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Thursday, September 7, 2000
Kmart To Card Game Buyers
11:31 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story

Earlier this Summer several US movie theater chains began to enforce a policy of checking the ID of moviegoers who wanted to attend R-rated movies, bowing to parental and political pressure. Now it seems that the pressure to enforce previously voluntary regulations has reached video game merchandising as well, as retailer Kmart is expected to announce a policy of verifying the age of those who wish to purchase games rated Mature by the ESRB.

Our partner Stomped pointed us to a report on CNN (with an amusingly ambiguous headline) which details this policy shift. The report reveals that there are some extremely big names and political heavy hitters behind this move, and Kmart -- which doesn't sell Mac games -- is only the first of many big retail chains being pressured. General Jim Ryan, a self-appointed pundit who pops up endlessly in the violent video games and youth debate, is also among those calling for enforcement of the ESRB video game rating system.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

Kmart will ask for proof of age to make sure no one underage is purchasing any video games with an "M" or "Mature" rating, which the industry intends for those 17 and older. Officials said "M" rated games constitute about three percent of Kmart's video game sales, but will not disclose the profits from or exact volume of those sales.

There are six video games ratings voluntarily set by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which was created by the industry itself. "EC" for early childhood, "E" for 6 and older, "T" for thirteen and older, "M" for 17 and older, "AO" for adult only and "RP" for rating pending. Kmart does not sell video games with an "AO" rating.

Atley said it will take a few weeks to get the registers and computers set up to identify all "M" rated video games and to have signs made and displayed in the video game section to explain the store's new policy.

Kmart also intends to use its Sunday circular, which a spokesman says reaches 72 million homes, to better educate the public on the ratings system.

Many Democratic Senators are among those putting pressure on the industy, including Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman.

While neither Kmart nor the other two retailers mentioned (Toys R Us, Target) sell Mac versions of video games, the decision of large chains to implement these policies may have a trickle-down effect to smaller retailers and chains such as CompUSA.

Overall, this might be seen as a healthy move for the industry as a whole, protecting developers from actual lawsuits over their content and violent video games from becoming a political football this election year. However, there is a shadow cast by this development -- several retailers have opted to simply drop "M" rated games altogether, rather than carry the cost of training employees to regulate game purchases. Read the CNN report for more details.

Kmart to card violent video game buyers

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• Kmart To Card Game Buyers11:31 AM
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