VSDA GIVES NOD TO GAME RATINGS

LOS ANGELES -- The Video Software Dealers Association will back the new video game ratings system created by the Interactive Digital Software Association. The VSDA board of directors, meeting in Toronto Sept. 16 and 17, voted to approve the game ratings plan and incorporate it into the trade group's Pledge to Parents program. VSDA retailers participating in that program promise not to rent movies

LOS ANGELES -- The Video Software Dealers Association will back the new video game ratings system created by the Interactive Digital Software Association. The VSDA board of directors, meeting in Toronto Sept. 16 and 17, voted to approve the game ratings plan and incorporate it into the trade group's Pledge to Parents program. VSDA retailers participating in that program promise not to rent movies with an R or NC-17 rating to children under 17. "With the emergence of a video game ratings system, we are urging our membership to apply this same pledge to the rental of video games," said Jeffrey P. Eves, VSDA's president. In other news, VSDA's board also voted to endorse a change in the common street date from Wednesday to Tuesday. VSDA and the National Association of Video Distributors is asking studios to consolidate the Wednesday rental release day and the Tuesday sell-through day to Tuesday. The two groups hope the change will cut costs for distributors, and that the savings will be passed on to retailers. On the video games ratings issue, VSDA's Video Game Advisory Committee was charged with finding ways to educate retailers and consumers. "The VSDA believes industry self-regulation is preferable to any legislative solution and that the rating system proposed by the IDSA is easy to understand, consumer friendly and sensitive to parental concerns," said Eves. The IDSA system is designed to warn parents about content in video games. The first games evaluated by the system are expected to be in stores for the fourth quarter. The system uses five categories to identify which age group the games are intended for: early childhood, kids to adults, teens, mature and adults only. It was developed by Sega, Nintendo, Atari and nine other companies. The IDSA system is one of two proposed for games. While IDSA's will include most of the popular game systems used with television sets, another from the Software Publisher's Association, Washington, will rate computer-based games. VSDA's decision to include the game-ratings program in its Pledge to Parents follows a press release issued by two U.S. senators. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., had asked rental stores to assure parents that they won't rent violent games to children.