FTC voices concern over violence in mobile games
In a new report to the U.S. Congress over violence in entertainment, the Federal Trade Commission identifies concerns over the availability of age-inappropriate content in mobile games. In its sixth follow-up review of the motion picture, music and electronic game industries' practices on marketing violent entertainment to children, the FTC notes that most mobile games are not rated according to the standards established by the Entertainment Software Rating Board: "Given the sheer volume of game applications currently available for mobile devices and the dramatic rate at which applications are proliferating, in the near term, responsibility falls on wireless carriers and individual publishers to provide content information and effective parental controls," the report states.
The FTC study examined the Apple, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and Nokia websites to assess their respective efforts to rate advertised mobile game titles, and determined that all five websites offered games containing violent content, some of them mobile versions of home console titles tagged with the ESRB's M-for-mature rating. While none of the three U.S. operators offered rating information for their mobile games, the FTC reports that Apple assigns games age-based designations and content descriptors (e.g., "Frequent/Intense Realistic Violence"), while Nokia displayed the age-based rating and content icons used by the Pan European Game Information system.
The FTC commends mobile game sellers for instituting rating systems for their products, but adds the proliferation of different systems could create consumer confusion with the ESRB ratings. "Further, it is important that these alternative systems be credible and comprehensive," the report states. "For the time being, however, these new systems, coupled with effective parental controls, should assist parents in monitoring the content their children play on mobile devices."
For more on violence in mobile games:
- read this FTC report