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?


Microsoft: We Must Educate Parents [MCV via GoNintendo]