All New Video Game Consoles to Include Parental Controls

TORONTO, ON – November 28, 2005 – All three new next generation video game consoles, to be released starting this November and in 2006, will include parental controls that allow parents to limit a child’s access to games based on their Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) confirmed today. The controls are similar in concept to the V-Chip used in televisions, which legislators and family groups across the country regard as an effective way to empower parents to control what their kids watch.

The ESA is extremely pleased that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony Computer Entertainment America have voluntarily stepped up to take concrete steps to put the power to regulate the games kids play where it belongs – in the hands of parents, not government, retailers, or anyone else,” said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. “The combination of these new controls, the existing ESRB rating system, and voluntary commitments by retailers not to sell Mature and Adult Only games to minors strikes the right balance between strong self-regulation and the ultimate responsibility of parents to take charge of the media their kids consume.

The ESA noted that Microsoft has had parental control technology available in the current Xbox system, that Sony Computer Entertainment introduced the technology in its PSP (PlayStation Portable) product earlier this year, and that Nintendo has recently announced that it will include parental controls in its new console. “Given the industry’s history in this area, today’s disclosure is a logical extension of the commitment of console makers to empowering parents,” Lowenstein said.

ESA also pointed out that parental control options already exist for computer games. Programs like Wallfly by Smartguard Software allow parents to limit access to computer games based on rating, content descriptors (and even specific games within a rating category).

With the average age of game players now 30, our industry naturally creates content appropriate for a wide range of audiences, just as there are TV shows, films, music, and books for people of all tastes, interests, and values,” said Lowenstein. “I am proud that each console maker has taken the initiative to give power to the parents, offering technology not available for DVD players or even portable music players that will allow parents to control the entertainment their children access. In a culture where raising kids is a challenge, video game parental control technology gives power to the parents.

The ESA is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of the companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet. ESA members collectively account for more than 90 percent of the $7.3 billion in entertainment software sales in the U.S. in 2004, and billions more in export sales of entertainment software. For more information about the ESA, please visit www.theESA.com.

[tags]esa,entertainment software rating board,v-chip[/tags]