Today I overheard a coworker saying she bought her age-11 son an electric blue Nintendo DS for his birthday, and that he has many systems already. Being the community-minded citizen I am, I strolled over to her desk to strike up a conversation on the topic. After a few lead-in remarks, I asked if she was familiar with the ESRB rating system, and if she checked the ratings before buying games for her kid. She told me she usually made her judgement on the appropriateness of the title based on the picture on the box front.
Not ten minutes later she had full knowledge of the ESRB’s rating system, provided by yours truly. My good deed for the day is done — my coworker is protected; now armed with good information upon which to base purchasing decisions, as opposed to marketing information or her kid’s opinion. The child is protected, and will not be exposed to any non-parent-approved content. And most importantly, the game company is protected. No Grand Theft Auto for that kid, and thus no litigation, keeping our game prices low. It is my sincere hope that she tells all her friends about the ESRB, spreading the good word that they don’t have to guess anymore.
Videogame companies often cite the ESRB ratings when faced with accusations of creating mindless, violence-hungry zombies out of America’s future generations, as well they should. The information is there for the asking, right on the front and back of every box. Clearly the overarching issues is that parents and loved ones just aren’t aware.
I would urge all B A Starters to make an effort to distribute information about the ESRB to parents. It’s a valuable tool in the effort to regulate America’s childrens’ exposure to inappropriate media, a great service to our society. Videogames have cost fifty bucks a pop for a long time now, and mainstream society’s steady drive towards class action suits against game developers and distributors must be stopped if we want to keep it that way.
For the sake of our wallets, we must act. Talk to your friends to see what their awareness level is. Hold an ESRB awareness drive in your hometown. Get a float in a local parade. Hand out flyers in front of Target and Walmart (with permission, of course). I have set up a cafepress site, where you can purchase a “Save Our Games” bumper sticker — show your support! It’s up to us to make this work.