Archive for Saturday, October 7, 2000

Access to be restricted to mature-rated video games

October 7, 2000


— GameWorks, a high-tech arcade, bar and restaurant, will restrict access to its mature-rated games to people older than 16.

The company a joint venture of Universal Studios, Sega Enterprises and DreamWorks SKG already offers restricted access if requested by a parent. The policy change announced Friday would automatically restrict access to particularly violent games unless a special pass is bought by a parent or guardian.

The Glendale-based company introduced a limited-access "V-Card" in its 20 U.S.-owned locations about a year ago. Instead of using coins or tokens, patrons buy debit cards. The "V-Card" cannot be used at games with mature content, which are flagged with a large red sticker.

GameWorks employees will now ask for identification before selling unlimited access cards to children, the company said, adding that fewer than 10 percent of the games in a typical location are considered to have mature content.

"It's the right thing to do," said Ron Bension, president of GameWorks. "We're probably going to lose some business. But we think it's a good policy and an enforceable policy."

The new rules come at a time of increased scrutiny of films, music and video games. The Federal Trade Commission recently criticized entertainment companies for marketing violent content to children. Congress is conducting hearings on the topic, and the issue has surfaced in the presidential campaign.

In response, some entertainment companies have offered guidelines restricting advertisements for violent or sexually explicit products.

Bension conceded the policy change isn't foolproof. Someone posing as a parent or guardian could buy an unrestricted pass for a child younger than 16. And just like the voluntary ratings issued by the film industry, the success of the new policy depends on employees vigorously enforcing it.

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