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US parents group posts violent games advisory

Aimed at discouraging buyers.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Family Media Guide, an American watchdog group dedicated to advising parents on the shiftier content in games and other mediums, has released a list of what it considers the ten most violent games that kids are likely to ask after this Christmas.

The idea, it makes clear, is to advise parents on what sorts of things are in them so that they can make up their own minds what's acceptable. Seems fair, and indeed on the surface, this certainly isn't bitter, Jack Thompson-style polemic directed at game companies and retailers - it's a fairly straightforward list of games, with each selection illustrated by a brief but fairly accurate description or summary of particularly questionable content. For example, God of War's description reads: "Player becomes a ruthless warrior, seeking revenge against the gods who tricked him into murdering his own family. Prisoners are burned alive and player can use 'finishing moves' to kill opponents, like tearing a victim in half." All of which is certainly true, and reasonably representative.

Furthermore, the introduction to the list claims that the Family Media Guide's "PSVratings" system is objective - particularly compared to the ESRB's "industry association-based review approach which assigns ratings based upon the subjective opinions of three individuals who do not even play the game".

But while the FMG tries to keep things simmering, it can't quite hide its obvious goal, and cracks start to emerge in its 'up to you' veneer. Its examples are incredibly pointed - in Resident Evil 4, "it's possible to find the corpse of a woman pinned up on a wall--by a pitchfork through her face," the list makes clear. It also manages to imply that players must have sex with and then kill prostitutes to replenish health in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, while the listing for Konami's Crime Life: Gang Wars also betrays the list-maker's position a little when it points out that players spend time "fighting, recruiting new gangsters, looting, and of course, more fighting" (our emphasis).

Look around the site some more and the attempt at a neutral tone vanishes completely, most notably in the Grand Theft Auto: Hot Coffee article advertised on the side bar. "If you're [sic] kids a gamer... make sure you know about it," the ad instructs. The op-ed beyond lays into all the usual suspects, and concludes by backing a mother's decision to ban games from her house completely in the face of Rockstar's admissions about the abandoned sex-based content uncovered by modders after the game's release.

Family Media Guide's "Top 10 Ultra-Violent Video Games of 2005", then:

  • Resident Evil 4
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas [2004, actually, so presumably this is a tip of the cap to its popularity - Ed]
  • God of War
  • NARC
  • Killer 7
  • The Warriors
  • 50 Cent: Bulletproof
  • Crime Life: Gang Wars
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • True Crime: New York City

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