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Posts with tag esrb

The Lawbringer: Self-regulation and the video game industry


Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Hello, friends. I hope you all enjoyed the discussion last week about Schwarzenegger v. EMA that took place in the article and in the comments. People get very passionate about the role of government, and I thought the conversation was a very positive one, so thank you. This week, I've got a little more self-regulation talk for you, so please come in, sit, and get ready for another fun look at the video games industry.

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

ESRB issues apology over email leak

Yesterday, we learned that the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) accidentally emailed the names of people who had complained about Blizzard's potential use of Real ID names on the official Blizzard forums. The ESRB has since sent out this apology:
Yesterday we sent an e-mail to a number of consumers who wrote to us in recent days expressing their concern with respect to Blizzard's Real ID program. Given the large number of messages we received, we decided to respond with a mass e-mail so those who'd written us would receive our response as quickly as possible - rather than responding to each message individually, as is our usual practice.

Through an unfortunate error by one of our employees, some recipients were able to see the e-mail addresses of others who wrote on the same issue. Needless to say, it was never our intention to reveal this information and for that we are genuinely sorry. Those who write to ESRB to express their views expect and deserve to have their contact and personal information protected. In this case, we failed to do so and are doing everything we can to ensure it will not happen again in the future.

The fact that our message addressed individuals' concerns with respect to their privacy underscores how truly disappointing a mistake this was on our part. We work with companies to ensure they are handling people's private information with confidentiality, care and respect. It is only right that we set a good example and do no less ourselves.

We sincerely apologize to those who were affected by this error and appreciate their understanding.

Sincerely,
Entertainment Software Rating Board
I am glad that the ESRB apologized, and it is telling that they have also acknowledged how ridiculous the mistake was in light of the subject matter. Suffice it to say, good on the ESRB for not only apologizing but understanding the issues present over online privacy. Hopefully this whole debacle can be used as a teaching moment.

Filed under: News items, Account Security

ESRB unintentionally exposes email addresses of people who filed complaints over Blizzard's Real ID system [Updated]

Update: The ESRB has since issued an apology.

During the recent Real ID catastrophe on the forums, many players decided to appeal to an industry source that might have been able to sway Blizzard to change its mind. These players contacted the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) as a Better Business Bureau-type middleman in this situation with their concerns. The ESRB itself has championed such causes in the past with its Privacy Online program, which is designed to help companies meet various privacy laws like the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Since Blizzard recanted its decision about the forums, the ESRB faithfully followed up with those concerned.

Unfortunately, in that followup email, the ESRB exposed individuals to a new set of privacy concerns.

The letter and more information after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Account Security

Australian AG: MMOs like WoW must be classified

The good folks over at the OC (don't call it that) Register's Blizzard blog have gotten some more information about that recent flap with many MMOs being unrated and thus legally unable to be sold there. They talked to Daniel Gleeson of the Australian Attorney General's department, and he said that yes, the MMO games like World of Warcraft will have to be rated to be sold in the country. But he also reiterated what we'd heard a little while after Massively posted their story: that games were still being sold on store shelves, regardless of the actual legal tangles.

The Blizzard Blog also spoke with the IEAA, the classification board down there for games, and they were told the same thing that Massively was: while the board thought that MMOs did not require a rating, it has since become clear that they do. The difference, says the AG guy, is that the IEAA believed that "games" like WoW were actually services, not games, and thus didn't fall into the classification system.

But now it's clear to everyone that they do, so we'll expect to see the IEAA pass out a rating for World of Warcraft and the other MMOs on sale down there, and then this will all be over. It's interesting to note that ratings may be a very cultural thing -- here in America, ratings are pretty strictly issued by the ESRB, partially because the videogame industry is worried about governement intervention in the system (if the industry can't police themselves, angry parents may ask the government to step in). But in Australia, the government obviously seems largely unconcerned about the ratings. Then again, Aussies aren't completely laid back about everything having to do with MMOs.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Ranking, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

Man arrested for assaulting girl he met in World of Warcraft

Here's an unfortunate World of Warcraft mention in the news: a man has been arrested and charged with all sorts of terrible things for having a relationship with a 14-year-old girl that he originally met in Azeroth. Daniel Joseph Czelusniak is 23 and from North Royalton, Ohio, and is being held by Pennsylvania State Police after having a relationship with the girl last year, meeting at a hotel and her house. He originally met her four years ago (when she was 10 but apparently claimed she was 14) while they were both playing World of Warcraft.

Of course, this is hardly the game's fault: parents of young children need to closely supervise their activity online while they're doing anything, be it browsing the Internet or fighting dragons in Northrend. WoW itself is rated T by the ESRB, which means no children under the age of 13 should really be playing it without parental supervision anyway, and the added online component of the game should be even more of a red flag for anyone overseeing younger children. This is a great game (and you couldn't find a nicer community of people who play it), but there are the same dangers in this environment as anywhere else your child might go online.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, News items

Breakfast topic: How young is too young for World of Warcraft?

Does it take a certain level of maturity to play World of Warcraft? In the past we have asked for opinions on how comfortable people are gaming with players of all ages. The general consensus seemed to be that behavior is more important than numerical age.

Surely there is value in gaming for young people. Although a full-grown adult when I started playing World of Warcraft, games have always been a passion of mine. They have fostered creativity and logic. Recently our Lisa Poisso featured a guild for Unschoolers, who use WoW as a tool for self-guided education. When appropriately supervised and balanced, the game can be a fun, family activity.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Features

Last Week on Massively: WoW-related stories

This week's round up of WoW-related posts on our sister site Massively spans the range from NSFW to Tauren Chefs. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed.

Building a better MMOusetrap: PPOrnography in games
How is the ESRB rating system affecting your favorite MMO?




The WoW starts now!
A Second Life fan tries World of Warcraft for the first time. Read her impressions of an MMO newbie.



WoW comic artist on keeping the fans happy
The MTV Multiplayer staff interview the penciller behind the World of Warcraft comic.




Animations to die for
Should WoW have encounter specific death animations?




A tale of grinding, sucking and snowboarding
Should WoW add a snowboarding mini-game to make it more casual? Kyle Horner investigates the ramifications.



Behind the Curtain: Great Expectations
Craig Whithers uses this week's Behind the Curtain column to explore expectations players have going into many of the major MMOs (including WoW) and how well each game fulfills them.


WoW Europe spotlights noted machinima artists
Machinimist extraordinaire Baron Soosdon is interviewed by WoW Euorpe. Hear what he has to say about his art. Also, Olibith has his own interview exploring how he approaches his popular work.


The Escapist spends a day in the life of a WoW addict
Not all stories about playing WoW are downers about too much time in Azeroth. This one is about how WoW brought two people together.


Is that a Tauren in the kitchen?
A book of real life recipes based on in-game foods? Sounds familiar.




MMOGology: Leaving home
In his weekly column MMOGology, Marc Nottke asks "Do you have to stop playing one MMO to start a new one?"

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Features, Interviews

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