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Got Game?

July 13, 2005

Westchester County has teamed up with the video game industry’s rating board in an educational campaign to make sure parents have the information they need to make educated decisions about their kids’ computer and video game choices, County Executive Andy Spano announced today.

The county and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) have jointly developed a brochure titled “OK To Play?” that explains in detail the industry’s voluntary rating system for computer and video games. The brochures will be distributed by the county to parents and other residents through libraries, schools, and stores where video games are sold and rented.

“Certain games are just not appropriate for young teens and preteens due to sexual content, language, violence and other things,” Spano said. “This is not about censorship. This is about giving parents the information they need to monitor what video games their kids are buying or renting. I thank the Entertainment Software Rating Board for joining us in this important effort.”

“The ESRB ratings provide a clear way for parents to learn what to expect from a computer or video game. The front of virtually every game box displays a rating symbol which suggests age-appropriateness, and on the back are content descriptors which provide details about the content in the game,” said Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB. “We are pleased to join County Executive Spano in providing parents with information on ESRB ratings, giving them the information they need to ensure that the games they choose for their families are ‘OK to play.’”

Spano noted that a July 2004 Federal Trade Commission report to Congress found that 69 percent of teens age 13-16 who tried to buy games rated M (for 17 and older) were successful. The FTC did find that the ESRB rating system to be the most comprehensive of the three industry rating systems (movies, music, video games).

“Parents must realize that it is not the stores that will monitor what their kids buy or rent – it is up to the parents to do so,” he said.

He added, “Previous attempts by some governments to enact laws to prevent the sale or rental of adult and mature-rated games to underage people have not been successful based on First Amendment grounds. Recognizing that these games will continue to be in the marketplace, we reached out to the ESRB. We hope that through this effort the rating system for video games will become as commonplace and recognizable as are the rating systems for movies.”

The new brochure details the rating system and includes a tear-off pocket guide for parents or others to use as they check computer and video games. The brochure also advises parents of the following:

• Check the ratings

• Carefully read and look at the package

• Talk to other parents and older children to find out more about the game

• Consider your child’s unique personality and abilities when selected computer and video games

• Play computer and video games with your children

• Go beyond the rating information and review demos of the games that some stores have.

The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association. ESRB independently applies ratings and enforces advertising guidelines and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.


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