If you’re a parent and you and your kids play games, you might have heard of the National Institute on Media and the Family. The organization runs the MediaWise Web site, which provides easy-to-understand, traffic-light-based ratings of a television show or movie’s sex, profanity, and violence. The organization also uses a lexicon of original terminology for non-child-friendly content, such as “killographic,” an adjective that describes extreme violence.
Based in Minneapolis, the NIMF gets a fair amount of media attention each fall when it releases its annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card. The card often raises hackles with its extensive critiques of individual games and gaming as a whole. Last year, It claimed that “the [game] industry’s efforts to be good corporate citizens have not kept pace with its explosive growth,” and that “Killographic and sexually explicit games are still finding their way into the hands of millions of underage players.” Naturally, the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sex mini-game scandal was mentioned repeatedly.
Today, the NIMF announced it has finalized plans for a two-day event, called the National Summit on Video Games, Youth, and Public Policy. Held near the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, the event will be held to “address concerns regarding video game ratings and children’s access to violent and sexually explicit games.”
Presiding over the summit will be NIMF president Dr. David Walsh (pictured), who famously squabbled with fellow game critic Jack Thompson. He will be joined by Iowa State University professor Dr. Doug Gentile, director of Iowa State University’s Media Research Lab, which studies “pathological computer/video game use (e.g. video game ‘addiction’)” and other subjects it deems harmful to minors. Walsh and Gentile are both co-authors of the MediaWise Video Game Report Card.
According to its organizers, the event will have nearly two dozen as-yet unnamed “scholars, educators and experts on media violence and child behavior issues.” Their agenda will be to “review current and emerging trends related to video game rating systems, education policy and government regulation; determine the accuracy and independence of video game rating.” At the end of the event, attendees will draft a 10-year “action agenda” for dealing with the game industry.