April 6th, 2006

GP Regular Shows NIMF's David Walsh Gamers Are People, Too

GP regulars know him as YukimuraSanada, a knowledgeable, friendly face - and sig - around the comments area of GamePolitics.

To Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family, however, he's Matthew Metzo, a gamer whose recent letter to Walsh impressed the NIMF founder with its sincerity. Walsh, of course, is not especially favored in the gaming community, thanks in large part to his efforts to limit violent content in games, his work with notables like Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman on video game issues, and his role in moving last year's Hot Coffee scandal from an Internet story to a mainstream media sensation.

As Yuki told GP, "Maybe we can use this to show that gamers can have a voice. Just something cool. To be honest, I never expected him to answer, so his response was a welcome suprise."

Here's what Walsh had to say about our pal Yuki in the latest edition of his MediaWise column, which appears in three dozen newspapers (sorry, no links yet) and is distributed in many school districts across the country. The column is titled "Gamer is Not a Dirty Word":

"One morning a few weeks ago, I opened my inbox and found an e-mail from a man named Matthew Metzo. Like a lot of people who send me messages, Mr. Metzo is an avid video game player, or, as he puts it, a gamer.

"...his letter asks me to help 'those of us who are tired of being judged because of something we choose to do as a hobby.' His concern: with all of the negative attention on video games, the term gamer 'is rapidly becoming derogatory.' Although, Mr. Metzo admits he had not always agreed with the stands I've taken in the past, I was struck, even touched by his letter..."

"I can see why Mr. Metzo is concerned... Suddenly, it seems that nearly everyone who cares about children has something to say about video games. And most of the time these people don't have many positive things to say. As I've said for years, some video games, especially ultraviolent and killographic games and certain industry practices deserve some public condemnation..."

"And with so much money to be made, some in the industry often seem to lose sight of their public responsibility to protect children. As I've said before, however, there are a lot of very good video games. The term video game shouldn't be derogatory, and the term 'gamer' shouldn't be a dirty word either."
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California's Yee Blasts ESRB; Cites Harvard Study

The fallout continues from a controversial Harvard study of ESRB ratings released earlier this week.

In the latest news, California Assembly Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee (D) has cited the Harvard data in a press release which is highly critical of the ESRB.

GP came across Yee's comments in the California Chronicle, where Yee is quoted thusly: "This is yet another piece of evidence showing that the current rating system just doesn't work. I have urged the industry on numerous occasions to appropriately rate and disclose the content of M-rated video games. Yet, time and time again we have seen that parents can't trust the ratings; now this study shows they can't trust the content descriptors either."

"It is imperative that parents play an active role in discussing and reviewing the content of the games their children play," Yee added. "Parents should not completely rely on the game rating or even the content descriptor in deciding which games are appropriate for their kids."

Yee, of course, is the architect of California's video game law, which was signed into law last October by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A federal district court judge issued a temporary injunction in December, which blocked the law from taking effect. Final arguments on the industry's claims that Yee's law is unconstitutional will be heard in federal court in May.

IGDA's Brenda Brathwaite: Virginia Legislation a Matter of Inches

Hey, do you like that humongous ESRB label adorning the GTA San Andreas box at left?

Didn't think so.

But, as Brenda Brathwaite, leader of the IGDA's Sex in Games SIG, points out, that's exactly what M-rated games will look like if a bill currently before the Virginia legislature passes.

Senate Bill 368 requires that M-rated games bear a rating label which is "a square with sides not less than three inches long, and with type stating that the video game may be suitable only for persons age 17 or older that is not smaller than twelve-point type."

The bill's sponsor is Sen. Henry Marsh III (D).