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 Study: Fewer minors buying M-rated games

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PostSubject: Study: Fewer minors buying M-rated games   Fri May 09, 2008 12:01 am

Study: Fewer minors buying M-rated games
FTC sting finds just 20 percent of under-17 secret shoppers could purchase age-inappropriate games--less than half the year prior.

Only 20 percent of kids under 17 were able to buy "M"-rated games in the United States this year, according to a government report out Thursday.

The Federal Trade Commission report studied kids' success at buying tickets to R-rated movies or purchasing R-rated DVDs, mature CDs, and M-rated games. In every case, the FTC found the success rate had dropped over every previous year it conducted its study.

The FTC's findings, in handy bar-graph form.But nowhere was the drop sharper than with games.

According to the study, while 20 percent of under-17 kids were able to buy M-rated games in 2008, the number had been 42 percent in 2006 and between 60 percent and more than 80 percent in previous studies.

A game rated "M" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board is meant only for people aged 17 and over. An "AO"-rated game is meant only for those 18 and over. The ratings have no legal bearing, but most of the gaming industry--which sponsors the ESRB--abides by them.

The study surveyed 253 retail stores in the United States. The best results, the FTC said, were at GameStop stores, where only 6 percent of under-17s were able to buy the M-rated games. The worst was Hollywood Video, where 40 percent succeeded.

At Wal-Mart, the number was 18 percent; at Best Buy, 20 percent; Toys "R" Us, 27 percent; Target, 28 percent; Kmart, 31 percent; and Circuit City, 38 percent.

In response, ESRB president Patricia Vance issued a statement Thursday.

"Video game retailers have clearly stepped up their efforts to enforce their store policies," Vance wrote, "and they deserve recognition for these outstanding results. We commend and applaud retailers for their strong support of the ESRB ratings, and will continue working with them to help ensure that these levels of compliance are sustained if not further increased."

The timing of the report is interesting because of a new bill introduced in Congress Wednesday that would mandate that retailers cannot sell M- or AO-rated games to anyone without identification showing their age.


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