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Video games get improved rating from senators, family institute

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Most retailers get an 'F'

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(CNN) -- With support from numerous U.S. senators, the National Institute on Media and the Family released a video and computer game report card Thursday. The watchdog group credited the industry for adopting some of its recommendations but criticized retailers for selling violent games to children.

Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, Herbert Kohl, D-Wisconsin, and Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, joined the institute in announcing the findings from the new survey.

David Walsh, institute president, said the industry has responded to nearly all of the institute's past recommendations and has implemented some measures to help with marketing and ratings education.

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But many retailers have failed to put up any effective barrier against young people buying inappropriate games, he said. FuncoLand and Target are the only two retail chains that consistently enforce policies prohibiting the sale of adult-rated games to minors, according to the report.

"There is some good news in this report today, which is that this video game industry one has the best rating system of any entertainment industry. And it has done more to respond to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) report last fall that said that the entertainment industry was marketing adult rated products to kids," Lieberman told CNN.

Most retailers get an 'F'

Besides marketing, retailing needs to be a major emphasis, according to Lieberman.

"When you send kids seven to 14 in to see if they can buy an adult-rated video game, by and large they're able to buy those games. So the pressure has to go on the retailers to carry out the policies that they've adopted in words to not sell adult-rated games to kids," he said.

The report card measures the performance of the video and computer game industry in areas such as marketing and advertising, ratings enforcement and ratings education. Major health care providers in Minnesota sponsored the study.

Among the findings: 20 percent of eighth- and ninth-graders have felt "addicted" to games and 36 percent reported that they have friends "addicted" to games.

Juvenile males who had legal involvement play significantly more than their peers -- 16 hours per week -- and play more violent games. Youths who favor violent video games are more likely to have become involved into physical fights in the previous year, according to the study.

The National Institute on Media and the Family is a non-profit research and education organization that works to maximize the benefits and minimize the harm mass media have on children.

The Report Card is available on the National Institute's Web site, www.mediafamily.org.



RELATED STORIES:
Video game 'Sim'-mers at top of game charts
December 18, 2000
Feds: Violent entertainment intentionally aimed at young
September 11, 2000
Kmart, Wal-Mart say they won't sell violent video games to buyers younger than 17
September 8, 2000
Video games go open source
August 15, 2000

RELATED SITES:
National Institute on Media and the Family
Federal Trade Commission


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