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News Jul 7, 2008 - 3:06 PM

Attorney General says “Beer Pong” video game reveals failed system for rating games age appropriate

By Attorney General's office

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Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today announced that a video game production company, in response to concerns he raised, says it will remove all alcoholic references in its “Beer Pong” game -- including the name -- that was unconscionably rated suitable for children as young as 13.

Blumenthal said he will closely scrutinize the revised product to assure that sufficient changes are made.

Blumenthal said that while he is pleased by JV Games’ apparent plan to alter “Beer Pong” (now called “Pong Toss”), he remains concerned that the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rated the alcohol-laced game as suitable for young teens, and refused to change that rating to Adult, as Blumenthal requested.

In a letter to the ESRB, Blumenthal said the “Beer Pong” rating reveals the industry’s dangerous denial of the affects that alcohol depiction in video games might have on young teenagers. Blumenthal called on the ESRB to immediately reform its rating system to address alcohol depiction in video games.

The ESRB and JV Games both continue to deny that Beer Pong -- based on a beer drinking game popular on college campuses -- glorified or promoted drinking of any kind.

“The rating T 13+ -- suitable for teens 13 and older -- is absolutely inappropriate,” Blumenthal said. “The video game rating board is under the influence -- rating frat party video drinking games suitable for minors. Even as JV Games agrees to alter its Beer Pong video game, both it and the rating board stubbornly deny the damaging influence of alcohol depiction in video games.

“The ESRB astonishingly downplays and dismisses alcohol depiction in rating the suitability of video games for minors. Parents have the first and last say over their children’s games -- but they deserve to know all of the facts. The ESRB, claiming to consider age suitability in its ratings, has a moral and ethical responsibility to consider all potentially damaging material in the products it rates.

“This issue is urgent because the ‘Frat Party Games’ promoted by JV Games may soon offer others in this planned series.”

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