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Tuesday, February 13, 2001
Developer Reactions to Possible IDSA Regulation
11:16 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Yesterday we reported on Gamecenter's final article, which uncovered a supposed proposal by the IDSA to tighten restrictions on advertising and marketing "M"-rated software titles with the intention of "protecting" young readers. Stomped has posted a follow-up article which gathers developer and publisher reactions to these possible restrictions, and discusses the theoretical impact of such a move which may make it difficult for certain magazines to find advertising content. While M-rated games are not the top-selling titles, they do contribute a significant portion of the market overall, specifically those titles marketed and sold to the misnamed "hardcore" gamer audience.

Stomped's report provides reactions to the possibility that advertising of M-rated titles would be restricted only to magazines with a largely adult (18 and over) readership and television programs with a largely 18-and-over viewership. Here is an excerpt:

Stomped spoke to the heads of several developers who have created well-known and popular M-rated games for their views on the situation. Although none of them had seen the article when Stomped spoke to them, some felt that restricting the current marketing of M-rated games was a bad move. "I just think that age-based ratings are flawed to begin with" said 3D Realms president Scott Miller, adding that he thinks that ratings should be based on the content of the game rather than age. "The problem with the ESRB is that all violent games end up in the M category, but there's a big difference between a game that deserves to be M rated, like Kingpin and Soldier of Fortune, and a game like Unreal Tournament, which shows cartoonish violence and doesn't depict pain and suffering. The ESRB, if it were applied to TV shows, would rate any show with human blood, like ER, with an M rating, but by MPAA standards ER would be more appropriately rated PG-13."

Miller would prefer to have a new rating, which he calls T-15, added to the ESRB ratings to allow certain games which depict violence but not of the realistic nature. " It seems obvious to me that the ESRB is an incomplete ratings system and needs a middle ground rating like T-15.", Miller told Stomped, "If a T-15 rating existed, then the remaining games that ended up in the M category probably should follow the IDSA guidelines. But as I see it, with the ratings system as it now is the M rating catches too many games, and so as it is it seems highly unfair to me."

The Interactive Digital Software Association is a coalition of major publishers and game makers, headed by the appointed president Doug Lowenstein. The ESRB ratings developed by the IDSA are voluntary and have no method of enforcement, but many major distributors (such as Wal Mart and Target) have chosen to put Mature titles out of reach or require an ID for purchase, following the lead of the movie theater chains. While we must stress that this IDSA document is merely a proposal, nothing more, it does reflect movement in the market to regulate the content that minors are exposed to. In some cases we have seen certain titles change their content (notably Giants: Citizen Kabuto and supposedly Oni) in order to allow marketing to a broader audience.

Several IMG readers have begun interesting threads on this subject in our forums; as always you are encouraged to stop by, read the posts and add your own input.

NOT Brought To You By The Letter "M" at Stomped
Proposal to Regulate M-Rated Games Uncovered

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• Developer Reactions to Possible IDSA Regulation11:16 AM
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New Skins, FAQ at SimsForMac9:20 AM
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Mac Journeyman 3 DVD Patch9:07 AM
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Mac Games News for Monday, February 12, 2001

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Archives  News  Developer Reactions to Possible IDSA Regulation