1 of 8
Joey Ferguson, Deseret News
Brayden, Connor and Kyle Morrey play a mature-rated video game. Their mother, Laura, doesn't allow games with nudity or intensive violence that resembles senseless murder.
"I believe the content of it is awful," Deitz said about games such as "Gears of War" or "Call of Duty: Black Ops." "I believe it's too mature for kids. Well, I believe it's too mature for adults."

Tami Deitz has made it clear to her five children: There are no mature-rated video games allowed in her home in Salem, Utah.

"I believe the content of it is awful," Deitz said about games such as "Gears of War" or "Call of Duty: Black Ops." "I believe it's too mature for kids. Well, I believe it's too mature for adults."

The family handles each game on a case-by-case basis, monitoring the content to ensure their children are protected. Even some teen-rated games toe the line.

Dietz's decision, or at least the process, may become more commonplace following the Supreme Court's June 27 decision that allows minors to purchase games rated for a mature audience. In Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, the court stuck down a 6-year old California law that barred children from buying or renting any game with an "M" rating. The ruling said the law was unconstitutional and that states have no authority to "restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."

Deitz screens each video game her kids beg for using the Entertainment Software Rating Board system, which gives each a content label based on how much violence, foul language or suggestive behavior it has. Ratings range from Early childhood (EC) to Adults only (AO) .

"It gives me a starting point," Deitz said about the ratings system. "If parents are involved, then it works."

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, it's business as usual for video-game retailers. With parents, such as Deitz and many others, using the rating system, many violent video games are censored before they even make it home. But, not all parents are the same, and some retailers don't think it's their responsibility to protect children.

Mature video game sales made up 25 percent of total industry revenue in 2010, up from 15 percent in 2005, New York-based research group NPD said.

However, mature-rated games were the minority as "everyone" and "everyone 10 and up" accounted for 56 percent of sales. Games with a "teen" rating made up the other 19 percent, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

If the government limited violent video game sales nationwide, sales would only drop by 5 percent, Michael Pachter, a video-game research analyst for Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said in an interview. .

Even though minors couldn't buy them themselves under a ban, sales could still happen with a parent's help, Pachter said. Retailers shouldn't be more responsible, he said.

A study released by the Entertainment Software Association in June solidifies Pachter's speculation. The report states only 18 percent of current gamers are under 18 years old. They also concluded that 91 percent of parents are present when games are purchased or rented. Even if parents aren't present, 86 percent of children received permission, and the same percentage of parents are aware of the rating system for video games.

Even if laws were passed, only 9 percent of the smallest portion of the video game market would be barred from purchasing.

Kellan Hatch, creative director of Salt Lake City-based video-game developer Eat Sleep Play, said new legislation may affect company sales, but not in a significant way. He also said it would help if ESRB narrowed the rating system by creating more choices, but it is ultimately the parents' responsibility regardless of what legislation says.

Local video-game retailers agree that there would be little effect.

Scott McUne, owner of Fun Unlimited, a video-game store in Logan, doesn't have a strict policy on violent video-game sales to minors.

"It's not our job to be a parent," McUne said.

The Logan-based video-game store has been in the Cache Valley Mall since 1993. It stocks around 50,000 video games and sees about 200 to 300 customers per day.

McUne said he assumes his mid-teen customers have been instructed on proper video-game consumption, but he blocks children under 10 from buying mature content unless a parent is present. When parents are present to purchase violent games, he goes over the rating system with them, so parents make informed purchases.

If a ban similar to the one struck down in California were passed in Utah, it would have little effect on sales at Fun Unlimited, McUne said.

Deitz has a strict "no mature games" policy, but not all parents have video-game policies as rigid.

Laura Morrey, a Spanish Fork mother of three boys, has vetoed games before, but does allow "M" ratings.

Her 12-, 9- and 6-year-old boys play violent war-based video games, including "Call of Duty: Black Ops," with their father, Jeff. "If my husband didn't play these games, I wouldn't choose to let them in," she said.

Morrey does have a tipping point. She doesn't allow video games with nudity or intensive violence that resembles senseless murder. She once rejected a game because the opening scene featured a character committing suicide. After seeing that, she assumed the rest of the game wasn't likely to get better.

Despite violence, suicide and language, the letter "M" on the video game box isn't necessarily a deterrent.

The case of Morrey and many other parents who are not necessarily against mature rated games shows the small effect a video-game ban would have on sales.

The Federal Trade Commission sent out underage secret shoppers to national and regional chain stores where they attempted to purchase M-rated games. Only 13 percent of shoppers were able to purchase mature games in 2011, as opposed to the 42 percent who got away in 2006. Mature video-game shoppers were stopped 87 percent of the time, which is higher than R-rated films and DVDs and Parental Advisory-labeled CDs by at least 20 percent.

"We are extremely pleased to see the Federal Trade Commission confirm not only that the video game industry continues to have the highest rate of enforcement at retail, but that it continues to climb higher than before," said Patricia Vance, president of ESRB, in a statement on April 20, "The strong support that the ESRB ratings have enjoyed from retailers is crucial, underscoring their firm commitment to selling video games responsibly."

Email: [email protected]. TWITTER: @joeyferguson