US Retailers Make Progress on Keeping Violent Video Games Out of Hands of Youths

Leading U.S. retailers -- particularly Target and Best Buy -- are doing a better job of controlling sales of violent video games to children. But all retailers still need to improve disclosure of their related sales policies and the results of those policies, according to a new report from members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of 275 faith-based institutional investors with combined assets over $110 billion.

ICCR members are in dialogues with some of the largest video game retailers in the country, asking them to adopt and enforce video game sales policies to ensure that Mature ("M")-rated video games for audiences ages 17 and older, containing graphic violence, strong sexual content and racist themes, are not sold to minors. Behavioral science research shows that playing violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in children and youth.

According to the new ICCR report: "It is evident that retailers are doing well on several fronts: all retailers included in the report have video game policies to restrict access by young teens to M-rated games; all display signage about the ESRB rating system; all conduct employee training programs and ongoing education on the video game rating system for employees; and all have established a system to identify the age of the purchaser at the register.

ICCR is pleased with both Target's and Best Buy's policies to restrict ads for Mature-rated games in teen publications and on television. Target also places a prominent 'M' on games advertised in its store circulars and Best Buy has a robust internal auditing process and compliance program, which are noted improvements."

In addition to Target and Best Buy, the retailer chart in the ICCR report covers Circuit City, Kmart, Sears, Toys "R" Us, GameStop and Wal-Mart.