With the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Commitment to ParentsÃ¢â‚¬? group growing, the ESRB is attempting to regulate the Mature-rated title interest of minors that are under 17.
Standing on the hallowed grounds of Capitol Hill, today the ESRB and representatives from major videogame retailers announced their Ã¢â‚¬Å“Commitment to ParentsÃ¢â‚¬? campaign, which comprises a number of changes in the Entertainment Software AssociationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (ESA) strategy to regulate the sale of Mature-rated (M) games to minors. Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA), George Allen (R-VA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) were among those on hand to show their approval.
Enforcing this commitment will be the ESRB Retail Council (ERC), which includes retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, Circuit City, Gamestop/EB Games, Game Crazy, and Target. The ERC pledges to enforce store policies on game sales, as well as educating parents as to the meaning of the ESRB rating system. The most significant new plan is to allow parents to return a game that was inappropriately sold to their child.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The ESRB Retail CouncilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœCommitment to ParentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ represents a tremendous and concrete step forward by retailers to vigorously enforce their store policies, address customer complaints and help ensure that consumers, especially parents, make informed purchase decisions for their families,Ã¢â‚¬? said ESRB President Patricia E. Vance. Ã¢â‚¬Å“While retailers have individually made great and laudable strides in both store policy enforcement and consumer education, the ERC enables leading retailers to work together to improve compliance and better serve their customers.Ã¢â‚¬?
ERC members have agreed to participate in two mystery shopper audits per year to track the level of policy enforcement, train store associates about ESRB ratings and game sales policies, provide ratings in circulars, websites and other promotional materials, and establish a mechanism for consumers to address complaints and report non-compliance with store policies.
The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that retailers are currently restricting the sale of M and AO rated games to minors 65% of the time, which closely matches the level of restriction for movie theatres.
While this Ã¢â‚¬Å“Commitment to Parents,Ã¢â‚¬? if properly implemented, could go a long way in keeping inappropriate game content out of the hands of minors, clearly the ultimate responsibility remains with parents themselves.