Activist Who Once Called Video Games "Killographic" Praises The ESRB Grand Theft Auto Rating, Boos Proposed $5,000 Fine

Phil Villarreal of the Arizona Daily Star has located a more reasonable voice to weigh in on the GTAIV controversy in (surprisingly enough) National Institute on Media and the Family founder, David Walsh. Walsh has been praising the ESRB for its “improved enforcement of not selling M-rated games to kids,” and says he trusts the ESRB’s “M” rating for Grand Theft Auto IV.

Walsh told Villarreal:

“We don’t want to go down any path that starts to go down toward censorship,” Walsh said. “I really believe First Amendment rights are very important. I don’t want the solution to the problem to be bigger than the problem itself.”

Walsh and the NIMF oppose the proposed legislation that the Parents Television Council has been promoting by (incorrectly) claiming that GTA IV rewarded “points for drunk driving.”

“What we really need to do is get kind of in the middle. [Philmguy]


Edit Your Comment

  1. mgresser says:
  2. Geekybiker says:

    Whining about kids playing “M” games is the same as whining about them watching “R” movies. Neither are intended for kids. Police your own children. Its not our job to raise them for you.

  3. ViperBorg says:

    @mgresser: … are…? Watching, playing, doing, saying? Yes, I agree, but complete your thought!

  4. SpdRacer says:

    @ViperBorg: He doesn’t want to complete his thought b/c he is just shilling for his (lame) website.

  5. coold8 says:

    I played my first GTA game when I was 8. Haven’t killed anyone yet and don’t plan on it!

  6. bluwapadoo says:

    Big deal. The difference between M (17+) and AO (18+) is one year in age.

    Beside, GTA deserves all the shit it gets for the “Hot Coffee” incident.

  7. KD17 says:

    As long as games are getting the correct ratings the only people anyone should have a problem with is the the guy working at the game store not asking or caring to check ID’s for M rated games and parents that can’t take the time to see what kind of game their kids are playing or asking them to buy.

    but then why take responsibility when we can just point the finger at companies like R*.

  8. Truvill says:


    I thought AO forced the game in question to be off the shelves and to require ID just to see the game?

    I know it was much harder here in Canada, since it was the equivalent of requesting for adult oriented stuff.

  9. @Geekybiker: I suspect it’s becoming less of an issue as folks who grew up playing video games become parents. Part of the trouble with video games is that a lot of parents simply didn’t know enough ABOUT them to make informed judgments, and were totally appalled when they saw sex and graphic violence in something billed as a “game.” A lot of major newspapers now also run reviews of major video games that include the sort of information that can help a parent make decisions — just like with movies.

  10. luckybob343 says:

    I met and spoke with Dr. Walsh during the whole GTA:VC/Sony/Wal*Mart lawsuit Jack Thompson started in Alabama. Cool guy.

    His association gets a lot of bad press for some of the stuff they do, but their position is “get the parents” and not “get the government” involved.

  11. Serpephone says:

    My 10 year old wants this Grand Theft Auto IV. My husband and I decided not to let him get it, since it is rated M. I am just thankful they put some kind of rating on video games because I, personally, do not play them.

  12. jeff303 says:

    @KD17: No, no it doesn’t. Hot coffee required a conscious and deliberate user modification of binary code to expose. It wasn’t just entering some secret password or button sequence. It was modifying the executable code of the software. This is basically equivalent to modding a game, and you have never seen backlash against a game company for mods of its products (for good reason).

  13. jeff303 says:

    @jeff303: Whoops, that was really a reply for @bluwapadoo

  14. crabbyman6 says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: I agree that the problem is being resolved slightly because of more informed parents. I remember when I was young convincing my dad that Mortal Kombat was the best game ever even though I was only 12 and there was a giant “M” on the box because he didn’t really know any better. However, that will never stop the media whores who want their 5 minutes on MSNBC ranting about how evil these types of games are and getting the general public and politicians up in arms. The great part is that most of these people on TV haven’t even played the game and make these wild accusations that are just completely untrue, ie the interview on Mass Effect with Cooper Lawrence when she went up against Geoff Keighly(which was hilarious, btw). For the uninformed parents there are ratings on all the boxes, but that doesn’t generally stop people from getting them for their kid and then complaining about how violent it was despite the big “M” on the box followed by exaggerating about it. This topic always gets my rancor up because there’s plenty of warnings and information out there now, and yet people still make uninformed opinions and take it out on the gaming community in general.

  15. Lucky225 says:


    Amen, I always argued with movie theatres that if I was old enough to drive down here I should be old enough to purchase a damn ticket, and if my parents don’t know where I am, that’s their problem, not yours, why would you NOT want to make a profit off of me? I found out in Jonesboro AR it’s actually illegal to sell an “R” or “X” ticket unless you’re 18 or over. City ordinance was enacted in the 50s or 60s and never taken off the books. Funny thing is since then the NR-17 rating replaced “X”, and the statue hasn’t been amended to reflect this, so it’s perfectly legal to sell NR-17 tickets to anyone, but R you must be 18, how ridiculous is that.

  16. crabbyman6 says:

    @Serpephone: Hooray! Its good to see that some people have some common sense, I commend you. If I had a kid they wouldn’t be allowed to play it either. Its fine if you let your child play these games, but I wish people would stop complaining when they’re not Barney Meets the Teletubbies since every game is clearly marked with its rating. I’ve been playing violent and bloody games since I was young and I haven’t killed anyone yet (except that clown but that doesn’t count he had it coming).

  17. blackmage439 says:

    @crabbyman6: Bingo with the media whore. Although, I think they would get a better chance with Fox; Olberman would just laugh their sorry ass out of the studio.

