Games Watchdog Looks Back Before Turning Out the Lights

As reported earlier, the National Institute on Media and the Family, whose key funding dried up in a terrible economy, is closing. Founder Dave Walsh talked with the Associated Press, and reflected on his organization's influence in the industry.

"Ten years ago, a kid 10 years old could walk into any store in America and buy an ultra-violent, adult-rated game. That's no longer true," Walsh said of the 13-year-old NIMF's chief legacy. It was founded in the days of mainstream panic over titles like Duke Nukem and Doom, but industry types credit Walsh's leadership for having proportionate reactions to legitimate parental concerns, rather than exploiting them.

"Were it not for those collaborative efforts by all sides, it's questionable whether there would have been a non-legislative resolution," Hal Halpin, the president the Entertainment Consumers Association, told the AP. NIMF was very influential in the creation of the ESRB's rating system, which helped stave off government interest in regulating content.

Although Walsh expressed shock at watching 10-year-olds play games in which they dismembered their foes, he always maintained that he never endorsed censorship. And while NIMF was a critical actor in the "Hot Coffee" controversy that exposed sex scenes in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - leading to its brief AO classification and resulting loss of sales - NIMF's report cards weren't dedicated to blaming games for everything. Parents fared worse than game makers and retailers in the group's 2008 report card, the last it will produce.

Unfortunately, this final quote, by author Steven L. Kent, will likely prove true: "I think the game industry will look back and pine for the days when their top opposing voice had as much self-restraint as Dr. Walsh had."

Video Game Watchdog Shuts Down, Victim of Economy
[Associated Press on Yahoo! News]