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Friday, October 15, 2004

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Canadians Require Photo ID To Buy Video Games
7:55 AM | Jean-Luc Dinsdale | Comment on this story

Oh, Canada. We Show ID For Thee.
Glorious, Violent Games Now Need Identity...

The Canadian video game industry, numerous Canadian provincial governments, and multiple retailers above the 49th parallel have pulled together in announcing a country-wide initiative to keep video games that depict graphic violence and sex out of the reach of children.

The industry drive, called Commitment To Parents, is a partnership between federal and provincial governments and video game industry associations, including the Retail Council of Canada, the Electronic Software Association of Canada, and the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Under the new initiative, Canadian retailers will be responsible for enforcing the U.S.-based ESRB volunteer rating system, in which video game are rated based on a game's content, and the age appropriateness of the title. The rating system, in which games are separated into five age categories from Adults Only to Early Childhood, is printed on all video game packaging entering the country from the U.S.

Further to making sure inappropriate games don't leave the store in children's hands, the retailers participating in the initiative have also agreed to educate parents on the ESRB rating system, and post detailed information regarding the system within their stores. According to the B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Rich Coleman:

In addition to age restrictions, the Commitment to Parents program emphasizes parental responsibility. Expanding the program across Canada will ensure that more parents can protect their children from inappropriate material.
Up until now, the ESRB rating system has been printed on the packaging of almost all video and computer games sold in the country, however retailers have had no obligation to enforce the system. The recent public uproar over increasingly violent video games has put pressure on retailers and governments alike to address the situation.

In March of this year, the Ontario Government gave a "Restricted" rating to the Rockstar Games third person shooter Manhunt under the province's Theatres Act. Selling or renting the title to minors under the age of 18 could result in fines of up to $100,000 for the retailer, and fines of up to $25,000 for the underage consumers.

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