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Christian Group Applauds Retail ESRB Policies

A new report from Christian coalition Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has applauded retailers, in particular Target and Best Buy on their efforts to keep violent video games out of the hands of minors, but notes that more work in thi
A new report titled “Retailers and Violent Video Games: Progress Made but Disclosure Needed” released by Christian coalition Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has applauded retailers, in particular Target and Best Buy, with regards to their efforts to keep violent video games out of the hands of minors, while at the same time noting that more work in this area is needed. ICCR officials note that the organization is currently speaking with representatives from major North American retailers in an effort to help keep mature rated games rated M by the ESRB from being sold to customers under 17 years old. In addition, the organization adds that while the work that has been put forth by retail thus far is commendable, additional effort is needed in making consumers aware of store policies regarding what games can and cannot be purchased. This latest report, available here, comes on the heels of a new cooperative effort between US senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Joe Lieberman along with ESRB president Patricia Vance, Best Buy president Brian Dunn, and GameStop president Steve Morgan to help launch a nationwide TV campaign to educate and encourage parents to use the ESRB's game rating system. In addition, game retailer GameStop/EB Games also recently launched its own independent education and awareness campaign for parents regarding the ESRB's game ratings system. According to the new ICCR report, “It is evident that retailers are doing well on several fronts: all retailers included in the report have video game policies to restrict access by young teens to M-rated games; all display signage about the ESRB rating system; all conduct employee training programs and ongoing education on the video game rating system for employees; and all have established a system to identify the age of the purchaser at the register.” The report adds: “ICCR is pleased with both Target’s and Best Buy’s policies to restrict ads for Mature-rated games in teen publications and on television. Target also places a prominent “M” on games advertised in its store circulars and Best Buy has a robust internal auditing process and compliance program, which are noted improvements.” In addition to Target and Best Buy, the retailer chart in the ICCR report covers Circuit City, KMart, Sears, Toys “R” Us, GameStop and Wal-Mart. The ICCR report also offers advice on how the organization would like to see retailers further improve at making sure that games are not sold to inappropriate audiences. Specifically, the ICCR has requested that retailers release specific information derived from the ESRB's ‘mystery shopping’ verification program to shareholders, minus any confidential information. In addition, ICCR also recommends that retailers set “aggressive” goals and make sure that progress is being made with regards to keeping mature games from being sold to minors, with the end goal of 100 percent store compliance.

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