In an interview, Neil Thompson, Microsoft's regional Xbox director for the United Kingdom, says console makers have a responsibility to educate the public on the meanings of game ratings and the ability to restrict them.
Asked if most parents still held the impression that a game console is, primarily, a kid's toy, "the simple answer is yes," Thompson said. He touted the parental control features on his set, said every "responsible member" of the business has a duty to keep the public educated - and then lays it on an industry group to make that happen:
Every responsible member of the video games industry needs to step up and play as active a role as we can to keep this education process front of mind. It's ELSPA's [the British ESA] job to corral the industry around this agenda and ensure we're all doing everything we can reasonably do.
Of course this should be a priority on the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association's agenda. Industry groups are built for this sort of thing. But it's one thing to have such a message received as a public service announcement, if you will, on behalf of an industry - quite another to hear it a single company make it as sales point in in the marketing of its hardware.
I'm not so sure Microsoft, or anyone really, has done such a swell job of marketing these console features and controls in the first place. I could also, by virtue of being outside of their target audience, be wrong about that. But I'd love to see some sort of survey that shows a console buyer's awareness of the filtering capabilities.
Last year, for example, the Arcade was pushed as Microsoft's inexpensive family-friendly set; were its parental assistance features ever seriously touted? Would it have made any difference, either in the sales of the console or the public's perception of them on the whole?