February 26th, 2006

Poland Makes Plans to Legislate Video Game Rating System

Concerns about video game content are spreading globally.

Today comes word that government officials in Poland are considering legislation that would require games to display content information.

Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, Poland's Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy said yesterday that the PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) rating system was a likely choice. Although there is no current law, some game publishers who sell in the Polish market are already labeling their games with PEGI ratings.

It is expected that the Polish Parliament will officially take up the game ratings issue in July.

Online Game Teaches Players How to Land a Job

Time to get out of your parents' basement?

The Middletown Journal (OH) offers "Nail the Interview," an online game available at the paper's website. Described as a cross between a video game and a marketing tool, the game leads players step-by-step through the process of landing a job.

Activities include selecting a resume, surviving an initial phone screening, two rounds of follow-up interviews and negotiating salary.

Over 22,000 players have taken advantage of the game since it launched last fall. The Journal's publisher, Cox Ohio Publishing, recently received a Digital Edge Award from the Newspaper Association of America's New Media Federation for making the innovative online resource available.

"We are thrilled to be recognized by our industry peers for our cutting edge work in online marketing, as well as our research efforts," said Kathy Kralovic, a Cox VP.

GP: I played "Nail the Interview" and can report that it's quite well done. The feedback could be a little more precise, but it is definitely a valuable tool for job-seekers. So how did I do? Let's just say I'm still working from my home office...

The Family That Games Together Stays Together

Clueless critics often portray gamers as isolated and introverted.

But video games are much more than simply a means to entertain one's lonely self. This month alone, Game Politics has examined how games are being used to make political statements, improve health, and supplement education. A recent article at GamerDad suggests they can also help parents connect with their kids.

Nick Yee, founder of the Daedalus Project, has been studying the psychology of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) for the past several years. He maintains that as computer prices plummet and broadband connections become more widely available, more and more families are playing these games.

"Families get to do something together that is far more interactive, engaging, and memorable than watching TV," Yee says. "Children get to learn teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Experiment and play with different roles and identities."

Well-known game developer Brian Reynolds (Rise of Nations) describes playing World of Warcraft with his kids. "We have a really good time if we're all working on a quest together. With a mage for magical damage, a warrior for armor and protection, and a priest for healing... often we are able to quest just the three of us. A few weeks ago we managed to do a section of the Scarlet Monastery instance just as a threesome and that was fantastic. It requires a lot of teamwork and turns out to be a really good Dad & Boys activity."

Clay Thompson is a divorced dad who stays in touch with his children in a unique way. "I never foresaw how important the games online would become, but I did actually get a line added into my divorce decree that guaranteed me time three days a week that I could get on the computer with my kids, via webcam, etc. to communicate and see them. At the time, I wasn't a huge MMORPG player, so I didn't envision the role it would play. The breaker was ToonTown and then Neverwinter Nights - I can't say enough about that game for a parent that wants a safe and fun environment with their kids to play!"

"Being a father who is located a long distance from my kids, its a way to stay in touch with them other than just a weekend visit or hello on the phone... My son and I have become much closer through gaming....It offers quality time I wouldn't get otherwise. I'm taking care of my kids online like I would if I was there."

-Andrew Eisen

NIMF Parental Alert Has "Running Scared" Running Scared

So that didn't take long.

Last week GamePolitics broke the story of a National Parental Alert issued by Dr. David Walsh and the National Institute on Media and the Family over a graphic oral sex scene in an online advergame for the film "Running Scared."

"It is clear to everyone that this content shouldn't be accessible to children," said Walsh, who called for the sex game to be pulled from the movie's website. "New Line Cinema, should be ashamed that it thought it could get away with this tactic, without being held accountable."

Now comes word from Minnesota T.V. station WCCO-4 that New Line Cinema, distributors of Running Scared, have acceded to NIMF's demand. The website for the film remains up, but the sultry interlude has been replaced with a driving skills game.

"We are very pleased that New Line Cinema has removed the pornography from the video game," Walsh said in a prepared statement. "However, we are still extremely concerned as to why an X-rated sexually explicit video game was used to promote an R-rated movie in the first place."

GP: The Running Scared online game was developed by Heavenspot, a web design studio based in Los Angeles. It is important to note that the game was in no way connected with what we generally consider the video game industry, nor was it subject to or submitted to the industry's ESRB rating system.