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May 8, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Game retailers getting better at carding for M-rated content

The Federal Trade Commission reported today that video game retailers are getting much better about checking IDs before selling M-rated games, such as “Grand Theft Auto IV.” That’s the Entertainment Software Ratings Board’s “mature” rating, suitable only for people 17 and over. I experienced this first hand when I got carded while trying to purchase “GTA IV” at the Game Stop in Northgate Mall last night.

After I waded through the gaggle of sk8t kids congregating around the demo consoles in the store, the guy behind the counter surprised me by asking to see my ID. I wasn’t even carded when I picked up a pre-Derby bottle of bourbon at a state liquor store.

Turns out, Game Stop / EB Games had the best performance of any retailer in the FTC’s nationwide undercover shopping program. The agency’s 13- to 16-year-old shoppers hit up 66 Game Stop locations and were successful in buying M-rated titles only 6 percent of the time.

All stores in the study sold M-rated games to children 20 percent of the time, down from 42 percent in 2006 and 85 percent in 2000. Retailers improved in sales of some other categories measured in the study, too, but the FTC noted “roughly half of the undercover shoppers still were able to purchase R-rated and Unrated movie DVDs and [Parental Advisory Label] music CDs.”

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