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VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY LEADS IN ENFORCEMENT OF RATING SYSTEMS
Video game retailers are the most effective at enforcing age-based ratings, according to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) latest undercover shopper survey.
The FTC sent 13- to 16-year-olds, unaccompanied by their parents, into stores and movie theatres to attempt to purchase R-rated movie tickets or DVDs, CDs with a Parental Advisory Label, or Mature-rated video games. The survey found that video game retailers successfully prevented 87 percent of attempted purchases of Mature-rated games by the underage children – the highest percentage among the entertainment industries. Further, four of the top six video game retailers refused to sell Mature-rated games to more than 90 percent of underage shoppers.
The FTC's 2013 survey marks the fourth report in which the video game industry had the strongest performance. These results showcase the successful work of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps, and leads the industry's effective enforcement system. The ESRB provides parents with age-based ratings and more than 30 content descriptors that highlight features of a game that factored into the rating or may be of interest or concern. Consumers can also consult the ESRB's rating summaries for more detailed descriptions of games' content.
Additionally, the ESRB collaborates with retailers and game publishers through its Retail Council (ERC) and Advertising Review Council (ARC). The ERC works with retailers to support their policies regarding Mature-rated game sales and posting ratings education signage in their stores. The ARC enforces a broad array of guidelines that ensure games are appropriately labeled and marketed, with violations having the potential to result in fines, corrective actions and other sanctions.
The FTC report follows ESA's recent announcement of a new campaign to increase awareness of the ESRB rating system and parental tools, which help parents monitor the games their children play. As part of this effort, ESRB and the Congressional Caucus for Competitiveness in Entertainment Technology hosted a briefing last month on Capitol Hill to educate policymakers about the resources available to help parents make informed entertainment choices for their families. At the briefing, ESRB President Patricia Vance explained the various components of the rating system, and video game publishers showcased the parental control features found on all current video game consoles, PCs, and handheld systems.
The video game industry continues to partner with family advocates, elected officials, and government agencies, as well as retailers, to provide dynamic tools and information to help parents make educated game choices.
To learn more about the ESRB, visit: http://www.esrb.org/.
VIRTUAL REALITY FUELS SPACE EXPLORATION
Researchers and engineers at NASA and the European Space Agency (E.S.A.) are using game mechanics and virtual reality technology to achieve the next breakthroughs in robotics and space exploration.
NASA is leveraging interfaces featured in video game consoles and controllers to build remotely-controlled spacecraft. Using devices such as the Microsoft Kinect and the Leap Motion Controller, researchers are perfecting methods for maneuvering the limbs of the All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (Athlete), a robot designed to explore our solar system's asteroids. In addition, scientists are using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to develop technologies that will one day allow humans to see and capture physical data from the perspective of robotic avatars. Both projects will help NASA advance unmanned spaceflight and expand its abilities to collect valuable scientific information from parts of the universe that are beyond human reach. Jeff Norris, manager of mission planning and execution at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recently demonstrated at the 2013 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco how he could use game technology to control the Athlete rover, located more than 380 miles away in Pasadena.
The Athlete robot, designed to explore our solar system's asteroids
The E.S.A. is also harnessing video game technology and players' collective intelligence to improve how unmanned spacecraft deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). The E.S.A. recently launched AstroDrone, a free augmented-reality app that challenges players to "dock" their own remotely-controlled drones with other physical objects. Players achieve high scores by docking their drones quickly, and receive bonus points for correctly orienting spacecraft and sustaining low final approach speeds during the process. Players can submit their high scores to the E.S.A., which uses the data to construct complex algorithms that inform how flight controllers maneuver and dock real unmanned spacecraft with the ISS.
While human spaceflight to the farthest reaches of our galaxy may be light years away, the world's leading researchers are creatively leveraging innovative video game technology to drive new scientific discoveries and help uncover our universe's greatest secrets.
TRANSMEDIA: THE FUTURE OF STORYTELLING
Transmedia storytelling – telling a story across multiple digital platforms – has exploded in popularity as emerging devices allow people to consume media on two or more screens at the same time.
A variety of media companies are syncing video games, apps, ebooks, social media, tablets, and smartphones with popular film and TV series to allow users to interact with their favorite stories and characters on multiple platforms.
Syfy Channel's science fiction series "Defiance" is one franchise that embraces transmedia storytelling. "Defiance," the TV show, and Defiance, the massively multiplayer online role playing game, debuted as stand-alone forms of entertainment. Yet, events on the TV show influence game plots, and vice versa, advancing the stories across programs simultaneously. For example, characters leave the virtual game environment only to appear in the TV series, and characters on the show reference in-game avatars who complete missions and positively impact their environments. Syfy producers and game developers plan to eventually drive major plot twists across both mediums.
The cast of Syfy's "Defiance"
The History Channel also leverages transmedia with "Battle Castle," an action documentary TV series and interactive website that explores castle construction in the Middle Ages. Viewers explore the famous castles and experience historic sieges featured in the TV series via games, motion comics, unaired videos and social media content. As battles unfold on TV, interactive games create a unique entry point into the historically-accurate medieval world.
Storytelling has a long history in books and film, but today's advanced digital technology enables artists to add new levels of interactivity to their stories. TV and film producers, game developers, and other media experts are merely in the beginning stages of building multiplatform narratives. As technology evolves and more viewers expect fully interactive experiences, video games will be at the center of transmedia storytelling.
In The News
Latest News Releases
Quote of the Month
"We celebrate our great football players... and we celebrate outstanding musicians, and that's all appropriate. But we've got to make sure that we're also celebrating every single day in our schools, in our classrooms, and in our country the outstanding contributions that scientists and mathematicians and engineers are providing to us every single day. And we want you to know that you've got a whole country behind you as you pursue your dreams. And your success is going to be our success, as well. So way to go."
— President Barack Obama, speaking at the third annual White House Science Fair, during which 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge winner Gustavo Zacarias of San Antonio, Texas presented his winning educational game, The Dark Labyrinth
Did You Know?
The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA) introduced a new video game design merit patch to encourage aspiring young game designers and foster girls' interest in science, technology, engineering, and math subjects. GSGLA executives plan to introduce the patch to other local chapters across the U.S.
Statistic of the Month
This summer, more than 100 camps across 26 states will offer 690 programs in video game design, development, programming, and related topics. The number of video game design programs offered at U.S. summer camps has more than doubled since 2012.
Entertainment Software Association
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