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IEMA Comments on Government Meddling

by Michael Cole - December 17, 2004, 11:57 am PST
Discuss in talkback! Source: Press Release

Retailers insist that the gaming industry's self-regulation on Mature title sales is working.


Attributable to: Hal Halpin, President, IEMA

Retail member companies of the IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association) collectively account for approximately 85% of the $10B annual video game business in the United States. Last December (2003), member companies chose to voluntarily implement new carding policies and procedures at the store level in an effort to inhibit the sale of Mature-rated games to minors, and stated that they expected those new procedures to be in place by December 2004. Over the course of the past twelve months IEMA members have redoubled their efforts, investing in training of store-level staff, installing and promoting ratings awareness signage, and fundamentally changing the way in which they merchandise games. Our members recognized that they have a social duty, and met that obligation head-on, re-investing in their relationships with consumers. Sting operations performed two full months ahead of the IEMA's self-imposed deadline indicated a statistically-significant shift - a 20% year-on-year reduction, in retailers stemming the tide.

It is important to note that sting operations conducted with minors often presuppose several scientifically-challenged facts including: the minor's theoretical ability to drive him/herself to the locations where these stings are performed; the minor's hypothetical possession of the required $50 in disposable income, etc. Often, these stings are performed with severely flawed methodology and in locales which are not IEMA member companies, nor are they statistically-relevant in a broad-spectrum market share discussion.

Academic studies are conducted irregularly about a potential causal connection between observing violent media and effects in human behavior, to - at best - mixed results. What is clear is that industry self-regulation in identifying types and styles of games through the ratings system, and now a massive undertaking in inhibiting the sale of M-rated games to minors, is working - and those cumulative efforts are as effective, to a substantially-similar degree, as movie theatre owners, whom politicians are fond of holding up as the Gold Standard in this arena. Time and again parents have vocalized their interest in retaining responsibility for monitoring their children's entertainment consumption, and simply wish to be armed with appropriate education to that end. Similarly, each and every attempt at government intervention in this issue has failed due to the fact that industry self-regulation is working and the IEMA is committed to seeing it through.

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