ESRB and My Hood

One more post about my garage sale today. I mentioned earlier that I sold 40 videogames today to more than a dozen different families who were strolling the neighborhood looking for deals with their kids in tow.

In every single instance in which a kid picked out a game that he/she wanted, the parent immediately looked to see if it was rated "E" or "T" and commented aloud on it. This is not an exaggeration, this is fact. And not only did every single parent check the ESRB info, but the majority of them then flipped the game over and read the detailed info where it states things such as "Fantasy Violence" or "Partial Nudity" or "Comic Mischief". They then queried me on the content to see what I felt.

I actually heard a sister tease her brother that he couldn't play a particular game for 3 more years because it was rated "T for Teen". I watched kids pick up games, look first at the title then immediately at the lower-left corner, and put them back down with a sigh. These games were rated "M for Mature". Parents actually walked right up to the table and asked me where my "E for Everyone" games were. When confronted with a child desiring a game rated "T" they would ask me what I thought. I'm not a parent, but I tried to be as honest as I possibly could. I flat out told them when games had questionable content (ruined a sale of Whacked because I told them there was quite a bit of sexual inuendo in the game) and I also told them when I felt the ESRB was being a little too conservative (as in the case of Dead or Alive 3 which just has a couple of peek-a-boo flashes of women in their panties and bra).

It was wonderful. People rag on the ESRB all the time for doing too little or for being too obtuse or obscure or whatever other adjective you want to throw out there. I call bullshit on that notion. Maybe it's because I live in a well-heeled neighborhood with well-educated families who possess a very kid-focused attitude towards, well, everything. And maybe many of these moms don't work and therefore have more time to stay up to date on things such as, GASP!, what their kids are doing/playing/watching. But I don't think my hood is really that much different than any other.

Parents that really honestly care will make the effort to monitor what their kids are playing. And they'll be involved and try to stay educated on the matter. Parents that don't care, won't know what their kids are playing. It's very simple. And blaming the ESRB for the latter situation is wrong. I'm also not sure the problem lies at retail either, as to be honest, it probably wouldn't have occured to me to not sell an M-rated game to a young kid today unless he/she wanted something really gratuitous, then the flag would have went up in my head. Maybe. But regardless your thoughts on the role retailer play, blaming the gaming industry and the ESRB as politicians and crackpot "lawyers" like to do is clearly unjustified. Even though my sample may be small (a dozen or so families), 100% of them immediately checked the ESRB rating. One. Hundred. Percent. And this was before asking the price; before asking what the game was about; and before checking to see if they had any money on them. These parents didn't complain about violence in the media, they didn't complain about games being the downfall of civilization or make any snide remarks about games being unhealthy. They just checked the rating as if it was second nature. What a relief.

It's nice to know that some parents understand the responsibility is theirs.

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