of toy we're trying to encourage here are those that build a child's creativity, a sense of collaboration and skills of co-operation.
With [video games], you don't determine the level of violence of your interaction -- the game determines the violence for you... It's not only that they're engaged in violence, it's violence directed against specific ethnicities ... and violence against women.
By way of example, Kroeker mentioned the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto game series. The group's website explains their retail inspection process:
Our goal... is to raise awareness about the levels of violence in children’s toys and games and to call on retailers, government and the wider community to take steps to limit this violence... These are the kinds of things we were looking for:
Whether in-store displays promoted violent toys
Whether they sold violent and militarized toys, and particularly if they were at eye-level for young children
Whether toy guns were sold and how realistic they were
Whether violent electronic games were sold, how they were displayed.
With the holiday shopping season upon us, a pair of Midwestern attorneys general have reminded parents to be mindful of ESRB ratings as they purchase video games for their children.
In Kansas, WIBW reports on comments by Attorney General Steve Six (D, left):
As a parent of four young children, I know how important it is to be informed about the content in video games and to make sure games purchased as gifts are age appropriate for your child. The ESRB computer and video game rating system is the best guide parents can use to determine if a game’s content is right for their children.
Meanwhile, Ozarks First reports on a more generic warning from the office of Missouri Attorney General. No comments are provided. That's likely because current A.G. Jay Nixon (D) was elected governor on November 4th and is in the midst of transitioning to his new role.
With Black Friday and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (D) has reminded parents to follow ESRB rating guidelines when purchasing games for their kids.
As reported by the Madison County Herald, Hood said:
Every Christmas I review the ratings to determine what is appropriate for my children. I want other parents to know the ratings...
As GamePolitics reported, Hood issued a similar warning during the 2007 holiday season.
GP: For handy reference, GamePolitics features the ESRB's rating widget in our right sidebar.