Blumenthal: Video game raters have explaining to do

John O'Brien Jul. 9, 2008, 12:48pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - The saga of virtual Beer Pong has raised some questions about the video game rating system, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal feels.

After makers of the video game "Beer Pong" agreed to remove all references to alcoholic beverages and rename the game "Pong Toss," Blumenthal wondered Monday why the game was rated as suitable for children as young as 13 years old.

The Democrat criticized the Entertainment Software Rating Board in a statement and also wrote the ESRB a letter.

"The video game rating board is under the influence - rating frat party video drinking games suitable for minors," Blumenthal said.

"Even as JV Games agrees to alter its Beer Pong video game, both it and the rating board stubbornly deny the damaging influence of alcohol depiction in video games."

The always active Blumenthal has, in the past, criticized the makers of alcoholic energy drinks for trying to appeal to a young customers.

JV Games co-founder Jag Jaegers said his company was discussing changing the game before Blumenthal ever expressed concern.

"If the ball gets in the cup, you get points," Jaegers said, according to an ABC News report. "In the game we never focused on anybody drinking or getting drunk. We were primarily focusing on the sport of the game itself."

Blumenthal said the parents of gamers shouldn't be failed by a ratings system on which they rely.

"Parents have the first and last say over their children's games, but they deserve to know all of the facts," he said. "The ESRB, claiming to consider age suitability in its ratings, has a moral and ethical responsibility to consider all potentially damaging material in the products it rates."

A group of 32 attorneys general took on another ratings system last year, resulting in the Motion Picture Association of America having to consider depictions of smoking when rating a movie.

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