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MediaWise Report Card Claims Retail Cooperation, Parental 'Ignorance'

The non-profit National Institute on Media and the Family's latest MediaWise Report Card has shown progress on the retail front regarding sales of mature games to minors, but claims an 'alarming gap' in parental oversight and responsibility. [UPDATE
The non-profit National Institute on Media and the Family activist organization has released its Eleventh Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card, again claiming disparity in parental guidance regarding their children's gameplay, and showing progress in retail cooperation regarding sales to minors. The two major topics highlighted in the report concerned 'parental ignorance' and the 'public health crisis' of obesity and gaming addiction. Of the former, the report claims an 'alarming gap' between how parents and their children viewed family guidance over gameplay. While the Institute's surveys found that two thirds of parents said they had house rules over game play, only one third of surveyed children reported the same. Because of this, the Institute again recommended that parents 'Watch What Your Kids Watch,' ensuring that parents are aware of ratings, use each console's parental control settings, and set limits on game play. On the 'health crisis,' the report card made a strong call for more research on both obesity, which it noted continues to be a nationwide problem for both children and teens, and on game addiction, which it says has 'led some children to fail out of school, alienate themselves from everyone in their lives, and in extreme cases to commit suicide.' To that end, the report had some hope for industry collaboration, saying the National Summit on Video Games, Youth and Public Policy it held this year was a 'resounding success,' and said that in the coming weeks, the group plans to release a ten-year plan with 'benchmarks and creative solutions addressing children’s access to violent and sexually explicit video games.' On its retailer report card, highlighting the rate at which minors were able to purchase M rated games, the report found the lowest success levels of the past several years, with only 8 of 25 'sting operations' at retailers resulting in a sale. This 32% success rate is down from the previous year's 44%, and the 34% and 55% rates from 2004 and 2003. The report is quick to point out, though, that though major retailers - Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart - are doing the best at policing sales, getting a perfect score from the sting operations, specialty stores fared considerably worse, getting an 'F' from the Institute. The report also had glowing words for console manufacturers, noting that all of the new consoles entering the market has a full selection of options for parental control, something it called "amazing progress," and adding that "manufacturers of video game systems deserve praise for their efforts to make it easier for parents to protect their kids." Finally, the Institute once again gave its 2006 'Parent Alert' and recommended games for children lists as follows: NIMF 'Parent Alert!' games (all M rated): 1. Gangs of London 2. The Sopranos 3. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories 4. Reservoir Dogs 5. Mortal Kombat: Unchained 6. Scarface: The World is Yours 7. The Godfather: Mob Wars 8. Saints Row 9. Dead Rising 10. Just Cause MediaWise Recommended Games for Children and Teens (all E rated): 1. LEGO Star Wars II : The Original Trilogy 2. Mario Hoops 3 on 3 3. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz 4. Roboblitz 5. Madden Football '07 6. LocoRoco 7. Dance Factory 8. Brain Age 9. Nancy Drew: Danger by Design 10. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: The March of the Minis [UPDATE: The Entertainment Merchants Association has issued a response to the just-published Report Card, expressing hope that improved results for retailer age checks will help convince legislators that "efforts to target video game retailers are misplaced".]

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