    I think this is evident of a more systemic problem facing this country: Americans more and more believe that others should perform their duties. God forbid you have to bother cutting your lawn, just go and hire an army of immigrants to do the work for you. What’s that you say? Boo hoo: another person just “lost” their job to a “fence-jumper”? Get off your lazy ass and do the work yourself, then.

    Anyhoo, back on track. I’ve been watching violent movies since I was a kid. Terminator, Alien, Predator, I’ve seen them all. Do I have any sort of incling to go rob a store, go on a murderous rampage, or beat my girlfriend if she spills a cup? HELL NO. I agree that certain violent individuals, or those raised in VIOLENT ,UNCARING HOMES, are more susceptible to violent imagery, but let’s get real for a second. The problem isn’t with these games and the media, it’s the households these people are raised in, and the lives they live. My parents were good people, and they taught me how to be a good person. THAT is what counts.

  18. MercuryPDX says:

    Walsh has been praising the ESRB for its “improved enforcement of not selling M-rated games to kids,” and says he trusts the ESRB’s “M” rating for Grand Theft Auto IV.

    I thought the ESRB was less of an “enforcement agency”, and more of a “creating guidelines for retailers to adopt if they choose to” agency; meaning they set-up and define ratings for games (like the MPAA does for movies), but individual enforcement of those ratings is up to the retailer (or in my MPAA example, the movie theater).

    I also think it’s the parent’s responsibility (eg. You “made them”, you “raise them”) to determine what their kid can and cannot play.

    And as someone who has played GTA IV, you don’t get any special awards or points for driving drunk in the game. You get a message that suggests the option of calling/taking a cab instead of attempting to drive. Your ability to control your vehicle if you choose to drive drunk (let alone WALK drunk) is severely impaired.

  19. @Serpephone: Just FYI, if you have any friendly neighborhood teenagers, they’d probably do a little show-and-tell for you on games you’re not sure are appropriate. Most of them are pretty aware that if little kids play adult games, adult games aren’t available because parents get upset. We sometimes rent and test-run games for friends of ours who aren’t gamers. I’ve been playing “Bully” the past week both because I was curious and to report to some friends who are parents and teachers who don’t game and wanted to know if there was any justification behind the fussing about it.

    (My verdict: Not really. I thought some bits of the game were a little tasteless (not such a big fan of being able to kick the dogs), but the Bully himself is a pretty classic anti-hero, which isn’t a particularly novel or frightening message. Some of the storyline is probably less than appropriate for really little kids (like who don’t get alcoholism jokes), but I think a junior high schooler would be fine.)

    @crabbyman6: “However, that will never stop the media whores who want their 5 minutes on MSNBC ranting about how evil these types of games are and getting the general public and politicians up in arms.”

    I think it WILL stop eventually — similar arguments were made about movies, and even about novels in the 19th century. As the culture gets used to the medium, a working compromise will shake down, and you’ll only hear the freakouts when there’s something really boundary-pushing, or really racy that’s marketed to kids.

  20. crabbyman6 says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: I have to disagree there, I don’t think it ever does stop. Granted things get less attention, but it never truly stops. Video games are the target du jour, yes, but you still hear the occasional gripes about movies (Eyes Wide Shut) and books, even books that have been published for years (removing books from school libraries). These people are on a crusade to “protect” the children from whatever they conceive to be a threat, even if its been around for decades.

  21. anarcurt says:

    Lets ban all violent and sexual media. Goodbye Bible, Koran, Torrah.

  22. Lucky225 says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    Or when some outcasts who decided to take German instead of Spanish as the second language study at their High School dress up in some trench coats and blow away a few students and take their own lives. The music, the video games, the language they chose to learn!

  23. kyle4 says:

    I strongly think they should put a law in effect that treats video games like alcohol in that even if a parent is there buying the game for a child they can get fined. Because even though I’m telling parents what’s in the game, “Graphic sex (I hyped it a little there) over 400 usages of the F word, racial epitaphs and brutal violence, the mom still bought it for her 12 year old. Ridiculous.

  24. Xkeeper says:

    @bluwapadoo: If that was the case, we should rate Super Mario Bros. to AO because somebody made Mario naked and gave him a penis using Nesticle.

    Content made inaccessible by normal means should not be counted against anything.

  25. Xkeeper says:

    @kylo4: The big difference here is that they are not illegal to use, but illegal to purchase.

    But don’t let minor problems like that stand in the way of your crusade.

    By the way, I honestly think that it should be up to the parents to decide if their kid is mature enough to handle something like this. The only problem is that they’re not educated on the subject enough, so things like scare tactics and other paranoia, or just no knowledge, get in the way of making good decisions.

  26. MiriamMc says:

    As far as GTAIV goes, a lot of people are stating that it crashes your system.

  27. + says:

    And everybody has access to that on the internet. They may as well ban internet usage to anyone under 18 and I’m sure a quick Google search will find you something much worse then a curse or some violence. In fact, on You Tube their are videos of violent battles in Iraq. Yes, it may say that these videos are for adults but all I have to do is sign into an account that says I’m 50, equally as easy as getting an M-rated game.

    You also fail to realize that Alcohol is related to the number one cause of teenage death while the only people causing deaths related to video games are mentally insane.

  28. karmaghost says:

    Awards points for drunk driving? No. That’s just one way to get home when you’re drunk; you can take a taxi! You are rewarded for taking your friend home, doesn’t matter how you get there. Niko says, every time he gets in a car drunk, that he shouldn’t be driving. Skip to about 45 seconds (or listen to the whole thing with Roman talking about how he’s a beast!)

  29. drjayphd says:

    @Xkeeper: Oh, come on, Super Sperm Bros. was a CLASSIC and you know it. :P