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Attorney General Jon Bruning Launches PSA Campaign on Video Game Ratings Just in Time for Holiday Shopping Season

November 25, 2008

New Ads Explain and Encourage Parents to Use ESRB Ratings to Choose Age-Appropriate Games for their Families

Note: A sound bite on this topic is available at: http://www.ago.ne.gov

(Lincoln, Neb.) With the holiday shopping season underway, Attorney General Jon Bruning and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which assigns ratings for computer and video games, today announced a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign to educate Nebraska’s parents about the video game rating system. In the new TV and radio spots, Bruning urges parents to check the rating symbol each time they buy or rent a video game to make sure it’s suitable for their children and family.

“Parents should be involved and take an active role in choosing games for their kids,” said Bruning. “The ESRB ratings are an effective tool every parent can use to pick video games that are age-appropriate and family-friendly. I use them when I buy games for my children. I hope Nebraskans will too.”

The PSAs are being delivered to radio and television stations and local cable TV operators in Nebraska this month as parents head to the stores to buy video games as holiday gifts. ESRB has also prepared a brochure providing additional information about the rating system. Parents can download the brochure from the Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.ago.ne.gov. Click on the “Kids and Parents” section.

“Video games are no different than movies and TV shows in that they are created for a diverse audience of all ages,” said ESRB president Patricia Vance. “That is why it is so important that parents remember to check the rating when purchasing games for their children. We’re grateful to have Attorney General Bruning’s support in reaching out to Nebraska’s parents and educating them about the ratings so they can be sure that the games they give as gifts this year are ones they consider appropriate.”

The ESRB video game ratings employ a two-part system. As seen in the illustration below, rating symbols on the front of virtually every game package sold at retail provide an age recommendation, such as EC (Early Childhood 3+), E (Everyone 6+), E10+ (Everyone 10 and up), T (Teen 13+) and M (Mature 17+). On the back of each package, next to the rating, are content descriptors that provide information about what’s in the game that may have triggered the rating, or may be of interest or concern to parents.

Since its inception in 1994, the ESRB ratings have become a trusted resource for parents when choosing computer and video games. In April 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report1 which found that nine in 10 parents are aware of the ESRB ratings, 87% expressed satisfaction, and nearly three quarters use them regularly when choosing games for their children.

“Parents who use the rating system know it works,” added Bruning. “I’m proud to partner with ESRB on this issue.”

ESRB recently announced the availability of “rating summaries,” a supplementary source of information which explain in objective terms the context and relevant content that factored into a game’s ESRB rating assignment. A new mobile Web site at m.esrb.org was launched to allow parents to search for rating summaries on their cell phones right from the store when trying to make a decision about which game to buy. Parents can also find rating summaries before they  go to the store by searching on ESRB’s Web site at www.esrb.org, using ESRB’s rating search widget, or signing up for a free e-newsletter called ParenTools, which provides a list of recently rated titles complete with rating summaries customized to their preference of rating categories and game platform.

A complete list of ratings, content descriptors and their definitions can be found on the ESRB Web site at www.esrb.org.

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Jon Bruning is Nebraska’s 31st Attorney General. Bruning serves as President-Elect of the National Association of Attorneys General. He’s chairman of the Nebraska Crime Commission and serves on the Nebraska Board of Pardons.

The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB independently applies computer and video game content ratings, enforces advertising guidelines, and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.

1Federal Trade Commission Report to Congress on the Marketing of Violent Entertainment to Children, April 2007

Contact:

Leah Bucco-White
402-471-2067
Leah.Bucco-White@nebraska.gov

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