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Private ratings firm attempts to cash in on violent videogames bill

Private ratings firm PSVratings is taking the opportunity to cash in on the controversial violent videogames bill AB1179, writing an open letter to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to offer an alternative to the industry standard ESRB ratings.

Private ratings firm PSVratings is taking the opportunity to cash in on the controversial violent videogames bill AB1179, writing an open letter to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to offer an alternative to the industry standard ESRB ratings.

The firm has suggested that the current industry standard ESRB rating is inadequate in its definition of violent videogames, promoting the benefits of its own service as a viable alternative for the games industry.

President of PSVratings, David Kinney Stated: "The current videogame ratings that you see on the videogame boxes themselves may leave retailers and parents confused and defenceless when it comes to figuring out which games kids are not allowed to buy."

"How can videogame retailers be expected to trust the ESRB ratings when the ratings aren't based on actually playing the games? How will they know whether a videogame has the specific violent content that's covered by the new law? What retailers and parents need is an objective, reliable, and quantifiable measure of what's really in these games," he added.

The bill continues to be subject to strong opposition from the games industry and retail trade bodies, and both the Entertainment Software Association and the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association will attempt to overturn the new law through legal proceedings which are currently underway.

PSVratings' open letter to Schwarzenegger implied that the adoption of its ratings system will aid the implementation of the law and avoid legal challenges based on First Amendment infringement issues.

The letter states: "I am confident that you wish to see this legislation implemented in such a way that retailers in California are not left defenceless. So do I. There are ways to do this which are not anti-business, do not employ censorship and will not invoke 1st Amendment challenges. We at PSVratings can help you do that."

The PSVratings system is based on a simple traffic light system, indicating levels of Profanity, Sex and Violence in media. The system is currently used for the film industry, although the firm claims that it can be applied to all forms of media.

Assessment of the number of instances of profanity, sex and violence is undertaken by a board of child psychiatrists, psychologists and educators, with a proprietary database-driven technology featuring over 3,000 rules and more than ten million rule combinations. The data is independently verified using three stages of validation, creating the final PSVrating.

According to the company website, PSVratings' guiding principle is based on the following statement: "Just as companies and individual artists have the right to express themselves freely and without judgment, the public has a right to objective information that will enable them to make informed decisions about the media they consume."

To date, there has been no response from governor Schwarzenegger, and the ESA remains determined to overturn the bill as it prepares its case for legal action.

Author

Paul Loughrey

Contributor