Yesterday the twelfth-annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card was released, published by the National Institute on Media and the Family, and the video game industry received a "C" for it's controlling of the content accessible to minors.
The NIMF criticized Nintendo and Rockstar for releasing a Manhunt 2 themed, blood splattered Wii console. Also among it's criticisms were that game companies were at fault for failing to "disclose when games are stolen from their facilities and leaked onto the Internet." They also slammed developers Eidos and Rockstar, accusing both companies of having "dredged the well of poor taste" with Kane & Lynch and Manhunt 2.
The group commended the ESRB for its efforts to educate parents about the game rating system but urged the board to do much more to extend its reach and engage with government groups. An interactive Harris Poll conducted by the Institute found that 52 percent of parents claim to use the ESRB rating system but that 72 percent know little or nothing about the rating system overall.
The NIMF also tested how well the ESRB's rating system was enforced to minors by having secret underage shopper go to retailers and attempt to purchase an "M' rated game. They found that almost 50% of the time the undercover shoppers were allowed to purchase the game up over the Institute's findings in 2006, according to the report.
This is the first year the Institute gave the overall video game industry a separate rating. Last year, the group broke down the video game industry into different categories with separate ratings: retailer policies (B), large retailer enforcement (A), specialty retailer enforcement (F), ratings education (B) and parental involvement (Incomplete).
This year, despite their apparent lack of understanding of video game ratings, parents received a C, ratings education received a B-, the ESRB received a C+, and retailer rankings ranged from B to F.