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March 13, 2006
2 Min Read
Major Internet firm America Online’s AOL Games web site has announced that it has launched a new Family Gaming Guide, apparently "designed to help parents make informed decisions when deciding which video games are appropriate for their children", in association with non-profit Common Sense Media. According to AOL, the Family Gaming Guide will also offer the latest news and research about the effect of video games on children’s behavior and learning abilities. Common Sense Media, AOL's partner in this deal, is notable for having supporting Leland Yee's California legislation against violent video games in a very public fashion, with James Steyer, CEO of the firm, commenting at the time of the bill's signing, and before it was injuncted: "We applaud Governor Schwarzenegger for signing this landmark legislation. Even though he's a major figure in the entertainment industry, he's a father first. In that role, the Governor understands that ultra-violent and sexually violent media content is harmful to kids' development." In addition, Common Sense recently released a white paper noting that "playing violent video games accounts for a 13% to 22% increase in adolescents' violent behavior compared to a 14% increase in lung cancer from smoking tobacco." However, the AOL Games Family Gaming Guide website does not seem to overly advocate for Common Sense's claims, with a featured family game (Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll), and a clear, unbiased description of the current ESRB game ratings. Nonetheless, at least one of the messsageboards linked for the page, 'Blame the Games', is headed: 'Share your thoughts on Video Games: are they to blame for crimes and societal ills?' Ralph Rivera, Vice President and General Manager, AOL Games, commented of the announcement: "Many parents today are concerned about the content found in video games today and the effect these games may have on their children. AOL has long been an advocate for parents on the Web and we believe the Family Gaming Guide will be a valuable resource to help parents determine which games their children should be playing."
About the Author(s)
Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.
He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.
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