July 30th, 2006

Tivo Alert - David Walsh on Good Morning America

Once again it's time to fire up the Tivo...

GP has learned that Dr. David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media & the Family, will appear on ABC's Good Morning America program tomorrow. GMA airs at 7:00 A.M. Eastern Time. Walsh is scheduled to be on the second segment, which we assume means sometime after 8:00 A.M.

His topic? The teen brain, so expect games to come in for more than a passing mention.

The politically-connected Walsh stood with Hillary Clinton during last summer's Hot Coffee press conference. He has also taken on, at various times, the ESRB as well as game-hatin' attorney Jack Thompson. Gamers may not often agree with Walsh, but his Good Morning America appearance should be interesting.

GP: Despite some differences on game content issues, there are two things we like about the NIMF boss: first, he invariably treats gamers with respect; also, you'll never hear him brag about being on T.V.

Mystery Shopper Results Not Definitive, But Encouraging

Earlier this summer, the newly formed ESRB Retail Council (ERC) announced its Commitment to Parents, an initiative designed to enhance retail compliance with restrictions on M- and AO-rated video game sales to minors. Additionally, ERC members (which account for approximately 80% of all U.S. game sales) must participate in two mystery shopper audits each year.

While the first official audit is planned for September, the Rocky Mountain News decided to conduct its own secret shopper investigation. Reporter Brian Crecente (you may know him better as editor of Kotaku - the Rocky gig is his day job) sent a 15-year-old boy into five major retailers (GameStop, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and Circuit City) to attempt a purchase of - you guessed it - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

The results? Crecente's undercover operative was barred from buying the game in all five stores. In fact, he didn't even make it to the checkout line in four of them, having been stopped by store personnel and informed that he was too young to make the purchase.

"I'm not surprised by that at all," said ESRB president Patricia Vance (pictured at left). "When you look at the issue of how kids are getting games that are treated as being perhaps unsuitable for them, in a vast percentage, it's the parents who have purchased the game. It all boils down to parental responsibility."
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Editorial Roundup: Writers Weigh in on Minnesota A.G.'s Game Slams

For today's editorial roundup we turn to a pair of articles inspired by GamePolitics' exclusive revelation of Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch's reactionary statements about video games.

Writing for the Globe and Mail, Scott Colbourne said:

"Nothing makes me happier to be Canadian than a sustained dose of U.S. politics. Somewhere along the line... the practice of throwing out enormous falsehoods to begin a debate became standard operating procedure...

Each month seems to bring new laws... often quickly overturned by courts because they contravene the U.S. Constitution's free-speech clause. Minnesota is one of the latest jurisdictions to go down this path..."

"As usual, there are no titles - or any factual substantiation - to go along with (Hatch's) list of virtual horrors. And I have seen the same list, almost word for word, repeated time and again. I can only assume there is a memo of talking points making the rounds."

"It is true that a portion of video games... do trade in violence... It can be disturbing and it should be taken seriously, but that brand of scare tactic - slaughtering babies? rape? - does not invite thoughtful conversation. In fact, it begins the debate at such a remove from the actual issues in play that most sensible people, gamers or not, will be turned off."
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