With all the hubbub over "Hot Coffee" and video game ratings and regulations, today's main Gamasutra feature presents the responses to our latest Question Of The Week, after we asked our professional game developer audience: "Do you think that the ESRB and retailers do a good job of rating and controlling access to video games in North America, and is government legislation to control game rating and distribution a good idea?"
In responding, a wide variety of reactions to this contentious issue rose to the surface, with Matthew Medina's comments just one of a majority supporting the ESRB:
"I think the ESRB has a competent ratings system. Unfortunately, I still think that parents either ignore or are ignorant about what their children are really playing. The bottom line is that when the ESRB rates a game, this is where their responsibility ends and where a parents' begins. We can't hold the ESRB any more responsible for an underage child who gains access to a game that is rated above their age level, any more than we can hold the MPAA liable if a child sees an R- or X-rated film. Ratings exist solely to give parents and guardians information about content. Ratings boards are not responsible for whether or not these ratings are enforced.
There is some liability at retail to ensure that minors aren't sold content that is not appropriate to them, whether that is movies, books or games. But ultimately it is every parent's responsibility to know what their children are involved in. And while it s impossible for a parent to be with their child every minute of every day, having this kind of communication and education is essential in helping to control this kind of access. Government legislation and oversight will only lead to one inevitable conclusion: censorship and the stifling of creative freedom. The game industry is a maturing one - and we need to be allowed the freedom to express adult situations to adult customers. I would not be opposed to seeing some changes made at retail to place M- and AO-rated games in their own section, and/or behind the retail counter so that people are required to ask for them specifically.
-Matthew Medina, ArenaNet"
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature
on the subject, including many more responses from game professionals (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).