Remember how news about a week ago that the FCC was looking into a universal ratings system spooked the video game sector? Relax. A report delivered to Congress expresses a rather high opinion of how games are self-regulated.
Quoting the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the report, published Aug. 31, says ESRB ratings are "in many ways the most sophisticated, descriptive, and effective ratings system devised by any major media sector in America." The parental control functions of the three current-gen consoles, plus Windows PCs, are also highlighted. The report mentions that game ratings are highly recognized and useful to parents (58 percent find them helpful, according to a third-party survey), and the percentage of kids buying M-rated games dropped dramatically from 2006 to 2008, according to the FTC.
Significantly, the report also says that the FCC considers "that video game players and video games are not the focus of the Child Safe Viewing Act," the piece of legislation that started this universal-rating discussion. "Video game players are not included among the devices specifically identified in Section 2(b)(2) of the Act, and video games are not mentioned in the Senate Report and were not discussed in the Senate hearing on the Act."
But the FCC inquiry did include video games when it sought comment on universal regulation, in light of their popularity with kids and concerns about their content. The majority of comments, the FCC noted, "take the position that video games should not be reviewed in this proceeding."
Final score: The ESRB gets a thumbs-up to Congress, and the legislation in question does not even concern video game consoles in the first place. If you like, you may download a pdf of the entire report and read it yourself.
FCC Cites Success of VIdeo Game Rating System [CNET]