"Questionable" report finds 19% of stores sell M-rated games to minors

ESRB rebuffs Parents Television Council US retail "sting"

Child protection organisation the Parents Television Council has claimed 19 per cent of US game retailers will sell M-rated games to underage shoppers.

The PTC sent 109 children aged 12 to 16 to 109 stores US-wide, and found that 21 of them were prepared to sell the young spies titles ESRB-rated as suitable for those aged 17 years and above.

Ratings board the ESRB has dismissed the report as having "questionable methodology", but noted that it was an improvement on a 2008 study which found 35 per cent of retailers would apparently sell to minors.

"Frankly, the latest PTC member sting operation actually verifies the effectiveness of the ESRB rating system and the ever-increasing support it receives from retailers," director of communications Eliot Mizrachi told Gamasutra.

The PTC used its findings to support next week's ruling on Schwarzenegger vs EMA, a supreme court decision on whether the US requires further restrictions on the sale and display of violent videogames.

"The industry's PR spin about how ratings empower parents is specious if unaccompanied minors are able to purchase adult-rated games," said PTC president Tim Winter.

"A California law that would simply put consequences in place for retailers who sell exceedingly violent games to minors has been fought tooth and nail by the gaming industry and will come before the U.S. Supreme Court in a matter of days.

"We urge the Court to uphold the California law and heed the calls of concerned parents by requiring retailers to check IDs."

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Latest comments (7)

Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
A ridiculous report; you can't come to any kind of conclusion with such tiny results margins - I would expect a reasonable report like this would need at least 1000 participants. Or, at the very least, a number of those children should have been sent to multiple stores so you could gauge how a particular business performed with multiple underage customers.
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Lewis Mills Creative Partner, Ninja Beaver Studios7 years ago
Of more concern to myself are the parents who will buy "mature" games for their children. The console is not a child-minder so don't be surprised and offended when you see some of the content of games.
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Ryan Locke Lecturer in Media Design, University of Abertay Dundee7 years ago
Oddly enough, I was in GAME yesterday, browsing for a bargain, when I overheard a nice elderly couple interested in buying a game for thier young grandson.
They said 'oh its modern warfare 2 he wants' which is unsurprising, probably alot of kids play it. The store cleark, responsably, actualy tried his best to discourage them from doing so, insisting the violence may not be good for a young mind.
Either way - they bought it, and he'll be getting it for Christmas.

Should someone have denied them the purchase? Obviously not - but games will make thier way to children, regardless of laws.

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
I can tell you guys countless stories like Ryan's, having done my time in game retail from 1999-2003. Parents, Aunts, Uncles and other "responsible" adults who don't care, are quite liberal about game violence (becase they've raised their kids well and the wee ones KNOW it's all illusion) all are part of the circle, but then you have the clueless who can't and won't be told what's "bad" for their kids.

Those are the adults that come back with that copy of GTA complaining that we sold them a terrible game ofr their kid even AFTER we pointed out the ratings.

Anyway, this study/sting shit is a waste of time and MONEY (who the hell keeps funding these political/religious groups and their morally shady biases anyway?). It's OK to send real life kids off to join in on real sports or real war and have them real injured, dead or scarred for life, but wholly artificial violence that's no worse than many classic novels, films, operas (classical and soap) is deemed the scourge of the nation. damn fools...

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Levin Tull Service Associate -Learning, Twist Education LLC7 years ago

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Levin Tull on 28th October 2010 7:29pm

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Glen Elliott Partner/Head of Sales, European Game League7 years ago
@ Ryan - What terrible grandparents, they should be ashamed........MW2?! Don't they know that Blackops is out in less then 2 weeks!
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany7 years ago
@ Ryan Locke:
I agree is not the best behavior, I did the same in Spain (directly) but with Dead Space. But there is the limit that I don't want to trespass; if I'm a parent and I want to allow my mature and responsible kid to play violent games, none has the right to impose me the opposite, not the shopkeeper and nor Arnold, as long as I atorize it, that is.
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